Just reading my local news, The State Journal-Register and saw that Geno Auriemma will be back as coach of the U.S. women's basketball team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Auriemma will be the first repeat coach for the U.S. women's Olympic basketball team.
I'm glad Auriemma decided to coach this year. He has done and continues to raise the bar for women's basketball and women's basketball coaching. He and Pat Summit, the Tennesse women's basketball coach has certainly help put college women's basketball on the map.
Until about 2003, I don't believe I ever watched women's college basketball game. I've watched Cheryl Miller highlights when she was at USC but that's about it. It wasn't until I started hearing about Pat Summit who Lady Volunteers dominated women's college basketball that I started to pay a little more attention and occasionally watch a few minutes of the game.
But the 2001 UCONN Huskies with Diana Taurasi definitely peaked my interest in women's basketball. To me, they were the women's version of the Fab Five of the University of Michigan. They had everything. Speed. Size. Skill. And swagger. They were interesting to watch and made women's college basketball a lot more interesting to watch. They were great on the fast break, deadly from the outside and could score in the inside.
I've been hooked on women's college basketball ever since.
They became the new kids on the block on the college basketball scene and gave Summit's Tennesee Lady Volunteers a run for their money.
However, before UCONN's recent phenomenal success, the women's basketball team only posted one winning season in history. The university didn't invest much resources into its facilities or the teams. The university finally decided to get serious and hired Geno Auriemma in August of 1985. Since then, the UCONN women's basketball team has posted an above .500 winning percentage for 24 consecutive seasons.
As with all coaches or leaders, we wonder what's the secret behind his success. Compared to most men's college basketball programs, the funding and resources are vastly unequal.
So how has Coach Auriemma been able to maintain such a high level of success since arriving at Connecticut?
- He demands more from his players than they have. Whatever that is. According to the Auriemma, you never know what their potential is until you try to get it out of them.
- He is a psychologist. He knows what to say and what to do to get inside of the players' heads and get them to do what he wants them to do. For that reason, he also considered to be the great manipulator
- He is unbelievably difficult coach. Coaching or leadership isn't for nice guys necessarily. When you try to get people to buy into your vision or philosophy, you sometimes have to shake players up. Sometimes that means a military style tongue lashing. But it's done in love.
- He is considered a genius. Coach Auriemma knows exactly what he wants to accomplish and he knows how to get the right people to achieve the teams vision or objective.
- He knows how to balance his coaching style. Sometimes he's incredibly hard and sometimes he jokes around with players. It's a delicate balance but all coaches most be able to achieve balance to be successful long term.