Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma: 2010 NCAA Final Four Media Teleconference
March 31, 2010
COACH AURIEMMA: Wow, it’s been kind of a whirlwind 48 hours, getting back last night and spending a couple of minutes with some of the players here today and going over the schedule coming up. No matter how many times you’ve been in this, it never ceases to amaze me the intensity level that you try to squeeze in in such a short period of time and how quickly it gets on top of you and how quickly all of a sudden you’ve got to get to a place and get ready for a game. And, yet, every coach in America hopes and prays for being in that situation.
I’m very fortunate, as is my staff and my players. We had an incredible run at the regionals. And we’re tired, I’m sure, from getting in late last night, but we can’t wait to get on the plane tomorrow and go to San Antonio and get ready to play on Sunday night.
So that’s where I am, and I’m sure that’s where Kim and Tara and Sherri are.
Q. Just want to ask you about Brittney Griner. What do you think about her as a player and her future?
COACH AURIEMMA: Well, I haven’t had the chance to watch Brittney play an awful lot, either at a distance or up close. You know, you tend to spend a lot more time with teams that you know are on your schedule.
But I was watching a couple of their games today, and from what I’ve seen briefly and from what I’ve been able to put together, obviously there’s no one like her in the game today. I think she’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to conversations about what is one of the most exciting things that’s happening in the game of women’s basketball.
And I think she’s improved tremendously from when I saw her in high school, in just a short period of time. And I don’t think there’s been anyone that young that’s been able to impact games as much as she’s had the ability to do, especially in the NCAA tournament and the Big 12 tournament as well. And I would like to think that her future is like maybe Yogi Berra would say, her future is still ahead of her. She’s only going to get better. She’s only going to get better. If she’s this good now, it’s scary how good she’ll be when she gets a little more experience and a little more mature.
Q. Can you give us your perspective on your lengthy winning streak versus national championships, and I guess it boils down if you had a choice between an 88 game winning streak or national championships, if you could only have one, which would it be?
COACH AURIEMMA: That’s easy. I mean, national championships are what define, I think, players and coaches. In the end, that’s the prize that everyone that coaches a team or plays on a team strives for.
I think winning streaks are a byproduct of doing the things you feel like you need to do to win the ultimate prize, which is the national championship. I guarantee you, if we were fortunate enough to win a national championship, my team would be celebrating a lot more than celebrating whatever streak happens to be going on at that time.
And I’m exactly the same way. I don’t think anything can take the place of winning a championship.
Q. I’ve got a question for you about possibility of expanding the tournament. Jim Delany was quoted today in the USA Today saying that expansion on the men’s side the words that were used were probable and likely. Do you think that would be a good idea for the women’s field to go to 96 at some point soon?
COACH AURIEMMA: Well, you know, when you look at the rationale, like what’s the rationale for the men’s team, for the men’s tournament going to 96, is there because there are 96 teams that are worthy of being in the tournament, or does it make sense on some other level?
I don’t know. If you take the rationale are there 96 teams in America that have proven over the course of a year that they should compete for the national championship, I would say no.
I haven’t seen it. That doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen or it doesn’t mean it should or it shouldn’t. If you ask me in my personal opinion, I have not seen that there are 96 teams that could compete for the national championship in women’s basketball.
Maybe someday there will be. I just don’t see it right now.
Q. If I could follow that up, I asked Tara the same question about an hour or so ago, and she felt that what a 96 team tournament could do would I’m paraphrasing her; I hope I’m getting her words exactly right she said it would help the middle class of women’s basketball, those teams that are sort of on the bubble, but it might help make the whole field better.
COACH AURIEMMA: You’re talking about almost doubling the field. I mean, okay, so actually by a third, I guess. But if you’re asking me I think there’s two different questions here. If you’re saying from a competitive standpoint, does it make sense because you would improve the field, because there’s that many teams that are that good that are being left out, I would say no.
If you’re doing it for other reasons, you’re trying to grow the game, you’re trying to make coaches feel like we’ve accomplished something, you’re trying to give kids that experience, you know, it’s like going into a Bowl system.
Do that many teams deserve to be in a Bowl game? Because they’ve had great seasons. I don’t know. If you’re saying for the experience of the college student athlete, sure. I’m all for that. I’m all for that.
I think it’s the same thing that we do in the Big East tournament. We allow all 16 teams to come to the Big East tournament, because I think it’s the right thing to do, from an experience standpoint, of kids experiencing the tournament.
But if you’re asking me from a competitive standpoint, does it make the field better, I would say no.
