Saturday, April 30, 2011

Est Terminis: Conclusion of the 2010-11 UConn Sports Year

I: General Note

There has been a change of plans and I will be departing Storrs for the summer on Saturday, May 7. Consequently, I will not be attending any more games this season, thus wrapping up my first year of UConn sports. Now, it is time to conclude this blog for the season. I have chosen to call the concluding post "Est Terminis" roughly Latin for "It's over". So below, please find my sentiments for this season.

II - Introduction

Going to UConn, I know as well as anyone how much of a presence basketball and football teams have on campus. This is especially true at UConn, with our Men's Basketball national championship, Women's final four, and our BCS game in football. But does anyone really care about the minor sports, like soccer, field hockey, baseball, ice hockey, or anything else like that? Well, I personally do, and as I've noted on here I often enjoy these "minor" sports more than the big money sports. First of all, with the exception of a few players on our baseball and men's soccer teams, nobody in any of these sports is ever going pro. Yes, they have some scholarship, but it's usually not a full ride, and they have no future in the game after they graduate. Which also means they're true students instead of being paid (with my tuition money) to play a sport and make money for the school.

And the fact is, these athletes are far more down-to-earth than most others. I was heading over to the baseball office in Greer Fieldhouse the other day to pick up something I won from the student fan group (K-9 Unit) for being one of the top fans. But I got lost in Greer and somehow wound up outside the Track & Field coach's office.  Bill Morgan was outside his office talking to one of the building staff, and when he saw me looking confused, he asked if I was lost. When I told him I was looking for the baseball office, he humorously replied that I was "about 10 feet away" but that unfortunately "those were 10 vertical feet", in other words it was right below me. Honestly, if that had been Jim Calhoun's office (disregarding the fact that Calhoun's office is sequestered in Gampel, lest he be bothered by people like me) he probably would have ignored me or grunted a quick reply and told me to get out. And sometimes these small sports have so few fans that the players learn to recognize the regulars. The other day on the bus, a softball player came up to me and said she'd seen me at a few of the games, and was I a fan? Of course, I'm a fan of every UConn team. And she seemed genuinely excited that there was even one UConn student fan. I can't imagine Kashif Moore getting that excited, or even recognizing ANY of his fans, even those seniors who have been in the front row every game for the past four years.

Russell Blair, one of my favorite sports columnists in the Daily Campus (UConn's Newspaper), is graduating, and wrote his last column yesterday. He expressed exactly the same sentiments I did, only from a writer's perspective. He writes "I never covered a BCS bowl, or a men's basketball national championship, but that's not why I started writing. It's things like an athlete Facebook messaging you after you write a feature piece about them. It's [Women's ice hockey coach Heather] Linstad calling me back after I got her voicemail and apologizing that she couldn't call me back sooner because she was in an airport in Minnesota. It's Jim Penders telling me that the feature piece I wrote was "far too self-indulgent for me to read all the way through," but thanking me nonetheless." Of course, Russell has more exposure to these people than I do, working for the UConn newspaper, but he still gets attention right there. He also recounts one of his first memories working for the DC Sports. "Nancy Stevens, UConn's field hockey coach for the last 21 years, was one of the nicest people I've ever met. I remember the time she allowed [fellow field hockey writer Chris] Brodeur and me to wait to interview players in the hallway outside the locker room when she saw us standing outside and shivering in the cold." For those looking for Blair's full column, you can find it here.

Yes, it is true that these small sports get less attention than the big money sports. But I've been at 68 games this year across all sports and the ones where I felt most passionate about attending and which I enjoyed the most were the smaller ones. Alas, these sports get no respect. But I feel if more people cared about them like they care about basketball and football, they would find out why people like me truly care about them.

III - It Begins in the Fall

I first arrived at UConn as a freshman the Friday of WOW weekend - August 27, 2010. Almost on a whim, I decided to go to the soccer game vs. Boston University. Although it was only an exhibition, I still had an awesome time with the Goal Patrol, which I truly believe is the greatest soccer fan club on any college campus in America. On September 1, I would attend my first non-exhibition at UConn, a 2-0 win by the Huskies over St. Francis (Game 2). I had never been a big soccer fan before coming to UConn, but after attending the BU game mainly to show support for my new school, I realized that I could get myself interested in just about any sport if UConn was playing.

My first venture outside soccer was the Women's volleyball game vs. Hartford on September 3 (Game 3). I honestly don't remember much about this game, but I must have had a good time, because it furthered the epiphany I had after the BU game. I would attend several soccer games after that, before my first experience with a "mega" UConn sport.

