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The UConn Fast Break - 10/27/2021
Preseason rankings, awards, and a secret scrimmage!
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. We are 13 days away from the first real basketball game of the season!
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As we discussed in previous newsletters, the hype around this upcoming basketball season is so, so strong. While fans are eager to pack Gampel and the XL Center once the Huskies return to action, preseason rankings, polls, and watchlists are giving us an idea of what’s to come.
So far, it looks good.
UConn women’s basketball should be a lot better than last year’s Final Four team. Paige Bueckers is a unanimous preseason All-American and this year she’s joined by Azzi Fudd, the top-ranked freshman in her class and reported generational talent who was named Big East Preseason Freshman of the Year. Senior guard Christyn Williams was also a unanimous All-Big East Preseason first-team selection.
With Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Evina Westbrook, and grad transfer Dorka Juhász, plus Aliyah Edwards, Nika Muhl, and a bunch of other talented underclassmen, Geno’s squad is as deep as it’s ever been. They’re ranked second in the AP preseason poll and are serious national championship contenders.
UConn men’s basketball lost a superstar in NBA Draft pick James Bouknight, but the team’s preseason rankings in the AP Poll and KenPom suggest the team will be better this year.
So far under Dan Hurley, the Huskies have made significant progress every year. His first season ended with the team ranked 98th in KenPom, followed by a 52nd finish in 2020, before ending 21st last year. Can they make another leap forward again?
The Huskies haven’t been a preseason top-25 team since 2016-’17, when they failed to meet those expectations, badly.
This year his team returns a lot of experienced talent, such as seniors Tyrese Martin, Isaiah Whaley, and Tyler Polley. Excitement is mounting for the progress of players like RJ Cole, Jalen Gaffney, and Adama Sanogo. If Akok Akok returns to form, this could be a very special team.
Reggie Crawford suffers arm injury, likely out for the season - Absolutely awful, and so sad that the promising pitcher and first-baseman will miss what was going to be his final year at UConn. All indications are that he will prepare for the MLB Draft and probably be a pretty high pick anyway. I cried real tears when I read this news during the MTSU football game.
UConn men’s hockey wins at No. 20 Northeastern - A much-needed win for the Huskies in Boston.
RJ Cole being asked to step up as a leader - You’re hearing it more and more: RJ Cole is a key piece of this year’s team and his ascent could be what allows UConn to exceed its preseason expectations.
Cole, Sanogo impressing offensively - In a secret scrimmage against Harvard, Adama Sanogo reportedly scored 22 points on 8-13 shooting.
UConn alum Dan Padover named GM of Atlanta Dream - A former student assistant for the women’s basketball team and more recently GM of the New York Liberty, Padover is taking over a team with many ties to UConn — the franchise is partially owned by former Husky Renee Montgomery.
UConn men’s hoops ranked no. 21 in KenPom - Check out this article to see where the Huskies stack up against the rest of their Big East competition.
Report: UConn football schedules series with USF for 2023, 2028 - The Huskies have series with former AAC mates UCF and Houston on the books as well. Also, speaking of former conference foes, we’ve seen rumors brewing about a Pitt series. Bring it on!
UConn women’s hockey off to 7-0 start - Heck yeah!
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UConn men’s hockey went into a hostile environment at Matthews Arena to play Northeastern, desperately needing a win.
The game didn’t get off to a good start, with Northeastern getting on the board first.
UConn responded with a nice goal from Nick Capone to tie it up. Later they scored two goals in about a minute that gave them the distance they needed to control the game.
First, a Ryan Wheeler wrister put the Huskies up 2-1.
Then, a really nice pass and finish from Kevin O’Neil to Nick Capone that quickly made it 3-1.
Northwestern hung in there, but with the score at 4-3 UConn, Marc Gatcomb scored this opportunistic goal to give the Huskies a two-goal lead that they held on to through the 3rd period.
UConn football had its last winning streak four years ago this week, as the Huskies took down Tulsa at home 20-14 on Homecoming. Tulsa scored two touchdowns in the final seven minutes, nearly grabbing a third, but the Golden Hurricane’s first-and-goal pass from the nine-yard line fell incomplete.
Bryant Shirreffs threw for 372 yards, including a very nice 80-yard touchdown pass to Hergy Mayala in the third quarter. Full video highlights below.
UConn, Great Pic
Send us your captions for the face this Providence soccer player is making as UConn sophomore Jaydah Bedoya celebrates…
(photo by Ian Bethune)
If we could give sports fans as a whole any general advice, it would be to treat the athletes with more respect. For the most part, they’ve been through more than you could possibly imagine to get to where they are.
Their compensation, whether it’s a sky-high NBA salary or a college scholarship, is no reason to dehumanize them, tweet mean things at them, or... [checks notes] … [sighs heavily] question their right to exist. It’s the silliest, most embarrassing thing to see a fellow fan do.
This includes college athletes who choose to pursue NIL opportunities, speak out about social issues, or transfer schools, which all seem to be hot-button issues for fans. It also means to be considerate if they have a stretch where they aren’t playing well, since it could be happening for any number of reasons.
College athletes are young people going through very formative years of their lives and, like many of us at that age, just trying to figure it all out.
Unlike us, they’re figuring it out in a very public way, living under a microscope while their professional pursuits are televised on ESPN.
With increased awareness around mental health and respectful behavior towards others, one hopes sports fans can change their ways a little bit too, and develop a bit more empathy for the people who go through one heck of a gauntlet to play on that field.
Boston College fans may never learn civility, but the fine folks of Connecticut should be able to.
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