Latest title embodies the Geno way

At UConn, there is a way to do things. And that's that. There are absolutes. Everything from how you set an on-ball screen to no jeans allowed when the team goes out to dinner. But it's a benign co-dictatorship; the players often do get to chime in on where they'd like to eat.

Where does this nonnegotiable "mind your P's and Q's" insistence come from?

"Geno and I both went to Catholic school," Dailey said, chuckling. "So it might be that."

But she also mentioned watching Louisiana Tech in the late 1970s and early '80s, when the Lady Techsters were setting the standard in the still-very-young sport of women's college basketball. Dailey noticed the way the Louisiana Tech players carried themselves on and off the court.

"The way they walked into the gym, the way they played, the way they walked out. They did everything like a team," Dailey said.

You can say the same thing about the Huskies. And this season, both the whole and sum of the parts were equally good. Tuesday, UConn's defense was outstanding; the Huskies ruled on the boards, and even a rough shooting night from the backcourt didn't hurt them at all.

Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson were a combined 6-of-23 from the field? So what. Stewart was 10-of-15. Stefanie Dolson had 17 points and 16 rebounds. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 18 points.

Playing UConn this season was a lot like hitting a tennis ball against a wall. Eventually, you're going to miss. The wall won't. And that's despite the fact that UConn had injury issues, including losing Morgan Tuck and being without Mosqueda-Lewis for stretches because of elbow injuries and mononucleosis.

"We had a lot of expectations," Dolson said of returning most of the key players from last year's NCAA title team. "Some teams can kind of fold under that. But here at Connecticut, once there is pressure and expectations, you want to prove to people why you are the best team in the country."

UConn has had amazing individual stars who have fit in, and not clashed, with that team-first mantra. From Rebecca Lobo and Jennifer Rizzotti in 1995, to Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi in the early 2000s, to Tina Charles and Maya Moore in the latter part of the decade.

To Stewart, UConn's current superstar, who knows her Huskies history.

"I think it does make it special, because you think of all the people who came ahead of you and what they've done," Stewart said. "I'm going to be able to have my name put down with the other names associated with this program, and that's exciting. It's almost like we're competing with past teams."

Indeed, it can be a fun debate for fans to rank UConn's perfect teams, and the championship squads overall. To Auriemma, though, they are all remarkable in their own way.

The Ninth Symphony was Beethoven's final completed work, and is considered his masterpiece. But for Auriemma, who just turned 60 in March, title No. 9 may well be just another milestone.

Auriemma is not that big on memorabilia. There are rings and watches he has been given for titles, but those baubles don't really mean anything to him. What really matters are the championship images -- those he will always have in his head, and the tangible ones captured in photographs.

"I have pictures of every national championship team," he said. "And that's the first thing you see when you come in our office."

Considering that UConn now has nine titles, there really can't be much wall space left for anything else.

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