Here at TheUConnBlog, being fair to other teams' fans is job one. We strive to be a 100 percent accurate chronicler of all things Syracuse, and to help us out, we solicited the help of notable Syracuse bloggers. In the grand tradition of Syracuse Hate Half-Week, we now bring you an Orange rebuttal from Brian Harrison of Orange:44. Last year at this time, he wrote about being petrified of Jim Calhoun. This year, he speaks of his past experiences with UConn fans in exceptional detail. Take it away, Brian:
Here we are again. A little older and I'm sure most of us are a little wiser. My last submission to this notebook was a tawdry tale of Jim Calhoun and his poor outlook on life. It seems some of that has sadly caught up to the man. I wish him well and a speedy recovery. However, the simple fact remains that UConn fans, much like their head coach, have mostly poor relations with fellow Big East basketball fans. This is especially true for a rival. It is especially true for Syracuse.
Why this is, I don't know. I would like to think that for the most part Syracuse fans have a happy-go-lucky attitude. I'd like to think that is especially the case when travel is involved. Sports are supposed to be fun, and some good natured ribbing is a part of that fun. Connecticut fans seem to miss the "good natured" part of my last statement. At least the ones that were and are in New York City. Every time I have been there, even when nothing is going on, and I am spotted with SU gear on, some UConn fan has to say something to me. I guess I have that "talk to me about my sports team and be sure to harass me without due cause, because clearly you're more important than me and I'm not really doing much while waiting for the subway" look on my face.
Sure I was harassed mildly at Gampel last season. You expect that on campus at a hostile venue. I wouldn't have it any other way. You know damn well if you enter the Carrier Dome and walk right by the student section you'll get some boos if you are wearing the opposing teams jersey. And that's part of what makes college sports great, and in my opinion superior, to the pros. And in that hostile territory I'm not a moron so I can give it back. That's the fun of it.
Much like a rivalry game, if one team is far superior than another, there is a little bit of fun missing. [Ed.: I see what you did there.] But UConn fans don't respect the boundary of the game. The arena is one thing. On the street outside the arena is another. Pretty much any other place is a completely different story.
What I now unfold for you is a trilogy of incidents in the city that never sleeps, each progressively worse, but all distinctly UConn in the city.
The first started late on a Saturday as I tried to make my way from Manhattan to Brooklyn, literally trying to catch the last train so I didn't have to hail a cab or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. So there I am standing in a subway platform waiting for the train, when I look down and see just two other guys. I assume, much like me, they were out enjoying the city and such. I look back and am just waiting when all of a sudden I hear "U C O O N N UCONN UCONN UCONN!"
I look back and this guy has the biggest shit eating grin I've ever seen a drunk guy in a subway platform have. Somehow from 50 yards away, and a three second glance, he saw the orange block S on my hat and decided to let me know that he was a Connecticut fan at some early morning hour. A delightful way to end an evening, especially since I was minding my own business.
And that was just a random night in town. During the Big East Tournament is even worse.
The Hotel Pennsylvania, right across the street from MSG, is usually the hotel of choice for athletic departments to house their cheerleaders, dance team members, and pep band players. This was the case when I was in school, and is still the case. And in walking the halls of that hotel during that magical week in March you encounter fans from most, if not all, of the Big East schools.
As I walked with a friend to another friend's room we end up passing two Connecticut fans, who I assume were students. We were more than content to just stroll on by, passing them in the narrow and drab hallway of the hotel when, without prompting or instigation, proclaimed "we're gonna fucking destroy you." This was not in a "la de dah, let's have fun with the rival fans" way either. This was a "I'm a future serial killer and if I had my way you would be hanging in my basement from hooks right now" kind of way. I was so shocked I just stood there with my mouth open wide and my hands up. They walked on and I was stunned. Another classy encounter with fans of Connecticut.
But then there is the most shocking fan experience I've had with Connecticut. For this story we need some context. This was the Big East Tournament in 2006. Syracuse entered as the #9 seed that year. Syracuse was set to face the #8 team Cincinnati. They played a game in which Syracuse was trailing with just over six seconds left. Gerry McNamara drove down the court, splits two defenders, and nailed a three point runner to put Syracuse up by one with less than two seconds left. They hold on to face #1 seed Connecticut.
As the #9 seed facing the #1 seed with the first round bye the game was slated for a nooner. Therefore, after an enjoyable evening out in the city the night before, we needed to arise and grab anything to soak up the alcohol to make it to wait in line to pick up our tickets. We went to a nearby McDonald's with the thought that it was quick and cheap, and should be hassle free. As I and two other compatriots in orange sat, a small, elderly woman managed to shuffle up to one of my friends without any of us noticing.
All of a sudden this tiny, innocent voice proclaims "I don't think you're team's going to win today" in the meanest tone I've ever heard uttered from an elderly lady. Upon immediate glance you knew she hadn't purchased a new piece of UConn apparel since 1991. She had a hat with the old Jonathan logo without the red tongue. You know the one. Clearly this woman could recite the entire starting starting lineup from the 1995 UConn ladies team, but wouldn't have known Marcus Williams if he broke into her place and took something electronic. We'll say a laptop for this narrative's sake.
What possessed her to get tickets to this team's Big East Tournament one can only guess, but it was probably just because she thought she should go because she has more money than she knows what to do with and the team was the #1 seed. Similar to the last fan encounter we were stunned that this woman would even care to harass us, let alone actually going through with it. It's as if this woman had a compulsion to ruin our morning, or at the very least our meal. My friend Brian, who is known to be more fired up than most about these sorts of things, came about as close to hitting a woman I've ever seen [Ed.: Guess you never hung around Devendorf. Hey, you made a Marcus Williams reference.]. We all took a breath, swallowed the urge to choke this woman, smiled awkwardly, and ate on.
Of course I'm guessing you know how that game ended. Connecticut has embraced the "get off the bus, play the game, get on the bus, go home" mentality ever since then. Syracuse won in overtime and went on to win that Tournament as the lowest seed to ever do such a thing, and the first team to win four games in four days. They were also the first team to win an overtime game and win the next day as well. Mostly thanks to an overrated guard named Gerry McNamara.
But the point of all this is simple: Connecticut fans love to ruin any Syracuse fan's happiness for no reason. They can't help themselves. They have to interject and feel that wearing something orange gives them the right to do so. It doesn't, but they think it does. And it would be another thing if I or my friends were actively trying to harass or annoy, but we weren't. We were just living our lives and someone thought it would be fun to steal some joy from us in that moment. Because that is what Connecticut fans not working for The UConn Blog do. And that is especially true in New York. Which is funny, because they haven't won in New York since 2005. But that doesn't stop them from running their mouth. They can't help it.
So the next time you Syracuse fans get harassed from a Connecticut fan just walk on because we have the better team, the better coach, and can actually win in New York City. Which is even funnier because Connecticut is closer. And to all you UConn fans out there, you stay classy. Because karma, especially in New York City, definitely comes back around.
Thank you to Brian for your excellent tales, although I'm not sure if I'm comfortable spreading lies like "Syracuse has the better coach." Because children might be reading this, and we shouldn't lie to children.
Still, excellent work, and even though UConn will probably get thrashed tomorrow night, we look forward to returning the favor in the Carrier Dome next football season.