The UConn Fast Break - 10/17/2023
Preseason polls, a new football series and more!
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. Football returns from a bye this week, hockey season continues, and basketball is on the way!
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The rankings are high on the Huskies
It’s so close, you can almost taste it. The UConn men’s basketball title defense starts on Nov. 6 against Northern Arizona, when the team will raise its championship banner for all to see.
After First Night this past Friday and the emergence of preseason polls, we also have some news and notes to chew on.
In the preseason KenPom rankings, the Huskies are projected to be the fourth-most efficient Division I squad this year, behind just Houston, Kansas, and Purdue. This includes a No. 8 ranking on offense and No. 4 defensively, making UConn one of three programs in the top 10 of both.
For the season, KenPom favors Dan Hurley’s squad in all but four games on the schedule: at Creighton, Gonzaga in Seattle, at Kansas, at Marquette.
Meanwhile, UConn snagged a pair of first-place votes and is No. 6 in the preseason AP Poll.
It’s shaping up to be a challenging schedule for the Huskies. Six of the preseason AP top 25 are on the docket, while a seventh (No. 18 Texas) can appear depending on the results of the Empire Classic. Five top-50 KenPom teams are in the Big East, while nine of the 11 squads are in the top 100.
Preseason rankings - The pollsters and the computers like UConn this year.
Ball can ball ($) - Solo Ball, a freshman guard, gets high praise from Dan Hurley.
Clingan’s absence an opportunity ($) - Can Samson Johnson and Youssouf Signare take advantage of the center’s injury?
First Night Photos - Check out the scenes from First Night!
Bueckers injured - UConn’s star jammed her thumb in practice last week but hopes to be back soon.
UConn WBB Weekly - Read about Geno Auriemma’s latest good luck charm.
Recruiting update ($) - Who was in town for First Night?
What did UConn learn in Europe? ($) - The team was able to practice extra while abroad and learned potentially valuable lessons.
Tabor Heaslip impacts more than the stat sheet - Every team needs a big off-ice presence. That’s Heaslip.
Podcast ($) - The Huskies came back from upstate New York 1-0-1, but that doesn’t mean everything is fine and dandy in Storrs.
Wide-outs leading turnaround - The Huskies’ offense has seen multiple pass-catchers emerge.
Future opponents - Check out what happened around the country in Week 7 while UConn was off.
New Series with Duke - The Huskies announced a four-game agreement with Duke, two at the Rent in 2025 and 2029 and two at Duke in 2026 and 2030.
Huskies look to make noise in Hockey East - UConn has played plenty of postseason games in recent years but hasn’t lifted a trophy. Is this the year?
Photos - It was a doubleheader over at Toscano Family Ice Forum on Saturday. The No. 14 women’s hockey program led it off against Boston College.
Photos - UConn hosted Division II Assumption and took a 1-1 draw.
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UConn men’s basketball got its championship rings in advance of Friday’s First Night festivities.
Elsewhere, Breanna Stewart is doing Breanna Stewart things to help the Liberty force Game 4 and stay alive in the WNBA Finals.
Nine years ago this week, venerable Twitter user @NoEscalators used the term #icebus for the first time.
The date was October 18, 2014 and the Huskies were in North Andover, Massachusetts to face off with Merrimack in their first-ever Hockey East game. Freshman defenseman David Drake lit the lamp to open the scoring with less than 30 seconds left in the first period and the road team outshot the Warriors, 9-to-8, in the first 20 minutes.
However, the Huskies fell to a tactic that was common in the early days of Hockey East play, as most of the roster was recruited for Atlantic Hockey competition. The strategy was to get a lead and hold on for dear life by “parking the bus.”
Shots were 35-to-9 over the rest of the game. Goaltender Rob Nichols, who delivered quite a few victories in his tenure between the pipes, held as strong as he could, but the Warriors scored in the final minute of regulation with the extra skater and won in overtime.
Despite the loss, a decade-long rallying cry and unofficial nickname was born.
UConn, Great Pic
Intrepid photographer Ian Bethune was all over the place this week. Some of his best shots from First Night are below.
UConn men’s hockey lost both games to Holy Cross this past weekend, which is not a good look. For a team that had hopes of making the NCAA Tournament and building on the success of the last few seasons, the Huskies are now already facing an uphill battle for an at-large bid and more importantly, looking for answers on their power play and goal-scoring.
The Huskies are at Union for two games this weekend before beginning Hockey East play with a series against UMass Lowell, they have a lot to figure out between now and then.
We still have plenty of season to go, but unfortunately, this team is already on notice for being a disappointment after the second weekend of games. Losing to Holy Cross should not happen.
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