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Nostalgia 101: The Wonders of the 90s: UConn basket ball legend

By Matt Gantos
On April 6, 2014

Anyone who knows me understands I'm not a big sports fan, but I'm all excited that we're in a National Championship. It takes me back to the 1999 championship when I was just a wee seven-year-old.
Back before I decided most sports weren't for me, I played in a rec basketball league and would watch a few minutes of the UConn Men's games here and there. But I was seven and my attention span was about 30 seconds. Now that I'm 21 it's increased to 35 seconds-kind of a big deal.
I don't actually remember watching that game. Honestly, I was probably playing Pokémon somewhere else. But I do remember going to that parade and seeing the players ride by on a float and that they looked 100-feet tall.
Coach Jim Calhoun was with them as the rode by and I watched as people cheered for a group of men whom they had never met before, but somehow felt a deep connection to.
So I did the responsible thing and looked back at some highlights of the 1999 game against Duke. It was a close game and UConn clinched it in the last 10 seconds with a free throw from El-Amin that put them up by three and then prevented Duke from scoring.
According to the El-Amin highlights the El-Amin-Hamilton hook-up was the success story of the game. They fed each other assists, picked and stole.
That was so long ago that I even had to look up the player's names. Of course Calhoun was still coach.
I was a freshman when we won the championship in 2011, and that may have been the first time I watched 90 percent of a basketball game in my life. But it was worth it.
After watching that game I understood why Kemba-mania had become such a commotion that even the sports-phobes such as myself were aware of it. I was actually walking behind Kemba one day on my way to class and he is not a big man. Strong and broad shouldered, sure, but he was definitely not above six foot like the stats say.
According to some unnamed alumni, UConn used to be a bigger party school back in the '90s and early 2000s. Comparing the riots that occurred after the 2011 win to testimonies from those alumni, our celebrations were weak. But everyone thinks that their class is somehow the most destructive and threw the best parties.
If there's one thing that's certain, it's that the UConn Police will be everywhere. It's not likely that they've forgotten the destruction that happened three years ago, especially with the 'riots' that happened last week outside of Gampel after we beat Michigan State in the Elite Eight.
Most of the undergrads here were under 10 years old when we won the title in 1999, and now that we're here it's a very exciting time. The important thing to do is party responsibly, because nothing's worse than watching a party from the back of a squad car.
 


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