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UConn’s Geno Auriemma: couldn’t “care less” about March Madness after loss

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COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 11: Head coach Geno Auriemma of the UConn Huskies walks onto the court prior to their game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Colonial Life Arena on February 11, 2024 in Columbia, South Carolina. SC won 83-65. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Geno Auriemma isn’t thinking about the NCAA tournament.

Following UConn’s 18-point loss to No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday, the longtime coach said that he’s more focused on helping his team improve than anything else. Once again, the Huskies are dealing with injuries this season that have left them often shorthanded.

On Sunday, UConn played just seven total players – including four freshmen.

“I mean, ever since all this stuff has been happening with our roster, that’s the furthest thing from my mind,” Auriemma said. “I [couldn’t] care less about [the NCAA tournament]. We have a bunch of young [players] playing college basketball for the first time and they’ve gotten better and better each and every week and we have to make sure they keep getting better every week.

“The seven that we have right now, that are playing the most minutes, that’s just the way it’s going to be,” he continued. “It’s going to be on those seven. Hopefully, it was a great learning experience for those young [players] because it was the first time they really had to play big roles in a game like this.”

Paige Bueckers and Aaliyah Edwards have been steady veteran presences, with both scoring 20 points as the team attempted to stymie South Carolina in front of a sold-out crowd. But the Gamecocks won their 23rd straight game in dominant fashion.

Auriemma said that his team left too many opportunities to score on the table, something they can’t afford to do with their lack of depth.

“We have to do more things right than ever before because of the situation that we’re in,” he said. “We’re not going to get any bigger. We’re not going to add any more players. We’re not going to get any taller, but we need to get a little smarter if we want to be able to win some of these games come March.”