Huskies can wrap up another Big East title today
Storrs - Eighteen Big East Conference regular-season championships before this would point to the fact that the UConn women's basketball team is 14-0 in the league right now and needs just one more win, today at Georgetown, to put No. 19 in the record books.
"This is where we expect to be every year. We make it look like, 'Oh, of course.' 'This is easy to do,'" UConn coach Geno Auriemma was saying following a practice earlier this week at Gampel Pavilion.
But all the things that went into that 14-0 are what leads to the second half of Auriemma's statement.
"The fact we're sitting here and haven't lost yet in the Big East … for us to be where we are right now, it's pretty amazing," Auriemma said.
First off, the Huskies graduated the program's all-time leading scorer and rebounder in Tina Charles and another 1,000 points from starting guard Kalana Greene. Then point guard Caroline Doty suffered a knee injury during the summer that caused her to miss this entire season. That gave the team 10 healthy players: five freshmen.
Then one of the freshmen, Samarie Walker, transferred to play for the University of Kentucky. Nine.
And finally, the news came Friday that bench player Heather Buck, a redshirt sophomore and the backup center, will miss a minimum of two weeks of playing time due to a stress reaction in her left ankle. Buck injured her ankle in practice Thursday and left Gampel Pavilion wearing a protective boot.
That leaves the top-ranked Huskies to head to No. 18 Georgetown today (3 p.m., CPTV) with eight healthy players. UConn will capture the Big East title outright with a win, its fifth championship in a row, as second-place DePaul's loss to Louisville on Wednesday gave UConn (27-1 overall) a two-game lead in the standings with two to play.
The league features nine teams which are poised to be selected for the NCAA tournament, too, with UConn, DePaul (7), Notre Dame (8), Georgetown, West Virginia (19) and Marquette (24) all in the top 25.
"If we were to come out of this thing the way our players hope to come out of it, it would be pretty meaningful after everything that's transpired," Auriemma said.
"It's right there. We just have to focus and go get it," UConn senior All-American Maya Moore said. "It's getting to be that time of year. You can't afford to slip up and not be at your best. We have to make sure we take advantage of every minute we're out there."
Moore, the Big East's all-time leading scorer (2,828 points) leads the Huskies with 23.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Tiffany Hayes is next with 14.5 points per game and Bria Hartley with 13.1 per game. Stefanie Dolson, along with Hartley a candidate for Big East Freshman of the Year, is averaging 9.5 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Auriemma said his starters spend so much time on the floor together, they've been extraordinarily cohesive, especially when it comes to offense.
"Do I like having six (in the playing rotation)? No. I hate it," Auriemma said. "But it gives you a little bit of continuity."
Georgetown (21-7, 9-5) is led by Sugar Rodgers, last year's Freshman of the Year, with 18.6 points per game.