STORRS — If he really wanted to, Geno Auriemma could have taken advantage of a new NCAA provision allowing formal practices to begin 42 days before the first game of the season. That would have been way back at the end of September.
"With this program, it's likely we'll be playing until April as it is," he said.
He waited until Wednesday, the day after the American Athletic Conference held media day at Mohegan Sun Arena, to begin the real work.
But junior guard Brianna Banks still has not been cleared to return. She sustained a severe knee injury in a Feb. 2 game at St. John's and isn't quite ready, although she was with her teammates Friday when they were introduced on First Night at Gampel Pavilion.
"Brianna has been doing a great job getting herself ready," Stefanie Dolson said. "She's been here all summer attending to her rehabilitation work. And she's made a lot of progress. We look forward to having her back in practice. She's so quick. Her three-point shooting is improved and we know she can take the ball to the basket. And she is such a good defender. We can't wait to have her back."
Banks is expected to be ready for the start of the season, Nov. 9 against Hartford.
Aside from freshman Saniya Chong, the Huskies also introduced their two non-scholarship walk-on players, freshman guard Tierney Lawlor from Ansonia and sophomore guard Briana Pulido from Miami.
They made the team after working out for assistant coaches Shea Ralph and Marisa Moseley.
"I generally don't get involved in that stuff," Auriemma said. "Briana worked out first and Tierney came in much later. They have qualities that our other players look for, and none of them have to do with how many points they are likely to score."
Lawlor averaged 12.2 points in her final two seasons in high school; Pulido also does track and field at UConn.
Because UConn already has a Bria (Hartley), Breanna (Stewart) and Brianna (Banks), the team has decided to call Pulido "Polly" to avoid more confusion.
Guards Sadie Edwards, Gabby Williams and Courtney Ekmark, all of whom orally committed to the program as juniors, were in attendance on Friday.
So was 6-5 center A'ja Wilson of South Carolina, who represents the most pressing need because Dolson will be gone.
Wilson is generally ranked among the Top 5 players in the senior class by recruiting services and is still undecided. In fact, Wilson has said on numerous occasions that she does not plan to announce her selection until the spring.
"So excited to get a chance to hang out with the coaches and players at UConn as I take my first official visit there," Wilson tweeted Thursday.
Wilson spent a portion of the summer playing for USA Basketball's U-19 team that not only won FIBA gold but featured current UConn sophomores Stewart and Morgan Tuck.
Among the players in the Class of 2014 still high on UConn's list is another guard, Kia Nurse, of Hamilton, Ontario. She is sister of an NHL player and the niece of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb. ... Quote of the day: Auriemma told the crowd that if anyone asks them what league UConn is in to tell them, "We are in a league of our own."
Friday was the last day that members of the women's team were allowed to post on Twitter until the end of the season. The players also had to remove any nail polish. It's all part of the UConn way. … Auriemma's radio show with Bob Joyce will debut Oct. 29 and be broadcast live from Geno's Grille, just off the campus in Storrs. ... Rebecca Lobo said that she was eager to see what programs came forward to give UConn's defending national champions a challenge. "I am eager to see Maryland, now that its team is healthy again. I am also excited to see what Duke looks like when Chelsea Gray [senior guard] comes back from her knee injury. Tennessee has a lot of nice pieces, plus [freshman] Mercedes Russell," Lobo said. ... Auriemma said he still likes all of his players because it is "so early in the season." He said that if the intrasquad scrimmage had been played three to four weeks from Friday, "I would have gladly sold some of my players to Kevin [Ollie] like they do in the Premier League [soccer]. And I wouldn't charge him $40 million, either."