We have arrived!
The excitement began as our flight was coming to an end…and my face seemed to be glued to the window as we drew closer and closer to the Colorado Rockies. I had never seen anything like it. I was excited to drop off our many, many bags and explore the Mile High City. Not to mention, the weather could not be any better as we basked in the 70-plus-degree mountain air.
Check out this awesome time-lapse video from the streets of Denver today by Tim Lammers and Bob Hoover.
I also took the short walk to The Tavern, a stones throw away from Coors Field, which will be UConn central as it was chosen as the fan headquarters for the Women’s Final Four. I spoke with the manager about what this means for husky fans, check back tomorrow for a full blog post including photos and video.
After a very long day, myself and the FoxCT crew sat down for dinner at Denver’s oldest restaurant, the Buckhorn Exchange, since the rest of our weekend will be dictated by open practices, live shots and basketball games once we wake up tomorrow morning.
Now that I’m filled up on steak, buffalo sausage, mashed potatoes and two cokes, I am ready to rock and roll and bring you all the fan action and color of the city during the UConn Women’s road to a national title. Some upcoming events include open practice, a reunion with my friends the Blue Band in the Battle of the Bands, a mascot-face off and much more.
Are you or someone you know in Denver too? Leave a comment and let me know!
The magic number at the UConn game against Kansas State in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament was 4,372. Less than 5,000 people made their way to the Arena at Harbor yard for the game.
I asked a few fans, here’s what they had to say.
Economy seems to be a big part, with a ticket in the door costing you $41. However when it comes to UConn Women, many can see a blowout from a mile away so one fan also suggested bringing in “better teams” would improve the crowd. Let’s revisit the score from tonight’s game, 72-26 UConn.
I would like to mention that our mish mosh of a team scored one more point than that in our Big East Media Invitational!
But the bottom line is the fans of the game will always be there, and new ones are popping up every day. I spoke to a family from Ansonia whose two young girls were so excited to be at the arena instead of watching the game on television, faces painted and decked out in their blue and white.
When I asked them why they were there the answer was easy for them, because the UConn Women “rock.” And for their parents, they’re excited to be able to expose the girls to positive role models. Spoiler alert! These fans predict UConn takes the national title 100-0. Bring on the cute:
I’ll keep this short.
I could say it’s in honor of the UConn men’s run in the NCAA Tournament that was of a similar quality, but mainly it’s because the contents of this post pains you and me both.
The defending National Champion UConn men took the court against Iowa State as a nine seed Thursday night, and some of the true blue made their way to Damon’s Tavern in Hartford to catch all the action with fellow fans.
Fine, I use action loosely.
There was some clapping and cheering…a lot of swearing…and towards the end a glimmer of hope, but all in all it was a pretty gloomy night at Damon’s Tavern. The evening can be summed up by my favorite quote of the night, “I left my house for this s***?”
So whose bracket is shot already?
I was roaming outside Madison Square Garden prior to the UConn/Syracuse faceoff looking for a few UConn fans to interview about their trip.
Why I walked up to Fred Klorczyk first, I have absolutely no idea. But I’m glad I did.
The story I heard was both inspirational and heartbreaking:
Klorczyk was a Pitt grad decked out in UConn gear heading into the Garden with his family to commemorate the one year anniversary of the death of his son Christian, who was studying at UConn.
According to this New London Day article, the 21-year-old died while he was working on his car. He decided not to go to the tournament with his family and when they pulled up after the game on March 11, 2011, they found him under his BMW.
Despite their sad memories tied to the tournament, Fred’s spirits were high as he has been to many sporting events both college and professional, but this is the “best single event I’ve ever been to in my life” as he put it.
Thank you to the family for taking time to share this story with us.
I made some new friends during my Big East adventures Wednesday, and they make a lot of noise.
My neighbors for the game, the UConn Pep Band, shook the stands, started all the chants and kept the crowd dancing through the intense overtime Big East battle between UConn and West Virginia. My right ear and slight motion sickness will attest to it!
Their faces painted in blue and white, the energy was contagious from the moment I met up with them on 33rd street as the played for passers by. Some UConn fight song comin’ atchya!
The UConn Pep Band is an auditioned group of UConn students who cheer on the basketball teams at home games but also have some travel experiences of a lifetime during tournaments. I met up with the blue band, and they talked about the family-like quality of the group, how they fit in school work and their part in UConn athletics, as well as some favorite travel memories.
Running on what can only be described as very little sleep after covering the UConn Women’s winning run in the Big East Tournament, Wednesday morning I hit the road again and headed to Madison Square Garden to cover Calhoun and his crew looking for a similar outcome in the men’s championships.
I was planning on meeting up with the UConn Pep Band once I arrived (they get their own blog post very soon), and to my luck they were a little early so they set up shop on the streets of NYC for a few songs. I walked up just in time for the UConn Fight Song, talk about setting the tone for the day.
I attended the University of Connecticut in Storrs for four years and was a season ticket holder for the student section of the men’s basketball team. Tickets I earned by sleeping in a flooded tent in the pouring rain outside Gampel Pavilion in the ticket lottery fiasco of 2004.
