BY DOUG FEINBERG
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — It’s never about streaks with Geno Auriemma. He’s been there and done that.
When you already own the longest winning streak in NCAA college basketball history, all you’re doing is changing the number.
That explains his seeming nonchalance about UConn’s latest record run. The Huskies have won 90 straight over the past three years to match the mark they set from 2008-10. The latest was No. 20 South Florida on Tuesday night.
“Some things you just can’t really explain, you just have to enjoy it.” Auriemma said after the 102-37 victory. “We don’t set out to do these kinds of things. We don’t set out to set records, break records or keep track of records. We set out to play as hard as we can, play with as much energy as we can. Forget the 90 wins, tonight was a perfect example of what Connecticut basketball can accomplish.”
And how the Huskies play is what matters most to the Hall of Fame coach. It’s what he’s cared about more than anything during his 30-plus years of coaching, and that will never change.
“He really is a perfectionist,” assistant coach Shea Ralph said. “You see it in practice. It would be easy for him to let them coast and just play off the talent that they have, but he never has and never will do that. He is constantly motivating them to get better. When he says he doesn’t really care about the streaks, it’s true. It’s never talked about in practice or in the office.”
Still, he couldn’t have been prouder after the team’s record-tying win.
“It really was more about the way the game went as opposed to whatever numbers, whatever’s attached to it,” Auriemma said. “The way the first 20 minutes were played. We just played like a team that was tonight on a mission to do something that was really important to them.
“I always say it’s important to play great, hard and with a lot of energy every single night. That’s as good a 20 minutes of basketball as any of them have been a part of.”
Auriemma has been seen both streaks. In fact the Huskies have the three longest winning streaks in women’s basketball history, including a 72-game run in the early 2000s. After Tuesday’s win, Auriemma took a minute to compare the current run to the one they matched from a few years ago.
When the Huskies approached 90 wins last time, there was so much hoopla about tying the vaunted UCLA men’s record. This time around, that isn’t happening. Auriemma had a simple reason why.
“It’s male and female,” he said. “It was all the people coming out of the woodwork to complain we’re not UCLA and you’re not John Wooden. We don’t have any UCLA stuff up here and I don’t have anything in common with coach Wooden. I never said that (I did). It became, ‘How dare you compare those two.’ Everyone jumped on this bandwagon. Now people can ignore it since it’s us breaking a UConn record.”
Auriemma laughed when he was asked whether people will stop talking about the streak after the Huskies potentially win their 91st straight game on Saturday at SMU.
“Forget 91, I had someone ask me before the game about 100 consecutive wins,” he said. “I almost hope we don’t get to that point so people will stop talking about it.”
That’s not likely to happen. The Huskies haven’t lost an American Athletic Conference game since joining the league in 2013-14 season.
Four members of the current team — Saniya Chong, Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse and Tierney Lawlor — have been part of the program for all 90 wins. They don’t want to see it end anytime soon.
“It’s just pretty cool that it’s still going,” Williams said. “Because everyone is like, it’s not going to end while we’re here. That’s kind of the mentality.”
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