NEW YORK -- The UConn women's basketball team is greedy when it comes to winning championships. The Huskies have had their fill under coach Geno Auriemma, winning 19 Big East regular-season championships, 18 Big East tournament championships and seven national championships.
With this in mind, when UConn falls short of its goal, the level of disappointment is high. The Huskies were forced to watch Notre Dame clinch the outright Big East regular-season championship at the XL Center in Hartford last season.
But judging by the results of the voting by the Big East coaches that were revealed Thursday at conference media day at the New York Athletic Club, UConn will make amends this season. The Huskies earned 12 first-place votes and 194 points and were No. 1 in the preseason Big East coaches' poll.
"I think when you look at UConn's tradition, when you're a player, you don't want to be that team that doesn't win the regular season, that doesn't win the Big East tournament," UConn All-American Bria Hartley said. "So that's one of our goals this year, to win that back.''
Notre Dame received three first-place votes and 182 points to finish second behind UConn. Louisville (167 points), St. John's (144) and Rutgers (143) completed the top five.
The Huskies were picked second in the preseason poll behind the Irish last season. That is where they finished, ending a run of five straight conference regular-season championships.
"It was really disappointing last year and I think we had a great opportunity to get it again," UConn senior Kelly Faris said. "Obviously, we had some tough competition and at the same time, the games that we lost, most of it was due to our own mistakes. So that'll be big for us to try to work at it and get better and take that back."
UConn returns four starters and welcomes a trio of talented freshmen this season. Hartley, junior Stefanie Dolson and sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis were named to the 11-member preseason all-Big East team. Hartley was a unanimous selection as the Huskies were the lone team represented by three players.
Breanna Stewart, the 2011-12 consensus national high school player of the year, was unanimously named the preseason Big East freshman of the year.
"They're scary good," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "They're scary how good they can be."
Notre Dame senior All-American Skylar Diggins was named the Big East preseason player of the year. As the reigning conference player of the year, she is seeking to become the sixth player in conference history to twice win the award.
On paper, UConn appears to clearly have the best team in the conference. Auriemma, though, is not buying that the Huskies will be a landslide winner during the regular season.
He said that there are several teams that could challenge UConn, namely Notre Dame, Louisville, Rutgers and St. John's.
"I hope it's not a foregone conclusion because that would mean that the conference hasn't made any progress," Auriemma said. "I think we've got our work cut out for us and we've got a lot of good teams in our league. But I like our chances."
firstname.lastname@example.org; http://twitter.com/elliottctpost; http://blog.ctnews.com/elliott/