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Was Geno Auriema playing psy-ops against the Irish before their Feb. 27 showdown with the Irish or

was he being a jerk or did he misunderstand what had happened after UCONN's semifinal loss in the National championships to ND last year?

The blog that started the controversy, Harford Courant's John Altavilla...

Becca Bruszewski--The Truth Lies In Between

I totally believe Becca Bruszewski’s contention, told to Curt Rallo of the South Bend Tribune on Tuesday, that she did not say or do the things she is accused of in relation to verbally dissing UConn after Notre Dame’s win over the Huskies at the Final Four last season.

I also totally believe UConn’s contention something was said that did not sit well with the team or the coaching staff, and because of it, there are some hard feelings among the Huskies.

In all matters such as this, the truth lies somewhere in between Sacramento and Storrs.

I think the most important piece of information in this entire matter was not what was said, or even who said it, but that Geno Auriemma felt it offensive enough to ask Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw about it at the Big East meetings in May, according to Rallo’s story.

Why would Geno unnecessarily confront McGraw, who he considers a friend and gifted coach, about something such as this if he felt it didn’t happen or didn’t actually hear it himself?

Geno can be spontaneous, and sometimes he says things he wishes he hadn’t, but I do not believe he would purposely antagonize her and her program. He probably just wanted an explanation. And if he got one, it may not have been what he was looking for because just last week on his CPTV television show he made reference to something that happened between the teams.

When a coach says something like that, on television, the media naturally follows the path.

Also, a sports information director in the Big East, with no axe to grind and no association with either school, admitted Monday hearing of the incident long before the blogs or Doris Burke’s mention of it on ESPN became public.

Also, a UConn player, when asked if the Bruszewski story was true, and who was in the locker room at the time and would have heard it, who I have a good relationship with, said she couldn’t remember. This is code for “none of your business.” Keeping in the family, folks.


The South Bend Tribune responds

Notre Dame womens basketball--Bruszewski denies report

What has been a classic and classy rivalry in college women's basketball has taken an ugly turn in the past week.

A blog by the Hartford Courant’s Connecticut women’s beat writer, John Altavilla, has helped heat things up.

Citing an unnamed UConn source, Altavilla reported that former Notre Dame player Becca Bruszewski opened the door to the Huskies’ locker room after the Irish beat UConn in the Final Four last April and yelled inside, “It must suck to be you.”

Altavilla’s blog was published prior to Monday’s showdown between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Connecticut, a game the Irish won, 72-59.

Earlier in the week, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma took a shot at Notre Dame for its 120-44 victory against Pittsburgh earlier in the season, claiming the Irish were shooting 3’s late in the game, trying to run up the score.

According to Altavilla’s blog, Auriemma made a “cryptic reference’’ to the incident on his TV show earlier in the week.

Bruszewski, a senior last season who is now playing professional basketball in Finland, told The Tribune in a telephone interview on Tuesday that she did not open the Huskies’ locker room door and shout that at the UConn players.

“I’m getting called out for this,’’ she said in phone conversation Tuesday. “The fact that hurts the most, they’re saying that I barged into another team’s locker room. The fact that when I ran by, nobody but the UConn coaching staff was outside the door, with a security officer. I don’t know how they fabricated this. I don’t know where it came from. I’m going to deny it until it’s over with, because it’s not true.”

According to Bruszewski, she made comments to a teammate about the pain of losing with the Connecticut coaching staff within earshot, but that it was not intended as a slight to the Huskies.

“We celebrated with our team on the court and hugged a lot of people,” Bruszewski said of the aftermath of Notre Dame’s stunning victory over the favored Huskies in the Final Four in Indianapolis. “As we ran back through the tunnel, I was not by myself. I was with my team. I never stopped, I never talked to anyone from Connecticut, I never touched any doors. I never slowed down and walked. I never saw any UConn players, because they were all in their locker room.

“But outside the door was the entire coaching staff and their security, because at the Final Four, and even home games, everyone has security at their locker rooms. I did not make eye contact with them, I did not say anything to them. As I walked by, my words were, ‘Oh, man, that sucks. It could have been us.’ It was a realization that this great team, their season was over. Two days later, I realized that same sort of defeat.”

Bruszewski is fuming at the attack on her character.


Irish coach Muffet McGraw said Auriemma told her about the incident at the Big East meetings in May. His version coincided with the version in Altavilla’s blog, that Bruszewski opened the locker room door and yelled at the UConn players.

“When Geno told me about this in May, we hadn’t heard anything about it,” McGraw said. “I was appalled when I heard this. When we got back to campus, we met with our players and said, ‘Here’s what Geno said.’ They had no idea. They were appalled and thought that it couldn’t be. We talked to Becca and she denied it. She said that she never went in their locker room.”

Notre Dame women’s basketball sports information director Chris Masters said security was tight for the Final Four, and that NCAA representatives were stationed outside and inside of every locker room.

“There were NCAA observers right there,” Masters said. “If this happened, we would have gotten disciplined. There would have been a letter of reprimand. That never happened.”

McGraw wondered about the timing of the leak to the media by the unnamed UConn source, when her team was playing at Connecticut for Notre Dame’s first outright Big East crown.

“This may have been embellished,” McGraw said. “To come up now, a year later, (Auriemma) may have been trying to motivate his team. Something could have been said at some point, but Becca swears that she did not go in their locker room.

“I don’t want to turn it into a back-and-forth thing. It’s not worth it. Geno and I actually get along very well. I do feel like this year has been hard on him, I guess.”

My personal opinion is that this incident didn't hit the public airwaves before UCONN's January battle with ND in South Bend, so it's a non-factor that would only make the ND fans in South Bend more riled up if he used it then. I think Geno was playing psy-ops against ND hoping to distract them from their game plan as well as trying to motivate his team and riling up the UCONN fans in the game that decided the 2012 Big East Regular championships. It failed because Muffet said that she didn't read any pre-game news and I bet the ND players didn't either so that they would remain focused at defeating UCONN at home.

But Geno sure has angered the ND fans, whom I'm sure will give him the Bronx cheer when he visits South Bend next time.
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