Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is occasionally correct. And when college basketball's top women's rivalry renews at 7 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena Thursday, Auriemma said the game has, "probably become more than just Connecticut versus Tennessee."
Each UT-UConn game's media prelude has become a stage. Geno acts as the childish-Italian Yankee who taunts the ever-disciplined Southern lady, UT coach Pat Summitt.
In terms of maturity, Summitt would be Geno's grandmother, but the coaches are definitely not related.
I did not grow up a Lady Vol fan. As a child, I was like Geno, often exaggerating stories to make my opinions seem more important.
Since the first match-up between the Huskies and the Lady Vols, UConn's 19th-year coach has failed to demonstrate the same maturation.
Auriemma, 517-101 all-time, has had success on the court. However, his Monday teleconference was more proof he's not as good as he claims to be.
"Think about it, since 1995, we won five national championships," Geno embellished, even though fact-based people credit UConn with only four NCAA titles.
Is it even sane for coaches to lose count of their national championships?
Maybe he is convinced this year's team is a gaurantee for his fifth national title.
The reason is not clear, but Auriemma blabbers about victories his team never had.
"What's interesting about the (Tennessee) rivalry is that we've beaten them like 17 times or something," he said (the Huskies lead the series, 11-6).
He may be wrong a handful of times per conversation, but with a lack of humility, Geno always stresses the importance of his recollections.
"You got to look at it from my point of view," he ironically commanded just before he credited himself with a national championship he won during a visit to Geno World.
From Auriemma's warped viewpoint, tonight's game might as well be an exhibition.
Play off the importance of your toughest rivalry in case you lose - brilliant.
"We get to play some of the better teams in the country to generate a lot of interest," he said about UConn's out-of-conference games. "But (the match-ups) really don't mean anything, you know?"
I guess I don't. Sure, when a star like Diana Taurasi saves Geno's butt against UT, the losing coach remains a winner. But a Summitt victory means Auriemma loses his puke-invoking grin.
Even Connecticut fans get tired of their coach's mouth. Like a child, Geno responds with name-calling.
"People are funny around here ... two-faced," he said of his own fans. "When Pat came up here with her book a while ago, they were standing in line saying, 'We love Pat' and wanting her autograph."
Explanation for Geno - a successful coach who doesn't act like a jerk at the sight of a microphone gains respect and admiration, even from the opposition.
Sports Illustrated's recent "Enemy of the State" polls are evidence that a chunk of Connecticut would rather have Summitt than Auriemma.
"Something like 28 percent of the people (in Connecticut) said that Pat was the enemy of the state ... little known fact is I got 27 percent ... I was second," Auriemma said. "We lost two games this year ... if they took the poll again, I'd be first."
Let me explain. Geno, you hold a higher "enemy" ranking from your own state than from Tennessee, probably because what is fun to you is stupid to your opponent and embarrassing to your own fans.
- Matt Giles is a staff writer for The Daily Beacon and a senior in journalism. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Auriemma sticks his foot in his mouth
Published: Wed Feb 04, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:46 p.m.