Photo: Stephen M. Dowell / TNS
ROCKY HILL – Geno Auriemma remains optimistic that he will have his All-American Guard available for the start of the NCAA tournament on Friday.
Auriemma said on Monday morning Katie Lou Samuelson (Back Pain) has returned to practice, though not completely.
"Not full, but a little bit more every day," Auriemma said after speaking to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce at breakfast. "We have four or five more days left."
No. 2 UConn (31-2) has learned his tournament opponent on Monday evening. The eleven-time national champion is number two in the Albany (N.Y.) Regional and will compete against 15 Towson at 6:30 pm on Friday. in Storrs.
Samuelson missed the last four games, including all three in the American Athletic Conference Tournament after injuring her in a collision with Houston on March 2nd. The senior has an average of 18.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and shoots 45.8 percent off the ground.
"When Friday comes, she's in good shape," Auriemma said. She is ready to go.
During a morning Q & A session with guests, Auriemma covered a number of other topics related to his program. The most interesting answer was probably when he was asked about the state of the Huskies' home – the XL Center in Hartford.
"Geno," a fan said. "How important is improving the XL center to your program?"
"Improving the XL Center?" Asked Auriemma.
"Something to do except blow it up," the fan answered.
"Well, it would help us blow it up," Auriemma broke in. "We played all our games on campus, and I know that many people would not like it because they have to drive all the way to Storrs You know, if things stay the same, they actually get worse, this place has stayed the same for a long time, so it got worse, and if nothing is done, there will be nothing worse than that.
"We are year after year We have the best program in the country year after year, so we deserve to play in the best facilities year after year, apart from Gampel Pavilion, we do not do that Life and that's the reality, if anyone wants to say, "How do we pay for it?" It's not my job, I'm not asking you how to train my team, do not ask me how you're going to pay for it your job, think about it There's a way to do that, or, as you said, just blow it up.
Sharp criticism comes as the arena prepares for the first and second round matches of the NCAA tournament on Thursday and Saturday.  [email protected]; @ Doug Bonjour