On Saturday, September 11th, I headed out to Rentschler Field to watch the Huskies take on Texas Southern in a football game. We won in a blowout 62-3. I had never been at any large football stadium before, so I was completely impressed by the Rent. It was an awesome experience in the student section, cheering on my Huskies. I know I have mentioned this idea many times before, but I really enjoy it.

IV - Something Else

But for my first month or so here, I really only attended three sports - soccer, football, and volleyball. Then, once again, acting completely on a whim, I attended a Field Hockey match vs. Yale on October 6th. Although I missed about half of the game to watch the end of Roy Halladay's perfect game that I was alerted to by text, I was instantly hooked on this "other" sport. It was also one of the first games I wrote about on this blog, which I decided to start to collect my thoughts on all these sporting events I was attending. I must say I greatly enjoyed writing about these games for this blog this year. I look forward to attending many more sporting events as a sophomore next year.

I would ultimately follow our men's soccer team through the Big East tournament, although regrettably I would miss our NCAA tournament game against Brown as it fell during Thanksgiving Break. And I couldn't even watch it online due to power outage in Storrs effecting the webstream. I would also cheer our Field Hockey team through the Big East tournament, before losing agonizingly 1-0 to Syracuse. I cheered via computer though the Field Hockey "Elite Eight" where we lost at Maryland. Had we beaten Syracuse, I would likely have seen the tournament here. But alas, it is what it is. Hopefully we can make a run next year.

V- Hoops Season and BCS

Our hoops teams entered this season with completely different expectations. Most people did not think our men's team could do much of anything this year, while our women were expected to win a three-peat. My first basketball game ever was an exhibition vs. American International on November 3. The game was a blowout, as expected, but I was hooked. Finally, a real game was played on November 12, vs. Stony Brook, also a blowout. But still, little was expected for the men's team. Of course, I also loyally followed the women's team, and may have at the time held them in higher regard due to the higher expectations.

Over Thanksgiving break, I followed the team in Maui. I remember listening to a staticy radio feed of the game vs. Wichita State on my way home from a doctor's appointment. I then remember watching the closing minutes on TV and thinking "perhaps we can win this year". And then we beat Michigan State and Kentucky the next two nights and the rest is history.

And of course, New Year's night, from the comfort of my own couch, I watched UConn get crushed by Oklahoma. It hurt to see the season come to an end that way. But it was a fantastic season overall. The game against West Virginia may have been the best game I attended this year (was it really? I'll reveal it over the next couple weeks). But that loss in the BCS hurt.

VI: Hockey, a Break from the Hoops

And of course, the only real "minor" sport during the Winter is Ice Hockey. The men's team is quite popular (albeit bad) with the Blue Line, the hockey equivalent of Goal Patrol. My first experience with Hockey was on November 6, when we tied Canisius 1-1. I had always wanted to attend women's hockey games as well, particularly after nearly making the NCAA last season, but didn't get around to it until January 29, when we lost 4-1 to Boston University. On an interesting note, BU was the first opponent I saw in three different sports - men's soccer, women's ice hockey, and softball.

And of course, I saw our Women's Ice Hockey team exit the Hockey East tournament in the semifinals vs. Northeastern thus ending our season. But there's always next year.

VII: Basketball Domination

Our men's team finished in a big skid and it looked like we were down and out after a promising start. But over Spring Break, I watched on ESPN as we dominated in the Big East Tournament. And on Saturday night, I watched as we beat Louisville to win five straight games and head to March Madness. Then, I watched us beat Bucknell, Cincinnati, San Diego State, and Arizona to head to the Final Four. I even got on FOX CT News that night (although they didn't show my interview, just me screaming and a lovely shot of my Husky hoodie).

Our women's team advanced too, but that was no surprise. Then, on Saturday night, I watched us face Kentucky in the Union food court at the event set up. It was an epic game, and when we won to advance to the National Championship, everyone went crazy. But the next night, we would be temporarily dampened, as women's basketball shockingly lost to Notre Dame to not advance to the final. But any depression we had was erased the next night as I and 10,000 other students crammed into Gampel Pavilion to watch the Huskies knock off Butler. Storming the court, then partying, it was just amazing. Great exhilliration. I can hardly say it. AWESOME! That was the apex of the Husky sports season, no doubt about it.

