The UConn women’s basketball team and head coach Geno Auriemma are facing a lot of pressure heading into Monday night’s Elite Eight clash with No. 2 seed South Carolina.
Since the undefeated, No. 1 seed Huskies fell short of winning the national championship last year — with a shocking Final Four loss to Mississippi State — there is a unique pressure that Auriemma and his team are facing during the 2018 women’s NCAA tournament. Everybody expects UConn to dominate the field once again. During most seasons, anything less than a national championship for the Huskies is seen as a huge disappointment. If UConn fell short of a national championship in back-to-back seasons after going undefeated in the regular season it would be a huge deal.
Speaking to reporters at the Albany Regional on Sunday afternoon, Auriemma had some interesting quotes on dealing with those insane expectations. Auriemma also mentioned how he would love to talk to Alabama football head coach Nick Saban about handling similar yearly expectations.
“Yeah, two years without winning a National Championship, I’ll probably have to move from my house. Too many people know where I live, and we’ll be like 70-2, and somebody will be out to get me; I’ll have to change where I go to the store, all that stuff,” Auriemma said of a potential 2018 tournament loss.
“Yeah, Connecticut — well, first of all, if we don’t win tomorrow night, there’s not even any going back to Connecticut. The expectation level is so high, so high. But we created it, so I’m not — you know, believe me, I’m far from complaining. I’d rather have that than some of the scenarios I described earlier where nobody cares. But it’s unlike any place you’ve ever been.
I want to go down and sit down with Nick Saban and say, how the hell do you do this. It’s a different world. It’s a different world.”
UConn is attempting to advance to its 11th straight Final Four in the women’s NCAA tournament when they face the Gamecocks on Monday. The Huskies knocked off South Carolina earlier this season with a 25-point road win on Feb. 1 — so the pressure to advance to the Final Four is probably even greater than normal.
The Huskies won four straight national championships before last season’s stunning defeat as they are hoping to claim a fifth national title in six years.