In order to start the transition to basketball season, we’ll be counting down the days until the first game — in classic TheUConnBlog fashion (i.e. inconsistently) – and honoring our forefathers along the way. You can check out all of the entries here.
The penultimate entry in our countdown ought to be as obvious as the above video is awesome. Seriously, guy who made that video: you deserve to be a Husky of Honor.
As a sports fan, you go through all the crushing defeats, the endless "what-ifs," the players who were supposed to be great and never panned out, or the players who were great only to fail climbing the last rung of the ladder.
It comes with the territory of rooting for a good-to-great team, as UConn has been for 20-plus years now. And it's all worth it for those rare instances of pure bliss.
With two days to go until basketball season tips off, the number two can only signify UConn's banners. Beautiful, forever-flying championship banners.
Twin victories that can never be erased (unless John Calipari coaches your team), twin bludgeons to use against fans of lesser teams.
If you were living and dying with the Huskies all those years, from The Shot to the agonizing close calls, the final buzzers in 1999 and 2004 must have been a beautiful tonic. I myself am a self-admitted neophyte to this whole UConn thing, so I turn to where I always turn for perspective on UConn history: Hoop Tales. (It helps that one of the co-authors is also TheUConnBlog's #1 fan.)
An excerpt from that fine piece of literature, regarding the epic 1999 title win over Duke:
On many Connecticut walls there is a wide-angle deluxe photo from the Rob Arra collection taken at Tropicana Field. [Khalid] El-Amin stands at the foul line with 5.2 seconds showing on the overhead scoreboard; he holds the ball for his second shot after having made the first. That second shot was also made and the Husky lead became 77-74.
And then...joy. Followed by Jim Nantz's all-time clunker ("Just when people say you can't..."). Then, more joy:
The 2004 championship game was much more anticlimactic, mostly because the actual championship game had been played two nights earlier. UConn's comeback from eight down with 3:00 to go against Duke far overshadows the mauling of Georgia Tech.
The 1999 and 2004 championship teams aren't necessarily the two best UConn teams ever (1994, 1996, 2006 and, hell, even 2009 could make a case, too). But they're the teams UConn fans can never forget, because as long as there is a Gampel Pavilion, we'll look up and see "99" and "04" up in the rafters. (And as long as there's an XL Center, we'll look up and see those same banners behind other, much more irrelevant banners.)