GENO & UCONN : The LURE beyond the Titles – Part 1

Geno Auriemma and UConn Women’s basketball are once again on top of  the Mountain. Coming off another National Championship  ( the program’s 9th under Geno ) AND another UNdefeated season ( the program’s 5th )  it certainly would be understandable for Elite girls basketball recruits to want to be a part of such a prestigious tradition and consistent opportunities to a Win  National Title.  But, what about the humanistic side of this legendary leader and the women behind him…beyond chasing championships, what is the LURE to want to join Geno and be a Husky.

I recently had the opportunity to interview 3 young ladies ( Napheesa Collier, De’Janae Boykin & Katie Lou Samuelson ) who are each considered among the Top 10 players in the 2015 class, and who each have already made a verbal commitment to be a Husky. I inquired with them and their parent(s) as to what what they learned about the Geno and his Girls…

In Part 1 you will hear from Napheesa Collier, a 6’1″ Forward from Saint Louis, MO and her parents Gamal (Father ) & Sarah (Mother ).


Q :   What do you remember about your first call / conversation with Geno  ?

        Napheesa : I was having trouble processing that I was talking to Coach Geno. I had seen him so many times on TV and it felt weird to be actually talking to him. He also told me that he really wanted me at Uconn but didn’t need me. I didn’t know what to think of that at first as it was so different from what everyone else was saying.
       Gamal :      Just how normal and down to earth the conversation was. It felt like I was talking to one of my friends about sports, coming to / living in America and life in general.
       Sarah :       I hadn’t spoken with Geno until the first home visit. I had been communicating with CD  (Chris Daily ) and what struck me was how engaging and utterly     humorous Coach Geno was. He has a bit of a sarcastic side, which we appreciate very much !  You definitely felt like you could be yourself around him.
Q :    What about his personality & the person he is, has surprised you now that you have gotten to know him ?
         NapheesaHow funny he is. I didn’t expect that because of how Intense he looks on the court. His honesty, how we will tell you exactly how it is.
         Gamal : How approachable and personable he is. Every time I’ve been around him, I have been struck by how patient he is with everyone that comes up to him for    an autograph, picture  or want to share an anecdote with him. This happens ALL the time, people are constantly coming up to him and he’ll stop and spend as much time with each person he meets. I  can’t imagine how he keeps that up EVERY day !
Q :   What about Geno the person… is the reason you want to play for him  ?
        Napheesa :  I think he’ll make me the best player I can be and push me past my limits to get me to where I need to be.
       What about Geno the person… is the reason you want your daughter to play for him  ?
        Gamal :   I found him to be very straight forward and clear about his plans for Napheesa. My wife and I feel that Napheesa will respond very well to his coaching style.
        Sarah :    He’s the best coach in the world. I truly believe that. I feel that whatever talent or potential a player possesses, he will be able to draw the maximum effort and skill from them.   He will prepare them to play at the highest level in college and beyond.
Q :   Do you have an example of his level of Honesty that sticks out  ?
        Napheesa :  He’s honest about everything !  He won’t sugarcoat anything. He’ll let you know  what he’s thinking.
        Gamal :  he is always very direct, blunt even, regardless of the subject. So when he gives you an opinion of your child’s ability to play basketball, it means something.
        Sarah :    Reading articles about Coach Geno is very entertaining. You only have to read a few to understand that he definitely speaks his mind. I like that about     him, my dad is like that. If you ask him for his opinion he will give it to you – even if you may not like what he has to say, you can always be assured he is giving it to you straight.
Q :   What is your impression of each of the Assistant Coaches  ?    ( Chris Dailey , Shea Ralph, Marisa Moseley )
       Napheesa :  “CD” – very structured, seems like the glue that keeps everything together.     Marisa – bubbly, easy to talk to and get along with. A very fun person.      Shea – seemed like one of the girls on the team
       Gamal / Sarah :  “CD “ – I ( Sarah ) had the most interaction with “CD” and love her to death. CD is very creative in her team building activities, She’s focused and very organized. She and  Coach Geno are dynamic together, and seem to balance each other out.  I will never forget the game where CD was literally holding Geno ( trying to prevent a Technical Foul ). That was classic !           Marisa –   We met her for the first time during the Official visit. She was fun to be around and we laughed a lot as we were driving around. She has a great rapport with the girls and made our family feel very comfortable.           Shea  –   Very energetic and positive. she seems very dependable. She’s a great role model for the girls. Her tremendous work ethic has enabled her to work through  adversity with her injuries (playing career at UConn ) . She has firsthand knowledge of what the girls are going through playing for UConn and all that it means.
