The journey to an eighth national title for the UConn women officially begins Monday evening when the NCAA Tournament bracket is announced. In reality, this journey began in November and over the last four months this has been one of Geno Auriemma's most consistent teams -- except when Notre Dame has been the opponent.
The Fighting Irish, long the little sister to UConn, won all three meetings in 2013 -- including the Big East Tournament championship -- and are 7-1 in their last eight get-togethers.
But it's a new day for the Huskies, and if the basketball gods should see fit to give them one more crack at Notre Dame, all the better.
“This is it,” UConn senior Kelly Faris said via the Hartford Courant. “The [losing] is frustrating and it’s getting old. This is literally the absolute last chance we will have to make anything of our season. If there is anything we haven’t put out there yet [to succeed] we need to do it now.”
First things first: the Huskies need to worry about whichever team will be coming to Gampel in the early rounds of the tournament before looking ahead to any possible rematches. The Huskies' NCAA title hopes will begin Saturday, and ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme suspects Navy will be the first-round opponent. And for the time being, that's all that matters to Auriemma.
"That's as far as we're looking right now," the coach said after the latest loss to the Fighting Irish.
If nothing else, Notre Dame will be in the back of the Huskies' minds as they make their way through the tournament.
“It’s something you don’t want to have had happened,” UConn forward Breanna Stewart said. “[The Irish] are our rivals. You don’t want to lose to anyone. But you especially don’t want to lose to your rivals.”
But they did -- three times -- and now it comes down to what the Huskies plan to do about it.