If you haven’t already figured this out, Geno Auriemma doesn’t deal with pressure and expectation the way most coaches do.
And he says he did not develop his serenity lesson plan yesterday, or last month or in 2000 or even in 1995 when beating Tennessee twice turned his program into a comet that still burns.
More than that, he doesn’t think much or care about how his rivals prepare for his teams. He figures his teams are good enough to handle whatever is thrown at them.
But don’t take it from me. I am just the messenger. Take your seats. Open your notebooks (or laptops). Class is in session:
“I don’t know how teams approach us now. I am not in their shoes, I have no access to their practices or film rooms. But I can tell you this: The week leading up to our first meeting with Tennessee in 1995 we never even watched their game film. In my mind, I didn’t care about what they had and neither did my players. We just cared about ourselves.
“I know some teams don’t even care about their games against us. Harry Perretta [Villanova’s coach] used to tell me that he didn’t care. He didn’t watch our films. He just prepared for everyone else.
“But remember, back then [in 1995], there wasn’t much available in terms of access to information [the internet, television games] and our players didn’t know who any of Tennessee’s players were. They didn’t know who Nikki McCray or Pashen Thompson were. They just knew they were playing Tennessee and it was the next game on the schedule. And we’ve been that way since the beginning of time. It’s our culture. I don’t know if there is any way else we can be.”
“We don’t address it [being hunted]. We don’t think about it. I don’t think we even mention it, as a matter of fact. We keep the focus on ‘this is how we need to play, this is what we expect from ourselves.’
“We take the opponent out of the question. We know if Duke beats us Tuesday, we know it will be its highlight film. We don’t care about that. So what? If we didn’t play well against Stanford or Maryland, it would have been there highlight film. We understand that, which is why we don’t talk about it. All we talk about is how we expect to play every night.
“We have our own level of expectation. And we do it differently here. We prepare a highlight film for our team after every win to remind us how good we are. If we don’t win there is no highlight film because we tell the players the highlights are on the other team’s game film.”
Ok. That’s it. Lecture over: Gather your high school All-Americans and exit to the right. First up in the exam room will be Duke on Tuesday.