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Autumn Johnson | November 16, 2020

5 things UConn and Geno Auriemma can look forward to in the 2020-21 season

Geno Auriemma on UConn's return to the Big East, Paige Bueckers and chasing Pat Summitt's record

There's certainly exciting moments happening in the 2020-21 women's basketball season for UConn's program, so let's dive in.

Here's five things the Huskies can look forward to with when the season tips off on Nov. 25:

1. UConn is back in the Big East 

After seven seasons in the American Athletic conference, UConn is back in the Big East where the women's basketball program originally started in 1979. Before the Huskies departed in 2013, they were 139-0 in league play, while experiencing most of their success. The legendary program claimed 18 conference titles and cut down nets in eight of its 11 national championships as Big East contenders. 

Coming into the 2020-21 season, UConn has already been selected as the unanimous favorite to win the Big East conference. Even better, the tournament's stage will be set in Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun Arena this season and up until 2023. 

UConn's head coach Geno Auriemma shares with that he's excited to be in a conference that's DNA is basketball.  

"We've had a lot of success in the Big East and we've had a lot of success in the American Athletic conference, but It never quite for our fans and for those of us who grew up in the Big never felt like home. It felt like we were renting an apartment. But for right now it feels like we're back home. I'm excited to see some of the old gang, I'm excited to be back in the gyms that I remember going to, all the great games, and the way the fans interacted with the teams." 

2. The Huskies have a top recruiting class...again

We won't see any seniors on the floor for UConn, but the Huskies bring in a force of six freshmen who make up an incredible young force. Paige Bueckers — who is ranked No. 1 in the 2020 espnW 100,  won Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year and is an All-American — headlines this young squad. 

Auriemma shared in a Big East press conference that the rookies have brought a certain vibe that's distinctly different. Special to be in a conference where the focal point is basketball. Due to this  — teams aren't intimated. 

"They tend to bond together and their strengths," says Auriemma. "They want to prove that they're really good, they want to prove that they belong, they want to impress their teammates who were here last year that played at UConn, and they want to impress their coaches. So, I think there's this constant let me show you what I can do and hey watch this, so it's been fun to see the excitement they practice with and that they walk around with [...] that's been refreshing from a coaching stand-point."  

NCAA RANKINGS: Women's college basketball rankings: Preseason Power 10 for 2020-21

3. UConn is ranked No.3 in the AP Top-25 poll

For the 14th consecutive year, the Huskies remain in the top 5 in the AP's Top 25 poll. They were ranked No.3 behind South Carolina (No. 1) and Stanford (No. 2). The Huskies lost Crystal Dangerfield and Megan Walker to the WNBA, but they will return their two starters — Olivia Nelson-Odada and Christyn Williams. Tennessee transfer Evina Westbrook will also complete the Big 3, after she sat out last season due to NCAA eligibility rules.

UConn has been ranked in every AP poll since the 1992-93 season. Do you ever wonder how UConn remains this dominant? Auriemma credits the current and former players for rising to certain standards and expectations that the iconic program has set. 

"The fact that when you get here, there's no way to hide what the expectation level is," says Auriemma. "Being pretty good might be good some place else, but not here. Right away the kids are hit with this is serious business. We should be in the Top 5. We have the tradition, we have the facilities, we are able to coach some of the best players in the country, so that's my job to make sure we're in the Top 5 every year and have a chance to win a national championship." 

Starting 5: We picked the all-time starting 5 for UConn women's basketball

4. Auriemma is on track to becoming the winningest coach

There's many legends that have come through to play in a Huskie jersey. Needless to say, head coach Geno Auriemma has been the heart and soul of UConn's winning culture molding the best athletes that have ever played the game.

With an overall record of 1091-142, Geno Auriemma is only eight games away from becoming the winningest coach in women's basketball history, which is currently held by Tennessee's late Pat Summitt. Ironically, Auriemma can achieve this milestone when the Huskies match up against the Lady Vols in their ninth game this season. 

"I feel like I'm very fortunate to have been a part of all this," says Auriemma. "A lot of great coaches before me and that are coaching now have done an awful lot, and to be in a position that I'm in is first and foremost is not something that I set out to do when I got the job at Connecticut. I didn't make a statement saying 30 years from now I'm going to be the best coach in the country, so it certainly is a surprise to me as it is to anyone else." 

As a disclaimer, Stanford's head coach Tara VanDerveer will enter the season four games away from breaking the winningest all-time coaching record. We could possibly see Auriemma and VanDerveer going back-and-forth determining their wins and losses this season. 

MORE: We talked with Tara VanDerveer, who enters the season four wins away from matching Pat Summitt 

5. Possible 3-peat in San Antonio

The last time the Final Four tipped off in San Antonio, it ended with UConn walking away as the NCAA champs. But this isn't the first time the Huskies secured a championship. It started back in 2002 when UConn gained its third national title at this location. UConn has been dominate no matter what site hosts the Final Four, but it would be fun to see the Huskies make another run for this journey in 2021. 

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