NO. 3 UCONN AT TULSA, SUNDAY, 3 P.M. (SNY) UConn women ready for ‘business trip’ in Oklahoma
STORRS — The weather’s forecasted to be relatively pleasant Sunday in Tulsa, Okla., with sun and temperatures expected in the high 50s.
Yet, the Huskies aren’t treating their upcoming two-game road trip as a vacation.
“It’s pretty (much) a business trip,” guard Katie Lou Samuelson said Friday following practice at the Werth Center. “So, we know we have to go play these two games, execute each one to the best of our abilities, and get out.”
The 11-time national champions visit Tulsa on Sunday, before making their first trip to Wichita State on Tuesday — teams they’re a combined 9-0 against all-time.
The Huskies have plenty they would like to accomplish in their time away from home. First and foremost, a victory over Tulsa will give Geno Auriemma & Co. at least a share of the American Athletic Conference regular-season title for the sixth time in six years.
Given their dominance in AAC play (113-0 all-time), that accomplishment might’ve seemed like a formality when the season tipped off in November. Nevertheless, it’s an accomplish that they can savor.
“We like to focus on the bigger picture and stuff, but these little accolades is what helps us get to the tournament and stuff,” sophomore guard Mikayla Coombs said. “(Assistant coach Chris Dailey) likes to tell us not to take everything with a grain of salt.”
This season, like most others during Auriemma’s 34-year tenure — will be defined by what happens in the NCAA tournament. A stretch of four, five or maybe six games will be the difference between euphoria and dejection.
“There’s some teams we’re going to play that if they’re on their A-game, we couldn’t beat them in a million years,” the Hall of Fame coach said Tuesday. “We know that. I know that. But, we could get lucky.”
The Huskies, 24-2, including 12-0 in the AAC, aren’t leaving anything to chance. They’d like to use this road trip to prepare them for the condensed schedule they’ll see next month.
“We always look at these longer trips as just an opportunity, just as you would in the NCAA tournament,” Dailey said. “You have a quick turnaround, you don’t know the area, you might not know the team as well. … They’re two opponents we don’t know as well, and so I think that’s the way we look at it.”
The Huskies dropped 124 points on Wichita State last February in Hartford. They’re a perfect 8-for-8 against Tulsa, with each of those wins coming by double-digits.
Neither game is expected to be close, which pretty much spells how life has been for the Huskies in AAC play since 2013-14. They’re 98-0 during the regular season in conference play. They haven’t lost a conference game since the Big East Tournament final in 2012-13 to Notre Dame (61-59).
If all goes as planned, they’ll return home next week with another conference title in tow.
“I think part of being here, we focus on everything in chunks,” Samuelson said. “We want to get this taken care of. We know that, especially with the ups and downs this year, that anything can happen in any game. So, it is something that we want to make sure we take care of every single game. We … want no surprises, no things that could go wrong.”