It all begins tonight.
The Connecticut Huskies' quest for a third straight national championship begins with a home exhibition game vs. Franklin Pierce at Gampel Pavilion at 7:30 pm EST.
Gone are crucial parts of their success, and five new freshmen take center stage.
It's been a crazy off-season for coach Geno Auriemma; one filled with the success of the Gold Medal winning USA national team and the privilege of coaching some of the best talent in the world today, all on one team.
So how difficult do you think it must have been to go from winning a gold medal to a practice with five new players in a matter of days?
Well, Geno is one who has never backed down from a challenge, and as he began to prepare for exhibition games, and action that is more than just practice against male practice players, he met with the local press. Here are some highlights.
Tina Charles and Kalana Greene both started last year, and have moved on to the WNBA. Caroline Doty, a third starter, has a torn ACL. Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes, return, but who else will make up the starting lineup, and what does it mean?
The loss of Charles obviously is the biggest challenge facing this year's Huskies. You can't just replace a Player of the Year and first team All-American. It's tough enough to find a center in the best of circumstances. This year Auriemma's looking at freshman Stefanie Dolson and sophomore Heather Buck as the leading candidates to replace Charles. So how is it going and who is leading that competition...or is there one ?
So how are the other four freshmen (Bria Hartley, Samarie Walker, Michala Johnson, and Lauren Engeln) looking thus far? How is it coaching five freshmen again, and what is the status of Johnson, as she returns from injury?
One of the crucial players if this team is going continue its success, will be forward/guard Kelly Faris. Only a sophomore, Faris has already shown a quiet confidence hard to find in one so young. This year, though, she's going to have to change her role considerably; she's going to be counted on for points as well as "the little things" she's been doing.
Geno has one sure thing, in his mind....Maya Moore will be an All-American, and she's looking better than she has at any time in her career. C'mon now! She's two time player of the year, unanimous All-American, a member of the USA National team. In what way could she be better?
Can the streak continue? When will it end? Can they repeat for a third time? Can they even make it through the Big East schedule undefeated?
A lot of questions, for the first time in several years, surround the Huskies. And it all gets started tonight.