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- The Aftermath: Geno Auriemma makes history
The Aftermath: Geno Auriemma makes history
Auriemma became the third Division I basketball coach ever to reach 1,200 wins.
Photo: Ian Bethune
When the final buzzer sounded on UConn’s 67-34 win over Seton Hall on Wednesday night, there was no grand celebration. Confetti didn’t fall from the ceilings and the players didn’t mob him — he just walked down the sideline and shook hands with the opposition.
The only difference between a normal win and Wednesday night is that the public address announcer told the crowd that Auriemma became the third Division I basketball coach to reach 1,200 career victories.
Perhaps that’s because of how the coach viewed the achievement. While he hit the milestone, he still has the third-most wins of all-time behind Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (1,206 and counting) and former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski (1,202).
“Are we gonna celebrate?” he joked last week. “I’m number three. I’m number three.”
The evening wasn’t completely devoid of fanfare, though. It just happened once everyone got away from the cameras.
“We had a little celebration in locker room. Balloons, confetti, we had those little twist popper things that we popped. We had a piñata,” Paige Bueckers relayed. “But he's very humble, very modest, doesn't want to celebrate himself. We kind of forced him to. I got into his hair a little bit. So that was fun.”
That modesty didn’t stop Auriemma from taking a few swings at the piñata, though.
“Yeah, he busted it open — with a weapon,” Bueckers said with a laugh. “[The contents were] sugar packets for CD’s tea, cough drops and DripDrop packets.”
As much as Auriemma tried to downplay the significance of the milestone, he took a moment to reflect on the journey to 1,200.
“When I sat down before the game, I thought back to the first time we ever played in this building. Might have been 1987 days or something like that (it was Dec. 6, 1987 vs. CCSU) but it was a doubleheader with the men,” he remembered. “That game was like at 5:00 or 5:30, I'm not sure. But I can't imagine there were 50 people in the building counting the ushers and some parents that made the trip. So that that part really kind of hit home with me, that we went from that to this.”
Auriemma also gave credit to everyone that got him to that mark, namely associate head coach Chris Dailey — who was alongside him for every win and even captured 17 victories for him as an acting head coach — and the players, both current and former.
“I knew very, very very, very early before we even played our first game or before I got the job that if she would agree to come here and coach with me and with us, that we could be good,” he said about Dailey. “That decision, I think, made every other decision possible. Had I gotten that one wrong, there would have been a whole lot of other wrong decisions going forward. So by getting that one right, I think we set ourselves up for something like this to occur.”
“If she wasn't part of this, it probably would not have happened. I can honestly say that,” he added.
As for the players:
“It should mean an awful lot to them because they're the ones doing it,” Auriemma said. “I think it should mean a tremendous amount to any player that's ever played here to know that they had a hand on all this and they actually did it.”
While Auriemma might be third on the all-time wins list, he reached 1,200 wins the fastest, beating both VanDerveer and Krzyzewski by a matter of years. He’s also the only one of the three to do it at just one school. VanDerveer started at Idaho and Ohio State before Stanford while Krzyzewski spent five years at Army before going to Duke.
None of that matters to Auriemma, though. While he’s only a handful of victories behind VanDerveer, he isn’t hell-bent on surpassing her.
"I could probably say with a great deal of certainty that I'll never be number one in wins. I don't think that will happen,” Auriemma said. “And I'm still going to enjoy my wine and I'm gonna sleep good tonight."
Everything else from Wednesday’s win:
Edwards dominates (again)
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