Discover more from The UConn Fast Break
The UConn Fast Break - 12/8/2021
A big week for men's hoops, Ray Reid retires, and a devastating injury for women's hoops.
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. Welcome to West Virginia Wednesday!
This weekly newsletter is brought to you by the folks who run The UConn Blog on SB Nation, Storrs Central on Rivals, The UConn Hockey Hub on Patreon, and the UConn WBB Weekly newsletter! Please consider sharing or supporting our work!
It was supposed to be a fun week of games, now it’s a stressful one: at West Virginia followed by a neutral-site game against St. Bonaventure, and a UConn team that sometimes forgets how to score is missing its no. 2 and no. 3 scorers.
The Huskies no. 15 AP ranking may be a high point for a while as Dan Hurley’s squad deals with injuries to Adama Sanogo and Tyrese Martin. Neither is expected to be out for too long, but they also can’t rush their recovery.
Wednesday night’s game against West Virginia will be a battle and a challenge to the Huskies’ depth.
If they should drop this one to WVU (ranked 48th in KenPom), they’re risking a losing streak going into Saturday against the Bonnies (42nd). The next Saturday they open Big East play at home against Providence (50th). None of these games are a given.
So who’s going to step up in the absence of two great players?
It was great to see Akok Akok emerge in the Grambling State game. His shooting and post play make him a remarkable threat when he’s firing on all cylinders. But the junior forward’s playing time and production have been irregular thus far this season, perhaps partially due to some lingering effects of his injury.
Freshman Jordan Hawkins has shown an intriguing combination of skills as a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, averaging 8.3 points in 16.3 minutes per game. He can dribble-drive and finish or hit outside shots or anything in between, the man’s a pure scorer.
The DC-area native has a chance to shine even brighter in this WVU game, on a national stage playing not too far from home. He may be especially helpful during those stretches where UConn forgets how to score.
Another player that has the potential to step up is Jalen Gaffney. The junior maintains a steady approach and can do a little bit of everything on the court. He’s not the same kind of defensive or rebounding presence as Martin, but he brings a lot to the table and could flourish with some extra minutes.
West Virginia is a tough place to play and Saturday might be even tougher, but UConn has the talent to win both games, even shorthanded.
Ray Reid retires - The longtime men’s soccer coach announced his retirement on Thursday.
Men’s hoops topples Grambling State - Down two starters, the Huskies posted a dominant victory.
Adama Sanogo to miss multiple weeks - The forward who was enjoying a breakout campaign may sit out a decent chunk of games due to injury.
Men’s basketball moves up to No. 15 in AP Poll - The Huskies moved up two spots. They were also slotted No. 13 in the initial NET rankings, which is what the NCAA Tournament committee uses to seed at-large teams in the bracket.
Women’s basketball beats No. 24 Notre Dame - After three close quarters, the Huskies closed it out in the fourth. However, the Bueckers injury overshadowed the joy of the win over a rival.
Caroline Ducharme, Olivia Nelson-Ododa step up - Each scored 14 points in the win over Notre Dame.
Women’s basketball tops Seton Hall - The Huskies had a long layoff after a loss to then-No. 1 South Carolina but then dominated Seton Hall in South Orange.
Azzi Fudd signs NLI deal with SC30 Inc. - The freshman entered into a partnership with Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and his brand.
Four UConn men’s hockey games postponed - The series with Merrimack was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the UConn program. Their series with AIC, slated for Thursday and Saturday of the following week has also been postponed.
Ryan Twerberg’s path to Canada World Juniors camp - The Huskies’ leading scorer is one of three collegiate players out of the 35 invited to training camp for the Canadians.
Column: Jim Mora faces an uphill climb - Acknowledging the challenges facing the new head football coach.
Conference players of the week - Paige Bueckers was named Big East player of the week, averaging 22.5 points per game in victories over Seton Hall and Notre Dame, while also contributing 5.0 steals per contest on the defensive end. On the men’s side, RJ Cole was named to the conference’s honor roll for averaging 21.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 5.0 rebounds over two wins.
Support the most in-depth coverage of UConn men’s hockey out there!
James Bouknight was recalled to Charlotte from the Greensboro Swarm of the G-League on Saturday. After playing sparingly in his first four NBA contests, the rookie broke out in his fifth. Bouknight played 22 minutes on Monday, scoring 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, scoring his first NBA field goal.
He also made this spectacular play.
In addition to UConn’s national championship in 2000, a high point of the Ray Reid era for UConn soccer was the three consecutive NCAA Tournament quarterfinal appearances between 2011-2013.
The Huskies were seeded No. 3 in 2011 and No. 4 in 2012, playing three games each year within the friendly confines of Morrone Stadium, in addition to a first-round bye. In 2013, they were unseeded and had to go on the road after the first round.
The 2013 Huskies did not fade away quietly. The first two of these contests, a second-round game against No. 16 UMBC and a third-round tilt with No. 1 seed UCLA, each went into penalties. UConn was down two goals in both of these affairs, forcing overtime and penalties on both occasions.
In the quarterfinal battle with No. 8 Virginia, the game-winner came in the 62nd minute as the Huskies lost. The defeat snapped a 17-match unbeaten streak that dated back to September.
UConn, Great Pic
No. 17 UConn men’s basketball returned to form with a big win over Grambling State. Some favorites from Ian Bethune.
Longtime UConn men’s soccer head coach Ray Reid retired this week after 25 seasons leading one of the athletic department’s hidden gems. The Huskies routinely have among the highest attendance in the country, and the success of Reid’s teams has contributed greatly to that.
But the program has floundered over the past five or so years. Recruiting dipped and good players transferred out. The team has only one NCAA Tournament berth in the past six years, but the brash Long Island native still deserves respect among other UConn greats.
UConn has been blessed with incredible continuity and success with its coaches. While Geno Auriemma or Jim Calhoun receive a lot of attention, the athletic department boasts a number of other programs led by legends in their sport.
Nancy Stevens had 29 seasons at the helm of UConn field hockey before her retirement in 2019, taking home three national championships in five years at one point. The baseball program has had four coaches since 1936 and Jim Penders has been with the program since he joined it in 1991 as a player, save for a few years. Women’s soccer coach Len Tsantris spent 37 seasons behind the bench.
Each of these coaches has brought their teams to numerous NCAA Tournament berths and developed professional players throughout their tenure while raising the profile of UConn’s athletic department.
In 1997, Reid took over the men’s soccer program for the guy whose name is on the stadium, Joe Morrone, as just the third coach to lead UConn men’s soccer since 1946. The team had not made the NCAA Tournament since 1989 and was struggling.
That changed very quickly.
In his second season, the Huskies were back in the NCAA Tournament and by 2000, they were national champions. UConn would not miss the NCAA Tournament until 2014, which was on the back of three consecutive quarterfinal finishes. Reid brought the program back from near irrelevance and developed MLS stars, including Andre Blake and Cyle Larin, who is now playing in Europe.
The Huskies are one of the biggest draws in collegiate soccer and thanks to former player Tony Rizza, play in one of the best stadiums in the nation, as Morrone Stadium was transformed in part due to his $8 million donation, which Reid helped secure.
This was in addition to Reid’s $350,000 in total donations toward the funding of the new complex, which rebuilt the stands around the surface, installed artificial turf, and built a new performance center for men’s and women’s soccer and other sports.
There is little doubt that Reid left the program in great shape. A national championship, numerous conference titles, and a new stadium later, his accomplishments are right up there with the other legendary coaches in an athletic department that has had lots of them.
If you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, please consider sharing it with a friend or two - it would mean a lot to us!
Be sure to follow The UConn Blog!