On Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena, the UConn women’s basketball team will be playing more than just another game on the schedule. The Huskies’ matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners is the first opportunity for UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and associate head coach Chris Dailey to record their 1,000th win.
With his next win, Auriemma will join fellow Hall of Fame coaches Pat Summit and Tara VanDerveer as the only Division I women’s basketball coaches with 1,000 wins.
The milestones keep piling up for Auriemma, who has an impressive 999-135 career record and owns the highest winning percentage in Division I women’s basketball. Auriemma was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012 and has won 11 National Championships with the Huskies.
What separates Auriemma from all the other coaches might be his relentless pursuit of greatness from each of his players.
“I honestly think that it’s his ability to hold every single person to the same standards that he held people that came here 30 years ago to,” UConn senior Kia Nurse said. “He holds one through 13 to the exact same standards, no matter who you are.”
Dailey has been right next to Auriemma for each of his 999 wins. Dailey is often overlooked in the public eye, but the UConn players know how crucial she is to the program’s success over the years.
“They did all of this together,” Nurse said. “To have someone like CD by your side who does different things… (Dailey and Auriemma) mesh together so well. We are so fortunate to have CD.”
UConn (8-0) will hope to accomplish the milestone on Tuesday against an Oklahoma team that received votes in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll. The Sooners have been just outside of the Top 25 for the past five installments of the poll.
Oklahoma has won each of its last two games, including a win over UConn’s American Athletic Conference rival USF. Earlier in the season, the Sooners suffered an overtime defeat to the same DePaul team that the Huskies defeated 103-69 in their last game.
Leading the Sooners is senior center Vionise Pierre-Louis, who is averaging 16.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Oklahoma is 0-10 in the all-time series against the Huskies.
UConn juniors Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson were named to the 2017-20 USA Basketball Women's National Team pool earlier this week, along with several former Huskies. Samuelson has battled injuries so far this season, but is leading UConn with 17.8 points per game over her four appearances. Collier, after leading the team in scoring last year, is currently fourth on the team with 14.5 points per game.
Freshman Megan Walker will sit out Tuesday’s game with an illness, and redshirt sophomore transfer Batouly Camara could be taking on more minutes in Walker’s absence. Camara played in her first game of the season in the Huskies’ last game, grabbing three rebounds over four minutes during a victory over DePaul.
No matter who plays for the Huskies, they’ll likely be ready to go for Auriemma’s milestone win after a long 10-day break for final exams. The Huskies and Sooners will tip off at 7 p.m. from Mohegan Sun Arena in the Naismith Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase.
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.