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The UConn Fast Break - 9/9/2022
A legend retires, hockey season draws near, and a comfortable win for football.
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. Happy Syracuse Hate Week!
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Loving to hate Syracuse
College sports is all about regional rivalries. Syracuse and UConn go way back, at least in the modern era. The two schools formed a fierce rivalry on the hardwood in the 1980s that translated quickly when UConn football made the move up to FBS and joined the Big East football conference (RIP).
From 2004 to 2012, UConn played Syracuse eight times, and the Huskies absolutely dominated, winning six. Though ‘Cuse is far from a storied program, it definitely has some history and a solid track record of sending players to the NFL. Owning them like that was incredible. At the time, it seemed like the Husky football program was teeming with potential, at least capable of becoming a regional power.
Things broke in a different direction after the collapse of the Big East, as all of UConn’s regional competitors got an upgrade to the “power five.” Since then, those schools have enjoyed financial stability and a recruiting edge over UConn. All of them have a clear talent advantage when they have met on the field as of late.
As an independent, at least UConn football has more games like this, where we hate the other school, where the Husky athletes can play with a chip on their shoulder against a school that probably recruited them but either didn’t offer or didn’t make them a priority. Fans want to play against schools they know alumni from, where their sisters or cousins or friends from high school went. That’s what the Big East move brought back, and football has as well thanks to an incredible effort by David Benedict and his staff to put a really great schedule together, quickly. This year UConn plays Syracuse, BC, UMass, and Army. I think fans would take that four-game slate alone over any AAC schedule.
UConn may not win this Saturday, but it’s a win to be playing relevant teams across the season that fans want to see the Huskies beat. That was hardly the case before, even when ranked/receiving votes AAC teams visited the Rent against semi-competitive UConn squads in 2015.
UConn fans are not crazy to think the game this Saturday has some upset potential. Jim Mora’s squad has looked better than the very-low expectations we had going into the season. And when it’s a rivalry game, anything can happen.
How Ines Bettencourt got to UConn - The guard from Portugal was originally committed to a junior college, but the Huskies needed a point guard.
Bueckers discusses injury - After tearing her left ACL in August, the junior met with the media for the first time.
Syracuse preview - Check out the Huskies’ depth chart for Saturday’s battle with the Orange, in addition to what to watch for in the contest.
Future opponents - While none of UConn’s remaining 10 opponents played a game like North Carolina and Appalachian State, there were still some exciting moments.
Ethan Gardula commits - The ‘05 forward is expected to come to UConn as part of the Class of 2024.
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Moussa Wade finished this nice run of play with a goal after a pair of nice passes from Thomas Decottignies and Frantz Pierrot, opening the scoring against NJIT on Friday.
It’s hard to believe it, but just one year ago, Randy Edsall announced his second departure from UConn. Following two bludgeonings to begin the 2021 season, Edsall first said he would be retiring at the end of the season. Hours later, defensive coordinator Lou Spanos would take over as interim head coach.
In his first run at UConn, Edsall finished with a 74-70 record, a BCS berth, and a late-night disappearance for the Maryland job. His return was much less successful.
The Huskies had one victory by more than one possession and lost by 30 points or more a whopping 17 times across the 38 games of his second stint. The worst was 2018, in which the defense broke a litany of records, none of which were good.
UConn, Great Pic
It was a busy weekend, as football and both men’s and women’s soccer had games. Ian Bethune was at all three and grabbed some great shots.
Let’s take a moment to honor a legend of the game of basketball.
Sue Bird officially said farewell to her playing career this week as the Seattle Storm were eliminated in the WNBA playoff semifinals, losing in four games to the Las Vegas Aces and closing the book on an 18-year professional career. The Long Island native was named to the All-WNBA first team five times and the second team an additional three, while also leading the league in assists in three seasons.
Bird finished with 3,234 assists, more than 600 more than second place on the WNBA’s all-time list, is third in steals (725), seventh in points (6,803), and trails just former UConn teammate Diana Taurasi in 3-point field goals with 1,001.
Those are just her professional accolades, as Bird’s four years at the University of Connecticut were just as impressive, winning two national titles in 2000 and 2022, along with several personal accolades, including three Nancy Lieberman Awards. Bird still has the program’s career 3-point percentage and free-throw records, at 45.9 percent and 89.2 percent, respectively. She is also sixth in assists, despite missing significant time with a torn ACL.
Definitely one of the best to ever do it.
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