HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma laughs as he recalls a greeting he received from another coach during last year’s Final Four.

“Hey, congratulations. You guys had a nice year,” the coach told Auriemma.

A nice year? UConn was about to win its seventh national title, and 78th consecutive game. But to many UConn followers, that was considered “a nice year.”

“That’s kind of where we are,” Auriemma said.

Connecticut enters this season’s NCAA tournament at 32-1, the Huskies’ sixth consecutive 30-win season. They just won a 19th regular-season Big East title. They just won a 17th Big East tournament title. And they’ve won 20 straight games since having a 90-game winning streak snapped by Stanford on Dec. 30.

But Auriemma knows none of that will mean anything to UConn fans if they don’t win another national title.

“I think we’re even beyond that point now that winning 30 games is not a big deal,” Auriemma said. “Going to the Sweet 16 is not a big deal. Going to the Final Four is not a big deal.”

Hartford Coach Jen Rizzotti said she finds that a bit sad. Rizzotti, who brings her 16th-seeded Hawks to Storrs Sunday to face UConn in the tournament’s first round, was the point guard on UConn’s first national championship team in 1995.

“People were so excited for us,” she said. “These kids will never know what that’s like. It’s expected of them. But they also are experiencing a lot more things than we ever did, because they are doing it every year. But I do feel people are not forgiving enough if they have one bad night.”

Maya Moore said UConn embraces the expectations.

“That’s always the goal every year, to win a national championship,” she said. “And we have a really good opportunity to do that this year, so it’s still more of a long-term goal that’s gotten a lot closer. Now, we’ve got to take care of it, one game at a time.”

But while they are doing that, Auriemma said, he hopes they take the time to appreciate what they have done.

“We know how hard we had to work to put ourselves in this situation,” he said. “There’s a lot of teams that have been in our situation with the players that we have, two freshmen starters, one sophomore starter, that lost in the first round or second round or lost six or seven or eight games during the regular season.

“So, I’m happy for our players and what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

RIZZOTTI CAN’T help but feel a little bit of pride for the opposition Sunday. She coached Moore, Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson before they came to Connecticut, when they were part of USA Basketball’s U18 squad.

She was an assistant when Moore was playing for the team in 2006, and head coach last summer when Hartley and Dolson made the squad.

“I remember telling Geno (Auriemma) that Bria would be ready to play right away and that Stefanie would be really good once she figured out how to play at the college speed,” she said. “It kind of worked out the way I thought it would.”

Hartley started for Rizzotti and averaged almost 11 points and four assists during the team’s gold-medal run in Colorado last summer. Dolson came off the bench and averaged about six points and four rebounds. Dolson said that when she met Rizzotti, she didn’t even know the coach had played at Connecticut.

“I knew Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters, but I never really looked into the guards,” she said. “So, I didn’t know until later, and then I found out and it was wonderful.”

Both players credit Rizzotti and the USA Basketball team with getting them ready to play at the college level.

“Practices are definitely similar, you go from drill to drill, not a whole lot of breaks, just pushing yourself the whole time,” Dolson said. “It was hard for me during USA, but I think it prepared me so well for practice here under Coach (Auriemma).”