So walking inside Madison Square Garden to cover a run in the Big East Tournament, this was awesome. I took my first seat ever on press row, right next to the UConn Pep band and student section, and waited for tip off.
I thought “I mean, there aren’t TOO many open seats, not bad for a Wednesday.” By the end of the game though, almost every chair was full and the place was loud, active and enthusiastic. When Boatright sunk that foul shot, the last of his four chances to solidify a UConn win in the final seconds, the crowd went crazy. One of my favorite moments was when West Virginia was shooting two foul shots facing their student section, but somehow three UConn fans ended up on that side, standing up clear as day taunting the shooter with no shame.
And let’s give credit where credit is due because, there may not have been many of them, but these students made it out to support their team and kept the spirit high through the whole game. Midterms, shmidterms.
Here’s a quick video of the crowd’s reaction to the win
A few things that I took away were:
-Kemba Walker’s mom supports the team even when her son isn’t playing, she was a few rows behind the UConn cheerleaders.
-Giant walking Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups look delicious
-Even Jeremy Lamb gets an itch on his shoulder that he just has to scratch even in the middle of a game
-You can’t miss a good pair a bright yellow sneakers
-Fans of men’s college basketball don’t work on Wednesdays?
-The team makes funny faces to each other sometimes, and it’s awesome every time.
-Jonathan the Husky can get down
I feel truly lucky to have been there, my first time inside the historic Garden, and it was to watch a UConn basketball game. Here are a few more photos I snapped throughout the game, hopefully I can help bring the experience to the rest of you.
But a charity basketball game? Count me in. Visions of foul shots danced in my head for weeks in anticipation!
The 9 a.m. face off was the inaugural game of its kind as part of the Women’s Big East Tournament at the XL Center with members of the local media playing against employees of the XL Center and Big East.
I should have known from the start that we were doomed as we few media team members wandered in sporadically and our opponents looked like a well-oiled machine that had been there for an hour during warm ups.
Reporter John Charlton, myself and Social Media Coordinator Patrick Parker were the three to suit up, errr shirt up, from The Courant and FoxCT.
Other media team members included Brad Drazen and Bob Connors from NBC and Mike McKenzie and DJ Buck from Hot 93.7 among others.
Long story short, we got our butts kicked but had a great time. My favorite memory was in the last two minutes, when our entire team of 11 took the court for the fun of it in a last-ditch effort to come out on top. Thank you to the refs for not blowing the whistle!
The XL Center and Big East may have won the basketball bobblehead trophies in the end of the two twenty-minute halves, but the real winner was what we were playing for, the Kay Yow Cancer Foundation.
Photo courtesy of the XL Center Facebook page.
Check out some of the action in the video, keep an eye out for my sweet bounce pass, gym class style.
The UConn women have one round behind, now it’s time for the UConn men to defend their 2011 Big East Tournament title.
The 2012 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off Tuesday, March 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York City with the Huskies playing at noon. The tournament runs through March 10 so if the men advance, trains, hotels and the Garden will be flooded with fans of the blue and white.
Step 1: Getting Access
Tickets to the tournament sold out quickly, so StubHub will be your best bet if you decide to make the short trip to cheer on the team, prices vary per session, check out the list.
Step 2: Getting There
The Metro North New Haven line runs virtually every hour if not more to Grand Central Station. Once there MSG is just a short subway or cab ride away. If it’s a nice day and you have those walking shoes on, it could be just a 20 minute walk.
If you live closer to Hartford and want to literally pull right up to the Garden, you can take an Amtrak train into Penn Station, although you will have a less variety in time options.
Step 3: Fuel
Whether before or after the game, don’t forget to indulge on some New York good eats. There are numerous places near the Garden if you plan on attending by session, Urbanspoon has a great list and map that you can study before you become a hungry husky.
Step 4: Go Huskies!
Walking up Trumbull Street in downtown Hartford as you head towards the XL Center, street lights represent each team in the Big East conference.
There’s no mistaking where you’re headed!
UConn had their chance in the quarterfinals of the Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament Sunday night, eventually beating Rutgers 49-34, and the XL Center was filled with hometown fans ready to cheer on the lady huskies.
But before tip off, the 2012 Fan Fest greeted revelers with the Hallway of Champions which held autographed balls from each Big East Team, the chance to take your picture with the Big East trophy, and more.
What is so intoxicating about the whole Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament fan experience is the sheer excitement some fans have to be there. Fans wearing fuzzy husky hats, championship sweaters and logo t-shirts flooded through the gates, but one group I spoke with brought to light something I never realized.
I met a basketball team of local sixth to eight grade girls who came as a group to watch some of their idols play ball, and their coaches saw it as a way to give them hope for their future.
Hear what they had to say about the experience in the video below.
The All American Red Heads took to the courts in 1936 traveling all across the country playing against all-male teams and won 75-85 percent of the time.
Not too shabby.
The pioneer team will have memorabilia on display until Saturday night at the XL Center during the Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament, they may even take some time to help you spin a ball on your finger like they did with FoxCT’s George Colli.
You can find all that in the video below, as well as how you can help them be inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame.
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