It’s no secret that Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma is about as quotable as they come.
We got a taste of that at Saturday’s press conference.
Actually, a taste might be an understatement.
A reporter asked Auriemma (whom I honestly feel like I should refer to as “Geno” because he’s so down to earth and has a Philadelphian accent) if he used his 58th birthday this past Friday to reevaluate where his life stands, like the rest of us might do. The reporter wanted to know if Auriemma still enjoys his job as much as he used to 10 years ago.
It was a loaded question, and a bit disarming considering the magnitude of Connecticut’s upcoming game against the Lady Lions on Sunday.
So was Auriemma’s long-winded and pensive answer.
It starts a little slow, but gets better. Here’s the gem, as unedited as I could make it. Enjoy.
Here, there’s laughter from the media as Auriemma examines the name card in front of him to make sure it wasn’t facing us the wrong way.
“No, the reason I did that was because it’s upside-down on my end, so I thought they weren’t saying anything because they didn’t care.
“Nah, I really don’t do that. I’m normal, you know? In a sense that I’m like everybody else. I think when you get to reflect a little bit on where you are and what you’ve done and how long you’ve been doing it, you do naturally question if this is still what you want to be doing. Do you still get the same enjoyment out of it that you used to? Are you still having the same impact on the players that you used to have or that you want to have? Do you still get the same response that you want to get?
“You know, I really don’t…I’ve never been one to think that much about the future. And I’ve not generally been one to look at the past and think that that should be an indicator of anything that’s gonna happen in the future, other than that I’m lucky. And I just continue to think that I’ll always be lucky. That’s the one thing that I’ve kind of held on to. But I don’t get to an age, really, and start to do that self-evaluation thing that people talk about and take stock of my life and all of that.
“I was playing with my grandson the other day and I just said, ‘Boy, I wonder…We’re looking at buying a playscape for him, you know, and there’s all these elaborate things that you can get. You know, they have these forts, you know, and a slide, and nine swings, and this thing you climb up on, and I’m saying to myself, ‘Man. Whatever happened to when you had a tree and a rock, and you find a way to amuse yourself all day with a tree and a rock?’ Things have changed a lot in 40 or 50 years for me. But, other than that, I don’t really worry too much about the basketball part of it or any of that stuff.”
The reporter then asked if coaching a 17-year old freshman girl, for instance, is different now than it was then.
“I have less patience for these guys now than I did when I was 30-something. I used to try and see things from their standpoint, and now I’m like a lot of old people - they [that is, old people] don’t really give a s--- about anybody but themselves. Have you ever been to a place where I’m giving out autographs? There’ll be, like, nine 8-year-olds in line to get an autograph and some 75-year old will just knock them all over and go, ‘Hey, get out of my way. I want an autograph,’ to get an autograph. And just bulldoze those little kids. Because you know? ‘I’m 75, and you got the rest of your life to wait for that [gosh darn] autograph. So get out of my way.’
“It’s the same thing when they’re driving, or they’re in the store. So I’m getting to an age where I have less patience for these guys. If I say do this, then do it! Don’t look at me, like ‘why?’ When I was 35, I would say, ‘OK, here is why we want to do this.’
“So I guess the difference is, I have less patience and they have less attention span. That’s not a good combination, you know? I’m trying to teach them to have better concentration for longer periods of time and they’re testing my patience.”
And that just about does it for Auriemma’s legendary rant.
Preach, Coach. Preach.