Monday’s game against No. 1 Baylor will be the 959th in the UConn coaching career of Geno Auriemma. It will also be his 11th against a top-ranked team, his second this season following the Huskies’ 61-35 romp at Stanford on Dec. 29.
Despite it all, the Hall of Fame coach, with seven national championships since 1995, still finds inherent excitement working the sidelines of a big event.
Trying to stay a step ahead of the competition is what it’s all about. When the competition is the defending national champion, it tends to make the walk brisker.
“Any coach is probably excited to coach any game, but the kind of games coaches really love are those in which you know that you can play your ‘A-game’ and still lose,” Auriemma said. “Those are the great games to coach because the goal then is to play your ‘A-game.’
“If you win, you win, if you lose, you lose. It’s not that exciting to go into a game knowing that even if three of our stars foul out, we will still win by a bunch. It doesn’t do that much for you. But to coach in a game we could do everything right and still lose? That’s the goal. And the preparation that requires is a little different.
“Against some teams, you can watch film and say ‘Well, if we do this, we are going to get this shot. But against Baylor we know, we may or may not get that shot. So we need to be prepared for anything.
“That’s what gets the juices flowing because plan A is definitely not going to work. So you need plans A, B and C. It’s like Mike Tyson said, ‘You can have plan A [when fighting him] until you get punched in the face. Then you better have plan B.”