First Night excites students for basketball’s return
Published: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 20, 2013 23:10
Fans and students suffering through football season have longed to hear the words: UConn basketball is back.
Though it is no longer the official starting point for the season – men’s basketball practice began Sept. 28 and the women hit the court Oct. 15 – First Night gave Storrs at-large its first taste of Husky Hoops since last March.
“Any time you’re getting ready to start the season it’s exciting,” women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma said before the event. “I think the fans that show up tonight and the students that show up tonight make it different every year. So if this place is rocking tonight and the students are out in full force and the fans are out, I think it’ll be a special night for everybody.”
As it turned out, the Huskies played their first ever inter-squad scrimmage in front of what UConn described as a “capacity crowd.”
Team Geno – led by Shabazz Napier (11 points), on the men’s side of things, and Breanna Stewart (five points) on the women’s side – eked out a come-from-behind 51-49 win over the team coached by Kevin Ollie.
Ollie’s team was spearheaded by Rodney Purvis (11 points) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (seven points).
“We were out there having fun, that’s all it was about” Omar Calhoun, who finished with 10 points for Team Geno said. “We had to win at the end of the day though, Team Geno – you know, Geno doesn’t like to lose.”
Before the game, Ollie and Auriemma addressed the crowdand each had his own words of encouragement for the Husky faithful in attendance.
“Damn, I missed y’all so much,” Ollie opened. “I am so excited for this season, so excited…I want to thank you all for coming out – keep coming out, keep supporting. And also, I just want to say congratulations to Geno again and the women’s team for winning another national championship.”
Auriemma, never one to mince words, closed with a quip about conference realignment: “When you’re back home and people ask you, ‘Hey, you guys used to be in the Big East. What league are you in now?’ Just tell them, we’re in a league of our own…we’re UConn.”
The scrimmage was preceded by Pictionary-style game and a quiz on which player was shown in various baby pictures.
The men’s basketball team opens its season on Nov. 8 against Maryland at the Barclays Center. The women’s team opens the following day against Hartford at the XL Center.