The still-undefeated UConn Huskies are on the road tonight to take on the Memphis Tigers, beginning an eight-game stretch where only a trip to a Massachusetts Chipotle could possibly beat them.
UConn completes a three-game road trip tonight which started with a big win over Houston followed by a relatively close win over a feisty USF team. The Huskies will be back at home on Saturday at Gampel Pavilion to take on Temple, which will be their first time playing on campus since December 5 against Notre Dame.
Memphis was picked seventh in the American Preseason Coaches' Poll and currently holds a 9-7 record under eighth-year head coach Melissa McFerin. The Tigers are 3-2 in conference play so far with losses to Temple and Tulsa.
This game, like many conference games for UConn, is not likely to be very close at all. But, if you are looking for some entertainment afterwards, SNY will be showing a documentary on the 1995 UConn women's basketball team which won the first title under Geno Auriemma and launched this tremendous dynasty.
I had a chance to attend a media showing of the documentary last week before the Tulsa game. First off, it is extremely well done. The filmmakers spoke with Geno Auriemma and his top assistant Chirs Dailey, who has been with him from the beginning, along with most of the players from that team, including Jen Rizzotti, Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters, Jamelle Elliot, and Nykesha Sales. They also had Robin Roberts and a few other interesting names from around the world of sports.
Geno, unsurprisingly, served up the most entertaining sound bites with his trademark direct, yet incisive, style.
For all the crazy alarms we sounded when Bob Diaco talked about winning a national championship this past offseason, it was probably much more insane to hear that Geno believed the same for his team, after all, he started his tenure at the 1985 version of UConn. He was not shy about describing the state of affairs back then. Luckily, the opening of Gampel Pavilion and his unique charm paved the way for the successful recruitment of Rebecca Lobo in 1991.
Lobo was a very special player, not just because of her abilities on the court but also because she was so readily able to handle the increased publicity which she brought to UConn and stayed with her throughout four years in Storrs. That Huskies team helped put not just UConn Women's Basketball, but the University of Connecticut and women's basketball as a whole, on the map.
Back then, there was no way of knowing that the 1995 team would launch one of the most dominant dynasties in organized sports. This documentary offers a chance to re-live that season, and the journey to that title, with the added perspective of UConn winning an astounding nine more championships after 20 years. UConn Women's Basketball is now a worldwide gold standard for excellence, which is remarkable considering its oh-so-humble beginnings.
There are many laughs but there is plenty of emotion and spirit as well in this story. Jen Rizzotti, now the head coach at the University of Hartford, is a fierce competitor. You saw it on the court in 1995 and you see and feel it again when she describes those events 20 years later. Seeing the way any players and coaches talk about it, you can tell there is something very special about that season and the way that team came together.
Also, the hair, the outfits, the ties, my goodness. That stuff is always one of the best parts of strolling down memory lane. Enjoy.
Tonight on SNY:
6 p.m. - UConn 2015: Walking (all over your opponent) in Memphis
8-ish p.m. - UCONN '95: Birth of a Dynasty