It was only a matter of time.
With UConn’s 88-64 win over Oklahoma Tuesday night, Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma became the fifth basketball coach in history with 1,000 career wins, alongside Pat Summitt, Mike Krzyzewski, Tara VanDerveer and Sylvia Hatchell.
Tennessee’s Summitt is the only other head coach in history to win at least 1,000 games and spend an entire career with just one team; Duke’s Krzyzewski began his career with Army, while VanDerveer spent time with Idaho and Ohio State before reaching her current post at Stanford.
Auriemma is still chasing Summitt (1,098) and current VanDerveer (1,018) in the all-time women’s coaching ranks, while North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell, who also notched her 1,000th win earlier today, is making sure Auriemma doesn’t slack off.
Not that he needs the encouragement: Auriemma owns the highest winning percentage of any head coach, at any level, in men’s or women’s basketball, with at least 10 seasons under their belt. The pursuit of his 1,000th win was more a war of attrition for Auriemma, the question not whether he would reach the milestone but how soon it could happen.
To jog your memory, Auriemma’s accomplishments during his 32 years in Storrs include this unreal foursome of success:
1. A staggering 11 NCAA Division I Championships, most by any coach, men's or women’s basketball.
2. The record for most consecutive wins by any team, with 111.
3. Six undefeated seasons (including two in a row), the most by any coach
4. The record for most consecutive away wins by any team: with 38 straight, across three seasons.
Incredibly, the Huskies began the Auriemma era with just one winning season from 1974 to 1985. When the program was passed from Jean Balthaster to Auriemma, there were the expected bumps, and UConn actually had a losing season in his first year.
That was the last losing season his Huskies would endure.In Auriemma’s fourth season, he took a 24-6 UConn team to the school’s first NCAA tournament. By the decade mark, in the 1994-95 season, he’d turned a program with a 92-162 record before he arrived into a 35-0 powerhouse with its very first national championship.
Auriemma hasn’t missed the Sweet 16 since the spring of 1993, or just under three years before his oldest current player, Azurá Stevens, was born. He hasn’t missed the tournament itself since 1988, his third year at the school and the last time he won fewer than 18 games.
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For Auriemma, it’s been the kind of run that no one could’ve seen coming when UConn hired him in 1985.
"Believe me, where we're sitting right now wasn't part of the plan," Auriemma told the Hartford Courant last week. "By any stretch of the imagination."
Of course, he won his first game that fall, a six-point victory over Iona, as sure a sign as any of the career that was yet to come.