Lady Vols approached UConn about playing again

SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee women’s basketball coach Holly Warlick, right,  greets Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma at the East Tennessee Historical Center on Saturday during a fundraiser for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee women’s basketball coach Holly Warlick, right, greets Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma at the East Tennessee Historical Center on Saturday during a fundraiser for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick says she recently approached Connecticut about the possibility of playing each other again.

That doesn’t mean the two women’s college basketball powers will renew their rivalry right away.

Warlick said she mentioned the idea to Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma last month during the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction weekend, but she added that the talks haven’t progressed since then.

“I don’t think it’s going to work out,” Warlick told The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview Monday. “I don’t know. I’ve put it out there. We haven’t discussed it since.”

Connecticut officials confirmed the conversation took place, but the defending national champion Huskies already have a full schedule for the upcoming season. Auriemma has said all along that he would play Tennessee since the rivalry ended in 2007.

The two schools have combined to win 13 of the last 19 NCAA titles. Connecticut has beaten Tennessee in the national championship game four times (1995, 2000, 2003 and 2004). The two teams also have met twice in the NCAA semifinals, with Tennessee winning in 1996 and Connecticut winning in 2002. Tennessee also beat Connecticut in a 1997 regional final. Connecticut won its eighth national title this past season to match Tennessee for the most in NCAA history.

The two powers played each other in the regular season every year from 1995-2007 — Connecticut led the all-time series 13-9 — before former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt opted to end the series. In her memoir “Sum It Up” that came out this year, Summitt said her relationship with Auriemma had deteriorated at the time and that she had become “increasingly upset with a couple of UConn’s tactics in recruiting.”

But in her book, Summitt also said that she and Auriemma had recovered their friendship and that “we are in the best place we’ve ever been.” After Summitt announced in 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, Auriemma donated $10,000 to her foundation.

Auriemma and Warlick hosted a reception together to raise money for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame before last month’s induction ceremony. At the reception, Warlick congratulated Auriemma on Connecticut’s 2013 national title and gave him a bottle of Volunteer wine — a Napa Valley-based brand she’d found in a local store — as well as two wineglasses shaped like Mason jars.

“We understand the rivalry between Tennessee and Connecticut,” Warlick said at the time. “Try to understand that Geno’s a heck of a coach. He’s done a heck of a job. It’s about competition, and it’s about competitiveness. He’s outstanding. I appreciate that, and I understand that.”

It was during that weekend that Warlick approached Auriemma about playing again, but she said the two sides haven’t spoken about the possibility since. She didn’t sound optimistic about the rivalry’s future this week and said she didn’t know if another regular-season meeting between the two teams would ever happen.

“We’ve got enough rivalries right now that I think we’re going to be OK,” Warlick said.

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Comments » 10

johnlg00 writes:

I would like to see it. Interesting that Geno needed the rivalry with UT when he was first "going national" with his program. Now that the situation is somewhat reversed, he doesn't want to help UT by scheduling them. In almost any given year, a UT-UConn game is one of no more than a half-dozen "must-see" games of the season, and the kind of game a program like UT's should never dodge. Nor should UConn's!

go_vols writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I would like to see it. Interesting that Geno needed the rivalry with UT when he was first "going national" with his program. Now that the situation is somewhat reversed, he doesn't want to help UT by scheduling them. In almost any given year, a UT-UConn game is one of no more than a half-dozen "must-see" games of the season, and the kind of game a program like UT's should never dodge. Nor should UConn's!

I agree with everything you said. I think UCONN needs Tennessee as much as Tennessee needs UCONN. Moreover, women's basketball needs the game. It would easily be the most anticipated game of the year when they decide to play.

I think UCONN schedule was already done in advance when Coach Holly approached Geno, but don't be surprise if the series starts up next year. UCONN is never afraid to play anyone and the same goes for us. That's why I see the series starting up next year or the following year for sure. Can't wait.

reg_mza#219136 writes:

Ok so Connecticut doesn't "need" Tennessee anymore. Tennessee doesn't "need" a rival to humble it on occasion. With 16 national championships between the two programs, neither team "needs" either in order to excel. Their names speak for themselves and each team winning at a high clip speaks for itself to recruits. TV time, professional careers, playing immediately, and success all speak to recruits and both teams have it and have a lot of it.

