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UConn "First Night" a big hit

POSTED October 19, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

STORRS: There will be plenty of time to break down just how the UConn women plan on defending their eighth National Championship or how the men look to get themselves back into the post-season conversation.

For one night though, as it has been the better part of a decade, these one belonged to the fans.

The Huskies “First Night” festivities ran long and loud on Friday night. From three different bands to Justin Timberlake ticket giveaways to a pretty entertaining 20-minute game, this evening had it all.

Students lined up early and often, some said kids started camping out at 6 a.m. Friday so they could be one of the first to get in and get either a “Team Geno” or “Team Kevin” tee shirt.

When the doors opened at 6 p.m., the swarms made their way in and packed the joint, much to the pleasure of the women’s coach.

“In the 10-years we have been doing this,”Auriemma said, “I think this is the best turnout we ever had.”

This year’s get together came with a twist.

The two coaches teams would be made up of players from both team for the first time.

So there was Ryan Boatright lined up across from Stefanie Dolson or Shabazz Napier giving high fives to Breanna Stewart before the opening tip.

Napier and Boatright got the loudest ovations when introduced in front of the packed house, Dolson showed off some nifty dance moves at center court when she was brought out.

Both head coaches spoke to the crowd.

Ollie, who is entering his second year at the helm, got the crowd going by first reminding them how much he missed them and second by asking them to pack the place every night.

“I consider our fans part of our family,” Ollie said. “I am so glad to be back with you.”

Ollie and the men look to repeat the success they had a year ago when they posted a 20-10 record but could not play in the post-season because of off the court doings.

The women did what Auriemma and the team have done seven other times before 2012-2103; bring home the hardware.

Auriemma had the line of the night and maybe of the season when he spoke with the crowd concerning the newly formed American Athletic Conference which has taken their share of criticism in their first year.

“When you leave here tonight,” Auriemma said. “And somebody asks you what league we play in, I want you to tell them that we play in a league of our own goddamn it, we’re UConn.”

With the struggles the football team has had in getting into the win column this fall, this was a fan base that is just itching to have something to yell about.

For one night, they did.

PS=Team Geno came back to beat Team Kevin by a 51-49 mark after trailing by a 29-13 score at the half.

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