Case for UConn's Geno Auriemma being best coach ever goes beyond basketball

It is simple enough to make the case for Geno Auriemma as the greatest coach in basketball history.

There’s the 23 regular season conference championships—19 in the Big East (when the Big East was the Big East), four in the American Athletic Conference, where the Huskies have never lost a game. There’s the 90-game winning streak, only eclipsed by... the team’s current winning streak, 107 and counting after a 100-44 win Monday night to capture his program’s 22nd conference tournament crown.

Pat Summitt won eight national championships. John Wooden won 10 national championships.

Auriemma? Eleven and counting. (You betting against them to win number 12 this April?)

But perhaps the best two examples of why Auriemma and his career 985-134 mark, his Huskies now 152-1 over their past 153 games, will be remembered as the greatest coach in the history of the sport will come from the legacy he’s already left with both his players and the coaching tree he’s created.

The American Athletic Conference alone provides a fine example of just how many Auriemma disciples will be preaching for decades to come. Auriemma shared coach of the year honors in the conference with Temple’s Tanya Cardoza, a former Auriemma assistant at Connecticut. How often does she reflect upon her Auriemma experience in her current job?

“In everything that I do,” Cardoza said back in October, at AAC Media Day. “From day one when I stepped on Temple’s campus, it was everything that I learned at UConn, to the point where my players would get annoyed sometimes. But I think they understand now. And trying to compete with them, you have to pay attention to the little things. At some point, they might have gotten annoyed with some things they didn’t think were important, but now they understand why. Whether it’s communicating on defense, just opening up your mouth and talking, they see that it helps. Whether it’s everybody has to look alike, the way that you dress, your shirt has to be tucked in, you can’t walk around with headphones on. Those are all things I got from UConn, and for someone else, it may not be a big thing, but for us, it’s how people perceive you.”

That perception certainly applies to Katie Lou Samuelson, who drew national attention again Monday night for her long-range shooting—10-for-10 from beyond the arc. Still, it is striking to see Samuelson as a complete player for the Huskies at both ends of the floor, and realize how much work Auriemma and his staff have done to turn her into a complete contributor.

“The thing he has emphasized to us as players is, he’s accomplished so much, maybe everything one could accomplish, but he’s only concerned with making us the best players and people we can be,” Samuelson said of Auriemma. “And I trust him, that was one of the main reasons I came here.”

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