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The UConn Fast Break - 9/16/2022
A visit to the Big House looms, basketball schedules are out, and more!
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. Good news, it’s almost basketball season!
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Basketball hype train
As has been the case over the past decade, football is not giving us much to sink our teeth into until basketball season. Last week, the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams released their full schedule, including the all-important XL Center/Gampel Pavilion split, and the date for First Night, which will take place Oct. 14.
Both teams will play more at Gampel Pavilion than XL Center, with a 9-8 advantage for the men, while the women will play on campus nine times to seven, including an exhibition, in Hartford. It’s unclear whether this has anything to do with the hole in the building covered by plywood that will exist until at least March, but anything that pushes games more toward campus is a net positive.
The Huskies will also feature prominently on network television, with 11 broadcasts over the air between the men’s and women’s squads to lead the Big East Conference, and a FOX doubleheader at 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 18, which has now been featured for two consecutive years.
We are now inside one month until the start of workouts and two months until the seasons will begin, on Nov. 7 for the men and Nov. 10 for the women, beginning what should be an exciting season for both sides. Dan Hurley’s crew looks to break through and earn an NCAA Tournament victory after two consecutive first-round losses, while Geno Auriemma’s team will try and return to the Final Four and make the national championship again despite another injury to star Paige Bueckers.
Kevin Ollie awarded $3.9 million from State of Connecticut - The settlement officially ends the three-and-a-half-year saga into the former coach’s firing.
Whaley signs Exhibit 10 deal - The former UConn forward was one of four to ink an agreement with Charlotte.
Maui Inviational to welcome UConn in 2024 - According to Jon Rothstein, the Huskies will spend Thanksgiving 2024 in Hawaii.
Apostolos Roumoglu commits - The 6-foot-7 forward out of Greece completes UConn’s roster.
UConn announces full schedule - The Huskies will have four games on network television this year.
UConn WBB Weekly - As the Big East women’s basketball scheduled was announced this week, the weekly takes a deep dive into UConn’s schedule.
First Night date set - The basketball season will kick off on Oct. 14.
Seventh in coaches’ poll - UConn has had a propensity to outperform these rankings each year.
Sixteen new players announced - Twelve freshmen and four transfers are will join the Huskies this fall.
Frozen Fenway on the docket - It will be a battle of the Huskies on Jan. 7 as part of a Hockey East doubleheader.
Huskies add two through Team IMPACT - Mike Cavanaugh’s crew got a different kind of commitment this week.
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While football’s defeat to Syracuse on Saturday was underwhelming, it did have a few bright moments. This included this screen pass to Aaron Turner, who caught a block and used his speed to go 55 yards to the house in the third quarter.
It’s been six years since the Diaco Disaster at Navy.
After reaching the St. Petersburg Bowl in 2015, UConn football was riding high. Even if a season-opening win against Maine was too close for comfort, the Huskies looked primed to move to 2-0 with a win over Navy on Sept. 10, 2016.
Bryant Shirreffs and the Huskies ran a play on first and goal from the 10-yard line with seconds remaining, about to take the lead. Hergy Mayala would fall out of bounds just outside the goal line and head coach Bob Diaco called his final timeout before a review began regarding whether the pass to Mayala was complete. Due to this timeout, UConn was only able to run one more play and Ron Johnson was stopped for no gain as the final 12 seconds of the game ticked away with no way to stop the clock.
Diaco was asked about the play call at his press conference after the game. He spoke for four minutes on the matter without providing much of an answer for anything that occurred in Annapolis, Maryland on that Saturday afternoon, other than that he was confused.
While a great thumbnail, the icing on the cake came a few days later at his weekly press conference before the team’s following game against Virignia. He discussed the matter in detail for 13 more minutes, saying that he believed his quarterback would have gotten the play off before the play clock expired, but he called timeout with three seconds remaining on the play clock. An all-time rant from UConn football’s craziest head coach, a man that was known to just keep talking.
UConn, Great Pic
Ian Bethune was out at football on Saturday and women’s soccer against CCSU on Sunday, making it a busy weekend for our intrepid photographer. Check out a sample of his best work from the past week.
The Kevin Ollie saga is officially over. It’s taken more than 1,600 days and over $15 million, but with news that the former head coach has been awarded $3.9 million due to “claimed reputational damages and attorney’s fees”, in addition to the $11.2 million remaining on his contract when he was fired, there will be no more legal action between the school and Ollie.
Ollie needed to go in 2018, on that much nearly everyone should agree. The program had clearly slipped from the highs experienced in his second season with a national title, but the team made the 2016 NCAA Tournament, even if it required maybe the most miraculous shot in program history to get there, and won a game, before the bottom fell out of the program. The 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons were unmitigated disasters. The former year featured losses at home to Wagner and Northeastern and the team was above .500 for only a three-game stretch in February. The latter included seven losses by more than 20 points.
However, while the university was very strapped for cash in 2018 as the payments from the new Big East were drying up, this process would have been much faster, less painful and actually cheaper than it was if UConn had not tried to fire Ollie for cause due to the protracted legal battle that followed. The three-year show cause he received proved that Ollie had committed NCAA violations, but it was the poor performance on the court that caused his firing and renders those infractions irrelevant. UConn should have paid him and gotten it over with, but now the relationship with an important alumnus is likely irreparably broken and the university lost an additional $3.9 million along with it.
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