During his remarks on the Capitol steps Sunday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy referred to “the basketball capital of America – Hartford, Conn.” It sounded a little odd, normally it would be “capital of the world” and possibly placing that distinction on Storrs.
Did the Gov know something? That Hartford would, next year, would be men’s basketball capital of the Amercian? The American Athletic Conference is passing up its option to play its men’s tournament in Memphis again, and is coming to the XL Center next March. Exciting news.
And though commissioner Mike Aresco has said he did not favor playing both in the same market, it appears he has had a change of heart on that. The women’s tournament is expected to stay put at Mohegan Sun, an announcement to come soon.
The official announcement of the men’s tournament relocation will be at 1:30 p.m. Monday. We will bring you the quote and details as they come.
Meantime, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the commentary for the UConn parade Sunday on FoxCT, thanks to a couple of great pros, Audrey Kuchen and Eric Clemens, who guided the rookie through two-plus hours on live TV. While I was in the studio, our intrepid Nick Greene and Matt and Colin McDonough were chasing down fans, coaches and players for interviews. Here are some of the quotes:
Shabazz Napier on SI cover:
“That’s so surreal. My stepfather had bought a couple magazines, and seeing it first glance, that’s so surreal. I can’t believe that.”
Ryan Boatright on the NBA:
“I’m just taking it all in right now, I’ll just enjoy the moment. I’ll probably start talking about my future tomorrow (Monday).”
On parade: “It was great, I’m glad I got a chance to be a part of that. It was just a wonderful experience. It really shows how much support and how much love they got for us.”
On DeAndre and Boat making decisions: “When they come to my office I’m going to be all ears, because they gave me so much. Even the guys that wasn’t playing, they were great teammates. So whatever it takes for them to be better, if that’s moving on or staying at the University of Connecticut.”
On winning at his alma mater: “It’s real sweet. Can’t be any better.”
On women’s and men’s team celebrating and being together and the UConn program: “The type of players, they type of student-athletes, they see us always together, getting along, Stefanie [Dolson] and Shabazz are always together. That just makes a special bond. I think everybody sees that and reacts off that and sees how we play. We play the game the right way. We play hard, we play tough, tenacious defense and we share the basketball. I think a lot of people like to see that type of play. And we’re always hungry for wins. When it’s down and out, especially with my team, a lot of people doubted us and our fans and our family stayed with us. These seniors are going to leave a big time legacy, being bookends. Starting their freshman year, winning a national championship and now going through the different things they went through and back again, it’s an exceptional job they did in their four years.”
Comparing 2011 parade as an assistant to 2014 as head coach: “That was my first parade , so I enjoyed that parade, but I enjoyed this one a lot too, because we could share it with the women’s team. Geno has done a masterful job winning his ninth championship. Just winning one I feel like I want more. So we’re going to keep working hard. It was just great to see all the fans and see everybody come out and fill the streets and I wanted to say thank you to them.”
On 2014 team’s resiliency: “I’d just seen them every time they had an up and every time they had a down they came back and they just worked hard. When we lost to Houston and SMU, the next day at practice when we flew back we just started working hard. They have something special in them. And not only this season, I’m not just talking about this season, I’m talking about last year, too. When everybody said we didn’t have to play for [anything] it was like the purest team ever, because they just played for the love of the game. They couldn’t go to the NCAA tournament, they couldn’t go to the Big East, but they kept playing, and that’s when I knew I had something special even way back then.”
In case you missed it, here’s a link to our UConn commemorative section content.