UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) – The 1,000-win club gained two new members when Geno Auriemma and Sylvia Hatchell reaching the milestone.
Hatchell became the third women’s basketball coach to achieve the mark with North Carolina’s victory Tuesday over Grambling State. Hours later, Auriemma got his 1,000th victory as top-ranked UConn beat Oklahoma.
“There’s a lot that goes into winning,” Auriemma said after the 88-64 victory. “People think because you’re at a great school that has great tradition it’s easy to win. If it was that easy, every school that has it will win all the time. They don’t, it’s hard.”
The pair joined late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer as the only women’s coaches to reach that milestone. Mike Krzyzewski is the only men’s coach to have won 1,000 games.
Auriemma is the fastest to achieve the mark, doing so in his 1,135th game. He has gone 500-36 since winning his 500th game in 2003. That includes winning 100 of his last 101 contests.
Both Hatchell and Auriemma have been around the game for a long time. Neither thought they’d coach 1,000 games, let alone win that many.
“As far as the 1,000 wins, gosh, I just can’t believe I’ve coached that many games,” said Hatchell , who has battled leukemia and was declared cancer-free in 2014.
Auriemma has been impressed with the way Hatchell has been able to bounce back from her cancer and handled North Carolina’s multiyear NCAA academic investigation, which ultimately led to no violations against the school or the women’s basketball program.
“It’s hard when you go through some personal things like Sylvia has, then go through some things that the school has gone through. There have been a lot of challenges, personal and professional for Sylvia,” Auriemma said. “You would see her during the summer and nothing changed. The look on her face was like: ‘What, me? Worried? I don’t worry about anything.’
“She kept going and going and here she is. She hasn’t changed one iota from when I first met her 30-something years ago. I’m happy for her.”
Hatchell wants to get North Carolina back to where Auriemma and UConn are. Since Hatchell’s lone NCAA title in 1994, the Huskies have won 11 national championships and set an NCAA record, first with a 90-game winning streak, then topping it with a 111-game run.
While Auriemma was celebrating the 1,000th victory , members of his first team in 1985-86 were in attendance. A win over Iona was the first of his Hall of Fame career. That team went 12-15 and had the only losing season of Auriemma’s career.
“You know the first 12 are the hardest wins of all 1,000 of them,” he said. “It’s a great memory that I have of that group. They were so excited, so thrilled, so happy. I’ve never seen a bunch of kids happier to get 12 wins. They poured everything they had into those games. To see them today, see where they’ve been and still carry it around with them. They’ll always be a part of this.”
Hatchell won her 1,000th game in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was fitting because she got her start at Francis Marion College, which is in South Carolina, in 1975. Hatchell coached there for 11 seasons and won two national titles. She went to North Carolina in 1986.
“They are legends of our game,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said of Hatchell and Auriemma. “They have contributed so much. Especially to some of the younger coaches who are striving to be as good as they are at what they do.”
The 1,000-win club could get another member this year with Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer only 11 victories away.
“It’s a number that’s significant because so few people have been able to do that. It’s funny, two in one day can’t be that hard,” Auriemma said. “There are just so few opportunities to coach that many games. You feel incredibly fortunate that you’re one of a very, very select few and some of the great coaches that ever have coached.”
This story has been corrected to show that Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer needs 11, not 12, victories to reach 1,000 wins.
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