For A Final Time, UConn Top Dog In Preseason Women's Poll

October 14, 2019 - 2:18 pm

File photo of head coach Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - For the seventh and final time Geno Auriemma and UConn were the unanimous choice to win the American Athletic Conference in the preseason poll.
Next year things will change as the Huskies head back to the Big East.
The Huskies have simply dominated conference play, winning all 120 regular
season and postseason AAC games since the conference was formed in 2013.
Only once has a conference team come within single digits of UConn when the
Huskies only beat Tulane by three in New Orleans a few seasons ago. Auriemma
wasn't ready to be nostalgic about the conference that the Huskies have run
through without a loss.
``The one thing I learned over the last number of years is that I can't keep
track of all the records. I can't keep track of all the numbers that people
throw at me, Auriemma said. ``It ends up being that the only records that matter
are, do you go 6-0 in March? Other than, when you walk into our building and
practice facility, all you see are the 11 national championship banners. Any of
that other stuff there's no sign of that anywhere.''
UConn received 11 first-place votes from the other coaches in the league
Monday. Auriemma picked Central Florida to win since he couldn't pick his own
``It's all I've known so yeah it would be cool to go out with another
championship,'' said UConn's Crystal Dangerfield, who was picked as co-preseason
player of the year with Kay Kay Wright of Central Florida.
With the Huskies leaving that will open up opportunities for other teams to
realistically win a conference title.
``It's definitely an amazing position to be in. I think myself as a head coach
I try and sell championships,'' said Cincinnati coach Michelle Clark-Heard,
whose team was picked third. ``A lot of programs will be that way. I think now
you go back to that stage where you can sell your program to win a championship.
That really excites me.''
South Florida coach Jose Fernandez was sad to see the Huskies go having spent
the past 14 years in the same conference as UConn.
  ``Anyone who thinks them leaving our conference is good for women's basketball
doesn't really know what they are saying,'' Fernandez said. ``It's made us
better playing them and I hope to continue to play them.''
 Conference commissioner Mike Aresco echoed Fernandez's sentiments.
``They've elevated our women's league. We've prided ourselves on being the best
women's basketball conference because we have UConn,'' he said.
Aresco understands the business and holds no grudge toward the Huskies for
leaving. The AAC will have to find a new home for its conference tournament
after this season as Aresco said they won't be back at Mohegan Sun after this
``We are talking to the arena in Fort Worth,'' he said. ``We have some
alternatives. The men will be there for the next three years. We've been lucky
because you get spoiled with UConn at Mohegan when you get 30-35,000 fans for
the tournament.''
TIP-INS: Houston, Temple, Tulane, Memphis, Wichita State, Tulsa, ECU and SMU
rounded out the preseason poll. ... Conference play will get an early start this
season with UConn visiting Temple on Nov. 17 because the Huskies have too many
nonconference games after the New Year to fit it in.

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