Robert Morris' Buscaglia facing UConn before retirement
STORRS, Conn. (AP) Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia is hoping for a less than symmetrical ending to his coaching career when his Colonials face top-ranked UConn on Saturday.
Buscaglia, who plans to retire to retire at the end of the season, lost his first game as a head coach in 1978 when his Hillbert College team near Buffalo, New York fell to Jamestown Community College, 105-17.
Buscaglia likely will coach his last game on Saturday when his Colonials (20-12) face three-time defending champion UConn (32-0) Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskies are favored by 57 1/2 points.
''I hope I don't go full circle,'' said Buscaglia, who is 711-368 over his 38-year career. ''I really don't. But, you never know.''
The Huskies (32-0) are making their 28th straight trip to the tournament and are looking for a fourth straight national title and a ninth straight trip to the Final Four. They have not lost in the first round since 1993.
Robert Morris (20-12) is making its second trip to the tournament in three years and its fourth in program history.
But UConn forward Morgan Tuck said they aren't going to take it easy on the Colonials.
''We know it's a 16-seed,'' she said. ''But we just look at it as a step toward our ultimate goal and we have to dwell in this step, otherwise we won't have a chance to get that goal.''
UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma, who turns 62 later this month, acknowledged that the burden of living each year for the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament has begun to wear on him, but said he's not yet ready to joing Buscaglia in retirement.
''I kind of got up this morning to come here today and I can't say it was exactly like it was 28 years ago, but it's not that much different,'' said Auriemma, who is in his 31st season. ''So, as long as that is the case, I'm good for a while.''
Seton Hall (23-8) faces Duquesne (27-5) in Saturday's second game.
Ninth-seeded Duquesne is making its first trip to an NCAA Tournament. The Dukes are coming off their first ever co-regular season Atlantic 10 championship and have set program records for wins and conference wins (13).
Seton Hall is making its fourth tournament appearance and looking for its first tournament win. The Pirates lost four starters from a team that came to Storrs a year ago and lost to Rutgers in the first round.
''We have some unfinished business here,'' said guard Aleesha Powell, who sat out last season after following coach Tony Bozzella from Iona.
UConn: The Huskies say they don't mind putting on the black hat and playing the villain during the NCAA Tournament.
''I think a lot of people would like to see us lose,'' guard Moriah Jefferson said. ''Once a team is winning so many amount of games, people always root for the underdogs.''
Robert Morris: The Colonials have an international flavor to their lineup, which has no Americans in the starting five. Northeast Conference tournament most valuable player Anna Niki Stamolamprou is from Greece. Guard Ashley Ravelli hails from Italy. Guard Lou Matley comes from France. Megan Smith and Mikalah Mulrain are both from Ontario. Buscaglia said he doesn't like travelling and leaves the overseas recruiting to his son Charlie, who is slated to take over as head coach next season.
Duquesne: Kata Katanich-Burt, the wife of head coach Dan Burt, played internationally in Hungary and her husband said that has opened a recruiting pipeline for his school in Europe. The Dukes feature players from Hungary, Estonia, Norway, Serbia, Spain and Estonia.
''We recruit typically within a four-hour radius of our campus and then we have what we call islands - Toronto, Montreal and then about five countries overseas,'' he said. ''To us, Budapest is just as close as Atlanta or Orlando.''
Seton Hall: Graduate transfer Shakena Richardson is playing in the NCAA Tournament for her third different school. She started her career at Rutgers and played the last two years at Florida State. She's averaging 12.4 points and 5.6 assists for the Pirates. ''This year's been the most fun, because I'm actually playing more and just more involved and so close with the team,'' she said. ''It's just been fun playing our style of basketball, running up and down.''