UConn's goal: Write new script for Philadelphia story
Philadelphia - Last time his team played in the NCAA tournament in his hometown, UConn coach Geno Auriemma pretty much knew his team was destined to win the national championship.
"I went out early and stayed out late," he said Saturday with a laugh. "I knew we had the best team in the country. Whether I showed up or not, it didn't matter."
Today, the top-seeded Huskies (34-1), trying to win their eighth national championship and third in a row, will play again in Philadelphia. They meet No. 5 Georgetown in the Sweet 16 at the Liacouras Center, yet another homecoming for Auriemma, who hails from nearby Norristown.
Auriemma's plan this time: Watch film. "But I am going to a really good restaurant tonight," he said. "… I (just) won't be taking any bus tours to Finnigan's Wake (Irish pub) until 5 o'clock in the morning."
Auriemma will get to see his family, including his mother, Marsiella, who still lives in the area.
The trip to Philadelphia is also a homecoming for UConn's Caroline Doty, who is from Doylestown, Pa., and attended Germantown Academy, both within 45 minutes of the city.
Doty said she knew it was home when she was eating breakfast Saturday morning and looked over to see another diner wearing a Philadelphia Phillies T-shirt.
"Things you don't see in Connecticut," she said. "… It's great."
Doty, who is redshirting this season with a knee injury, said the NFL's Eagles and baseball's Phillies top her rooting interests, with the Flyers of the NHL and the NBA's 76ers in the second pack.
Like Doty, Auriemma has been charged with rounding up tickets for friends and family.
"I know I was given a bunch of tickets and I know I don't have enough," Auriemma said.
Should UConn beat Georgetown, it would play either No. 2 Duke or No. 3 DePaul Tuesday night, with a Final Four berth on the line.
Shooting for three
UConn is 12-1 against the other teams in the Sweet 16, having played 10 of them, so chances were the Huskies would face a team for the second time this season. Today's matchup against Big East foe Georgetown makes No. 3.
"The first game down there we made the mistake of just passing the ball to anyone that was open and it happened to be their guys," Auriemma said.
So, the players and coaches were asked, is playing for a third time a blessing because the teams know each other so well? Or a curse because the teams know each other so well?
"I think it's harder the more familiar you are with each other," UConn senior All-American Maya Moore said. "It's like fighting your brother or sister. You know all their tricks and they know all your tricks. You just have to have a drag-out."
Said Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy: "It could go either way. It's a blessing we know the team we're playing and understand them, but at the same time it's a curse we are playing UConn, the No. 1 team in the country."
There are three teams in the Philadelphia Regional, in fact, from the Big East, including DePaul.
"We have been auditioning different places for the Big East tournament," Auriemma said with a laugh. "This is as good a place as any. I don't know how Duke got in."
UConn's Kelly Faris, who usually guards the opposing team's top scoring threat, on defending Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers, who had a career-high 34 points in her last game with seven 3-pointers:
"Obviously right now she's doing really well. She's a really smart player. She's really quick. Most of the players that I guard are shooters and they're quick guards and they can go to the basket, but she can shoot from really deep. She launches 'em. That's one of the things I have to be really consciously be aware of. I have to constantly remember to have a hand up."