AMES — Bill Fennelly needed a break.
The television in his office Thursday afternoon was tuned to his second-favorite pastime after his Iowa State women’s basketball team – St. Louis Cardinal baseball.
“Hey man,” Fennelly quipped, “if you’ve been watching as much Connecticut video as I have, you’d want to watch something different. Something positive.”
The Cyclones will line up against No. 1-ranked and unbeaten UConn Sunday at 11 a.m. in Dayton, Ohio; looking to pull a Sweet 16 upset for the ages.
The Huskies (35-0) have won an incredible 74 consecutive games. How exactly?
Players like Tina Charles and Maya Moore sure help, but coach Geno Auriemma is the straw that stirs the drink. He gets his seemingly endless stream of blue-chippers to play at their best every minute they are on the floor.
“It can’t be just the players he recruits,” Fennelly said. “It’s built into their team and he demands it. Most of us try to demand it and don’t achieve it… He’s arguably one of the best basketball coaches of all-time.”
The NCAA-record winning streak has ISU’s coach most impressed.
“Not many people can say they showed up for work every day and do it at a very high level,” Fennelly said. “They’ve done it 74 times in a row.”
Connecticut has beaten its first to NCAA tournament opponents by a combined 110 points, including a 90-36 beat down of Temple, whose head coach, Tonya Cardoza, spent 14 seasons as an assistant under Auriemma in Storrs, Conn.
It doesn’t matter who you are. This team is relentless – and supremely confident.
“You’d better play or they are going to bury you,” Fennelly said. “The minute you relax it can go bad quick… They like the idea that they are better than everybody else. They act like it, they talk like it and play like it. You had better be ready for it.”