Q. I wonder if you can just give us a breakdown, a sort of specific breakdown how you handle the scouting for Baylor. Was there a coach assigned to the previous game? Would you assign certain coaches to look at certain things on each of their teams? Do you do everything as a staff? I mean, obviously, without giving away trade secrets, how do you approach the scouting of a Final Four opponent, in particular one that you haven’t seen a lot of?
COACH AURIEMMA: I think when the brackets come out, you know that there’s potentially if you’re going to play six games, you know you’re looking at what the matchups are, and these are the possible opponents. And at that point in time, the coaching staff starts to divvy up who is going to take which opponents.
And then you go from there. So Shea Ralph had the main responsibility of Florida State, and now Chris Dailey has Baylor, because that’s the way it played out. That doesn’t mean that everybody else is doing nothing. That’s just kind of the way it plays out.
The same thing will happen for the other two teams if we’re fortunate enough to win. Somebody’s already involved in breaking down those two teams. So you can’t wait until the last minute. It’s been ongoing.
This is not the first time that our coaches have been looking at Baylor. You’re doing that even before the brackets come out, to a certain extent. As the season started to wear down, late February, early March, our coaches are starting to look at teams around the country we haven’t seen a lot of and starting to watch them play.
Like, for instance, we had watched Nebraska play. Even though they got knocked out. You know, we wanted to be at least a little bit involved with who they are, because we have never played them, we had not seen them.
So that’s something that I think our staff has been doing all along, and I’m sure everybody else is doing a similar thing, maybe not in the same way.
Q. Just curious, just your opinion on what this great streak of your guys has done for the game. Has it really helped draw interest and excitement for the sport, and can you see where fans might also say they’re winning by so much, things are kind of predictable right now?
COACH AURIEMMA: You’re with the Wall Street Journal?
Q. I am.
COACH AURIEMMA: Have you ever covered women’s basketball before?
Q. Certainly have.
COACH AURIEMMA: That’s not a normal thing for the Wall Street Journal to do.
Q. Yeah, but we do sports now.
COACH AURIEMMA: I’m using it to illustrate there’s a lot of different entities right now that are asking questions about the game that didn’t ordinarily ask those questions, and the fact that the questions are being asked means that there’s a certain level of interest in that the game on Sunday coming up between us and Baylor, I gotta believe there’s a lot of people interested to see who wins that game.
And I gotta believe there’s an awful lot of interest in who wins the Stanford/Oklahoma game, because if we were to win, then they’re going to get a shot at knocking Connecticut off.
So as the tournament has gone on, I think there’s tremendous interest in what we’re doing, and I think it’s all because of the streak or because of what we’ve done. So I like to think of it that way. Obviously there’s enough people that think the other way, that for whatever reason we’re pushing people away from the game or we’re not helping the game grow.
That’s not my job. That’s not what I get paid for, to help grow the game of women’s basketball. I get paid, and my job is to make sure that my team is the best that it possibly can be. All the other coaches in America, it’s their responsibility to do the best that they can with the team that they have. So there’s nothing I can do about it except go about doing what I’m doing.
The rest will take care of itself. But I don’t think anybody can say, if they’re being really objective, that, hey, being this good is bad. I guess only in America could you make comments like that. And people are making those comments and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Q. Number one, the 40 point win over Florida State, the great first half against Temple, the really wide margins in the tournament, is this an accurate barometer of how well your team is playing or something that should be discounted? And, secondly, when was the first time that your staff took a look at Baylor? How long ago was that and maybe how much do you think they’ve changed since then?
COACH AURIEMMA: I think that the scores in the tournament are the scores. I don’t think there’s we don’t sit there in the locker room and put a point number on the board and say, you know, today I think we’re going to win by 30 or today we’re going to win by 40. The scores just happen to be the scores.
Q. I guess my question was are they there because you’re playing really well right now as opposed toâ€¦
COACH AURIEMMA: Yeah, I could say we’re playing really well. The alternative is to say we just played four teams that suck, and that’s not the case. So we’re playing at a really high level right now. And defensively we’re playing really well. We’re making a lot of shots.
And you put those two things together, and we have some experience. We’ve been in the tournament. We’ve got kids that this will be their third Final Four. We’ve got kids that won a national championship last year.
Yeah, Caroline is struggling because this is her first tournament. Kelly Faris, this is her first time through this. But most of the other guys, they’ve been through this. So we’re playing with some experience, some know how, and the scores are the scores.
