It seems like the University of Connecticut women's basketball team has been successful forever.
But prior to Geno Auriemma's arrival as coach, the Huskies had only one winning season.
It seems like UConn will be successful forever.
Now there are 13-year-old players who dream of being Auriemma's point guard. Of course, there's only one -- Little League World Series star Mo'ne Davis -- who's been on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
But look at it this way. During Davis' senior year of college, Auriemma will turn 69 years old. Will he still be coaching in eight years? Who knows?
"I didn't think I would be doing it this long," Auriemma said. "You just never know. I think time has a way ... I've almost felt like it is like the ocean. You just kind of keep getting pushed forward, getting pushed forward, getting pushed forward. Trying to stop isn't easy. I can see why so many people are in it for so long. Trying to stop goes against everything you believe in, everything you've ever done. Most coaches that I know that have been doing it for a long time, they haven't done anything else in a long time. So this is what you know best. This is what you enjoy the best. But there is going to come a time when all of a sudden I can't really give it what it deserves."
That time will come but it doesn't appear near. UConn's Hall of Fame coach will go for his 900th win Tuesday night when the second-ranked Huskies entertain American Athletic Conference foe Cincinnati at the XL Center in Hartford (7 p.m., SNY).
Auriemma, in his 30th year, is 899-134. In December, he became the sport's all-time leader in winning percentage. A win Tuesday night over the Bearcats, who are coached by former UConn player and assistant coach Jamelle Elliott, would put him in the 900-win club Tennessee's Pat Summitt (1,098 wins), North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell (953), Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (945), Stanford's Tara VanDerveer (944), and Texas' Jody Conradt (900).
"He has an unbelievable basketball mind," Elliott said. "I've always respected the fact that he doesn't coach his players like women or girls but like basketball players. He doesn't get too caught up in how they are feeling that day or their emotions or their sensitivity. When you step on the floor, he expects you to be a basketball player. He treats you as such. That is something that I think all of his players as well as his colleagues respect about him.
"I'm not surprised that he has had this success because I have been able to see how invested he is in the game of basketball, his players and ultimately in making sure that UConn remains successful."
Auriemma came to UConn for his first head coaching job from the University of Virginia in 1985. He has guided the Huskies to a NCAA-record nine national championships, 15 Final Four appearances including a record run of seven straight that is current, 21 consecutive Sweet 16 bids, and 26 straight NCAA tournament bids. Then there are 19 Big East regular season titles and 18 Big East tournament crowns along with last year's sweep of the AAC championships.
Since the start of the 1993-94 season, UConn is 737-55 (.931) with three of the top four winning streaks in NCAA history.
Win No. 899 came Sunday when the Huskies defeated Temple, coached by former UConn assistant Tonya Cardoza, 83-49 at McGonigle Hall in Philadelphia.
"It's unbelievable," Cardoza said. "When you think about it over the last 20 years, every single team, every single coach, other players that go to other schools, everyone is gunning for them. The fact that he can still be on top is amazing. It's a credit to him and his staff, the type of kids that they recruit to go play there. He's one of those guys that no matter what the situation is, he's going to prepare his team.
"He's just a great guy, a great coach, and I'm happy that I've been able to work with him for 14 years and learn some things from him. I'm just really happy that I get to say that he's my friend."
Seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes were on the floor when Auriemma picked up win No. 800 in the 2012 Big East tournament final against Notre Dame.
Later this month, Mosqueda-Lewis will be added to the "Huskies of Honor" program. Stokes is on her way to smashing UConn's single-season record for blocked shots. In May, they will graduate, just as every student-athlete that played four years for Auriemma has.
"He expects all of us to play great," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "He expects so much from us and doesn't let us settle. Regardless of the opponent and regardless of the time of year, he wants us to play the same every single time. When you're able to play at such a high level regardless of the circumstances, you put yourself in situations to win as many games as he has."
Junior Breanna Stewart is the latest of eight UConn standouts to be named national Player of the Year. On Sunday, Auriemma pointed out, "Stewie got zero offensive rebounds. She got as many as a dead person" against Temple.
"He knows how to motivate his players," Stewart said. "He knows how to push people's buttons, but at the same time the experience he has had allows him to know all the ins and out and the X's and O's. There is nothing he is not prepared for."
The chance to be home in the Philadelphia area Sunday allowed him to reminisce a bit and field questions from the locals as he nears another milestone.
He insists he hasn't changed his coaching style in 30 years.
"Our recruiting style hasn't changed," Auriemma said. "In the beginning we had to work harder to get involved with certain players and there were certain players we couldn't get involved with. We recruited that second, third level player. The kind of player/person/student we chose to recruit hasn't changed. The level of talent has changed tremendously. How we play has changed. But how we play reflects the players we're recruiting today.
"The players we recruited 25 years ago, players that played 25 years ago in college were tough, hard nosed, maybe didn't have as much talent, they had a chip on their shoulder a little bit, they felt like, 'Wow this is cool. I'm playing in college and getting a scholarship and all this great stuff.' That's all changed today. Not just for us, for everybody. You're getting players now, that's not the world they grew up in. You're not going to get players that will stand in there and take charges and dive on loose balls and bust their butt and want to do the little things. It's gotten harder to get them to do those little things."
One thing has remained constant over 30 years -- associate head coach Chris Dailey.
Dailey joined Auriemma's staff shortly after he arrived in Storrs. In fact, she owns a 7-0 record with two Big East Tournament titles when Auriemma has not been on the sidelines.
"I think every coach that has reached a significant amount of wins or has been at a school for a long time like I have can probably trace it to some continuity or some constants in their lives or on their staff," Auriemma said. "It would be really, really difficult to do if you were doing this by yourself and you were constantly changing over year after year every couple years. So however many wins I have right now, that is how many CD has. That is very, very, very rare. That is just so rare that you just can't even imagine it happening. So whatever it is that I have accomplished and whatever numbers I have gotten to, all those accolades and all those things people want to throw our way, those things all go to CD, as well."
They've been a great team.
"They know how to push each other's buttons but to the point where they get work done," Stokes said. "They always joke back and forth like a married couple, but not really. They've been through a lot of things and that what makes them able to work together. For them to get to 900 is awesome, but they have a lot more wins to go so they have to keep pushing each other, pushing our team, and we have to strive to do better."
UConn (20-1 overall, 10-0 AAC) will go for its 20th straight win Tuesday night. The Huskies routed Cincinnati (6-15, 3-6) 96-31 at Fifth Third Arena nine days ago.
A win would make Auriemma the fastest to 900 wins, just as he was to 600, 700, and 800 wins.
"I wish I did, but I really don't," Auriemma said when asked if he had a timetable of how many more years he would coach. "It depends a lot on how long can you stay competitive? How many years can your team still be at the level you expect them to be at? The players that you are coaching, what kind of players are they? What kind of people are they? Do they still bring the energy level? I have to tell you, it is getting harder, and I don’t think it is just because I'm a little bit older.
"I've coached over 1,000 games," he added. "I know a lot of friends of mine that have been coaching for a long time and they'll never get a chance to coach 1,000 games. I know a lot of guys that coached a long time and didn't get to coach 1,000 games. It kind of puts things in perspective for what we've been able to accomplish and just how much went into it."
Coach Geno Auriemma takes Kerith Burke on a ride around the UConn campus and discusses changes at the school on The Geno Auriemma Show.