The Huskies are 9-0 and the second-ranked team in the country behind Stanford. It's familiar territory for Geno Auriemma's bunch, but with the holidays looming, the schedule will only get tougher from here on out. After cruising to a 97-25 win over Oakland on Wednesday, UConn faces old foe Hartford this Saturday. It'll be the latest reunion between Auriemma and his former player, Jen Rizzotti, who has been Hartford's coach since 1999.
The two teams have met 12 times and 12 times the Huskies have won, the last meeting coming in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Before that, the teams met in 2009. But unlike other series, Auriemma truly looks forward to these games.
“With Jen [and Hartford] it may be different," Auriemma said via the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "With other programs you can probably say ‘Take it or leave it. Do you want to play or not? This is the way it’s going to be.’
“But I told Jen from the start, whenever you want to play let me know," he continued. "And whenever you don’t to play, let me know that, too. It’s up to you. We took a couple of years off, but when she suggested that we should play again, I said sure. But she said, ‘I want you to play at our place.’
“I said, ‘Why not.’ It’s hard for Hartford to get any of the Top 5 programs in the nation to play her there. Now, she can say it has and their fans and players can experience what it will feel like. Jen is a smart, tough kid. She wants to get some things on her side. She figures we’ve already played at Gampel and the Civic Center. I just want to get a shot at our place [Chase].
“So two Italians came to a good deal; once at their place, once at XL Center and 72 times at Gampel Pavilion.”
Way back in April 2011, we wrote that Rizzotti could be Auriemma's eventual replacement at UConn whenever that day finally arrives. Honestly, we don't even know who would be No. 2 on that list behind her.