Geno's quest for 900 wins highlights women's hoops this week
Another milestone for Geno Auriemma, a showdown in the Pac-12 and unbeaten teams trying to remain perfect highlight this week in women's college basketball.
Auriemma will try to become the sixth women's coach to reach 900 wins Tuesday night when his Connecticut Huskies face Cincinnati. With a victory, the Hall of Famer would be the fastest coach in men's or women's basketball to reach that mark, doing it in 1,034 games.
''It's been a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches and the thing I'm most proud of is once we got it going in the `90s we didn't ever have that where you go three or four years trying to catch up or rebuild, get your program back where it used to be,'' Auriemma said. ''To stay consistent for all those years, that's the biggest thing I'll take away from it.''
The Huskies have one more conference game on Saturday before a showdown with No. 1 South Carolina next Monday. The Gamecocks are one of two unbeaten teams left in women's basketball, joining No. 18 Princeton.
South Carolina (21-0) has a tough test before next Monday: a visit to No. 22 Georgia on Thursday.
Princeton returns home to face Cornell and Columbia. The Tigers (19-0) have only played five home games this season.
Across the country, Stanford will face Arizona State on Friday in a key Pac-12 contest. The Cardinal have won the past 14 conference titles, and a loss to the Sun Devils would put that streak in serious jeopardy.
While all those teams have been in the poll for weeks, George Washington entered The Associated Press Top 25 on Monday for the first time in nearly seven years.
''I think when you're getting ranked in February, it's a big body of work that people are looking at, as opposed to earlier in the year, when it's a projection of how you should do,'' GW coach Jonathan Tsipis said. ''We're really excited.''
Tsipis has the Colonials (19-2) riding a 17-game winning streak, the third-best in school history. They are five victories short of the mark set by the 1996-97 squad that won 22 straight. That streak is only part of the rich history of women's basketball at the school, which appeared almost weekly in the poll for nearly two decades starting in 1991 under former coach Joe McKeown.
''This puts together what we've talked about with the tradition we've had here, the number of A-10 championships and NCAA tournament appearances and wins in the NCAA tournament,'' Tsipis said. ''It goes hand in hand with being ranked.''
The Colonials face Davidson on Thursday in a matinee game before taking on Atlantic-10 power Dayton on Sunday.
The Colonials, who last were ranked in the final poll of the 2008 season, hit a skid from 2009-13 when they had four straight years under .500 - the school's first since 1988-89. But Tsipis has started to return the team to its previous glory. The only losses this season came to Florida Gulf Coast, when leading scorer and rebounder Jonquel Jones was out, and to No. 5 Maryland.
''We were winning at halftime and they surged in the second half,'' Tsipis said of the loss to the Terrapins. ''There was such a difference in the two games. The game here and the game on the road last year, that's part of the belief.''
Some notes from this week's poll:
FALLING LONGHORNS: It's been a rough few weeks for Texas. After starting the season 13-0, the Longhorns have lost five of their last seven games and dropped from third in the poll to 20th. It's no coincidence that some of that has come after Texas lost senior Nneka Enemkpali to a torn ACL in her left knee.
UPCOMING MATCHUPS: Nebraska has a busy week, visiting No. 21 Rutgers on Thursday before facing No. 5 Maryland on Sunday, which is unbeaten in conference play in its first season in the Big Ten.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg