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The UConn Fast Break - 11/16/2021
Basketball is officially back!
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. Basketball season started and UConn has a new football coach, other than that not too much to discuss.
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#23 Men’s hoops starting off strong
The start of men’s basketball season has gone about as well as anyone could have expected. The Huskies beat Central Connecticut State, 99-48 last Tuesday, led by Adama Sanogo’s 20 points and four other players who scored in double digits.
The Huskies were aggressive from tip-off and kept the intensity up throughout. They ended the game with 58 points in the paint and forced 29 turnovers. CCSU is a bottom-20 team in the country, but UConn took care of business and even exceeded the KenPom projection. Let’s not let any of that go unappreciated.
UConn then handled Coppin State 89-54 on Saturday, led by another 20 points from Sanogo. The next two games are against LIU and Binghamton this upcoming Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.
In eight days, the Huskies will be in the Bahamas, taking on No. 21 Auburn on November 24. That will be the first big test for this team. Until then, expect a few more nights like these.
It’s not too late to check out our season preview for Dan Hurley’s squad:
Hype video overreaction - Patrick Martin scouts out the team based on offseason workout videos.
Roundtable Predictions - The staff takes a crack at some predictions for the season, including Team MVP and postseason outcome.
Top storylines - The biggest questions facing the men’s basketball squad before the season starts.
UConn women’s basketball tops Arkansas - Women’s hoops opened its season with a 95-80 win over the Razorbacks in a game in which the Huskies struggled to truly pull away. The starters, particularly Paige Bueckers, paved the way for a 1-0 start for Geno Auriemma’s team.
In case you missed it, our women’s basketball preview has all the info you need for the season, including positional previews on the frontcourt and guards; a predictions roundtable; prop bets; a new Chasing Perfection episode; and the top storylines heading into the season. Check out the mega thread on all the preview pieces here.
UConn women’s basketball announces 2022 recruiting class - The Huskies will bring in a pair of highly-touted freshmen for next season.
Corey Floyd to redshirt - The UConn men’s basketball freshman, who reclassified from the Class of 2022 to come to campus early, will travel and practice with the team, but will not play in games.
Jim Mora Jr. named UConn football coach - The son of legendary head coach Jim Mora and former UCLA head man was introduced on Thursday and spoke to the media about using the transfer portal and ensuring the offense won’t be stagnant. He also traveled from Idaho to Clemson for UConn football’s game and was at UConn women’s basketball contest on Sunday.
How UConn football fell apart - Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com wrote an informative and in-depth piece on how UConn football’s last decade. Former head coach Bob Diaco also displayed impressive accountability for his time with the program.
Dorka Juhasz impresses for UConn women’s basketball - A transfer from Ohio State, the forward has been recovering from a thigh injury and showed well in her first UConn action.
Harrison Rees rounding into form - The junior defenseman for UConn men’s hockey has taken a step forward this year and is one of the team’s most important players.
UConn men’s hockey sweeps Maine - #Icebus journeyed north to Alfond Arena, a notoriously tough place to play, for a weekend series with the Maine Black Bears on November 5 and 6. The Huskies won in a nailbiter on Friday, before securing the weekend sweep with an overtime victory on Saturday.
Darion Hanson performing well for UConn men’s hockey - Hanson has played every minute in net so far for the Huskies, which are getting votes in the coaches’ poll and are off to a strong start in Hockey East play.
UConn men’s hockey adds five commitments - Mike Cavanaugh has also been active on the recruiting trail, adding a pair of forwards that are expected to join the team next fall. Jake Black is a local prospect from Pomfret, while Huston Karpman is from California. Word of three more have also come in, including the first defenseman expected to join the team in 2022.
Renee Montgomery joins VC firm - Now retired from the WNBA, Atlanta Dream co-owner Renee Montgomery was named a General Partner at Valor Ventures, which is based in Atlanta.
UConn men’s soccer midfielder named Big East freshman of the year - Mateo Leveque, who led the team in points and assists, earned conference freshman of the year honors on Monday, as well as being named third-team All-Big East.
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UConn football traveled down to South Carolina to play Clemson on Saturday as 40.5-point underdogs. Despite that, the Huskies had what was unquestionably the play of the year, and maybe even of the past few years, as Brian Brewton muffed the opening kickoff but was still able to return it for a 99-yard touchdown.
You also may notice Brewton rubbed salt in the wound with the celebration starting outside the 20-yard line.
UConn men’s soccer has had a trying few years, going 13-25-4 over their last three seasons. However, 2018 was a bright year for the program, as a 12-6-2 record and a run to the American Athletic Conference Tournament final got the Huskies an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, a home game against Rhode Island.
However, as construction was slated to begin on the newest iteration of Morrone Stadium, UConn was forced to host the game at Rentschler Field.
In this back-and-forth contest in frigid conditions, freshman Ibrahima Diop registered a natural hat-trick over the final 15 minutes of regulation and an extra session, burying the game-winner in the 99th minute for a 4-3 overtime victory.
UConn men’s hockey joined Hockey East in time for the 2014-15 season, making the leap to college hockey’s version of the SEC from Atlantic Hockey, college hockey’s version of the MAC. While head coach Mike Cavanaugh had a large, strong freshman class, much of the roster was not constructed to compete with the league’s contenders.
The Huskies had dropped their first two conference games before their first Hockey East home game, and first at the XL Center, against No. 3 Boston College.
It was a sellout crowd and Evan Richardson, who transferred from the Eagles the prior season, scored midway through the first period. Goaltender Rob Nichols had a great night against a strong attack, making 35 saves in a shutout victory, the first Hockey East win in UConn history and a loud night in Hartford.
UConn, Great Pic
Here are a few of Ian Bethune’s best shots from women’s hoops’ 95-80 victory at XL Center.
The Jim Mora era is upon us
The announcement of Jim Mora to be UConn’s next football coach came as a big surprise. He doesn’t have any ties to the area, has been out of coaching since 2017, and spent the bulk of his career at the NFL level. He also may not be fully aware of the challenges that a mid-major-ish, New England-based program faces.
It seems like a bit of a wild card. But he has been an NFL head coach and did have success at UCLA. Perhaps this pedigree can help overcome all those other reasons for hesitation.
Mora has already joined the team and will take over as head coach on November 28. So at the very least, he’ll have a chance to get involved in the Class of 2022 early signing period in December and begin preparations for next season.
Coming in with a $1.5 million salary, Mora should have a solid budget for his staff. It seems likely that interim head coach/former DC Lou Spanos and new offensive assistant Noel Mazzone will stay on board, as they were on Mora’s staff at UCLA. I just hope both aren’t automatically slated for the top coordinator jobs.
The blueprint for Mora is the “CEO style” head coach, successfully employed by Herm Edwards at Arizona State, Mack Brown at North Carolina, or Joe Moglia, who was literally a banking CEO before becoming head coach at Coastal Carolina. This approach has the head coach focused on the administrative and public-facing aspects of running the program while giving assistant coaches a lot of autonomy over Xs and Os.
It’s… a plan, I guess.
It was never going to be Joe Moorhead or Todd Orlando. It could have been someone more creative, but Jim Mora is not a horrible choice. We’ll leave it at that until we hear more about the staff.
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