VIII- Spring, and the End

Then the spring came, and with it, the baseball and softball seasons. Lacrosse came too, but I had to miss every home game for one reason or another. But baseball was fun. We had the K-9 Unit, and I only missed four of our home games. The opener vs. Holy Cross was very disappointing, as we tied 2-2 after sitting out in the cold for 16 innings. It was called due to darkness. This is why the JOC needs lights. But I moved on, and after missing part or all of every game against Pittsbugh due to cold, I watched all 27 innings as we swept St. John's to really get our season rolling. And hopefully we can go all the way to Omaha this year. I'll be following the team from home, of course.

IV: Conclusion

What else can I say? This has been a fun year. 68 games, 51 wins, 11 losses, and 6 ties. It has been a fun year. It will be a lonely summer without Husky sports. But come next August, hopefully we host another soccer game over WOW weekend. Whenever we play, I'll be there. Until then, so long. Well, not yet, because after finals I'll be counting down the Top 10 games I attended this year. So wait and stick around for that. But here's to 2011-12! May we win even more championships. Go Huskies!

Note: Through the blog simulcast program, this has been reposted on BleacherReport, as will many of my other posts. You can find it here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 25, 2011 (Game 68): Baseball vs. Quinnipiac

What: Baseball vs. Quinnipiac

When: Monday April 25, 2011, 3:00 PM

Where: J.O. Christian Field

Result: Win 9-0
This was my first Huskies game in 22 days. Wow. It's been a while. I arrived in the middle of the fourth after coming from class. The score was 0-0. But the Bobcats would fall apart shortly after I arrived, making two errors to allow two unearned runs without giving up a hit in the bottom of the sixth, before allowing seven runs on four hits and four (!) errors in the seventh. Ultimately we won 9-0 but it was the worst defensive effort I have ever seen.

Since there is no bus to Dodd on May 7th, this was the last baseball game I will be at this season. I may be at softball today, tomorrow, and/or on Saturday May 7th, but we'll see. And I am one of the top K-9 Unit members in terms of games attended this season, so I will receive a prize which I will pick up Thursday or Friday. Awesome!

Looking back on it (and I will expand on this in the concluding post come the second week of May) the tie vs. Holy Cross could have discouraged me from attending another game. It was a disappointing opening result. But I stuck true, and managed to enjoy what has so far been a great season. Due to the nasty weather, Ileft shortly after the Saturday game with Pitt began, and didn't even attend the Sunday finale, but then the St. John's series really energized me. And that excitement continued through following us on the road. I couldn't attend the Thursday game vs. Georgetown or the two Friday games in New Britain, but I managed to come to the JOC and watch this one to wrap up the part of the season which falls during the semester.

I will continue following the team through the remainder of the season, the Big East Tournament, and (hopefully) the NCAA Regionals, Super-Regionals, and maybe even to Omaha. But for now, I'm just happy to have witnessed so many great moments at the JOC. And baseball will get a big mention in the Wrap-up post. I need a cool name for it. Basketball blog The MidMajority calls their wrap-up post "The Epilogue" which I think is a fitting name for it. But I don't like using other people's terms, so I'll think of one myself. I'll take suggestions. And if I use yours, I'll give you credit this year and each year thereafter. So don't worry.

For now though, no more than three games remaining this year. Maybe four, if the opener of the UConn-Providence doubleheader tomorrow runs really long and I manage to get there after class. But I probably still won't be there long enough for it to count towards the *official* game count unless it goes really long in which case the second game likely won't be able to be played to completion and will have to be suspended. But we'll deal with that if/when it happens.

For now though, if I don't happen to go to any softball games, thank you to my readership, and it's been a great year. Stay tuned for whatever I decide to call the concluding post. Perhaps The Conclusion? The Terminus? I like the second one.

Here are some interesting synonyms for "end" from

  • Adjournment

  • Cessation

  • Closure

  • Conclusion

  • Culmination

  • Finis

  • Omega

  • Realization

  • Resolution

  • Terminus

Seniors will find it interesting that "commencement" is listed as an antonym, but of course, if you pay attention to speakers, you'll know that "commencement is not an end. It's a beginning". So to any seniors at UConn reading this, good luck in the real world, and Go Huskies! And the latter holds for anyone else reading this too.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

End of Year: What is Coming Up

So the 2010-11 academic and athletic seasons are winding down. I will be going home Sunday, May 8 and will be attending my last athletic event of the year at latest May 7. So here's what's on tap for the end of season update for this blog

  • Sometime the week after I get home, I will be posting a summary of my athletic spectating experiences for this season. This will likely be a lengthy post.

  • I will also be counting down the Top 10 Athletic events that I was at this season. I will likely make one post a day starting in the middle of May. Alternatively, I may make one post a week to take us through July. I honestly don't know what I plan on doing yet. We will see.

