The University of Connecticut women's basketball team will unveil the 2016 national championship banner at Gampel Pavilion prior to its Nov. 17 home opener against Baylor.
But last season will be far in the Huskies' rear view mirror by then. UConn will put its 75-game winning streak on the line three days earlier at Florida State, the start of a grueling non-league schedule.
The Huskies will certainly be in the top 10 When the Associated Press preseason poll is released next Tuesday and it's also likely that they will face a majority of the other nine top 10 teams during their 13-game non-league slate. Their games against the Seminoles and Bears could mark the first time they have started a season against consecutive top 10 opponents.
"I love it. I think that we all love it, honestly," UConn junior forward Gabby Williams said at Monday's American Athletic Conference media day in Philadelphia. "We're going to learn a lot and that's the fun part of playing really good teams. We have a lot to learn. And since I've been here we really haven't had a schedule like this. Every game is going to be exciting and that's going to fun. We all came to UConn to play in big games and that we're going to get opportunities to do that is awesome."
The Huskies spent all of last season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll but may not begin there this season after losing Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck -- the three top seniors in the country -- to graduation.
Among the candidates to fill the top spot: Baylor, Maryland, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and South Carolina. UConn will see them all in the regular season.
"It's a preseason poll and I think we know what the rest of the world thinks of us right now," UConn junior guard Kia Nurse said. "What we do is a good job of is not letting things from the outside into our circle. We're not concerned about things we can't control. We understand that people think that we aren't as good as we were last year. We play with a chip on our shoulder because of that. But we don't dwell on it or think about it or talk about it. It's not necessary."
UConn, which was the unanimous choice by league coaches as the AAC favorite, began official practice on Oct. 12. The Huskies will face a pair of Division II schools during the preseason -- Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Nov. 1 at Gampel Pavilion and Pace University on Nov. 6 at the XL Center in Hartford -- prior to heading to Florida State.
"Practice has been good with a big learning curve for the new guys," Nurse said. "But they've been great. They've asked questions. They've worked hard and that's all you can ask at this point. We're coming along and jelling as a team well.
"There's a sense of urgency in that the season is starting and you have to be ready to go. Every team wants to peak at the end of the season rather than at the beginning. But you want to have consistency. We understand that we have two big games right off the bat and we want to play great teams that will challenge us. I think we're doing a great job getting ready."
The Huskies have not lost an opener since 1995 and haven't started a season 0-2 since three years before coach Geno Auriemma's arrival in Storrs. Of course, UConn has not lost back-to-back games since March 1993, a span of 849 games (793-56).
With the Huskies trying to incorporate three freshmen -- Crystal Dangerfield, Molly Bent, and Kyla Irwin -- into the mix of their 10-player active roster, it would have been easy for them to schedule a low-major at home to open just to get the opening-game jitters out.
Auriemma, though, wouldn't have his schedule be set up any other way.
"It's going to be the perfect opening, just like last year at Ohio State was the perfect way to open the season for that team," he said. "What's the worse that can happen after two games, 0-2? If this was college football the season would be over, but it's not. The best that can happen is we play great and win them both. But that doesn't mean we're going to win at Notre Dame and against South Carolina at home.
"By November 20, I'll have a pretty good idea of what direction we're going with our next week of practice instead of if we played four exhibition games. If we go 0-2, that would be fun to walk into that locker room. But if we're 2-0, those guys will walk into my office and go, 'So just shut up at practice, understand?'"
Right now, there's a lot of teaching and talking going on at the Champions Center in Storrs.
"It's been like it's been the last two years," Williams said. "We're trying to figure out where everyone fits in and get everyone into the pace and style of the way we do things."