We're down the home stretch in Bob Diaco's first season and on paper, this team doesn't look much different than the ones that preceded it in recent years; UConn is currently 2-7, and neither the offense nor defense is where it needs to be.
With three games left, Diaco again reiterated the talking points we've heard for weeks: Changing the culture of losing isn't an overnight process.
“This is tear down and rebuild,” Diaco said Tuesday. "That is what we’ve been doing. It needs it. It is still in the beginning phases. Kind of like a baby lifting a coffee table. Did the baby get upset that it didn't lift the coffee table? Probably not. Just frustrated. Could see it on their face, but we understand where we are at as a team. They know. We are going to be ready and excited to play this game Saturday night. We're going to bust our butts to prepare to win a game."
So how does transforming an underachieving program into a competitive one come about?
“It's experience. It’s maturity, it’s culture," Diaco said. "It’s a lifestyle. All areas of where we need to continue to come,” Diaco said. “There is enough instances and examples of not quite getting and understanding the lifestyle necessary to be a champion, collectively. There's examples of a lack of mature football intelligence in situations and game situations which takes coaching and time and experience. There’s instances of a lack of physical strength necessary to consistently do the jobs well. All the jobs. There's just development needs to take place in every area.”
Diaco also stressed that turning this around won't be easy, and it may not happen as quickly as some like.
“The fact of matter is it was a mess,” he said. “A giant mess. It is just a much smaller mess. Never shied away from what it it was. Whether physical development of team, that was what was shockingly so profound. How weak and fat the players were and bad their blood work and nutrients were. That was profound. ... Doesn’t mean that there was nothing here. Talented and enough players here to have a good team. We just aren’t a good team.”
And it's not clear when the Huskies will be good. But with Diaco in charge, it won't be for lack of trying.