Texas takes its turn at trying to stop UConn
Albany, N.Y. — Texas coach Karen Aston hasn't seen the tape from her first meeting with Connecticut, which came in the 2003 Final Four. The Longhorns lost by two that night when Aston was an assistant.
Now she'll have to figure out a way to beat the top-seeded Huskies as the Longhorns make their first appearance in the Sweet 16 in 11 years when the teams play today. The winner gets either Dayton or Louisville.
"I have a terrible memory of UConn," Aston said, smiling. "It was the Final Four, I haven't watched the tape, I burned it."
While Texas was a perennial NCAA Tournament participant in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, it hasn't had much success lately. The Longhorns last appeared in the regional semifinals in 2004. They haven't played the Huskies since 2009. And, few teams have had success against Connecticut with a roster that hasn't faced the Huskies before.
Since Connecticut won its first title in 1995, only Iowa State (1999) and Michigan State (2004) have been able to overcome the Huskies mystique.
Aston wasn't sure how Texas would react to the challenge.
"I don't know if I can answer how our team will react to playing Connecticut," Aston said. "We haven't played them in a long time. Our schedule will help us somewhat because we have seen Tennessee, Stanford, Baylor three times. I think there are some things we can reflect back on."
Connecticut is no stranger to the Sweet 16, having advanced that far the past 22 seasons. The Huskies will continue their quest for a third consecutive title.
Coach Geno Auriemma doesn't put too much stock in the Huskies experience advantage.
"Common sense would say yeah," Auriemma said. "You would think it means something having been there a bunch of times, but you still got to play the game and still got to play well. …
"When the game starts, all that stuff goes out the window."
Auriemma was impressed with Texas and how the Longhorns have overcome a bunch of injuries throughout the year, including a season-ending one to star Nneka Enemkpali.
"When you start the season and have a certain team and look up and one kid's gone and then another kid's gone, everything you prepare for has to change" said Auriemma, who with a victory will become the second coach (Pat Summitt) to win 100 NCAA Tournament games. Starting over again if it's Oct. 15 is one thing, but to do it in the middle of the season, that's very different.
"They are playing well at the right time. ... They found themselves these last few weeks."