Here's to Geno Auriemma's next 1,000 wins
It has taken Geno Auriemma fewer than 33 seasons to reach the 1,000-win mark. But he's not exactly one to be complacent. It probably would take him a few more years to catch the late Pat Summitt, who owns the Division I career wins record with 1,098, but then what? Is it really impossible to think he might win 1,000 more games?
This is a serious question, so stay with me here. If anyone could do it, it's him. (Sorry, Mike Krzyzewski.) Imagine he does hit the 2,000 mark. What would the team look like. How about the world?
The year is 2049. It takes awhile for the 93-year-old Auriemma to make his way into the postgame news conference after the big victory over Tennessee -- the rivalry was renewed in 2029 -- as his exoskeleton suit that helps him walk was doused in champagne. No matter the advances made in technology, nothing developed is a match for liquid, it seems.
As Auriemma takes the podium, his two star players, who combined for 85 points on the night, join him: Maya Moore Jr. and Breanna Stewart II. Their moms are still standing in the arena, now known as Geno Auriemma Pavilion, trying to find their championship banners lined across the ceiling. There are so many now -- 25 for the women and 12 for the men (despite a lackluster 2017-18 season, the men's team somehow found a way to recover and returned to their previous elite status, don't @ me) -- and it will be tough to find room for another. Somehow they always find a way.
His Philadelphia accent still very much intact despite the decades (and decades) away, he thanks all the players who have been a part of the program; ribs Diana Taurasi, who hologrammed in from her coastal home in Arizona; shares some heartfelt words about Chris Dailey, who has been with him for each and every win during his 75-year run; and then thanks the fans for sticking with the team during all the tough times, most notably the long five-year drought between titles and the school's transition from the NCAA to the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. People stopped using actual words, for the most part, sometime around 2035, so emojis have all but replaced acronyms these days.
The NCAA was dismantled in 2027, and every school but Duke was invited to join the new league. Players are now given a living stipend, financial rights to their own names and likenesses, and the conferences started over from scratch. UConn joined the reborn Big East Conference, because this is my story time and I'll do what I want.
The reemergence of the Big East of old has rekindled many of the school's oldest rivalries, including Notre Dame, Rutgers and Louisville, and it has also meant Irish coach Muffet McGraw has to see Auriemma several times a year. She's as thrilled about that as you can imagine. The tension between the two has only increased as they approach centenarian status.
While hyperloops mean it takes just an hour to get across the country these days, officials realized getting to play teams in the same general region just makes sense. Like, so much sense. No one could even remember why the conferences got so misaligned in the first place. Mostly because money is no longer a thing and everyone just uses CryptoKitties after the Bitcoin crash.
UConn had a few down recruiting years in the early 2040s, but once the Huskies started recruiting from the settlements on Mars, they returned to their previous glory. (Obviously, right?) The new recruiting pipeline has been highly beneficial in many ways, including helping the height average of the team increase by several inches, but has made scheduling homecoming games a little more difficult. Mars U is getting a little sick of always being everyone's cupcake game.
Auriemma tells the crowd, gathered in the room and hologrammed in from across the galaxy, that he contemplated retirement entering the season, and even took a meeting about coaching in the new Robot Basketball League (RBL), but ultimately didn't think those players would understand his sense of humor. Everyone laughs. Well, except for the robot reporters. As ingrained into society as they are at this point, they still seem as creepy as everyone always thought.
A writer from espnW, now the No. 1 site in the world because the future is female as those shirts have been trying to tell you, asks Auriemma about how many more years he plans on coaching. Moore Jr. and Stewart II exchange glances as they laugh.
"I'm thinking I've probably got another 1,000 wins in me," he says with a wink as his exoskeleton suit blasts off and carries him out of the room.
Here's to the next 1,000, Coach.