UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Eight-time national champion and Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma has been named the 2014 American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, the league announced in a press conference at Mohegan Sun Arena this afternoon. Sophomore standout Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.), who was chosen as The American Preseason Player of the Year, was also recognized as the Player of the Year after earning a spot on the All-Conference First Team yesterday.
In his 29th season at the helm, Geno Auriemma adds American Conference Coach of the Year to a lengthy list of accomplishments. Over the course of 28 seasons at Connecticut, Auriemma was named Coach of the Year in the former Big East conference a total of ten times and garnered National Coach of the Year honors seven times. Coach Auriemma has guided the Huskies to eight national championships, which ties the University of Tennessee program for the most titles, and owns the record for consecutive Final Four appearances with six. In total, he has overseen 14 UConn trips to the Final Four. The team’s 31-0 record this season marked UConn’s 19th 30-win campaign, including its seventh perfect regular season result. Overall, five Connecticut teams have finished with undefeated overall records under Auriemma’s watch. Under Geno Auriemma, five Huskies have been selected as the Naismith National Player of the Year a total of seven times and 16 players have been earned First Team All-American laurels.
Entering this weekend’s American Championship, Geno Auriemma boasts one of the highest win percentages among active Division I coaches with a record of 870-133 (.867). He has been inducted into both the Naimsith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield, Mass.) and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (Knoxville, Tenn.) and has signed on to continue coaching the U.S. National Team through 2016.
This season, Auriemma guided a frequently shorthanded UConn bench to an unblemished 31-0 record that included wins over 10 ranked opponents and resulted in sole possession of the inaugural American Athletic Conference regular season crown. On Feb. 22, Auriemma and associate head coach Chris Dailey coached their 1,000th game since arriving at Connecticut together in 1985. The Huskies celebrated with a resounding 92-41 victory over Houston to mark the occasion. Seven Huskies were honored by the American Athletic Conference in regular season awards including four First Team All-Conference selections, which marks the most UConn players on the first team since the 2001-02 season.
Breanna Stewart becomes the 12th UConn player to earn conference Player of the Year honors and the first since Maya Moore was named Big East Player of the Year for the third time in 2011. The league’s preseason Player of the Year and an AP Preseason All-American, Stewart averages 19.5 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per contest this season for the Huskies. She has hit double-digits in 28 games including a stretch of 22 consecutive games scoring double-figures dating back to Dec. 1. Moreover, no player has been more consistently dominant than Breanna Stewart. The sophomore has netted 20 points or more in 16 games this season and hit double-figures in all but two of UConn’s 31 games. In UConn’s last seven games the 6-4 forward has averaged 20.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks. The sophomore standout is a four-time player of the week choice by the American Athletic Conference and received a National Player of the Week nod from the USBWA on Dec. 23. Against UCF on Feb. 19, Stewart became just the fifth Husky sophomore and second-fastest UConn player to reach surpass 1,000 career points.
Breanna Stewart and fellow New York natives Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) and Bria Hartley (North Babylon, N.Y.) were named among 22 national semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy, awarded annually to the top player in women’s college basketball. The trio has also been selected as finalists on the Wooden Award ballot. In January, Stewart was named 2013 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year for the second time in three years.
Stewart’s accomplishment marks the 18th conference player of the year nod for a Husky in the last 26 years. She is the fifth UConn player to earn the distinction as a sophomore, in company with Kerry Bascom, Kara Wolters, Svetlana Abrosimova and Maya Moore.
No. 1 Connecticut embarks on its quest to win the first-ever American Championship on Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Huskies, who earned top seeding after posting an unblemished 18-0 conference record, will face the winner of a Friday first round matchup between UCF and Cincinnati. Tip time for Saturday’s quarterfinal contest is set for 2:00pm on March 8 in Uncasville, Conn.
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