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The UConn Fast Break - 1/28/2022
Better late than never, right? Happy Friday!
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. It’s about to be 5 o’clock right here, folks, go enjoy a cold one after this.
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Football finding offseason momentum
It’s not an easy thing to do, but Jim Mora has probably gained support from the UConn fanbase in the 2+ months since he was announced as the football program’s new head coach.
Between his staff announcements and the way recruiting is going, Mora has made some positive steps in reshaping the program.
Starting with the coaching staff, he made solid hires across the board. One of the most important issues these hires fixed was his lack of ties to UConn’s region.
Assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Nick Charlton was most recently head coach at Maine as well as a graduate assistant and player at Boston College. Special teams coordinator Doug Shearer is a former UConn GA who had stops at Miami (OH) and NC State. Receivers coach John Allen has coached at Lockhaven (PA), Delaware State, and Old Dominion. Running backs coach E.J. Barthel played at UMass and Rutgers and has held staff or coaching jobs at Temple, Penn State, Albany, Howard, and William & Mary. Tight ends coach John Marinelli is a former Connecticut high school coach who played at Fordham and Trinity.
We could go on but suffice it to say of UConn’s in-state and regional recruiting grounds are well-covered by the staff and it seems like a good group.
Mora has made early work of the transfer portal, a key element to success for UConn, or really any school that isn’t ‘Bama. The Huskies have added at least six transfers, including two (much-needed) O-linemen and a couple of quarterbacks, including former four-star prospect Ta’Quan Roberson from Penn State.
The Huskies also earned a big commitment from a three-star Class of 2022 quarterback prospect in Zion Turner. Hailing from a highly respected program in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Turner’s commitment gives UConn fans some hope that the most important position on the field could have a strong future under Mora, who has added three quarterbacks to the roster in a short amount of time.
For Mora’s tenure at UConn, it appears the “CEO head coach” model is David Benedict’s aim here. (Not to be confused with the former finance CEO who became a college head coach)
The basic premise of the CEO head coach is that at this advanced level, head coaches are primarily running an organization and handling a lot of external duties. CEO head coaches tend to give assistant coaches more freedom than a more traditional coach. They don’t need to lead all things on and off the field like a dictator; they can delegate.
Arizona State’s Herm Edwards is probably the example that aligns most closely with Mora’s situation. Edwards’ hire was mocked by many (so was Mora’s) and ASU’s press release had a little too much business jargon for a coaching announcement. But even though he had minimal ties to the area and almost no experience in college football, the former NFL head coach has had three winning seasons in four years (they went 2-2 in 2020).
Football adds 2022 commitments - Mora and his staff will need to have more or less finalized their 2022 class by the Feb. 2 signing day.
Athletics posts $47.2 million deficit in 2021 - The COVID-19 pandemic was not kind to UConn’s financials.
Women’s basketball matchup with South Carolina canceled - Instead of playing the Gamecocks on Thursday, the Huskies played DePaul.
Ducharme leads women’s basketball over St. John’s - The freshman from Massachusetts had a career-high 28 points in the 75-57 win.
#IceBus grabs a big win over Merrimack - A wild third period ended with the Huskies on top.
Men’s hockey splits series with New Hampshire - After falling to the Wildcats on Friday, the Huskies came back and took a 3-2 overtime victory on Saturday.
Stephanie Labbe retires from professional soccer - This season will be the last for the former UConn goaltender, who has also won a pair of Olympic medals with Team Canada.
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The men’s hockey team took home a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday afternoon against New Hampshire, splitting the weekend set.
Midway through the five-minute, 3-on-3 session, Jonny Evans snuck through the Wildcat defense, which was watching the puck on the entry, and the British Columbia native found the back of the net to get UConn the win.
Stephanie Labbe had a decorated UConn career, winning Big East goalkeeper of the year in 2008 before moving on to a long and successful professional and international career. She was the starting goalkeeper for Canada in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, played last summer.
She suffered a rib injury in the group stage but earned clean sheets against both Brazil and the United States in the knockout stage, before helping win a penalty shootout in the gold medal game for the Canadians against Sweden.
Labbe is third all-time in clean sheets for Canada, with 43, and this was one of the biggest in program history against their neighbors to the south, who were strong favorites to win the tournament. Watch some highlights below!
UConn, Great Pic
This shot from Ian Bethune of Andre Jackson’s rim-rocker against Georgetown is nothing short of beautiful.
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Aman and Shawn
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