Print this story

First Night at UConn. Hanging banners and looking forward.

POSTED October 18, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

STORRS: It's all for the fans, this First Night.

This year, for the second time in school history, the fan faithful got to celebrate not one but two National Championships from a season ago.

It seems like a lifetime ago when this event was held before a less than packed house in 2013, even though the UConn women where coming off a title of their own the year before.

That night, Huskies women coach Geno Auriemma told the fans in attendance that it didn't matter what league they played in the Big East or the American Athletic Conference.

"We're UConn, we are in our own damn league," Auriemma said.

Fast forward a year and the song is a bit different after both team added a second Dual Championship to their walls. Considering no other team had every done it once, that's saying something.

A year ago, the men were coming off a year in which they won 20 games but could not play in the post season because of academic issues that rendered them ineligibly.

Men's coach Kevin Ollie had just finished his first year at the helm and was hoping for a season that would equal the one he had seen the year before.

Auriemma and the women had blown through the AAC and the rest of the country to a perfect 40-0 record and their ninth National Championship.

Bring things back to this year and before a capacity crowd that still had a great deal of the energy they exhibited a year ago, it was time to celebrate the past with a presentation from a member of each of the 13 National Titles the basketball program now owns.

Include perhaps the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history in one Ray Allen and you have yourself a rock concert.

Allen spoke to the crowd and as he saluted his home court, made sure to mention that he may or may not play another season in the NBA.

In the process, a new name emerged from both coaches as they proclaimed the University of Connecticut to be the "Basketball Capitol of the World"

At this junction, it's kind to hard for anybody else to lay claim to that title for certain.

Earlier in the day, the brand new, Werth Family Championship Basketball Practice Facility was unveiled for the first time.

Having seen the mega-complex on Thursday, I can tell you it is very impressive.

As for the game, an exhibition that features members of boy teams mixed together, Team Geno got by Team Kevin by a 38-37 score as fans got their first look at some of the new members of both teams.

It's a tremendous celebration that seems to grow more and more each year.

What will the get together look like in a year? Check back and who knows, perhaps more banners.

The open space on the walls of Gampel Pavilion is shrinking fast.

Time for another season of UConn basketball to get underway.   

For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here