Chat with Geno Auriemma
Geno Auriemma reached 800 wins faster than any coach in men's or women's college basketball.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, UConn's Geno Auriemma, coach of the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA women's basketball tournament, stops by to chat.
Auriemma, @genoauriemma, has guided UConn to six straight Final Fours, winning three national titles, while losing just 13 games during the stretch. In UConn's first year in the new American Conference, after 31 seasons in the Big East, the Huskies finished the regular season 34-0, including 18-0 in the AAC.
In 29 seasons at UConn, Auriemma, a member of the basketball hall of fame's 2006 class, owns 8 national titles, 6 Naismith Coach of the Year awards, 19 Big East regular season titles and 18 Big East tournament titles. In addition, he also coached Team USA to a gold medal in the 2012 London Games.
Send your questions now and join Auriemma Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:42 PM)
Geno will be here in a couple of minutes to take your questions!
In winning so many games and winning by such large margins, how do you make sure your players stay focused?
Geno Auriemma (2:43 PM)
Mostly by just focusing on, after every game, what are some of the things they are unhappy with, what are things we need to tighten up on, what they want to do better as individuals. We don't look at the final score, but how do they feel about their performance.
What do you think will be your biggest advantage in the tournament games?
Geno Auriemma (2:44 PM)
The simple answer is Breanna Stewart. Without putting too much on her shoulders, we have players around her that are very very good. She is so unique, there really isn't anyone like her and she's capable of winning games single handily, and there aren't many players in the country that can do that.
You've already got the 8 titles...what keeps you motivated for No. 9, 10?
Geno Auriemma (2:46 PM)
Probably the most rewarding thing is when you know you have a team that's capable of doing something great, you want to give them every opportunity to do that. You want to maximize their potential. You want to give them everything you need. It's not unlike when you have kids at home. We're doing well, we're doing great, but you still have to get up every day and do what you do.
Steve in Connecticut [via mobile]
I was a manager on your 92 - 93 team . It was awesome and you were great. It was the last team you had that lost more than just a couple of games. My question is, can you please blame me for that? I would like to tell my friends that only I have the power to stop UConn.
Geno Auriemma (2:47 PM)
What they say, your biggest battles come from within. Every year, when we've just had to worry about beating the teams on our schedules, that's easy. Having to beat the bad managers on our team, that's more difficult than you can imagine!
What's been the key to the team's success this year?
Geno Auriemma (2:48 PM)
Our consistency. Our ability to just stay level. Not get too high. Not get too low. Take everything each day. Not get too far ahead of ourselves. Treat everything pretty much the same. Not have our emotions go roller coaster, up and down. We've stayed level headed. That's something hard to do throughout the year.
you can only look at one game at a time, but in the tournament, you're playing two games in a weekend and you don't know who you're playing until a day before...how do you prepare for that?
Geno Auriemma (2:50 PM)
This week, you try to get ready for two teams, but you only know one of the teams. You have a pretty good idea of the other team. You spend a little bit of time each day trying to do some of the things that you need for that second team, based on what those teams you do. The players don't know what you're doing. You're just working on things. You want them focused on the first game, but at the same time you're working on things for the second game.
Do you ever get a sense during a game that youre players are letting up some? How do you combat that?
Geno Auriemma (2:51 PM)
There have been times. It's only natural. There have been times when you feel like their concentration is not where it needs to be. That is to be expected. Generally, you have enough players on the team that you make some substitutions and get everyone on track. WE haven't been able to do that this year with our short bench. It doesn't take much to get them back. When you're winning by a lot, I don't think there's any way to prevent it.
Would you rather play ND or Tennessee for the Championship game? Which win would have more significance to you?
Geno Auriemma (2:53 PM)
Just playing in that game would be really cool, No. 1. If we were in that game, and it was you, Andrea and four of your friends, that would be cool too. At that point, it doesn't really matter. I'm sure if we're fortunate to get to that game and one of those two were the other team. That would be a three ring circus. I'm not sure I would look forward to that. Everyone else would, but I'm not sure I would.
How do you find the balance in playing as a team but also allowing a player to take over and win a game when necessary?
Geno Auriemma (2:55 PM)
I believe that the great players know when to take over games. They don't need to be told. The rest of the team doesn't need to be told. The great players really have a good idea of sensing what they need to do. That's what makes them great. Ideally you would love for your team to win, but the deeper you go into hte tournament, the great players have to take over. Especially in the Elite Eight and the Final Four. Then it's the individuals that will win the national championship.
Jon (Seattle, WA)
Is Stewart a harder matchup than Moore or Taurasi? She's done what neither of them were able to do..........Win a title as a Freshman
Geno Auriemma (2:56 PM)
In some ways, yes. She's 6-4. That makes everything different. Diana was a difficult matchup because she had the ball in her hands all of the time. She was a bigger guard. Maya was a difficult matchup because she was big and strong. Stewie is 6-4. Even if you guard her, she has the ability to get her shot off.
Did you think you had the No. 1 overall seed wrapped up by the end of the regular season?
Geno Auriemma (2:57 PM)
You're never quite sure. When there's another undefeated team, you're not quite sure what anybody's thinking. But if you're No. 1 or No. 2, it doesn't really matter, does it? You try not to get caught up in all that.
Marcus (Pacifica, CA)
I'm a huge fan of what you and others have been able to accomplish bringing "High Level" Basketball into Women's sports. In your opinion, is there anything that you would like to see done to improve it even more?
Geno Auriemma (2:59 PM)
Like any other sport, you're always looking to find ways to improve the game. Whether it's adding the 10 second backcourt. Shortening the shot clock. Change the way the game is called, in terms of freedom of movement, allowing players skills to be on display. There is always something. We have to keep looking for that.
Pat (New Haven, CT)
What would be your All-Time UConn starting 5?
Geno Auriemma (3:00 PM)
It's really hard. I try to do that with my staff and former players at times. It always deteriorates into huge arguments. Everybody has their favorites and players they think are the best. Some programs it's very easy. 1-5 is easy. We're extremely fortunate to be in a situation where it's very very difficult to say that these five would beat these five.
Jim Rake (Stafford, VA)
When Notre Dame penetrates, is it tough to get your defenders to switch to defend the dish off underneath, or the "one pass away"?
Geno Auriemma (3:01 PM)
Teams that drive the ball into the lane a lot, in general, are difficult to defend. You need help from the officials. Some teams are very adept at driving the ball into the lane and falling down a lot. You have to be careful that you don't put yourself in a situation where your best players are getting into foul trouble. Guarding dribble penetration is one of the most difficult things to do.
Geno Auriemma (3:03 PM)
It's incredible all of the attention that the tournament is generating. There are some great storylines that are going to be coming out. A lot of really good players. A lot of really great teams. I hope that everyone here in the chat follows the tournament and roots for their team. I hope we have a great tournament.