I will have a whole lot more to say about the Huskies’ triumph and their stupendous undefeated season a little later in the day. But I will quickly mention this note that made me smile, as a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said the last time the Huskies played in the Final Four in St. Louis, in 2001, he went to Stan the Man for little good luck.
“I went down and touched Stan Musial’s statue in front of the old Busch Stadium,” Auriemma said, “and he was only good for a half.”
The Huskies ended up losing a 15-point lead to Notre Dame, playing an uncharacteristically bad second half after a good first half in the 2001 national semifinals. That loss prevented UConn from having a chance to win five NCAA titles in a row. As it was, the Huskies won in 2000 in Auriemma’s stomping grounds of Philadelphia, then in 2002-2004 in San Antonio, Atlanta and New Orleans.
Coming back to St. Louis this year, Auriemma said he gave the Cardinals’ statues another try at the new Busch Stadium.
“This time I got them all; I got the whole crew down there,” he said. “And I figured, ‘You know what? Now I’m a true St. Louis guy.’ I got to touch all the statues, rubbed their heads. This was great.”
Good thing for him the bad karma from the Cardinals’ opening day – when they gave up four ninth-inning runs and lost 6-4 to the Pirates – wasn’t the luck that UConn got. Tuesday night, both the Huskies and the Cardinals won.