MOHEGAN INDIAN RES. - Chris Dailey was impressed, and it had nothing to do with top-ranked UConn‚Äôs 88-64 women‚Äôs basketball victory over Oklahoma in the Naismith Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.
As part of the postgame celebration of win No. 1,000 for head coach Geno Auriemma and associate head coach Dailey, several members of the 1985-86 Huskies - their first team - were introduced to the sellout crowd.
Among the players returning to the state for the occasion was Jennifer Weideman.
‚ÄúShe came from France and that‚Äôs pretty impressive,‚ÄĚ Dailey said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know if I would have come all that way.
‚ÄúWhen I think of Jen Weideman, we had to explain to her who John Wooden was. So we‚Äôve come a long way from that first year.‚ÄĚ
Another 15 players, including Auriemma‚Äôs first recruit, Kris Lamb, and UConn‚Äôs first All-American, Kerry Bascom, watched their former coaches reach the milestone.
Auriemma is the fourth women‚Äôs coach to reach 1,000 wins. His winning percentage of .881 is No. 1 all time. Baylor‚Äôs Kim Mulkey is second among active coaches at .842, and would need to win her next 203 consecutive games to pass Auriemma‚Äôs number.
Dailey has guided UConn for seven games that Auriemma has missed and the Huskies are 7-0 including the 1989 and 1997 Big East Tournament championship.
‚ÄúI knew they were planning stuff for after the game and were trying to be secretive about it,‚ÄĚ Dailey said. ‚ÄúThe only thing that I wanted was for our players to put the confetti on Geno and not on me. I can‚Äôt wait to watch it again.‚ÄĚ
UConn senior guard Kia Nurse was excited to see the players from 30 years ago and said she‚Äôd love to have the opportunity to return 30 years from now.
Nurse was one of four Huskies in double figures Tuesday night and became the 12th UConn player with 200 career 3-pointers.
‚ÄúThis is an incredible family,‚ÄĚ Nurse said. ‚ÄúThis is something you learn your first year here when you see the former players come back and they‚Äôre hanging out or offering you advice. I will absolutely come back because of what they have built and how much they‚Äôve given me.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, watching from a tunnel leading to the court was Phil Martelli, the coach of the Saint Joseph‚Äôs men. Auriemma was Martelli‚Äôs assistant from 1979-81 with the Bishop Kenrick High boys team.
‚ÄúI wanted to have $20 in my pocket instead of $10. That was as far as my goals went when I coached high school basketball,‚ÄĚ Auriemma said.
‚ÄúI try to tell my players this all the time. If you don‚Äôt have goals for what you want to do, then you are just kind of spinning your wheels. I have to put it in terms they understand, like, ‚ÄėWhen you go shopping and you don‚Äôt know what you are buying or what you are going for, you‚Äôre just wasting time, and you come out with something that is meaningless. We had specific goals when we started. One of them was definitely not to win 1,000 games.‚ÄĚ