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    Wednesday, February 28, 2024

    UConn women’s notes: Huskies made streak of 14 Final Fours look easy

    UConn head coach Geno Auriemma reacts after his team falls behind Ohio State in the second quarter of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA tournament on Saturday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)
    UConn guard Lou Lopez Senechal (11) shoots the ball against Ohio State forward Taylor Thierry (2) and forward Cotie McMahon during the first half of Saturday’s Sweet 16 game in the NCAA tournament in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

    Seattle — The longer a streak grows, the closer it is to being over, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Saturday.

    It was a 73-61 loss to Ohio State, perhaps somewhat unexpected as the Huskies’ confidence had grown in recent weeks with the return of previously injured Azzi Fudd, that broke UConn’s unprecedented streak of reaching 14 straight Final Fours.

    Auriemma smiled when broached with the question of missing out on Dallas, the first Final Four without the Huskies since 2007 in Cleveland.

    Since then, the Huskies have been to Final Fours in Tampa (three times), St. Louis, San Antonio, Indianapolis (twice), Denver, New Orleans, Nashville, Dallas, Columbus, San Antonio and Minneapolis, traversing the country to win six national championships.

    “You know, it’s an impossibility to do what we have done already,” Auriemma said. “What’s the next highest streak, nine or something like that, regionals in a row (UConn has been to 29 straight)? There’s a big difference between nine and 29, right?

    “... It’s just a matter of time. It’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of time when it’s going to happen and it was going to happen sooner than later.”

    UConn, with a number of injury woes this season, once having to postpone a game due to not having enough players, lost back-to-back games Feb. 5 and 8 (against South Carolina and Marquette), the first time that has happened since 1993. That streak reached 1,083 games.

    The Huskies (31-6) still finished with 30 wins for the 26th time in the last 30 years and still obliterated the competition in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament, making it to regional No. 29 despite the highs and lows of the season, including the loss of All-American Paige Bueckers to a knee injury prior to the season.

    Auriemma said one thing he takes from the long list of UConn streaks is how easy the Huskies have made it look at the highest levels for so many years, when actually it is “incredibly difficult.”

    “You take that in stride and you say, ‘Yeah it was great while it lasted and it’s a credit to all the players we had and all the times you have to perform really, really well at this level,’” Auriemma said.

    “Because we made it look so routine and so easy, we gave the impression that it’s very easy to do. It’s a reminder that, no, it’s not. It’s very difficult to do. So you appreciate what we had, what we did and, you know, you have to start another one next year.”

    Daughterly advice

    • Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff’s daughter Kilyn plays for the women’s basketball team at Division I Belmont University. A 6-foot, sophomore guard, Kilyn started 26 games for the 23-12 Bruins and averaged 9.4 points and 4.7 rebounds.

    McGuff said that Kilyn’s view point as a Division I athlete helped give him perspective.

    “Just to get her perspective on how the team’s doing, how they’re functioning together and get a young person’s perspective about that,” McGuff said. “How she’s getting coached or what the coach is doing.

    “Not that I don’t trust my own players but my own daughter saying, ‘Hey, the coach is saying this or that, what do you think?’ I don’t know. I just have gotten, I think, a better perspective of a student-athlete when it’s coming from my daughter.

    “I think that’s helped me just be a little more empathetic of what these kids are going through.”

    Quotable

    • Auriemma was told Friday that due to the three-hour time change, sophomore Azzi Fudd had asked what day it was:

    “That’s not just the jet lag,” Auriemma said with a laugh. “... I think we tried to come out Wednesday for that reason. Supposedly, they say for every hour you go, every hour difference in time zone, you need a day to adjust or something.

    “I don’t know. I’ve always said, ‘You get there. Look at the clock. That’s what time it is and try to live in the moment.”

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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