As far as Baylor, I mean, I saw them play earlier in the season, and it’s not easy when you’re bringing somebody in like Brittney who has the ability to just change everything that you’re doing.
You almost have to build your team in a completely different way than what you’re used to doing. So it’s going to take some time. And I just I just think they’ve changed tremendously since the beginning of the year. And they’re still changing. Somebody asked me, hey, Iowa State beat them by a lot, you beat Iowa State by a lot, so I’m the first to infer that we’re going to beat Baylor by a lot; it doesn’t work that way.
They’re a team that now, on any night that they play anybody, as they proved in the Tennessee game, are capable of winning that game, and a lot of it has to do with how much Brittney has grown as a person, as a player.
Q. Maya said the other day one of the most difficult parts of the NCAA tournament is trying to balance the incredible focus on basketball with a sincere effort towards her academics. Could you talk about how pleased you are with how your team has handled that as a whole?
COACH AURIEMMA: Well, it is hard. That’s why it wears on kids. It doesn’t wear on you if you don’t care about school. If you’re just disinterested or just in college to play basketball, it doesn’t wear on you.
But if you’re a kid who takes their schoolwork seriously and you’re a conscientious kid that goes to class and puts the time in, now all of a sudden you’re on the road all the time, you’re missing classes, you’re under the gun, then to get it done or when you get back or before you leave, I think it’s an incredible strain on student athletes.
I really admire and really appreciate how hard these kids have to work that are in the NCAA tournament. All the teams. And I think that’s a big part of why college basketball is so special, because you’ve got kids trying to balance both of those things.
And if you tell everybody, hey, we didn’t play well in the NCAA tournament, but our kids, you know what, they managed to keep up their grade point average, like anybody cares. It’s all about winning.
I think what’s lost in all that is the incredible obligation that these kids have and how they manage to balance it is pretty incredible. They should be saluted for that.
Q. After the 2002 season when you guys played Oklahoma, you made a comment that they’ve been running on the video highlights of the NCAA tournament about you thought Oklahoma was the next program to arrive on the national scene for women’s basketball. Having gotten to the second consecutive Final Four, what’s your thoughts on the OU program?
COACH AURIEMMA: It’s the same as my thoughts are the same as they were in 2002. You’ve got a good, young coach that came in there, tremendously excited and motivated and willing to do it the right way, and a great administration that supported her. And here they are.
Ever since 2002 they’ve been a national player. They’ve been a program that people talk about when it comes time to talk about the ten or so top programs in the country. And I’m not surprised one bit with where they are right now and what they’re doing, and it won’t surprise me if ten years from now they’re doing the exact same thing.
It’s further proof that you can grow the game. You’ve just got to hire the right people, give them the resources, nurture them a little bit. Oklahoma’s got a great athletic director. They’ve got a great athletic department. And they put the right people in place and they are where they are.
If more schools decided that they wanted to do that because they had the ability to do that, then we wouldn’t be asking questions about is the game going to grow, is it not going to grow, has it gotten better, has it not gotten better.
They’re a perfect example of what can happen in a short period of time. And I’m not the least bit surprised at where they are or what they’re doing.
Q. This is a perfect lead in, because seems to me Baylor is the same way. That’s a program that was nothing in the national women’s basketball scheme. Came in, they’ve won a national championship. Going to a second Final Four. What you said earlier this week or a few days ago about how important that was, it was just a bottom line commitment thing, do you see Baylor as a similar situation?
COACH AURIEMMA: Absolutely. Absolutely. There’s absolutely very little difference in the Oklahoma situation and the Baylor situation in terms of schools getting behind their program, hiring coaches that are committed to winning and doing it right, and then giving them the tools that they need to be successful.
That’s the formula for success. I think what I said might have been a little bit misconstrued that everyone should aspire to be where Baylor and Oklahoma is right now. That’s not what I mean. If you’re a school of limited resources and limited facilities and whatever, you can’t be where Baylor and Oklahoma and Connecticut and Stanford are right now. But you certainly can be better than where you are if you aspire to be.
And at places like Oklahoma and Baylor, they aspire to be in the Final Four and win national championships and compete at the highest level. And that’s why they’re doing it.
That’s the model a lot of schools should be using to make their programs better. Find the right coach, give them what they need. Nurture and grow in your community, and you’re going to wake up one day and be in the Final Four. If you do that and after a couple of years you don’t see any progress, get rid of the coach or whoever is running your women’s basketball program and start over again.
