The Hall of Fame coach is sitting at his desk. Behind him are reminders of the legendary program that’s been built under his watch – a row of NCAA championship trophies whose gold detailing glistens like a summertime sun. Each trophy is adorned with a basketball net – the kind that’s cut down from the rim following a big-game conquest.
The coach looks at a computer screen. He then draws a circle around some players to illustrate his point.
“This is where they think the action is. They’re not paying attention to what’s happening to the other side of the floor,” notes the coach.
Is the coach addressing a play for the benefit of his players? No. His breakdown stems from a campaign Cox Communications created with the University of Connecticut athletic department to benefit the at-home audience.
It’s an incredible gift for UConn women’s basketball fans – a digital series that goes behind the scenes and takes you inside the mind of the coach who’s been at the helm for 11 national titles. The program is titled “X’s and O’s with Geno Auriemma.” In a nutshell, it’s a game highlight recap series that’s dedicated to Auriemma analyzing a well-run set play, good defense, good positioning, good passing, etc.
“It’s content that will speak to the fans of the university and to this particular team,” said Learfield Social Content Specialist Tim Watson. “To connect the audience with a legendary coach like Geno in a way that fans might not see on a day-to-day basis … it’s a level of access that’s special.”
“X’s and O’s with Geno Auriemma” is a five-part series – each episode runs approximately three minutes – that entails Auriemma breaking down notable plays or moments on the court from a previous game.
“The idea is to try and get a back cut and a layup,” said Auriemma while revisiting a specific instance from UConn’s season opener against Arkansas.
“Christyn runs a curl and we get a layup,” says Auriemma.
Per the head coach, the play that enabled Williams to score with relative ease is called “Wave.” Cuing up game footage from when Connecticut played South Florida on Nov. 21, Auriemma honed in on what developed at the free-throw line that translated into a made three-pointer along the right wing by Bueckers.
“Because both cutters ended up going with Christyn, that left Paige open for a jump shot,” notes Auriemma.
From shots of the coach being filmed in his office as he reacts to what he sees on the computer screen, to cutaways of game footage with the announcers providing commentary, to an opening theme that pays tribute to the myriad of special moments that have defined UConn women’s basketball as a premier brand in college athletics, “X’s and O’s with Geno Auriemma” offers up a potpourri of talking points that figures to appeal to hardcore and novice observers alike.
“It’s pulling back the curtain on a legendary franchise if you will … an inside look to what fans might not typically notice,” said Watson. “To look at plays through the lens of someone who’s been around basketball his whole life and been dedicated to the sport is certainly engaging.”
Needless to say, it’s an insider’s look that doesn’t see the light of day if the coach doesn’t sign off on taking UConn fans on an unprecedented ride of what he’s looking for at a particular moment.
“Having corporation of this magnitude is always tremendous. It’s always great to see major projects like this come to fruition,” said Watson.
🎥 Roll the tape
— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) January 11, 2022
From the conceptual stage to pre- and post-production, the genesis of “X’s and O’s with Geno Auriemma” dates back to this past fall. Once the green light was given, the next step was to budget time that worked around Auriemma’s schedule.
Based on the content that was ultimately extracted through the coach’s willingness to cooperate, “X’s and O’s with Geno Auriemma” offers up an entry into the mind of a household name in coaching.
“It’s a product everyone will enjoy getting value out of … from the university, to the sponsors, to the fans who would be potentially consuming this content,” said Watson.