Earlier in my career, when I would do anniversary stories, it felt like I was writing about the dawn of time. For the first time, I’ve written a 25th aanniversary piece about a sporting event I covered. … So that makes me officially an old sportswriter now.
… But, all kidding aside, I absolutely loved working on this story about UConn’s NIT championship in 1988, talking to some of the old players – Phil Gamble tells a compelling story – and, of course, revisiting it with Jim Calhoun. Back then, I was 26 and the sports editor of the Milford Citizen, a very small afternoon daily. My job was to come in at 5 a.m. and edit the paper, so any writing I did was on my own time. I covered the VCU game at the old Fieldhouse, and the two games in New York and basically went in to put out the paper without sleep.
After the Ohio State game, I hitched a ride home from New York with the late, great Tom McCormack of the New Haven Register, a mentor to me, a colorful character, and we joked and laughed all the way back. … Great, great night.
Here are some pics we found in our files. The photo most often seen is Phil Gamble and the late Jeff King sitting atop t he backboard. In our lead photo, snapped by Stephen Dunn, who still takes great photos for The Courant, it looks as though King is helping another player up there. That must be the late Robert Ursery. Gamble says he has a photo of all three of them up there.
Finally, we have a poll: Where does this event rank in UConn history? Vote here.
Anyway, I know many of you have great memories of that NIT run, so by all means, post them at the end of this post. We’d all love to read them. That was the team that started it all, wasn’t it?
And a shoutout to Matthew Edwards, who posted this video on YouTube.
Made one of my occasional visits to the campus this morning. Few other tidbits I can pass along on the current Huskies. …
Khadeen Carrington, a high-scoring guard from Bishop Loughlin in New York, Class of 2014, was on campus today for an unofficial visit. UConn has worked hard on Carrington – he was at the Louisville and Villanova games this year.
It’s fair to say there is some mutual interest between UConn and Aaron Cosby, the guard to is transferring from Seton Hall. But it is still very preliminary at this point – look for more on that about the middle of April. The old Big East had rules prohibiting transferring within the conference, but as best as I can determine, there would nothing to block a player from the new Big East, the so-called Catholic 7, from transferring to UConn, in the “conference-to-be-named-later.” The leagues part company in July. Cosby scored 25 points against UConn on Feb. 10, a game UConn won. He can shoot, ball-handling might be a question mark. Bottom line, though, this is still a long way from happening.
I was asked this week about automatic qualifiers. An official with, let’s call it “UConn’s conference,” assured me that the league will retain its NCAA automatic bids in all sports. Though it is giving up the Big East name, it is still the “established” league, while the new league to be called the Big East is the “new” conference and may need to apply to the NCAA for its automatic qualifiers. This, though, would be a formality. At the end of the day, both leagues will have all the usual AQs.