But to just sit there and have the status quo over and over and over again, I don’t think Oklahoma or Baylor would be where they are right now if they just kept on doing business the way they were doing it before.
So they’re to be commended and be admired and be emulated.
Q. You’ve been able to motivate this team even in games and they’re motivating themselves even in games where the opposition really just does not match up. Is this sort of I don’t want to say fun, but sort of an exhilarating experience because there is so much attention on Griner and how well she’s played, and especially is that a challenge that it seems that your players will most especially want to face?
COACH AURIEMMA: I think every player, every coach loves a challenge. I don’t know anybody that’s in this field or competitive field that doesn’t like challenges. And my players are no different than anyone else.
And what I’ve tried to teach them along the way is that the challenge isn’t Brittney Griner. The challenge wasn’t Florida State or anyone else that we may play in the future.
The challenge is to play really, really well and to play at a really high level. Now, when that’s your challenge and you throw in now, okay, well, here’s the obstacle to that challenge, now obviously kids are like even more motivated, even more alert and receptive to what you’re saying coaching wise.
And my guess is that when that’s in front of you, you have a tendency to play better than you would otherwise. Believe me, that’s what I’m counting on. I’m counting on the fact that we’re playing a really good team with a really good coach and a unique player in the Final Four. And that in and of itself is something that every great player would say, wow, that’s the arena I want to be in. That’s why I came to Connecticut.
Q. Earlier you made mention yourself that Brittney Griner is the type of player who changes the way opposing offenses will play. And Kim Mulkey said earlier on the phone call she noticed that quite a bit with the teams she played, that other teams try to do different things because she’s there. My question is not so much necessarily what you guys will do differently, but how do you resist the temptation to try to do something differently, given the success you’ve had?
COACH AURIEMMA: I think the problem that a team might have would be to go in and revamp everything you’re doing just to accommodate that one individual. And I think what that does, then, is tells your team, listen, everything that we’ve done up to this point is not good enough. Now we’ve got to do things differently.
And I think that’s a bad message to send to your team. I think all along the way, these last four or five months of practice, or in games, we’ve played a certain way that includes whether we’re going to play five guards, five big guys, a team that walks it up the floor, a team that runs up and down, a team that has a 5’8″ center and a team that has a 6’8″ center.
So you hope along the way you’re doing things in practice or you’re working on things that when you do have this opportunity in front of you, you can talk to your kids about, hey, listen, remember when we did this? Well, this is how we’ve got to do it now. Okay?
You point out subtle changes, subtle things, and we do that for every game. We did things a little bit differently for Florida State than we did for Temple. But nothing that we hadn’t done already before. So I understand what Kim is saying. You can go look at a team out there and say this team is struggling against us because that’s not the way they normally play.
I think a coach has to make some tough decisions there and you’ve got to be careful the message that you’re sending to your team.
Q. You have Brittney, obviously a big factor in this, but Baylor has the No. 2 field goal percentage defense in the country, and it’s something that your program has had, obviously being No. 1, is not really talked about that much this year is the defense. I know you take a lot of pride in the defense and the players take a lot of pride in the defense. How different will that be to play where it will probably be a little bit more of a defense oriented game this Sunday?
COACH AURIEMMA: That’s what happens when you get to the Final Four. There’s not that many bad defensive teams left playing in the final weekend. The reason you’re playing in the final weekend is because you’re good defensively and you’re good offensively and you’re well balanced and you’re well coached and all those things.
So we’re going into this weekend knowing that the teams we’re going to be playing are really good on both ends of the floor. Yeah. Baylor is a heck of a defensive team. 14 or 15 shots every night never make it to the rim. That’s pretty good defense, isn’t it?
So I remember when we had Kara Wolters and Rebecca Lobo. We were blocking that many shots every night. It’s incredible the kind of defensive numbers you can put up when you’re doing that.
So points are going to be at a premium this weekend, for all four teams. It’s not going to be easy to score a lot of points, and the team that does make shots and the team that does score is probably the team that wins.
And because we score so many points, you’re right, people don’t talk about our defense that much, which is fine. You know? Because I’d rather them try to figure out how to stop us than how to score on us.
Q. I want to ask you: How much do you let your team celebrate or acknowledge what they’ve accomplished? And is there ever a point where you tell your team that, you know something, you’re arguably the best team in the history of women’s basketball?
COACH AURIEMMA: I’ve never said that. I’ve never said that they’re the best team in the history of college basketball, women’s basketball. And I have to make sure I mention women’s basketball.
