Geno Auriemma became the fastest coach to 1,000 wins in NCAA history with UConn's victory over Oklahoma on Tuesday.
Geno Auriemma reached the 600-, 700-, 800- and 900-win mark faster than any other coach in the history of college basketball and Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena, the Connecticut top-ranked women’s basketball team delivered another basketball coaching feat in a career filled with them.
UConn’s 88-64 win over Oklahoma was the 1,000th career victory for Auriemma, who did it in his 33rd season at the school, making him the fastest coach to reach the 1,000-win mark in the history of college basketball. Auriemma’s career record is now 1000-135, a resume that includes 11 national titles, 18 Final Fours, six perfect seasons (1995, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2016), 23 regular season conference titles and 22 conference tournament championships, all since Auriemma’s arrival in 1985. In terms of career wins in the women’s college game, Auriemma trails only Hall of Famers Pat Summitt (1,098) and Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer (1,018) in coaching wins. Earlier in the day, North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell also won her 1,000th career game with a 79-63 victory over Grambling State. Hatchell has won 728 games as a coach in 32 seasons at North Carolina.
UConn support staff started handing out placards commemorating Auriemma’s accomplishment with about four minutes left. At the buzzer, streamers fell from the rafters. UConn did a very good job highlighting associate head coach Chris Dailey, who has sat next to Auriemma for each of the 1,000 wins at UConn.
The team posed for photos with Auriemma in the postgame ceremony afterward, with this year’s players holding up stick figures of Auriemma and Dailey from the 1980s. A tribute video played on the jumbotron above, showing many of UConn’s iconic victories. Players from Auriemma and Dailey’s first win (on Nov. 26, 1985 over Iona) showed up to celebrate.
Said Auriemma: “For Chris and myself we just try to be really good every day at what we do and all of our assistant coaches that we have had here over the years and especially the ones we have now, what we have been able to figure out is if you try really hard every day to be really, really good at what you do and you try to do the best for the people around you, you keep your fingers crossed and good things happen.”
Oklahoma was a game opponent. Historically a Top-20 program that has struggled this season, the Sooners cut the lead to 51-44 with under five minutes left in the third quarter. But UConn closed out the quarter on a 13-3 run to extend the lead to 17 heading into the final 10 minutes.
The 63-year-old Auriemma has the highest winning percentage among all women’s college basketball coaches (.881), a record he will likely retire with whenever that time comes.
“It is draining to be in an environment where the only standard is an undefeated season and there is going to come a time where I wake up in the morning and say, 'I don’t want to do this anymore,'” Auriemma said prior to the game. “I don’t know when that is. But it’s not going to be tomorrow morning.”