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UConn women on horizon for Big East basketball

UConn's Natalie Butler reacts to her basket in

UConn's Natalie Butler reacts to her basket in the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Cincinnati on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 in Storrs, Conn. Credit: AP/Jessica Hill

If the battle for Big East women's basketball supremacy is fought with a slightly harder edge this year than last, there is good reason for it. The presidents of the 10 member schools have voted unanimously to bring back Connecticut and the Huskies return to the fold for the 2020-21 season.

UConn is the preeminent women’s basketball program in the country, having captured 11 national championships — all since 1995 — and reached the last 12 Final Fours. A long-time member of the Big East, it moved to the American Athletic Conference in the Big East breakup and coach Geno Auriemma’s teams have won the conference’s title all six years UConn has competed in it.

“Our goal, regardless of who's in the league, is going to be able to win a conference championship . . . You want to cut down the net,” St. John's coach Joe Tartamella said. “And so do I want to be able to feel that again, like we did in ’16? Absolutely. Will UConn make that task a lot harder? Absolutely. Does UConn coming in the league make me think about only that going into this season? Absolutely not.”

Connecticut’s presence on the national stage should also be a boon for Big East competitors in terms of exposure and entice top players to come compete against the Huskies. It could raise everyone’s level. But while they are not in the membership, it will be easier win the title.

“We're not going to back down from having a strong UConn team with us next year,” the Red Storm's Tiana England said. “That'll be just another challenge for us and it will be great to have them playing in our conference, but this year is definitely the year to get things done.”

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