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UConn HC Geno Auriemma Tests Positive for COVID-19 Ahead of NCAA Tournament

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2021

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma during the first quarter of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament. 

Deena Casiero, UConn's director of sports medicine and head team physician, issued a statement:

"After we received notification of the positive test result yesterday, we initiated contact tracing protocols, which included interviewing individual members of the basketball program and in-depth video analysis of practice. Only household close contacts were identified. Given the fact that we have been doing daily testing for the past seven days, we feel confident that we were able to catch this very early on in the disease process. The remainder of Tier I tested negative yesterday and today."

According to the school, Auriemma "did not have close contact" with anybody on the team since March 12. The Huskies haven't played since beating Marquette in the Big East championship game on March 8.

The legendary coach, who UConn said received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 10, won't be able to rejoin his team until at least March 24, which is the second day of the second round. The Sweet 16 tips off March 27.

Associate head coach Chris Dailey will presumably be in charge for the time being. Dailey joined Auriemma in Storrs, Connecticut, when he first took the job in 1985, and she has remained there ever since. She was promoted to her current role in 1988.

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"Chris is someone who dedicated her life to women's basketball, and what she does is continue to help these young girls turn into women and continue to be their best on and off the court." @breannastewart 🙌 @cduconn #WomensHistoryMonth https://t.co/ZdR7p7sSZH

That level of continuity should guarantee there isn't a big drop in the team's performance.

In general, Connecticut shouldn't have much trouble handling its first two games of the Big Dance. The Huskies, 24-1, are a lock for a No. 1 seed, and they sat atop the selection committee's most recent top-16 rankings.

UConn also counts one of the best players in college basketball among its ranks.

Paige Bueckers is averaging 19.7 points, 6.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 47.4 percent from beyond the arc. The highly touted freshman guard has lived up to the hype, raising the ceiling for a roster that already included Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Evina Westbrook and Aubrey Griffin.

The Huskies will learn their path to the Final Four during Monday night's selection show.

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