Bob Huggins left me a nasty voice mail saying that I said at one time that we were the best team in college basketball, men or women. I guess he was tired of fighting with his team; he wants to fight with me now. So we had a big laugh about that.
So I always want to make sure, hey, I never said my team was the best team in the history of college women’s basketball. I still don’t say that to them. And if they say that to themselves, I have no control over that.
I let them celebrate every day. Every day is a celebration with my team. They celebrate how good they are, they celebrate how hard they play, they celebrate how much they enjoy each other and playing the game the way they love playing it. They celebrated last night. They celebrated the Temple win. They celebrated winning the Big East championship.
You know, I talked to them in the locker room before the Iowa State game. I said no matter how many times you’ve been in this locker room, no matter how many times you’ve been in the NCAA tournament or how many times you’ve been in the regionals, don’t ever take it for granted and make sure you appreciate just how hard it is to get here, no matter who you are.
We’re not here sitting here looking at the streak and looking at how many games we win and pretending that none of it matters except the next thing. Now, it’s not like that at all.
We’re celebrating everything every day. And maybe that’s why we are able to keep doing it, because we’re not obsessed with what’s next. I want them to celebrate, because it’s going to end. It’s going to end Sunday or it’s going to end Tuesday. It’s going to end.
And for my seniors it’s going to end right after Tuesday, because they’re leaving. They’re not playing any more games at Connecticut. I want there to be a lot of celebrating on a regular basis.
Q. Obviously this game is Baylor against UConn, but I think a lot of the attention is going to be focused in the paint with Brittney and Tina. How do you look at that matchup? And has Tina ever played, faced a shotblocker like that before?
COACH AURIEMMA: Yeah, yeah, when Tina was a freshman and a sophomore, she played against Sylvia Fowles who is as good as any center who played in college basketball in all the years that I’ve been coaching. And Tina really struggled against Sylvia and Tina outplayed Sylvia and won against Sylvia.
So Tina’s been on both ends of it where Sylvia totally dominated Tina and Tina beat Sylvia and won the game. How is this going to be? You know, it’s like the stock market. When people ask you to buy from a stock broker, past performance is no guarantee of future success. Whatever happened in the past happened. And just because you play great against Sylvia doesn’t mean that you’re going to play great this time, but if you struggled doesn’t mean you’re going to struggle.
It’s its own matchup. Brittney poses different problems than Sylvia did and Tina poses certain issues for Brittney that no one else has that she’s played against this year.
But the game isn’t going to hinge on Brittney Griner and Tina Charles. A game generally never does hinge on one matchup between two people, as intriguing as it may be. Both of them could play great and their team lose. Both could play lousy and their team win. I prefer to make it Connecticut versus Baylor and the matchup is the matchup, and hopefully they’ll both play great.
Q. How do you prepare for a shotblocker like that who has controlled the paint? And even from a team’s standpoint, that’s, I think, where you get a lot of your points.
COACH AURIEMMA: Well, again, you have two choices. You can either stop going in there and get away from everything that you’ve done all year long, or keep doing what you’ve been doing all year long.
And we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year long. And if I didn’t do that, my players would lose respect for me. We’re going to play the way we play. I’m sure they’re going to play the way they play. They’re going to have to find an answer for us and we’re going to have to find an answer for them, whatever that is.
Q. A lot has been made of comparing teams and everything. But don’t you think it’s kind of unfair to compare this team to others that you had because this one is not done yet, this one is one national championship, they’re on this long winning streak, but it’s not done. So is it hard to unfair to compare this team to some of your other teams?
COACH AURIEMMA: Yeah. I agree with you 100 percent on that. That’s why I never do it. But I’m pressed on it all the time, obviously.
But when it’s all said and done, whatever happens this weekend, good, bad, whatever, down the road we’ll look back and try to put this team in its proper perspective. That time will come. It’s not here yet. And whoever wants to put this team in its proper perspective can do it at that point in time. But until then it’s not worth it. It’s not worth that discussion.
But that’s rational people like you and I thinking that way.
Q. I’m kind of following up on what Michelle was asking you about, but watching the game last night, the ESPN announcers were talking about how even when you guys were up 20, 30 points that your players were playing like you were down 10. And do you guys are they coached to say, look, we’re just going to play the game, we’re not really playing the opponent, we’re not playing the scoreboard, we’re going to try to play a perfect game, maybe try to box out every time, try to contest every pass, and just kind of play the game and not really worry about everything else, and if you give complete effort everything will work out? Is that kind of some of the philosophy?
