UConn coach says Summitt should explain; she says she did
Connecticut and Tennessee aren't continuing their rivalry on the court, but a war of words could be brewing.
According to the Hartford Courant, UConn coach Geno Auriemma called out Tennessee coach Pat Summitt on Monday for not giving a valid reason for canceling the series. The Huskies had sent a contract to the Vols to extend the series two more years but were rejected.
She should just say that [Geno is] a dope, a smart-ass and then everyone could say that they agree with her.
-- Geno Auriemma
"I think she should just come out and say she's not playing us because she hates my guts," Auriemma told the newspaper. "And I think people would buy that. Then everyone [who seeks a reason] would be happy. She should just say that [Geno is] a dope, a smart-ass and then everyone could say that they agree with her."
Summitt has never given an official explanation for breaking off the series between two of women's college basketball's premier schools, but she told the Courant that Auriemma knows why.
"I'm not going to tell you the reasons -- that should be between UConn and Tennessee," she said, according to the paper. "If he wants to tell it, he can tell it.
"I'm perplexed by his comments. Clearly, Geno knows exactly why I canceled the series. I articulated that to him in a phone conversation. I was very upfront and straightforward with him. I think that it was something that needed to be discussed with Geno and no one else. That's why I chose not to comment [publicly]."
ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel wrote in June that those close to the situation in Knoxville said to "consider the body of work" when examining why the series would end. Although Auriemma has a history of colorful comments, Summitt expressed her respect for UConn and its coach.
"He's made me a better coach," Summitt said to the paper. "And the series was, for the most part, enjoyable."
Summitt has downplayed the void left by the end of the marquee matchup, but Auriemma does not agree.
"This game is bigger than any individual," he told the paper. "I could understand [the decision] if the game had suddenly become irrelevant. But it hadn't. There aren't many relevant games played in women's basketball each season."