Basketball’s First Night should return
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
When Kate Lynch and Scott Burrell both signed their contracts and became the head coaches of the men’s and women’s basketball teams they were greeted with roaring applause and university-wide excitement. Monday night before the seasons kicked off, the athletic department put on a true spectacle showcasing the two new head coaches and their squads. There was a real buzz in the air.
With a strong estimate, the men’s and women’s teams carry the most interest from the student-body and even from those outside of the university. There are families at the games, children with their parks and recreation teams with their coaches and teammates – the upper decks are filled with more than just students, faculty, proud parents, and family members. And down low, the risers are also stacked with extremely passionate fans and supporters. In a nutshell, the programs have a jam-packed base.
Every year UConn puts on a “First Night” for the basketball programs that features a low-key matchup – blue vs. white, coach vs. coach, men and women vs. men and women. This year, it was
Team Geno vs. Team Hurley. They also have a dunk contest and a lot of entertainment.
A hip-hop duo even got the crowd pumped up of the grand events. Yes, they do it because their basketball programs are a staple of their athletic program on campus but also because they are historically very well- performing units.
Looking into this upcoming season, we have the same thing dropped down one NCAA level. The men’s team is loaded – a healthy Joey Wallace, CJ Seaforth, a Hamden native who transferred from Iona, Kaelen Ives from Rider, and the defending conference rookie of the year in Ulyen Coleman. The women’s team has Kiana Steinauer, Imani Wheeler,
Allie Smith and Erin Ryder as key returners and some other impact players who transferred over from other institutions.
The likelihood is that both teams will be super competitive this year, both spotlight teams in the NE10 and programs with championship aspirations. It would be fitting for us to have had a “First Night” because people should be jacked up for the upcoming campaigns. I mean, I am pretty amped to cover both of them this year if I say so myself.
Our athletic department really does not have too many signature events. I really do think the turnouts would continue to trend in a positive direction and like I said, and the example I gave is evidence towards, basketball is a great way to start.