STORRS - Geno Auriemma is going to give his UConn womenâs basketball team some time off before the Huskies begin their bid for a fifth consecutive American Athletic Conference Tournament title.
But judging from the Hall of Fame coachâs comments following top-ranked UConnâs 82-53 win over No. 20 South Florida at Gampel Pavilion, he may need the mini-break more than his players before they return to practice and prepare for Sundayâs quarterfinal game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
âWhat are we going to work on? I donât know,â Auriemma said. âI have no idea. With these guys today, it doesnât matter.
âThis is how I describe it. You could say to some of our players, âToday is Monday. I think we need to work on this. Go tell them.â And they will go over (two steps) and say, âCoach said something about next Monday, but I donât know what he wants.â So thatâs kind of the world that weâve inherited now in basketball. You just hope that half of what we talk about registers. So far, so good, but Iâm not celebrating at home.â
While there was no suspense here Monday night, there was plenty in Memphis and New Orleans where the results would determine UConnâs first opponent.
In Memphis, the host Tigers rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit and slipped past Temple 83-78 in overtime to clinch the No. 8 seed for the league tourney.
Meanwhile in New Orleans, Tulane came from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to pull out a 52-46 win over SMU to take the No. 9 seed.
Memphis and Tulane will play Saturday for the right to play top-seeded UConn on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
USF, Central Florida, and Cincinnati also earned first-round byes. If seeds hold the first day, the Huskies would face Cincinnati or Houston in the semifinals Monday.
Cincinnati topped Houston 61-57 on Monday to get the No. 4 seed and got the Bearcatsâ Jamelle Elliott an endorsement for AAC Coach of the Year.
âI voted for her, but maybe Iâm biased,â Auriemma said. âI donât know where they were picked (preseason eighth), but it wasnât anywhere near fourth. She has done a terrific, terrific job this year. She deserves to be Coach of the Year.â
The championship game is set for 5 p.m. a week from today.