The Hall of Fame coach was hard pressed to remember a harder regional than the one his Huskies will face this weekend in Bridgeport. UConn opens up in the semifinals against Maryland today. Second-seeded Kentucky will face Elena Delle Donne and No. 6 Delaware in the other game.
“There are four great teams, lots of marquee names, lots of interesting side stories, and that leads to a great environment,” said Auriemma, whose team has won 41 of its past 42 NCAA games in the state.
UConn’s lone blemish came against Duke in 2006 in the regional final. That game was also played in Bridgeport.
If Delaware and UConn do make it through, it would set up an intriguing finals matchup.
Delle Donne originally signed with UConn before abruptly leaving after a short stay to return home to Delaware.
“I haven’t allowed myself to think about that,” Delle Donne said. “All year our team has said just focus on the next game. If we were thinking about UConn, we’d overlook Kentucky. We’re focused on Kentucky to hopefully advance.”
MISSISSIPPI: Matt Insell says he was 10 years old when he wrote down his career goal – become a head basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference.
This week the 30-year-old assistant at Kentucky was hired to take over at Mississippi, becoming one of the youngest head basketball coaches in Division. Only North Carolina High Point’s DeUnna Hendrix is two years younger.
“Your age doesn’t tell you your experience level,” Insell said. “My experience level is not what my age is. There are people much older than me that haven’t had a chance to get the experience I’ve had a chance to get over the years.”
Insell learned the trade from his father, Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell, who was a high school coach in Shelbyville, Tenn. when Matt was growing up.
He has been at Kentucky for five years, helping lead the school’s recruiting efforts, which have landed the Wildcats in four consecutive NCAA tournaments and a regional final last year.