INDIANAPOLIS — Chris Daly glanced down and stuck out his hand on Tuesday night when a errant pass from Butler sent the ball out of bounds toward the UConn women’s basketball bench.
“Sometimes I don’t know where I am,” Daly explained. “I wasn’t sure if I was over my limit. So I looked at my feet because I can’t be on the court and I thought if I was inbounds I would be their ball. …and I caught it.
The faces of everyone on the bench lit up when Daly rolled the ball up. Paige Bookers clapped his hands, enthusiastically stood up and signaled the acting head coach to let it fly.
Dorka Jujas and Lou Lopez-Senechal, sitting on either side of her at the post-match press conference after Thursday’s win over Xavier and fighting back laughter, quickly opened up that she had to shoot too. .
“I didn’t want to do that because any other team would have scored,” Daly said. “But it was a fun moment in the game.”
Whether enjoying that viral moment or exaggerating her undefeated record, the No. 5 Huskies are all behind Daly. She continues to head coach Geno Auriemma, who is taking some time away from the team to focus on her health.
After short-handed victories over Butler and Xavier, Daley has a 17-0 record as UConn’s leader on the sidelines, including four wins this season.
“She brings a lot of passion,” said Juhas. “I think we’re doing really well. And I don’t think it’s good that we don’t have a coach. Obviously we miss him, but health is our number one priority. CD and Moe (Morgan Valley). and J[Jamel Elliott]it’s been really nice to have them.
Auriema missed the December game against Florida State and Seton Hall after feeling unwell after the death of her mother, Marciella. He came back and led the Huskies to wins over Clayton and Marquette to close out the month, but felt sick again after Tuesday’s shootaround and decided not to coach the Bulldogs. , the program announced on Thursday morning that he would miss the match against the Musketeers and would rejoin the team at a later date.
“It’s been a very difficult month for me. The weather was bad and I was exhausted,” said Auriemma. “I thought I was ready to go back, but I just need a little more time. I’ll take a step back, focus on my health, and come back when I’m ready.”
Daley has been on the Auriema staff since taking over the UConn program in 1985. It was her final game of the regular season at St. John’s on February 25, 1989, when she took over as head coach in place of Auriemma. Auriemma also coached the Huskies at Big Her East Her tournament because UConn had been suspended for scheduling violations that exceeded her NCAA game limit.
Thirty-four years later, Dailey still remembers and is quick to point out that he led UConn to its first Big East tournament title during that period.
“afterwards [Geno] Come on, we lost in the first round of the NCAA,” joked Daly.
UConn beat Georgetown, Boston College and Providence to win the Big East tournament at Seton Hall’s gymnasium in South Orange, New Jersey, within an hour of their hometown of New Brunswick. The Huskies earned his first NCAA Tournament bid that year.
Kelly Bascombe was named Most Valuable Player of the Big East Tournament, but that wasn’t the only time she helped Daly and the Huskies.
“I remember eating Kelly Bascom’s birthday cake at the Big East tournament,” recalls Daly. “I don’t think I ate the rest of the weekend. I definitely eat more now because I know what to expect.”
Daley is much more comfortable on the sidelines, but each time she takes over for Auriemma, she finds a new appreciation for all the things he has to do on a daily basis. Not so enthusiastic. She also avoids sitting in Auriemma’s place on the bench.
“I’m still sitting in my seat, but obviously not,” Daly said. “But I have a lot of help with Jamel and Morgan and the rest of our staff, which makes it a lot easier. becomes easier.”
Everyone on the team is concerned about Auriemma’s health and hope he recovers sooner or later. In the meantime, Daley and her fellow assistants her coaches and all of her staff supporting the Huskies have tried to make the burden on the players as light as possible.
“What we try to do is make it seamless so that the players don’t feel the ups and downs and the insecurities,” Daly said. And I think that’s how we’ve always operated, and maybe at some point you’ll look back and say, ‘How did we do that?’ Did I get over it?” But now I’m just trying to make sure that what we have to accomplish today is to prepare the players and prepare them to play well in the game. “
UConn is now on a six-game winning streak, and it all started with Daly against Florida State University. And the players certainly appreciate Dailey’s efforts.
“She definitely knows when to step up,” Lopez-Senechal said. “And I think that’s what we need right now. She’s been doing a great job as head coach and we’re delighted to have her on board.”