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Hartford - This is the time of year Geno Auriemma loves. Not necessarily because wins get his program closer to trophies. More like observing which of his players respond to the increased glare of the spotlight.
UConn begins the 2013 Big East tournament tonight at the XL Center against DePaul (6 p.m., SNY), a 77-69 winner over Marquette in the second round Saturday night.
The Huskies are the tournament's No. 2 seed. That's No. 2 because they were unable to wrest No. 1 away from Notre Dame last Monday in South Bend.
It was a triple-overtime loss in what became the regular season championship game - a game the Huskies were an eyelash from winning several times. It was a popular topic of discussion even a few days after.
"The great thing about coaching at Connecticut is we are used to winning every game and we are used to winning and we have not done that in some instances lately," Auriemma said. "The bad thing about coaching at Connecticut is that the other team is never allowed to win because the only time the other team is allowed to win is we play bad.
"I have never been asked questions after a loss when 'you know what those guys were really good.' I don't think that has ever happened in 15 years at Connecticut. When you look at how we played defensively for the whole game and how many shots their two leading scorers had to take, I go back if we make one more free throw nobody is asking me these questions."
The good news for Auriemma: It's very likely the Huskies will get another chance at the Irish in Tuesday's tournament championship game.
"We are not allowed to lose, the other teams are not allowed to win because if the other team wins it must be because Connecticut sucked, what it does to their psyche," Auriemma said. "It is the only place in America where you are not allowed to lose any games ever, even to the top two teams in the country in triple overtime and one at home or by six to the defending national champions, that is just unacceptable.
"Does it wear on them? What do you think? I am not complaining. I am just stating fact that this is the world that we have created here. I don't know what I can do about it."