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Geno tops Coach K for 2nd in all-time NCAA wins

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Published in Breaking News
Monday, 19 February 2024 13:32

HARTFORD, Conn. -- UConn coach Geno Auriemma broke a tie with Mike Krzyzewski for second-most wins by a head coach in Division I men's or women's college basketball on Monday as his team took care of No. 21 Creighton with a 73-53 victory.

Auriemma now boasts 1,203 career wins, all of which were at UConn. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is the only coach ahead of him with 1,209 career wins across stints at Idaho, Ohio State and Stanford.

"I think earlier in my career, to be honest with you, as things were happening that were very significant, they impacted me a lot more. But maybe the volume of things that have happened... I just take it in stride," Auriemma said after the game. "You're so fixated on winning, and you're constantly being reminded every game of how many things your team's not good at.... you're just so fixated on the things you have to fix, the things you have to correct. I'm sure there'll be a time, this summer or next summer or whatever it is, when you think back and it'll really have a huge impact on you."

Auriemma, who turns 70 in March, is in his 38th season in Storrs, taking the reins ahead of the 1985-86 campaign and turning the program into a powerhouse with unparalleled dominance spanning decades. Many of his 1,203 wins came from six undefeated seasons, two 90+ game win streaks, and 11 national championship runs, the most of any coach in the sport's history.

All that being said, Auriemma says he appreciates winning differently now than he used to given the rash of injuries that have clouded the Huskies program going on three years now. UConn currently is without five players due to injury, all of whom were expected to be significant rotation pieces or starters.

"I'm probably like a lot of our fans. We made it look so easy. It was never easy. But we made it look so easy for so long that you almost forget," Auriemma said. "For me now, it's like going back to the 80s and 90s where you had to play great and you knew that every game that you won was special. I've always said the only thing worse than losing is winning all the time."

UConn had been to 14 consecutive Final Fours before its streak was snapped this past NCAA tournament with a loss to Ohio State in the Sweet 16, capping a season where former national player of the year Paige Bueckers was sidelined with an ACL tear. Bueckers and Aaliyah Edwards are the centerpiece of this year's shorthanded team, and the former has already committed to forgoing the WNBA Draft to return to Storrs next season.

Yet with their defeat over Creighton -- who entered the contest having won 11 straight -- Auriemma has guided the No. 15 Huskies (23-5) to their 30th conference regular season title and 11th straight, an undefeated record in Big East play and a top seed in the conference tournament next month. UConn is currently slated as a No. 3 seed in ESPN's latest bracketology.

"I told the team today, this was one of the more gratifying [wins], and we celebrate wins more now than we used to," Auriemma said. "Maybe if we had all 14 of our players, maybe we would just be like we've always been here at UConn, but what we've gone through the last couple of years, you appreciate it way more, way more, and you appreciate your players more."

"The passion and the wanting to win and the energy that goes into it, the feeling like this before every game, it's the same as it was in the 80s but I just think it means a little more now," Auriemma continued. "It's like when you have it all and somebody takes it away from you, when you get it back, you tend to appreciate it more."

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