The NBA lockout doesn't seem like it will be ending anytime soon, and while that may be bad news for the bank accounts of the many UConn alums in the league, it might be very, very good news for fans of the current Huskies. Why? Because with no league to play in, UConn's most famous alumni will have a lot more time on their hands -- time they could spend back in Storrs.
Already this week Rudy Gay, Ray Allen and Donny Marshall have made appearances at Gampel Pavilion to hang out with -- and play against -- the current crop of Huskies. The NBA players get a chance to workout against some solid competition and the Huskies get a chance to learn from their forebearers. Jim Calhoun may be the best possible teacher for these guys, but I'm not going to complain if Roscoe Smith gets a few lessons on the side from Gay, or if someone like Emeka Okafor stops by to help Alex Oriakhi and Andre Drummond work on their footwork.
These benefits aren't theoretical, either. It's not uncommon for former players to stop by in September (especially Allen, who lives in Connecticut), but once the season starts those visit tend to dry up. The one exception? The 1998-99 lockout, which shut down the NBA until February and resulted in UConn alums visiting the team at Gampel through much of the winter. I can't find any links to back this up now -- but in the wake of the 1999 championship that extra practice time with NBA alums got a lot of credit.
Of course, UConn isn't the only school that has the opportunity to draw on an alumni pool like this -- Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky can all do the same -- but there aren't many schools that can do it at UConn's level, and it can only help the Huskies.