STORRS, Conn. - Geno Auriemma is usually the one answering questions, usually about his University of Connecticut women's basketball team.
But the Hall of Fame coach gets to turn the tables on his new podcast, "Holding Court with Geno Auriemma," which debuts Friday at 10 a.m. The first episode includes Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving and former UConn star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird.
"I want them to be able to feel that we're having a conversation," Auriemma said Thursday after the Huskies' practice at the Werth Family Champions Center. "It's not threatening. I'm not a reporter. I'm not somebody who is trying to make them look bad or trying to put them in a trap situation.
"But I don't have to be politically correct with them, either. Like when I say to Kyrie, 'I'm glad I didn't know you when I left for America because if I had known the world was flat I would have never left.' And he goes, 'Aww, here we go.' I said, 'Could you explain that, please?' And he went into this in-depth explanation to why. I just shook my head the whole time. He's serious. It was kind of funny and interesting. I try to find things that are humorous and play on them. I like to ask questions that maybe someone might not want to ask."
According to UConn, the show will include some sports talk but will also focus on each guest's biography, in addition to their thoughts on current events, culture and entertainment to go along with humor.
Auriemma also has podcasts done with golf legend Tiger Woods and former NBA star and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
"I said, 'Tiger, you're the greatest player who ever lived,' " Auriemma said. "Then in 2000 you're like, 'I'm the best the player who ever lived. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to change my swing.' Explain that? I can do that and they can say to me, 'You don't know what you're talking about.' But I'm the average guy asking the questions and maybe they want to know the same thing. We'll see where it goes and how long it lasts."
Auriemma said if he was to have one of his players on his podcast, it would be senior All-American Gabby Williams.
But anyone who has listened to any of his press conferences the last three decades knows that Auriemma likes to discuss, and is quite knowledgeable, about sports other than basketball. What other basketball coach ever compared his team to the NHL's Edmonton Oilers?
"I just enjoy talking about things other than this, my team, my job," Auriemma said. "So I thought this would be a great opportunity to see how many different types of conversations I could have that may be a little different than what you might see.
"All three of those guys -- Kyrie, Charles, and Tiger -- are all the same in that they are who they are. They were exactly the same as you thought they would be. I'm anxious to see where it goes from there. We have some interesting names that hopefully we can put out there. It will be fun. I'm going to have some fun with it. I'm not going to quit my job because I'm not going to get wealthy on my podcast."
The dates of the Woods and Barkley podcats have not been announced.
The first podcast will be available here.
WILLIAMS, CAMARA SIT OUT
The Huskies were down two players at Thursday's workout.
Williams, who is usually involved in everything in practice, stood on the sidelines as she dealt with headaches. Auriemma hopes she'll be back to work Friday or Sunday.
"Gabby just came in one day and said she bumped into somebody, caught an elbow or something," Auriemma said. "She came to practice the next day and everything seemed to be fine. Towards the end of practice she said 'I don't feel good.' We thought it might be a concussion but she went through the whole thing and it wasn't. I never saw it happen."
Of more concern was redshirt sophomore forward Batouly Camara, who was wearing a brace on her right knee.
"Monday or Tuesday, we were doing a drill and she landed on somebody and they said it was a sprain, a bone bruise and maybe she's out a week or two," Auriemma said. "They'll know more when all the swelling goes down."
UConn plays its first of two exhibition games next Wednesday when it takes on Division II Fort Hays State at the XL Center in Hartford. Its second exhibition is Nov. 5 against reigning Division II national champion Ashland at Gampel Pavilion.
UCONN TOPS COACHES POLL
UConn was voted the No. 1 team in the nation in the USA Today coaches poll released Thursday. The Huskies, who return four starters including All-Americans Williams, Napheesa Collier, and Katie Lou Samuelson, were 36-1 a season ago with the only loss in the NCAA Final Four semifinals to Mississippi State.
The Huskies received 25 of 32 first-place votes with the other seven going to 2017 national champion South Carolina.
UConn will face six of the other teams in the top 10: No. 2 South Carolina (Feb. 1 in Columbia), No. 5 Notre Dame (Dec. 3 at the XL Center), No. 6 Texas (Jan. 15 in Austin), No. 7 UCLA (Nov. 21 at Pauley Pavilion), No. 9 Stanford (Nov. 12 in the Countdown to Columbus at Nationwide Arena), and No. 10 Louisville (Feb. 12 at Gampel Pavilion).
Other teams in the top 10 are No. 3 Baylor, fourth-ranked Mississippi State, and No. 8 Ohio State.
Also on the Huskies' slate are No. 13 Maryland, No. 20 DePaul, No. 21 Oklahoma, No. 22 and American Athletic Conference member South Florida, and No. 25 California.