COACH AURIEMMA: That’s the whole philosophy, actually. It never ceases to amaze me, to be honest with you, why people are amazed at what these kids are doing in terms of effort. I thought that’s why you go to practice. I thought you go to practice so that you can work on what you want to get better at. I don’t ever remember going to practice and saying, listen, guys, stay in your stance, move your feet, get through screens, contest shots, but when we get up 20, don’t do any of that.
You imagine the absurdity of that? You know?
Q. I mean, it’s a tough thing to do, it’s kind of like, well, I think it was in a league of its own A League of Their Own where a guy said the heart is what makes it great. It’s like that’s what it’s hard to do that kind of stuff.
COACH AURIEMMA: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. And if every kid if every kid playing college basketball today just put it upon themselves and said, look, I’m going to compete as hard as I can every possession, you know, I’m not saying you would win more. And if this makes any sense, but you lose a hell of a lot less. It would take somebody to have to beat you. And instead teams go out there, they half ass it and they lose and they can’t understand why they lost.
And the only thing I’ve tried to do is tell my guys, listen, just compete on every possession, at everything. And that’s the way I was brought up. I was brought up that way, and I’ve tried to get my teams to do that in all the years that I’ve been coaching. And if people can’t get their players to do that, then either you got the wrong players or you shouldn’t be coaching.
Because that’s what we do. That’s what we do. We try to get them to do that. We’re not always successful. But, man, you can’t just say wow I can’t believe you guys are diving on loose balls when you’re up 25.
Well, then tell them to stop. I’ll tell them to stop. Listen, you’re making everybody else look bad around the country that doesn’t do that. So when we get up 30 stop diving on loose balls. I mean, it’s just you’re absolutely right. I hear it all the time.
And that’s another reason that I think in spite of the winning streak and all that, you gotta admire these kids for how hard they play, for how hard they compete, how much honor, how much respect they bring to the game. That’s something to be admired. It’s not something you think is bad for the game. No. It’s bad for those kids that don’t want to play like that.
But maybe it’s good that it will make them say, hey, look, Kelly Faris doesn’t look that much different to me, I can do what she does. Lorin Dixon doesn’t look that much bigger than me, I can do what she does.
So maybe five or six kids, watching those kids play saying, hey, I want to play like that. And all of a sudden that’s a good thing.
Q. When did Bob Huggins make that call to you? And has there been anybody during the tournament who you’ve heard from that is just in basketball circles that was surprising, that sort of just called you out of the blue, either to compliment your team or again to leave angry message for you about something you said?
COACH AURIEMMA: He wasn’t being angry, he was just being Huggins. He threatened to bring his team up here and play us on our home court so he could prove to us that they were better.
Q. That’s this year he’s talking about?
COACH AURIEMMA: Yes, this is this year. Again, because people are going to want to make us out to be something we’re not. And apparently somebody did say or it came across like I said we were the best team in college basketball. Which is absurd.
Q. Has anyone have you heard from anyone that you’re not particularly close with that surprised you in terms of taking an interest in your team, a coach reaching out or anything?
COACH AURIEMMA: Yeah, I get that and it surprises me from different walks of life, not just in coaching. It surprises me sometimes who’s paying attention.
Q. Anyone stand out?
COACH AURIEMMA: I haven’t gotten anything that says other than a lot of this stuff that I get from my friends, they accuse me of having the best job in the world; that I don’t have to coach real hard; that I got the easiest job in America; that I should just play golf all year round and just show up for games.
So they see what we do and they just, I think, marvel at the numbers and they think, man, this guy’s got the greatest situation in the world. And they’re absolutely right. I do. But I haven’t gotten anything from anybody that’s just flat out come out and say, hey, what you guys are doing is lousy for the game or any of that stuff. I don’t get any of that.
I’ll tell you, one of our biggest fans is Bill Belichick. He’s one of our biggest fans. He makes sure he lets us know all the time that he thinks we’re great.
Q. He’ll call you up out of the blue and say how’s it going?
COACH AURIEMMA: I’ll hear from him telling me you guys are unbelievable, you continue to raise the bar, you guys are amazing.
I think people in this that have done great things, they appreciate how hard it is to do. They really do. They appreciate how hard it is for kids to play this hard all the time and compete and try to get it right all the time, without looking I challenge anybody to say that we’re out there and we’re arrogant and we’re cocky and we disrespect the game, our opponents, anything like that.
So to see it being done the way it’s being done by these particular players is just I think anybody who appreciates that kind of stuff is really taken by it. Really taken by it.