If anything (which I don't believe is true), TN needs to show that they can beat the likes of UConn again as we still have a losing record to them. Hell, we need to show we can beat Baylor at this point.

But the biggest fear and elephant in the room is what if we sign up for UConn again, get out-coached, out-played, and UConn goes on a 5-0 win streak against us then all this UT/UConn wishing backfires on UT fans and the program. With the amount of #1-#5 recruits Geno keeps pulling in, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

The women's game though could use a change in scenery and could use some renewed rivalries like this, I do agree.

go_vols writes:

in response to reg_mza#219136:

Ok so Connecticut doesn't "need" Tennessee anymore. Tennessee doesn't "need" a rival to humble it on occasion. With 16 national championships between the two programs, neither team "needs" either in order to excel. Their names speak for themselves and each team winning at a high clip speaks for itself to recruits. TV time, professional careers, playing immediately, and success all speak to recruits and both teams have it and have a lot of it.

If anything (which I don't believe is true), TN needs to show that they can beat the likes of UConn again as we still have a losing record to them. Hell, we need to show we can beat Baylor at this point.

But the biggest fear and elephant in the room is what if we sign up for UConn again, get out-coached, out-played, and UConn goes on a 5-0 win streak against us then all this UT/UConn wishing backfires on UT fans and the program. With the amount of #1-#5 recruits Geno keeps pulling in, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

The women's game though could use a change in scenery and could use some renewed rivalries like this, I do agree.

Can't be afraid to play them, anything can happen, that's why we play the game. It's a competitors dream. Every high school All-American in the country would want to be in this game and play this game. So let the game begin.

yopatrick#231155 writes:

Why play UConn? They need us more than we need them.

reg_mza#219136 writes:

in response to go_vols:

Can't be afraid to play them, anything can happen, that's why we play the game. It's a competitors dream. Every high school All-American in the country would want to be in this game and play this game. So let the game begin.

Agreed. It would be a College All-American game, probably sanctioned by ESPN, not McDonalds, and would be fun to watch. But if we could watch this in the NCAA tourney instead of the regular season, it would be amplified that much more as one team enters, one team leaves. But sadly, we've not succeeded far enough to get up to playing UConn in the Final Four or championship game.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to reg_mza#219136:

Agreed. It would be a College All-American game, probably sanctioned by ESPN, not McDonalds, and would be fun to watch. But if we could watch this in the NCAA tourney instead of the regular season, it would be amplified that much more as one team enters, one team leaves. But sadly, we've not succeeded far enough to get up to playing UConn in the Final Four or championship game.

The outcome of a regular-season UT-UConn game would set up the story line for the tournament in almost any year. The LVs haven't quite held up their end lately. UConn is the program with the national cachet right now. The LVs need to get back to that level. Playing UConn every year would be the measuring stick the LVs need. That game couldn't be ignored or brushed off.

I supported Pat's boycott because, well, because SHE felt that strongly about it. I don't know if UConn has modified any practices Pat objected to, but as long as the NCAA is OK with them, there's not a lot anybody can do about them. The LVs just have to find a way to win the "right" way, even if some are not so scrupulous. That is, if they aspire to be the CURRENT standard in women's basketball, rather than "merely" the HISTORICAL standard.

poletad7 writes:

WHY???????????

Mike_In_Storrs_CT writes:

We dont need Tennesse at all, as matter of fact Uconn doesnt need anyone. But it goes to show you how stuped this whole thing is. Because it would make for great television and ratings would be threw the roof as usual for a Uconn vs Tenn game. Womens basketball unfortanatly needs everything it can get with regards to generating fan interest. But Uconns schedule was already made out, and so was Tennessees schedule. These schedules were made out a long time ago. Even though Uconn would beat Tenn by at least 50 points no BS. It would still be fun.

Mama_Also_Calls_Me_Precious writes:

Mike, UCONN is where they are at today because of Tennessee. And you might want to rethink your position on this, because in 5-10 years, if UCONN stays in this super weak conference, they are in danger of becoming another LA Tech, or Old dominion..

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