I was in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday watching No. 1 UConn dismiss San Diego State 99-55, and afterward Huskies coach Geno Auriemma gave his usual postgame press conference/lounge act that makes covering UConn different than any other program.
He’ll answer the media’s questions, go off on a few tangents, provide nuggets of information on players’ habits or personalities … then when the press conference is “over,” he’ll hang out in the hallway answering even more questions.
Then he’ll chat about sports in general: Whether it be about his team or son Michael’s team or the World Series-champion Phillies or the BoSox or the Yankees or the Patriots or Celtics or whatever.
The most interesting thing he said Thursday might – at first blush – sounded like classic poor-mouthing of his group.
“If we’re the No. 1 team in the country given what we have and who we’re trying to replace and what we’re trying to do, then I guess the other teams have some issues, huh?” he said. “Cause I think we have some.
“This whole, ‘You’re No. 1 and it’s yours to lose’ … man. I remember when we were really No. 1 and nobody could beat us. Now people say, ‘You’re No. 1’ and (I say), ‘What’s wrong with 2, 3, 4, 5 – what’s their problem?’ If we’ve got the issues that I’m talking about with our guys …. that’s why it may be one of those crazy seasons. We may have to go to the BCS computer at the end of the year to see who’s what.”
Like I said, that might sound like pour-mouthing, but it don’t think it is. Not totally, anyway. Had Auriemma said something like this in November 2001, then everyone would have rolled their eyes. Because that team – with five future WNBA first-round draft choices _ was unbeatable in the 2001-2002 season.
This group of Huskies is certainly No. 1, but it’s not quite as far up “Mount Olympus” as that 2002 NCAA title team.
That doesn’t mean UConn is not still a pretty fantastic. It’s just that there is not quite the star power of 2002 across starting lineup – at least not yet. That said, the top three players for UConn _ Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery _ are very, very good and present an nearly insurmountable challenge to opponents when they’re on their games. But what if any of the three have an off day or get in foul trouble?
Auriemma has concerns about that, but the depth of the team – with the freshmen getting better practically by the hour – is going to improve as the season goes on.