Auriemma and Taurasi talk basketball past and present
Geno Auriemma hosted UConn legend and three-time WNBA Champion Diana Taurasi on Instagram Live on Tuesday, May 12.
Auriemma, who recently joined Instagram earlier this month, once again had some technical difficulties with getting Taurasi on the video.
The video began in typical Geno-Diana fashion.
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Taurasi: “I’ve been waiting all week to talk to you”
Auriemma: “That’s a bad week”
Taurasi: “We’ve had a lot of bad weeks back to back”
Topics included the differences in playing now versus twenty years ago, The Last Dance, Dan Orlovsky, changes Taurasi would like to see in the league and much more.
Like many people across the country, both Taurasi and Auriemma have been tuning into The Last Dance.
Taurasi revealed that the Chicago Bulls beating the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991 she said she cried for a week straight.
“That madness made him better,” Taurasi said about Jordan. They also discussed Jordan’s ability to score 40 or 50 points without making a three.
Taurasi believes that when you watch Kobe Bryant you’re watching Jordan.
When Auriemma asked Taurasi about her leadership style she responded: “I’ve always said I’m a kindhearted asshole I think that encompasses everything.” To which he said, “well you’re half-right.”
He later added, “I have never, ever heard you say a negative word, ever, about one of your teammates…even when I tried to get you to do that.”
Auriemma and Taurasi agreed that the ‘03 Championship team was terrible, proving that you don’t need the most talented team to win.
He revealed that within the first two weeks of practice that year he realized that with everyone doing their part he realized that they could be as good as they were last year.
“That’s when you know the season’s over. When you have a team meeting,” Taurasi said reflecting on the 2016 season.
Taurasi said that she’s noticed kids today need more help getting through difficult things, which prompted this exchange:
Taurasi: “What you put me through isn’t what you’re going to put Paige through.”
Auriemma: “I might.”
Taurasi: “You can’t…back then, anything you said was going to stay in Gampel.”
Auriemma later revealed that the best sets of parents he coached were Svetlana Abrosimova’s and Taurasi’s because the former wasn’t coming over from St. Petersburg and he couldn’t understand what they said if they called and Taurasi’s just let their daughter handle herself.
Taurasi has been shocked about how many incoming players have to learn about a sport they have been playing their whole life saying, “We haven’t had a group of rookies coming in in a long time that’s ready to play.”
She thinks there is too much exposure and publicity for the kids playing basketball today.
However, she believes that the upcoming NIL changes will really benefit college because making money might allow them to stay longer.
In a conversation about NIL, Taurasi was listing numbered jerseys that are on sale at UConn’s Co-Op and referenced Dan Orlovsky who holds numerous school records and played in the NFL for 12 seasons.
While Taurasi couldn’t remember his name, she believes, he’s better at commentary than he was as a quarterback, she said he wasa “hipster genius from Connecticut that saved ESPN.”
She added it’s nice to watch someone on TV that knows what he’s talking about.
Taurasi said that her time in Russia prepared for quarantine, aside from practice there was usually one person you talked to and going to the grocery store. She said there were a lot of nights you were just by yourself.
Auriemma asked her about the differences between playing in the WNBA and overseas. She described you had to adjust to the different styles in different countries. Taurasi believes that young players should go play overseas because “if you’re not playing, you’re not getting better.”
Always trying to ignite a conversation, Auriemma also asked Taurasi about what rule changes she would like to see in the WNBA. She said she would want to see the three-point line moved back, the number of fouls reduced to five and the ball size universal between the men’s and the women’s game.
She believes that six is too many, saying, “Six you could just foul all game and you’re good. Then you bring the next schmuck in and they can foul six times. Then you bring in some other schmuck and they can foul six times.”
As the conversation went on Auriemma told her, “Nobody has committed more dumb fouls in the history of basketball than you.”
Taurasi explained shortly thereafter that she only gets technicals if she gets fouled and it isn’t called and that if she fouls, she knows it’s a foul.
She also complained that the ball used in the WNBA is too light, in addition to being too small, but acknowledges that a change is unlikely.
When Auriemma asked her about the 2016 Olympics Taurasi replied, “That was the best Olympic team I played on.”
She later added, “Everyone’s mindset was where it needed to be, and that’s why we just, we played amazing.”
Flipping the tables Taurasi later asked Auriemma if he was a 22-year old coach and could pick a school (not UConn) to coach at, where would he want to go?
He replied he would want to go to places like Virginia, Duke, UNC, “Places you know basketball is really, really important.”
Auriemma also said when he was at Virginia he thought it had the potential to be one of the best jobs ever.
The live stream, of course, ended with a discussion of UConn returning to the Big East.
Taurasi: “I have a sense that the men’s team is going to come back.”
Auriemma: “Oh for sure.”
The next thing you know Taurasi has disappeared and a confused Auriemma is left on the screen.
Auriemma goes live on Instagram every Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET.
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