Geno Auriemma was born in Montella, Italy, 57 years ago, before moving with his family to Pennsylvania when he was seven. And this summer, he's heading back to the Old Country, this time with his basketball team. The Huskies will embark on a 10-day European adventure beginning in Rome on August 16.
But before Auriemma and the university went ahead with the planning they had to first make sure UConn's freshmen would be eligible to make the trip without violating any NCAA rules. Once the NCAA gave the green light, the arrangements were finalized.
Those incoming freshmen make up the No. 2 recruiting class in the country and include 6-0 sharpshooter Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (the 2011 class' top-ranked player), 5-9 guard Brianna Banks and 6-3 forward/center Kiah Stokes. The more experience these players can get the better because the Huskies usually play a pretty tough regular-season schedule, and next fall will be no different.
"I wouldn't go if I couldn't take the freshmen," Auriemma said in January, according to the Hartford Courant. "There isn't a best place to go, but for me, I always thought the competition was best in Italy. . .It's the perfect time to go. Maya Moore won't be here and it will give us a chance to work with all the new guys we'll have."
A sobering thought, life after Maya. But Auriemma has plenty of experience replacing seemingly irreplaceable players and UConn's success speaks to that. So the process begins again, this time in Europe.
The Huskies will spend five days in Rome before making their way to Athens before returning to the States.