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Huskies expect to challenge for 8th national title

Associated Press Modified: October 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm •  Published: October 16, 2012

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma isn't tempering any expectations for this season's team.

A year ago, the Hall of Famer and Olympic coach was telling anyone who would listen that his Huskies were not good enough to win an eighth national championship.

They went 33-5 and lost in the national semifinals.

UConn returns four starters from that squad and brings in what is widely regarded as the nation's top recruiting class, including 6-foot-4 Breanna Stewart, the consensus national player of the year coming out of high school.

This season, Auriemma is telling anyone who will listen that his team is "really, really, really good," and he believes they can win it all, even though defending national champion Baylor returns Brittney Griner and every starter from last year's undefeated team.

"If everyone expected us to go to the Final Four and contend for a national championship without Maya Moore, isn't the expectation level this year to go undefeated and win every game by 100," he joked Tuesday. "So, I might as well say, 'Yeah, that's what we're going to do."

Stewart gives the Huskies a lot of options they didn't have a year ago. She is a good rebounder and can step outside and hit a jump shot.

Auriemma said she also has a smooth, unrushed style that reminds him of former NBA star George Gervin.

Fifth-year senior guard Caroline Doty, who played with Maya Moore and Tina Charles said Stewart has that type of potential.

"To have her length and her athleticism, being able to shoot the 3 and having all her options down low, it's unbelievable," Doty said. "With (our coaches) working with her every single day, she's going to be something very, very special."

She also says all the right things, such as how she doesn't care if she's the next big name at UConn, as long as the team wins.

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