By now there aren't too many situations Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma hasn't faced, including how to proceed after a peak UConn era ends.
"You win when you have great players," Auriemma said recently when he was in Philadelphia for the American Athletic Conference media day. "You win big when you have iconic players."
If this sounds like Auriemma is laying the groundwork for tough sledding in the post-Breanna Stewart era, or that he was underselling his current talented team, it wasn't like that. He was in tell-it-like-it-is mode. A familiar mode.
Of his current players, "I'm conscious of not making them feel the weight of everything that came before them," Auriemma said, mentioning how he doesn't need Huskies sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson, who averaged 11 points a game last season, to go home every night saying, "I'm not Stewie. I'm a failure."
Auriemma jokes about how he will then be the one saying, "Stewie would never do that!" He was kidding. He thinks he's kidding.
If Auriemma is more patient than he used to be - he's let go, he said, of believing "I could control the outcome of everything" - is it because he's won so much or because he's older? He doesn't quite have that answer.
"You know, there was a point in time where you always felt like I have to make a point here. I have to let everyone know that we can do this," Auriemma said. "That puts a lot of pressure on you because you feel you have to do it over and over and over again. I think when you get older, you do come to a point where it's going to be out of my hands once the season starts."
Ask Auriemma about coaching Stewart at the Olympics, how was that different right after her UConn career. Different than coaching Maya Moore or Diana Taurasi or the other UConn alumni Olympians?
"She's the only player on the team I could still coach," Auriemma said with a little smile. "The others I had to negotiate with. Stewie, [Elena] Delle Donne and Brittney Griner, I could coach them. All the others, you negotiate a peace treaty at the beginning and then you manage it through the rest of the tournament."
In fact, Auriemma, who has zero intention of coaching in the Olympics again after two gold medals, called Rio probably the best coaching experience he's had "because everybody was so locked into what we were trying to do. . . . Everything I can imagine can come to life on the court just by calling a certain play."
The run UConn has had - "what have we won, six championships in eight years? Those things are not normal, nor should they be, I don't think," Auriemma said. "Stewie's team went 124-1 their last 125 games. I don't know that when you go to college, you're supposed to expect that to happen."
He agrees keeping players for four years. "Without that, we would not have come close to 11 national championships," he said.
Asked what he still wants to get out of coaching basketball, Auriemma talks about the way you'd expect, that there is a challenge when losing is the only way to make news, that seeing this team surprise people would be a great satisfaction. He still gets a kick out of seeing good things in practice, he said.
Starting his 32nd season in Storrs, he still likes the gig.
As Auriemma talked, somebody tapped him on the shoulder.
"Hey, what's up buddy," Auriemma said to Temple men's coach Fran Dunphy as they hugged.
"Undefeated," Dunphy said.
"That's the best isn't it," said a man who would know.
When someone later mentioned the old ties to a guy like Dunphy, UConn's coach, who grew up in Norristown and coached locally before taking off to build his legacy, suggested they run deep. "There's a lot more to life than winning damned games."
Easy for him to say.
"Yeah, you're right about that," Auriemma conceded.