Ramblings from the desk of Mr. Gaff. Part One.
TORRINGTON: As a great deal of my fellow residents in T-Town go back to their homes tonight after a massive warehouse fire left a great deal of the South Side of town smell like so many burnt tires, I figured it’s high time to do a little review and preview about the comings and goings of LCS.
Update: Part One
UCONN BASKETBALL: What can I say that isn’t being regurgitated around the country on hundreds of outlets by many a talking head?
This is something fans of those two great teams in Storrs have gotten used to over the last 20-years. Yeah, I know, the men were banned last year which makes this season even more special but these have always been programs built to win in March.
For us, it has been a real treat becoming part of the fabric of the media folk that follow both teams.
We have traveled to Madison Square Garden four different times this year, stopped in to say hi at the Barclay Center and even paid a visit to Harbor Yard in Bridgeport.
Sure, we have walked the empty mall spaces of the XL Center and traveled up to a getting older by the minute Gampel Pavilion more times than we can count.
Patrick Tiscia (men) and Rick Wilson (women) have done a great job giving you their perspective on what they saw and felt.
When we signed on to take in UConn as part of what we do here, it was not to compete with any of the daily papers or web-sites. It was to bring our unique brand of story-telling to our fan base.
We earned our stripes with UConn by doing the work last fall with the 3-9 football team. We showed up for the weekly press conferences, braved the long nights and not so hot action on the gridiron but did our work.
This spring, I am attending the practices sessions I can and am getting a feel for what new head Coach Bob Diaco is trying to instill in a program and fan base begging to find a winning formula.
The UConn women have been a pleasure to watch, regardless of the 50-point outcome that they are always on the positive side of.
These are some of the future leaders of some company out there that will be lucky to have them.
Watching them dive for loose balls up 40 reminds you of why they are good and why their greatest opponents may just be Geno and his staff.
Keeping superstars athletes (like 5 All-American) on the same page and with one overall goal of being the best reminds you what a great program should look like.
Stefanie Dolson and her constant joy at playing a game she loves with teammates she loves as well has been an easy highlight.
So has the graceful athleticism of Breana Stewart or the pure determination of Bria Hartley or a cutting, slashing move to the basket by Moriah Jefferson.
Watching the trials and triumphs of Kaleena Mosquada-Lewis, including that blood curdling scream when she went down on her arm against Stanford in Storrs.
Wondering if there is ever a chance somebody else might grab a rebound when Kiah Stokes entered the game and engulfed them all.
The only drawback we saw all year were the large numbers of empty seats at some of the women’s games.
I know, it’s been that way for a good long time but this was my first time experiencing it. It was the most disappointing during the team’s second round game in the NCAA Tournament in Storrs against St Joseph’s in a game they won by a 91-52 score.
It was however, the last home game for both Dolson and Hartley, thought a few more than 5000 could have shown up.
Their party at Mohegan Sun which resulted in the AAC Title was a blast to witness, they too seemed to really soak it up.
On the men’s side, it certainly has been a magnificent run and a prime example of how a team can start firing on all cylinders at just the right time.
When we first saw Coach Kevin Ollie, he told both Pat and I that he hoped his team would take us on a long ride, boy was he right.
Shabazz Napier has cemented his name in UConn lore with his season of heroics that nobody would be shocked ended with another National Championship.
The energy we felt at places like The Garden or the Barclay’s (that ‘road’ game against Maryland) was something to behold, pure joy.
Pat having to get out of the way in a big hurry when Napier drained the three-pointer against Florida was easily a great highlight for his season on the beat.
Ollie is starting to mold his program in his image, love the seed stories and climbing that ladder one step at a time.
Watching the development of Amida Brimah and how he became an instant rock-star with the home crowds with his shot blocking prowess was something. When he learns more and stays out of foul trouble, he could be a real good one.
Going to North Texas would have been nice, was nice to be invited and maybe this balking knee will be good enough next year if the Huskies go back to the Final Four.
Look for part two of this look back on Friday as we take a look at the high school winter and spring scene that also included a pretty special trip to The Sun.