HARTFORD – The day Geno Auriemma wonders how public opinion perceives his players will be the first – and likely last - of his career.
"I never have those discussions with my team and they don't have those discussions with me," Auriemma said on Tuesday after UConn finished the exhibition season with a breezy 93-28 win over Philadelphia University at the XL Center.
"Kids come to Connecticut to play with other really good players. Whatever happens will happen. The kind of players we get, if they wanted to all be All-Americans and take 35 shots a game, they would go somewhere else.
"When they are here, they understand not everybody is going to make All-American. It just happens. I don't talk to them about it. They don't talk to me about it. It's not something I spend any time worrying about."
So in case you're wondering, Auriemma loves the way sophomore Morgan Tuck plays, how her strength and quiet confidence seem to enliven and settle his team at the same time.
Auriemma could care less that teammates with more recognition and established track records dot preseason all-star teams.
"What do I think of Morgan? Same thing I always think of Morgan," Auriemma said after the forward led UConn with 16 points. "I think Morgan is great. She does all the things good basketball players do and she's been doing that since she got here last year. She passes the ball, she dribbles it, she plays good defense, she rebounds.
"I don't know. I never have any complaints against Morgan — ever."
That's how Auriemma spoke about Kelly Faris. Auriemma predicted when Faris was a freshman that she would never play a bad game. And he was close to being correct. By the time Faris was a senior, she was the team leader. She was everything but an All-American.
So on the night Breanna Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis made The Associated Press preseason All-America team, it was Tuck who shot 7 of 9 in 17 minutes.
"For me, seeing my teammates recognized makes me happy. I'd rather it be them than someone else from some random team," Tuck said. "But it also serves to motivate me. You always want to do better and if there are players around you, best friends in many instances, doing better it makes you want to catch up."
Tuck started Tuesday in place of sophomore point guard Moriah Jefferson, who missed the game with a twisted right ankle. In the rotation UConn will debut Saturday in the opener against Hartford, Tuck will play significant time.
Auriemma said he would monitor Jefferson's recovery before deciding whether to play her against Hartford. Without her, UConn still had 26 assists against a badly overmatched Philadelphia team. Mosqueda-Lewis had eight assists in 26 minutes; Stewart had six in 20 minutes.
"It was a fun game for us to play," said Stewart, who had 14 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. "It's good to play against an opponent other than practice players. It gives you the chance to try your offense and defense on someone who has not seen it."
This is an important season for Tuck, who came to UConn as a high school and USA Basketball standout. Her freshman season was frequently interrupted and agitated by a sore left knee.
"Now I can focus on basketball and nothing else," Tuck said. "I feel like I am able to play the way I want to play. I am trying not to think about anything but reacting to what I see on the floor. I am not worried about my knee anymore."
Tuck was limited to an average 15.8 minutes in 35 games last season.
"As long I am playing, I feel I should be able to meet expectations for myself. And as a result, I feel like I will be playing with somewhat of a chip on my shoulder this year."