  • In general though, this blog will be pretty dead over the summer. I may post the occasional commentary, but not much.

  • I am tentatively saying I will begin posting stuff for 2011-12 on August 15. But that's not final yet by any means.

  • Go Huskies!

Blog Update, and Weekly Schedule for April 25-May 8

Unfortunately, due to various reasons always seeming to come up, I haven't been to any games in a few weeks. But I'm looking forward to hopefully attending a couple next week. Because there are only a few games during Finals Week/Commencement weekend, I am including them in this schedule post as well.


(Y)- Definitely Attending

(P) - Probably Attending

(M) - Might attend

(D) - Doubtful to Attend

Monday, April 25:

3:00 PM: Baseball vs. Quinnipiac (M)

Note: If I do attend, I will not be arriving until after my class which ends at 3:15.

Tuesday, April 26:

3:30 PM: Softball vs. Bryant (M)

Wednesday, April 27:

2:00 and 4:00 PM: Softball Doubleheader vs. Providence (M)

Note: I have a class ending at 3:15, so I doubt I'll attend Game 1

Saturday, May 7:

3:30 PM: Softball vs. Notre Dame (M)

6:30 PM: Baseball vs. USF @ Dodd Stadium (D)
I will be posting a post detailing the end of the season and what will happen in a couple of minutes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Return of the Blog: Plus Schedule through April 24th

Well, this blog has finally returned after a long time without UConn on-campus events. Also, I have been informed that my post regarding the Basketball Championship Viewing Party didn't go through, but for some reason it's not in my drafts. I may rewrite it later, maybe not. Also, keep in mind I am Jewish and will be observing Passover next week, so I will not be at anything Monday or Tuesday, and only possibly the rest of the days. But here's what the schedule looks like


(Y)- Will Attend

(P) - Probably Attending

(M) - Might Attend

(D) - Doubtful to Attend

Saturday, April 16th:

12:00 PM: Softball Doubleheader vs. Pittsburgh - Game 2 at 2:00 PM (P)

Sunday, April 17th:

11:00 AM: Softball vs. Pittsburgh (P)

Wednesday, April 20:

4:00 PM: Softball vs. UMass (D)

Thursday, April 21:

3:00 PM: Baseball vs. Georgetown (M)

4:00 PM: Women's Lacrosse vs. Cincinnati (M)

Saturday, April 23:

12:00 PM: Women's Lacrosse vs. Louisville (M)

1:00 PM: Baseball vs. Georgetown (M)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekly Schedule for April 4-10

Below is the weekly schedule for April 4-10.

Monday, April 4:

~9:00 PM: Men's Basketball vs. Butler National Championship Watch Party at Gampel Pavillion (Y)

Note: This game will have a post about it, both about the watch event and the game, but will NOT be included in the overall game count, though it will be listed in the log.

Tuesday, April 5:

3:00 PM: Baseball vs. UMass (D)

TBD: Men's Basketball National Champion Pep Rally leading into women's championship watch party at Gampel (Y)

Note: I will be attending both assuming they are happening which they will if the women win tonight (watch party) and the men win tomorrow night (pep rally). Should neither be occurring, I will attend baseball. Once again, watch party will not be counted as a game in the game log.

Wednesday, April 6:

TBD: Women's Basketball National Champion Pep Rally (P)

3:30 PM: Softball vs. Boston College (M)

Note: Will be attending Pep Rally if it does not conflict with class. Will attend softball if it does not conflict with Pep Rally.

And that's it. A surprisingly quiet week after that. We're away in all sports for the weekend. Go Huskies!

April 3, 2011 (Game 67): Baseball vs. St. John's

What: Baseball vs. St. John's

When: Sunday, April 3, 2011, 12:00 PM

Where: J.O. Christian Field

Result: Win 8-2

Back at the JOC for the third game of a three-game series. We were going for the sweep. And we got it. It wasn't as exciting as yesterday, particularly because the first-base ump warned the student section against "verbal attacks on individual players". Which meant we couldn't say anything too nasty about anyone or we'd be tossed. That, combined with the fact that it was a blowout, made this largely unmemorable.

There was once again a reduced crowd in the K-9 Unit due to many fans being in Houston for the Final Four. But the atmosphere was still great today. Even though we got all 8 of pour runs in the first two innings, the student crowd stayed in it for the entire game, and cheered the Huskies on.

So bring out the brooms, because we swept the Red Storm. On a side note, what exactly is a Red Storm? Are they named after the Great Red Spot on Jupiter or something? They used to be the Redmen until that was deemed offensive to Native Americans, but seriously, Red Storm? Couldn't you think of anything better? RedHawks? Red Rovers? Red Barons? Come on now.

