There isn’t much Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma hasn’t accomplished in the realm of college basketball, but he managed to cross a new achievement off the list this week.
The UConn women topped Oklahoma 88-64 Tuesday night, and in doing so, handed Auriemma his 1,000th coaching victory.
The 1,000-win club is an elite group in college hoops. Only five coaches have ever churned out that many victories. Along with Auriemma, this “grand” club includes women’s coaches Pat Summitt, Tara VanDerveer and Sylvia Hatchell, and men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Of all these legends, Auriemma reached the 1,000-win plateau the fastest. He needed just 1,135 games to get there. That’s a winning percentage of 88.1. Amazing.
Auriemma has been at the Husky helm since 1985, and while it's hard to imagine now, the UConn women were not always so dominant.
In fact, in Auriemma's first season, the Huskies lost more games than they won, and the team was barely a blip on the women's college basketball map for several seasons to come.
It would take Auriemma 10 years to collect his first national championship. He now has a record 11 national titles to his credit, the last one coming in 2016.
With that level of success, detractors are sure to arise. And Auriemma and UConn have their share of those.
Naysayers say, of course the Huskies are so dominant, they have the best players in the country.
They say rooting for UConn is like cheering on a bully as she pounds away on a weakling.
But Auriemma makes no apologies for the success of his program. "What we've done against our peers is as good, if not better, than anybody else has done in their sport against their peers," the coach said in 2015. "I don't care whether it's harder in that sport or this sport or that sport. But given the rules that we play with, with all the people we compete against, I'm pretty proud we've done it the way we've done it for as long as we've done it."
Auriemma has every reason to be proud of the Huskies’ accomplishments. The juggernaut he created in sleepy Storrs, Connecticut is like nothing college basketball has ever seen. Congratulations on win No. 1,000, Coach.