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The UConn Fast Break - 1/20/2023
After a brilliant start, the winter sports are struggling, in their own different ways.
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. Things could be going better, if we’re just being honest.
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How happy we once were…
Things were shaping up beautifully as winter sports got started in Storrs.
The men’s basketball team was flourishing, off to its best start since the glory days and kicking butt along the way. The women’s team was dealing with injuries but started the season off so strong, with two statement wins over ranked teams early.
In hockey, the women started with four straight wins and the men burst onto the national scene with a top-10 ranking.
Final Fours. Frozen Fours. They were all in sight. And it all came crashing down.
Women’s hockey lost three of its next four. Women’s basketball is once again dealing with a deluge of injuries and lost to Maryland for the first time ever. Azzi Fudd is missing games for the second time this season.
Both of those teams are still having good seasons at least. The women’s basketball ceiling may be limited by these injuries, but they might be fully healthy in March…
For men’s hockey and men’s hoops, the trajectories of both seasons have been tragically lowered.
Dan Hurley’s squad has lost five of its last six (!) and may slip out of the top 25. The #IceBus lost some games it shouldn’t have, including their Toscano opener in a heartbreaking fashion. They might be slipping out of the NCAA Tournament picture.
It was looking like we’d have a legendary March. Now, it’s still possible, but it’s going to take some magic in the home stretch.
The defense is faltering - Once a calling card of the team early in the season, it has gotten leaky as of late.
Hurley, Young test positive for COVID-19 - The two missed Wednesday’s battle with Seton Hall.
Gampel’s court to be replaced - A potential fundraising opportunity?
Seton Hall silenced - The women dominated in New Jersey.
Georgetown nipped - It was far from pretty, but the Huskies topped the Hoyas.
UConn WBB Weekly - Amari DeBerry: the most interesting Husky in the athletic department.
Maya Moore retires - After not playing for the past four years, the UConn legend made it official this week.
Toscano Family Ice Forum is worthy of the program’s ambitions - UConn officially opened its new barn last weekend.
Northeastern ruins the party - A late collapse soured the men’s team’s first game in the new arena.
Adam Dawe departs for ECHL - A depth option has signed in the professional ranks.
UConn Hockey Hub Podcast ($) - The home stretch of the season is coming.
Warriors vanquished - The Huskies took down Merrimack in the first-ever game at Toscano Family Ice Forum.
Brooke Campbell called her shot - She said she felt like she was going to score Toscano’s first goal and she went out and did it.
More transfers - Two more have committed to UConn through the transfer portal, including a quarterback.
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Not only is she the most interesting member of the Huskies, Amari DeBerry also gets on SportsCenter’s top 10:
It was a battle of top-10 teams on January 11, 2011, when Kemba Walker did his thing against Villanova to lift the Huskies to a 61-59 win over the Wildcats.
Roll the tape!
UConn, Great Pic
Some great shots from the opening of Toscano Family Ice Forum over the weekend!
With men’s basketball struggling so mightily, after such a dominant start to the season, one can’t help but be concerned. In the spirit of positivity, we’re going to walk through the upside this team still has and how it could improve:
New faces - It has been a mixed bag, to put it generously, in the performances of the transfers this year. Nahiem Alleyne, Hassan Diarra, and Tristen Newton arrived with quite a bit of fanfare but have not contributed much. Joey Calcaterra was a spark in the early going but has since cooled off. All four of these players have more to give. If they can improve how they fit in on this team and with the assembled core, this will be a better team.
Clingan time? - The calls to play the freshman big man more are getting louder than ever. It’s clear he makes a huge impact as soon as he checks in. He gives the Huskies a defensive stopper down low and has plenty of offensive skill to be dangerous. When he was on the court with Sanogo at the same time it looked pretty good. The continued progress of Clingan and fellow freshman Alex Karaban can make this team better by March.
Defense - A calling card of the team’s success during the nonconference slate, UConn’s defense has been slouching lately. If Dan Hurley can get that back in line, and maybe ease up on the fellas in practice, maybe they’ll perform a little better on game day.
Still good - UConn is ranked 6th in KenPom and still has a high-level of play attached to its name, for now. The beginning of the season was not a fluke in how it went down, so we know these assembled players have the ability to thrive.
All is not lost, but the Huskies need to prevent a free-fall here. The loss to St. John’s was disappointing, no way to sugarcoat it. But at Seton Hall, the Huskies performed well enough to win. They should have left with a road victory but couldn’t close out. They may not be a top-tier team right now, but it still can be in March.
P.S. - Keep an eye out for something special from our friends at Homefield Apparel next week…
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