Tonight our Women play in the Final Four. Tomorrow night our men's basketball team goes for the Championship. And Tuesday, our women (hopefully) go for the championship. I should make a full post summarizing the tournament when the Final UConn game is played. It's something to look forward to. But for now, Go Huskies!

Edit: After updating the Game Log, I noticed that this was the 50th UConn win that I have witnessed in person! Awesome. Go Huskies!

April 2, 2011 (Games 65+66): Baseball Doubleheader vs. St. John's

Note: I am combining the two games of the doubleheader into one post, which I will do for all doubleheaders. However, the games will be reviewed separately below.

What: Baseball Doubleheader vs. St. John's

When: Game 1: Saturday, April 2, 2011, 12:00 PM, Game 2: 2:50 PM

Where: J.O. Christian Field

Result Game 1: Win 9-1

Result Game 2: Win 6-5

Game 1 Review:

This game was originally scheduled to begin at 1:00 but with the yesterday's game rained out, today became a doubleheader starting at noon. Matt Barnes had a perfect game through four innings, but St. John's struck for one run on three hits in the fifth to go up 1-0. They would fall apart in the 6th inning though, and ultimately our bats would dominate and we would win, 9-1.

The Red Storm pitcher was Kyle Hansen, who apparently threatened several members of the K-9 Unit after the game, saying "I want to beat your a** up" and having to be restrained by teammates. If only he'd pulled an Artest, that would have been crazy. But he didn't.

Between games was a nice experience, as the K-9 Unit students got wings. And some other people got them too because our group was depleted from people in Houston at the Final Four (another way of heckling St. John's)

Game 2:

This one was a bit more exciting. St. John's leadoff batter Matt Wassinger led off the game with a home run to put the Red Storm up 1-0. We would put up two runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead. But the Red Storm came roaring back, scoring two in the fifth and two in the sixth to go up 5-1. It looked like we were done, and when a rain/snow squall hit in between innings, some started to leave.

But we would pick up an unearned run in the bottom of the inning after Nick Ahmed scored on what should have been an inning-ending double play. In the bottom of the eighth, we had the bases loaded and one out. Mike Nemeth hit a ground ball to first. They threw to second and George Springer was clearly safe but was called out. A run still came home to make it 5-4, but Ryan Fuller struck out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, pinch hitter Tim Martin (who had gone 3-4 in game one) singled up the middle, scoring Ryan Moore to tie the game. Then, LJ Mazilli hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball to Centerfield which would have sent the game into extra innings. But centerfielder Kyle Richardson dropped the ball! Martin was hustling all the way and came around to score the winning run to the disbelief of everyone in the ballpark. My reaction was something along the lines of "Ugh. Extra innings ag- HOLY #@%$ HE DROPPED IT! WE WON!!!!!!!!" and I'm sure many other fans were thinking the same thing. A bizarre finish to the second game of a doubleheader.

Meanwhile, over on the adjacent softball field, UConn swept Rutgers in their own nearly simultaneous doubleheader, and of course, the Men's Basketball team beat Kentucky in the Final Four later last night. Today, both baseball and softball go for a sweep, and the Women's Basketball team tries to beat Notre Dame in the Final Four. I'll be at baseball. And hopefully the women win tonight, and both teams win the championship on Monday and Tuesday. Until then, Go Huskies!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March 30, 2011 (Game 64): Softball vs. Boston University

What: Softball vs. Boston University

When: March 30, 2011, 4:00 PM

Where: Connecticut Softball Stadium

Result: Loss 1-0

So finally my room situation got resolved yesterday. But on Wednesday, I was on the phone with Front Desk and Maintenance from the time I got out of class until about 3:50. At that point, I decided to head over to watch the softball game.

The Terriers hit a home run in the top of the second, but would not score the rest of the game. However, we failed to score at all. I had Amy Vaughn in the "Run of the Game" contest only because her picture was on the box and I arrived too late to strategize. But nobody scored, so nobody won. Oh well.

This was somewhat exciting, close until the end, but unfortunately we lost. With yesterday's baseball game being rained out, I'll be at the doubleheader against St. John's starting today at noon. And then tonight is the Final Four against Kentucky! That should be exciting. Big sports day today for the Huskies. And then tomorrow the series against St. John's wraps up and the Women play their Final Four game. Monday and Tuesday will hopefully be the Championship games and also on Tuesday, baseball hosts UMass. Stay Tuned!