STORRS -- Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson had a perfect start to their college career, literally. As freshmen, the Huskies went undefeated and won the program's 11th national championship.
Since then, the two classmates have done plenty of winning -- eight conference titles, helping build a 111-game win streak and reaching three straight Final Fours -- but they're missing one thing: a second national championship.
Fair or not, careers are judged at UConn by how many rings a player wins.
Diana Taurasi won three. Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck won four. If Collier and Samuelson fall short again this year, they will only have one title. Geno Auriemma doesn't want that to be the way they're remembered.
"I'd just hate to think that unless you've won two or three national championships, you've had a disappointing career at Connecticut," he said. "That would be horrible. That would be unjust and unfair to anyone."
To make his point, Auriemma pointed out program legends that only won one championship during their time in Storrs: Rebecca Lobo, Jen Rizzotti, Nykesha Sales. He even made note of a great that never cut down the nets.
"Kerry Bascom won no national championships but I think she's as good as anyone on that wall," Auriemma said, referring to the wall in UConn's practice facility where all the former National Players of the Year and First Team All-Americans are listed.
Collier and Samuelson are already on that wall and Auriemma believes they've cemented a strong legacy in program history -- regardless of what happens over the next three weekends.
"Let's name the top 20 players in the history of Connecticut basketball," he said. "How long until you get to those two? Somewhere. And the people in front of them could be potential Hall of Famers. That's not a bad group to be in."
The coach noted that when the pair came in as freshmen, they were in awe of who some of their teammates were -- greats like Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck. Now, it's come full circle as the incoming freshmen do the same when they see Collier and Samuelson.
"Some of our freshmen are going 'Oh my god, I'm playing with Lou and Pheesa.' It's funny to see them at the other end, four years later," Auriemma said.
Samuelson admitted as much herself and even said she still finds herself amazed that she has gotten to play at the same place as so many other greats.
"Even once you're here for as long as we've been here, still looking up seeing those names on the wall, the people that have come through here, people that come back, it's pretty crazy to think you're playing...on the same court and the same coaches they played for," she said.
While they have both accomplished a lot over their four years, Collier and Samuelson still want to end it all with bookend national championships. Auriemma wants that as well. It's still UConn. But while that's important, that isn't everything to them.
"You know, people don't remember your stats, they remember how you treated them and what my teammates think of me is really important," Collier said. "So I want to leave with them thinking I was a good teammate, reliable and did everything I could to help my team win."
Regardless of how their run ends, Auriemma will certainly remember Collier and Samuelson -- the two highest-scoring classmates in program history -- fondly.
"When Pheesa and Lou walk off the court for the very last time whether there's confetti falling on them or not, I'm going to feel like I've been fortunate enough to coach two of the best players to ever play at Connecticut," he said. "I just think so much of Lou and Pheesa."