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The UConn Fast Break - 2/18/2022
Basketball and hockey in the home stretch, baseball getting started, THIS IS... FEBRUARY.
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. Happy start to baseball season, folks!
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The Return of Stakes
It’s getting to be crunch-time for basketball season, with both the UConn men's and women’s hoops teams entering crucial stretches.
For Dan Hurley and his squad, the next two games—against Xavier and Villanova, both at home—will likely decide the Huskies’ landing spot in the regular-season standings. Beating Xavier is going to be very important because Villanova…will be a tough one. Holding on to third place would be a great regular season outcome.
Geno Auriemma probably wishes it wasn’t the case, but this has been the most interesting season for his team in recent memory. Dealing with a relentless stream of injuries, the Huskies are a battle-tested team with a lot of newly-proven pieces that nobody wants to meet in March. Perhaps this adversity will give them the edge they have lacked in recent years.
For different reasons, both of these teams have late-season stakes, and that makes the end of this season pretty exciting.
The women have lost an unthinkable five games, including a conference loss, and had some other close calls. However, multiple freshmen and role players have stepped up and it looks like the team could be fully healthy by the end of the season.
For the men, games like these, with standings and tourney seeding on the line, are simply good signs of the return to relevance of the program. Given how far it had sunk, making the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season would be a solid look. They could even do some damage as an underdog. The fact that they’re playing meaningful games this time of year should be a welcome sight for long-suffering fans.
On top of hoops, hockey should be pretty intense the rest of the way out. The men have a huge series coming up against UMass this weekend, opening up at XL Friday night, and have a chance to make a run to the Hockey East regular-season crown. The women are third in Hockey East with two games against Northeastern left in their regular season, they could finish as high as second.
Also, baseball is about to get started - what a time!
Men’s basketball survives St. John’s - In a tight game, the Huskies found a way to get an important road win.
No. 25 Xavier tops men’s basketball - It was a battle in Cincinnati, but the Huskies came up short.
Men’s and women’s basketball to play in Phil Knight tournament - Next season, the men’s hoops squad will be appearing in the eight-team Phil Knight Invitational and the women will play in the four-team Phil Knight Legacy.
Men’s hockey enters crucial home-and-home with No. 10 UMass - UConn has six games left to play and will battle the Minutemen for a pair on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Men’s hockey tops Boston College - UConn now has six consecutive Hockey East wins with the victory last Friday.
Could men’s hockey make the NCAA Tournament? - While they are currently on the wrong side of the cut line, the Huskies have plenty of big games remaining to secure a berth for the first time in program history.
Late comeback lifts women’s basketball over Marquette - The Huskies outscored the Golden Eagles by 16 in the final quarter to take the victory.
Women’s basketball blows out DePaul - UConn avoided losing consecutive games for the first time since 1993 with the win.
Women’s basketball injury updates - Paige Bueckers has returned to team drills.
Baseball season previews - Spring sports are already upon us as baseball begins its season on Friday in the USF Invitational. UConn has appeared in each of the last three NCAA Tournaments (2018, 2019, 2021) and looks to make it four in 2022, which would be a program record.
Saturday’s date with Xavier sold out - Gampel will surely be rocking, as UConn announced on Thursday that the game is officially a sell-out.
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RJ Cole was an absolute menace against Seton Hall, hitting a bunch of tough buckets, including these highlight circus shots.
Baseball gets its 2022 season underway on Friday in the USF Invitational. The Huskies will play USF, Charlotte, and Louisville across the weekend.
Last season, the Huskies returned to the Big East with a bang, taking the regular season and tournament titles. Relive the Huskies’ tournament championship with our game story and the celebration after the final out below!
UConn, Great Pic
Ian Bethune was on the scene last Friday evening as the women’s basketball squad earned a 24-point win over DePaul.
And here are a couple of great shots from a recent hockey game against UNH, also by Ian.
While UConn basketball gets a lot of fan attention, UConn baseball is also very much worth your time. The Huskies have had a strong run over the past five or so years, making the NCAA Tournament in 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2021, while they were one of the First Four Out in 2017 and looked poised to earn a bid in 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baseball is likely the only program that did not benefit from the move to the Big East. However, the Huskies have dominated their new league so far, racking up 13 conference victories in 17 games in 2021.
While Jim Penders’ squad lost five players and another two high school commits to the MLB Draft last July, including No. 7 overall selection Frank Mozzicato, there is still plenty of talent that will take the diamond this season.
Graduate student Zach Bushling is expected to continue to man shortstop after a strong 2021 that featured a .372 on-base percentage, while outfielder Erik Stock was unanimous preseason all-Big East selection. Friday night starter Austin Peterson was also an all-league pick. Christian Fedko is also around to provide a spark with his bat.
The Huskies have a brand-new, beautiful stadium on campus that will be open without restrictions all season after Elliot Ballpark opened only briefly at the end of last season. UConn will also appear for a midweek contest in downtown Hartford at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
Keep up with the team’s exploits all season on The UConn Blog and our schedule page. This will be our seventh season covering the team on a game-by-game basis as an outlet and we’re the only place providing regular coverage of this very fun team!
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