— There is only one athletic director in Division I with both basketball teams in the Elite Eight, and he arrived at Pinnacle Bank Arena about three hours before UConn's regional semifinal against BYU on Saturday.
To say Warde Manuel is happy about what is happening this week would be an understatement.
"There is a huge benefit to this for us," Manuel said. "Both our men's and women's teams have had and sustained excellence. The big benefit is to our fans, our supporters, our students. And it shows the rest of the country the level of commitment to success that we have as an institution for a number of our different programs."
What Manuel wouldn't speculate on was how important this week might be in terms of what's next for UConn within the national conference structure.
The athletic directors of the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 are likely to notice the impact UConn basketball maintains nationally and particularly in New York, where Huskies men's basketball fans have practically overtaken Madison Square Garden for the East Regional.
That might result in Uconn's being reintroduced into the discussion the next time expansion is considered. What must the Big Ten be thinking now about taking Rutgers and not UConn? Does the ACC still think the Syracuse footprint in New York is greater than UConn's?
"We have student athletes that are supported and led by great coaches who win," Manuel said. "Our fans understand we have the pride, determination and effort [in our programs] they expect from us, that they invest in us to do.
"Will there be any more residual benefits [in terms of expansion]? What we hope for right now is that it will encourage our fans to our venues, create more support from donors to invest to retain great coaches."
Fatherhood & Coaching
Give Geno Auriemma a microphone and a question without borders and interesting things often result. On Friday, he was asked by Lincoln Journal Star columnist Steven Sipple how his coaching personality has evolved.
"I like to equate it to having children," Auriemma said. "If you have more than one, you know the first one you are over the top with everything. Everything has to be just right, 24/7 [be] involved. Everything that the little guy or girl does is the biggest thing in the world. Then once the second one comes along, you go, 'Yeah, I have been there and done that.' In my case, when that third one [son Michael] came along, you are like, 'Really? So what is the big deal? Oh, he is talking?' Yeah, I have been there and done that."
Great Plan Doesn't Pan Out
Saturday was designed to be Nebraska's day to play UConn before a raucous home crowd in the regional semifinal. But the No. 4 Cornhuskers were eliminated by BYU in the second round. So they were forced into the uncomfortable situation of watching others play on their home floor.
"All the hype, all the buildup was that [this] is why we gave you the regional, the chance to play at home, 9,000 or 10,000 people there and you are playing the No. 1 team in the country," Auriemma said. "Don't think that doesn't play with people's minds or emotions. It is a shame, I feel for them, but BYU deserves to be here. If they didn't deserve to be here, they would not be here."
Had the game transpired, Nebraska's Jordan Hooper would have been reunited with Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, her teammates on last summer's USA Basketball World University Games team in Russia.
Friendship That Overflows
DePaul's Doug Bruno and Auriemma are longtime best friends. They coached against each other in the Big East for man years and worked together on the 2010 world championships and 2012 Olympic gold medal team. They likely will be together again when Auriemma brings the 2014 world championship team to Turkey in the fall. So being together in Lincoln this weekend seemed nice, but not critical to the renewal of their brotherhood.
"We never worry when the next time will come for us to hang out," Bruno said. "Life has already given us a great life together. The tap is always flowing."
Dolson Sets Mark
Saturday was the 149th start in Stefanie Dolson's career, the most in the UConn women's program. She surpassed Renee Montgomery. … The Huskies' pursuit of the NCAA record for blocked shots in a season continued with another 10 Saturday. UConn has 303. The record is 310 by Baylor in 2011-12. … Breanna Stewart's 16 points give her 725 this season. Only Maya Moore has scored more in one season for UConn.Copyright © 2015, CT Now