Q :   What impression did you have of UCONN players  before you ( your daughter for parent ) were recruited by the program ?     and now what sticks out to you about them, since you have gotten to be around them  ?
       Napheesa :    That they were all just about basketball, but after meeting them I found out how cool they are, how much fun they all have together and that they really are like sisters.
       Gamal :         I expected to find super focused , business like girls. But after being around them they are so typical of young ladies who have many different interests. They have a great  time around each other. When its time to work, they take it very seriously , but outside of basketball they are just regular college kids.
       Sarah :         When I asked “KML” ( Kaleena Mosqueda – Lewis ) whether she felt comfortable approaching Geno or any of the coaches, she put my mind at ease right     away. She said she feels very comfortable approaching them, which was important for me to hear. Napheesa will be a long way from home, and as her Mom, I want to feel secure knowing  she will have the support during those inevitably difficult times.
Q :  Was there a common theme or statement that the girls on team conveyed to you about playing for Geno  ?
      Napheesa :   Team comes first before the Individual.
Q :  Having had up close & personal exposure to the program… is there something about the environment or how they do things that you think would surprise people  ?
      Napheesa :  They have a lot more fun and are more relaxed than people would expect from the top program in the country.
      Gamal :       The atmosphere and aura around the program is so welcoming. Everything about the program exudes success. There are no special living accommodations for the athletes. It is a merit system based on Academic credits, so the Freshmen choose last and they all stay in traditional dorms with shared bathrooms.
      Sarah :      I think it may surprise people that have been recruited by other programs  how “normal” the atmosphere is at UConn. They don’t have hotel type Freshman dorms, We loved  that about UConn. 
Q :  Thinking back to the home visit… what impressed you most about how the Staff who was there handled it ?     
       Napheesa :   It was only Coach Geno and ” CD ” . I loved the way they get along together.
       Gamal :      The interaction between Coach Geno and “CD ” . They seem to be a very compatible team. I feel like they both need each other to be successful. 
       Sarah :        Definitely the relationship between Coach Geno and “CD”. Through the recruiting process, we were fortunate to see the interactions between a lot of Head Coaches and their Assistant Coaches. We were surprised in some instances about the interaction / dynamics exhibited. But, Coach Geno and CD have a mutual respect.  for one another and  that was important for us to see.
Q :  ( FOR DAUGHTER only )
      At what point in your recruiting process did you realize that you would rather join a program full of players just as good as you AND where you wouldn’t be given “star treatment” on or off the court…as opposed to going to a place where you could have been  ?
      Napheesa :   I never wanted to go somewhere I would be the best player  and the star of the team because I feel that in order to be at my best, I have be around players that can push me  to the Max.
Q :  What about the campus and/or University did you come to appreciate most (not basketball related )   ?
      Napheesa :    I like the atmosphere and campus vibe. on the day of my visit there was a fashion show there and i thought that was cool.
      Gamal :        We like the fact that it is a closed campus and Storrs is in the middle of nowhere. The students tend to stay around the campus most of the time as there are so many activities for them to participate in. The whole atmosphere just felt great.
      Sarah :         I really enjoyed meeting the Academic advisors. It was apparent to me that they really cared about all of the students, not just the athletes. We also met     the new Head Football Coach and he was gracious enough to give us a tour of his facilities and to share his vision with us. I believe UConn is the total package. All of the elements will enable Napheesa to be a well rounded student, athlete and citizen.
Q :   ( FOR DAUGHTER only )
      What was the final thing / experience that convinced you , that UCONN was where you wanted to be  ?
       Napheesa :    We were there at the going away party he had for the Seniors and hearing what Coach Geno had to say about the seniors and how much he would miss them , and how  much they seemed to love him, I really wanted to be a part of that.



  1. As a big fan and season ticket holder of UCONN WBB I enjoyed reading what everyone had to say about Geno and his coaches. Having personally met Geno while volunteering for his charitable golf tournament, I can attest to his great personality and how funny he can be.

    1. Reply Post By CoachBill


      Happy to hear you enjoyed Part 1 with Napheesa & her parents.

      I have 2 more coming with fellow Recruits De’Janae Boykin & Katie Lou Samuelson

      Agreed..his personality & Honesty is as good as it gets in college sports.

  2. Reply Post By Stu Katz

    Enjoyed the questions and the responses. Wonderful family! Looking forward to watching Napheesa play and contribute.

    1. Reply Post By CoachBill

      Thank you for the supportive comment.

      Definitely seems like a terrific family. intelligent & sincere.

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