As Geno Auriemma approaches his 1,000th career game on Feb. 22 at Houston, The Courant will be busy attempting to put his Hall of Fame career into some perspective.
Today’s installment deals with the early days of the program after Geno and Chris Dailey arrived to take over the program in 1985.
The challenges came in all sizes. Some even came in small paper bags, wrapped in wax paper, as Chris Dailey recalled:
“We knew the university and John Toner had made a financial commitment to the program,” Dailey said. “UConn was one of the first schools to fully fund [the women’s basketball team] with scholarships. But changing the image, the way the program was viewed was the biggest challenge. And to be honest, that effort led to some of our biggest early battles, some within our own department.
“After games, for whatever reason, the players would be provided ham sandwiches to eat. Well, our kids didn’t like ham and I tried to get turkey. I asked and asked. That’s all I asked for – can we have turkey instead of ham? You would have thought I would have asked for someone’s first-born child.
“It soon got to the point where I was in our office one day, almost in tears, saying, “Why won’t they give us turkey! I don’t understand.’ I was getting upset over the frustration over something so minute. Geno finally says to me, ‘Do you realize you are crying over a ham sandwich?” I’m trying to tell him, “That’s not the point!”
“I took me a little while to understand that some people here were somewhat resistant to change.”