STORRS, Conn. -- Chris Dailey's first impression of working alongside Geno Auriemma 32 years ago has lasted a lifetime.
"I thought he was crazy," Dailey said Monday of their Nov. 23, 1985, debut on the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's sideline, a 73-67 overtime win at Iona that featured Auriemma picking up two technical fouls. "I was like, 'Oh my goodness.' "
What Auriemma and Dailey have done together with the Huskies since is, well, crazy as evidenced by the 11 national championship banners that hang inside Gampel Pavilion.
Top-ranked UConn will look to give Auriemma his 1,000th career win Tuesday night when it takes on Oklahoma in the Naismith Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena. The opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.
"I'm starting to sense how long this has been now," Auriemma said. "We have coached more good players than anybody deserves to have.
"The milestones, for whatever reason and I don't know if it's me or the times we live in, just don't feel the same. It doesn't. I don't know if we have become numb to all the winning. The numbers are too ridiculous to believe."
The Hall of Fame coach enters the contest with a record of 999-135. Dailey, now the Huskies' associate head coach, has been with him every step of the way.
"It's amazing, and you're in awe of all the things that they've accomplished," UConn All-American Napheesa Collier said. "It's unheard of what they've done. I'm proud to be here and proud that I've been a small part of what they've been able to do."
A near-capacity crowd of about 9,000 is expected at Mohegan Sun Arena Tuesday night. That first game at Iona was attended by some family and friends.
But with local product Lori Kulo -- a native of Ellington, Connecticut -- pouring in 24 points, the Huskies survived Auriemma's technicals and pulled out the victory. They would win their first seven games, breaking the previous school record for longest winning streak of five.
"Seriously, I don't think anything can beat being 7-0 to start the season in 1985," Auriemma said. "It's still the highlight of CD's and my careers."
UConn would finish 12-15 for the only losing season of his tenure.
Since the start of the 2007-08 season, the Huskies have lost 15 games total (378-15).
"It's amazing, and it really shows what they have created here," UConn All-American Katie Lou Samuelson said. "It's not only the amount of wins, but the ratio he has just shows how much hard work he has put into this. He and CD have really created an atmosphere that is special and different from anywhere else in the country."
The late Pat Summitt (1,098) and Stanford's Tara VanDerveer (1,018) are the only members of the women's 1,000-win fraternity as Tuesday's action begins. But that could double by day's end as North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell goes for No. 1,000 against Grambling Tuesday afternoon.
In 2009, Oklahoma denied Summitt her 1,000th win on her first attempt. UConn has not lost when seeking an Auriemma milestone. The Huskies are usually good at staying in the moment and keeping their eye on the prize.
"We're fortunate being in this position, having this platform, that there's always something going on around here," UConn guard Kia Nurse said. "Whether it's a milestone, HBO being here, SNY being here, the writers being here, it's always something. But there is an understanding, 'This is what we have to focus on today.' We don't let the outside come into it when it's time to practice or time to play a game. This milestone doesn't happen if we don't take care of business."
Auriemma has another explanation. It took him only 100 games to go from 900 to 999 wins.
"Usually it's because we have better players," he said. "You come here and play at Connecticut and you just assume you'll be a certain way in the biggest games. It's not always easy. It's not always as easy as it appears to be. We've been able to do it for so long that it's expected."
The Huskies (8-0) have been off for fall semester final exams since a 103-69 rout of DePaul on Dec. 8. Oklahoma (5-5) arrived at the casino Sunday coming off a convincing win over New Mexico a day earlier.
While the anticipation has been building in many places, that hasn't been in the case on one street in Manchester, Connecticut.
"There hasn't been anything different at my house these last 10 days," Auriemma said. "There's nobody coming over, there's nobody calling or sending balloons and stuff. My kids, my grandkids and everybody in my family, if you ask them what's happening this week, they'll tell you, 'Christmas is Monday.'
"CD and I have actually talked about it only one time," he added. "(Monday) was the first time we talked about it, and we both laughed when she mentioned it. And one time I mentioned it to the players, 'You're going to hear about this for the next four or five days and Tuesday we play a game and if you win then you guys are part of that history.' Then we had the worst practice of the year."
The break did give Samuelson a chance to rest her left ankle and left foot and also gave redshirt sophomore Batouly Camara time to get some work in after she missed seven games with a right knee injury. She made her UConn debut against DePaul, playing four minutes and grabbing three rebounds. But the Huskies will be down a player as freshman wing Megan Walker will miss Tuesday night's game with the flu.
With game time near, the Huskies are excited about the chance to make history and are taking nothing for granted.
"We don't assume anything," Collier said. "We have a lot of things that we have to focus on. We never think we have a game won before it's played. We have to go out and play our best for 40 minutes."