Coach: With 5 freshmen, UConn will lose

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma doesn't want his freshmen thinking about the team's 78-game winning streak, at least until the Huskies lose.

And with five first-year players on the squad, Auriemma told reporters at UConn's annual media day Wednesday that he is confident the Huskies will lose this season.

"When that happens, that's when you can say, 'This is what it meant. This is what it was, and now you guys can start your own streak,' " he said. "Because they've got nothing to do with this streak."

Auriemma said Connecticut will need some big contributions from its newest players to challenge for a third consecutive national title. UConn lost national player of the year Tina Charles to graduation, and guard Caroline Doty this summer to a third knee injury.

The recruiting class includes forwards Samarie Walker, Lauren Engeln and Michala Johnson, guard Bria Hartley and center Stefanie Dolson.

Hartley, who is expected to pick up some of Doty's minutes, and the 6-foot-5 Dolson, who is expected to see a lot of time in the post, are under the most immediate pressure.

"I know I came in here with big shoes to fill," Dolson said. "As long as I work hard, I can prove myself. Obviously, they believe in me. They know what I can do and what I can bring to the table, or I wouldn't be here."

The Huskies also return some pretty good players, starting with All-American Maya Moore -- who is back from the women's basketball world championships in the Czech Republic, where she helped the Auriemma-coached national team win a gold medal.

Moore also had Tina Charles on that team, and said she's eager to see how the Huskies play without their dominant center.

"I'm not worried, though," she said. "Of course, I'd like to have Tina, but this is college; people graduate. We're going to have the pieces to get it done."

The Huskies open in a month against Holy Cross, but also play Baylor, LSU and Ohio State before Christmas.

Guard Tiffany Hayes said she hopes some of those teams come in believing the Huskies are a bit weaker this season.

"We're going to take that as an advantage and just come in and I guess be the underdogs to whatever teams are looking down on us, thinking we're lacking whatever," she said.