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A holiday look around sports

POSTED December 24, 2012
BY Patrick Tiscia
Twitter: @PatrickTiscia


Random holiday sports look for those stuck in offices today or looking to kill time before your holiday party(s):

Congrats to Gregg Hunt, who was recently name to the NECBL's Board of Directors. Hunt has been a summer college baseball league staple since 1997, the inaugural season of the Twisters, and it's hard to find anyone with similar passion for the sport. Hopefully, if he chooses, we will see Hunt in the dugout again for a summer baseball team.

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Growing up in the 90s, "Husky-mania" took over the state and the fans couldn't get enough. They bought those t-shirts at Bob's where you ironed the name of the team UConn most recently beat. They filled Gampel Pavilion and the Hartford Civic Center no matter who the opponent was, whether it was Syracuse or Yale. Chris Smith, Scott Burrell, Donyell Marshall and Ray Allen jerseys were on full display in middle and high school hallways.

These days, fans avoid most games even though some tickets are half the price they were then. Despite three championships, the recent recruiting scandals and the nauseating conference realignment talks seem to have worn out the fans. Twice has attendance failed to reach 10,000 in Hartford this season, a number UConn reached in all its Hartford games since 1988.

I attended Friday night's game against Fordam in Hartford and the attendance barely cracked 10,000. At least seven sections were completely empty and the atmosphere, to be kind, was lacking.

It'll be interesting to see if the passion in this state for UConn ever reaches to what it was. Moving past these recent scandals would help, as would settling, once and for all, the conference situation. A new arena, considering the XL Center is a dump, wouldn't hurt the cause, either.

In other words, UConn has a lot of work to do and it won't take overnight.

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Also during my youth, nothing was more exciting to me than the Christmas day NBA games. Usually, we'd get Michael and the Bulls take on the likes of the Celtics, Knicks and Shaq's Magic and the games, for the most part, lived up to the hype.

This year, David Stern and friends scheduled five games on this day in an attempt to probably set some sort of ratings record. I'd love to watch them all, but considering I don't want to be booted from my family, I'll be picking and choosing my spots when to view.

While the NBA Finals rematch is nice, in the grand scheme of things it means nothing. The Thunder can beat Miami by 50 and the Heat will still have their rings while Oklahoma City still dreams about what could have been.

The match-up that catches my eye is the Lakers-Knicks game at Staples Center for a couple of reasons.

One, this may be the Knicks' highest profiled game since the 1999 NBA Finals. In the 12 years since then, it's been one debacle after another for this franchise and they finally seem to be on the right path. I'm fascinated to see how they'll respond Tuesday.

And the other, like most people, is to see how Steve Nash, Kobe and Dwight Howard mix. Nash just came back Saturday after missing 14 games and led the Lakers to a thrilling overtime win at Golden State. If the Lakers want to make the playoffs, they can't mess around much longer or they'll suffer the ultimate embarrassment come April if they're sitting home.

I don't think they will.

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For the Yankees, Mets, Jets and Giants fans that celebrate Festivus, please record your "Airing of Grievances" and post it on YouTube. Thanks.

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As we hit the new year, nothing is better when the teams we cover here go deep into the state tournaments, especially in basketball, the sport I think provides the best high school sports atmosphere.

Here's to hoping we see a local team or two at Mohegan Sun when March rolls around.

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