HARTFORD, Conn. -- The news about the University of Connecticut women's basketball team Thursday morning was that it was voted the No. 1 team in the country in the Associated Press preseason poll.
But for anyone that has followed the Huskies or the sport over the past quarter-century, it's old news.
UConn was the unanimous top team, receiving all 32 first-place votes by the AP board. It marks the 19th time in the last 24 seasons that the Huskies have held the top spot at some point during that season.
"That's hard to believe, hard to explain actually," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It's hard to put into perspective, isn't it? I was asked recently, 'Is it unfair that people expect you to win a national championship every year?' I don't think it's unfair. I don't think we realistically think we can win a national championship every year. We've done a lot of amazing things but not that. You can't win every year.
"But the thing I learned a long time ago is that if you can put yourself in a position year after year after year where you have a chance -- sometimes you have a great chance, sometimes you have an overwhelming chance, sometimes you have a slim chance ... But if you have a chance, you're not out of the conversation. You're not out of the discussion. It's never a rebuilding year. We haven't been in that situation for a long, long time. I hope not to be."
UConn earned its first No. 1 ranking on Jan. 17, 1995, the day after beating Tennessee in a 1-2 matchup at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies would go on to win the first of their 11 national championships that April.
In two of the five seasons the Huskies did not reach the top spot, the eventual national champion was No. 1 wire to wire. Tennessee finished the 1997-98 season 39-0, while Baylor completed the 2011-12 season at 40-0. In both those years, UConn got as high as No. 2 in the poll.
The other three seasons UConn failed to get to the top were the three in a row immediately following the graduation of Diana Taurasi in 2004. The highest ranking for the 2004-05 team was its preseason No. 4. The 2005-06 Huskies also got no higher than No. 4. The 2006-07 club reached No. 2 in March.
Those three teams combined to go 89-17 but did not reach a Final Four.
"Mel Thomas calls them the 'Dark Years,' " Auriemma said. "We had good players on those teams and won a lot of games. They just couldn't get over the finish line. Too many issues."
The 2005-06 squad did start UConn's NCAA record of 12 consecutive 30-win seasons. The 2007-08 season, Thomas' senior year, began the Huskies' record run of 10 straight NCAA Final Four appearances.
UConn, which is No. 1 in the preseason poll for the 12th time, got the maximum 800 points to far outdistance No. 2 Texas (722). The Longhorns were followed by their Big 12 rival Baylor, defending national champion South Carolina, and Ohio State. Rounding out the top 10 were Notre Dame -- which learned Wednesday that Nebraska transfer Jessica Shepard had received a waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible immediately, Mississippi State, UCLA, Louisville, and Stanford.
It was Mississippi State that ended UConn's 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as national champion with an overtime win in the Final Four semifinals in Dallas last March 31. The Bulldogs' No. 7 ranking was their best in the preseason.
The Huskies will face six of the other top 10 teams -- Texas, South Carolina, Notre Dame, UCLA, Louisville, and Stanford -- and 11 of the other top 25 teams during the regular season. Other ranked teams on UConn's slate are No. 15 Maryland, No. 20 California, No. 22 Oklahoma, No. 23 South Florida (twice), and No. 25 DePaul.
USF was the only other American Athletic Conference team to be on a ballot. Quinnipiac, which made a surprising run to the NCAA Sweet 16 last March, was in the also receiving votes category.
The Southeastern Conference (South Carolina, Mississippi State, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 16 Missouri, and No. 20 Texas A&M) and the Pac-12 (UCLA, Stanford, No. 11 Oregon, No. 19 Oregon State, and California) had five teams each in the top 25. The Atlantic Coast Conference (Notre Dame, Louisville, No. 12 Duke, and No. 18 Florida State) and Big 12 (Texas, Baylor, No. 13 West Virginia, and Oklahoma) are next with four teams apiece. The Big Ten (Ohio State, Maryland, and No. 24 Michigan), has three while the AAC and Big East (No. 17 Marquette, DePaul) have two each.
UConn opened its exhibition schedule with an 82-37 win over Fort Hays State Wednesday night at the XL Center. Senior Kia Nurse led four Huskies in double figures with 19 points. Juniors Napheesa Collier and Azura Stevens added 15 points each while their classmate Katie Lou Samuelson had 11. The Huskies will face reigning Division II national champion Ashland (Ohio) Sunday at 1 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion before beginning the regular season Nov. 12 against 10th-ranked Stanford at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.