Geno: December Games Are Different

No. 3 UConn and No. 2 Notre Dame meet this Saturday ... again.

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One of the worst things about the conference reshuffling in recent years is that we lose rivalries like Notre Dame-UConn. There was a time when the Huskies dominated those meetings, but in recent years, the Fighting Irish have been the only team in the country to regularly have Geno Auriemma's number.

Now in the ACC, Notre Dame doesn't face UConn twice a season and fans are robbed of some truly great basketball. The consolation prize comes Saturday when the two teams meet in South Bend as part of the Jimmy V Classic. UConn is ranked No. 3 and the Fighting Irish are No. 2. The last time they met: in the NCAA title game eight months ago. The Huskies cruised to a 79-58 win, Auriemma's ninth national championship at UConn.

But there's a huge difference between April and December basketball.

“There is a big difference between playing in the Final Four and playing a regular season game in December,” Auriemma said, via's Carl Adamec. “I have always treated them completely different. I have always said that a game in December doesn’t decide where you are going to have a chance to win a national championship.

"For us, we have beaten them the last two times in the Final Four. I don’t know that I had to say anything or come up with anything to motivate our guys based on what had happened in the past. I don’t think you want to harp on that. Players aren’t stupid. They know what happened. Plus, teams change every year. A couple of the guys we played in the Final Four two years ago aren’t there. A couple of guys who were on last year’s team are not there. So it is not necessarily the same team.

“And I don’t think the Notre Dame kids need any extra motivation or any special motivation just like we wouldn’t either if they were coming to play this game at our place," Auriemma continued. "If they were coming to play this game at Gampel on Saturday, I don’t think I would have to work really hard to get my guys fired up. I don’t think Muffet (Notre Dame coach McGraw) has to say one word to those guys. I don’t think she has to say, ‘You guys need to get fired up for Connecticut.’ I don’t think that is necessary.”

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