The teams are set for UConn’s First Night this Friday, after an online vote let fans to choose the two teams for the scrimmage. This season marks the return of the kickoff event after roof renovations at Gampel Pavilion forced a one-year hiatus.
The core teams were already locked in with Alterique Gilbert, Christian Vital, Tarin Smith, Sid Wilson, Kwintin Williams, Eric Cobb and Lexi Gordon playing for Dan Hurley’s Blue Team. Geno Auriemma will coach the White Team with Brendan and Jalen Adams, Isaiah Whaley, Tyler Polley, Kassoum Yawke, Mamadou Diarra and Josh Carlton.
The vote was essentially to decide whether Mikayla Coombs, Christyn Williams, Batouly Camara, Napheesa Collier and Olivia Nelson-Ododa would end up playing for Hurley or Auriemma. They ended up with Hurley after a 55-45 split in the Twitter poll, leaving Crystal Dangerfield, Molly Bent, Megan Walker, Kyla Irwin and Katie Lou Samuelson on Auriemma’s squad.
I love the guard matchups in this game. Gilbert and Vital vs. the Adams should make for a great show. On the women’s side, Williams vs. Dangerfield should be a great showdown, as well.
But let’s be honest, First Night is about having fun and there’s nothing that more fun than the dunk contest. Dan Hurley inherited Kwintin Williams, who promises to be the most electric dunker on the court. Williams will be joined by the freshman Nelson-Ododa, who could steal the show with a dunk of her own.
While the year-off may have been the result of renovations, it feels like the return will be a fitting rebirth for the Hurley-led men’s team. Plus, Ayo & Teo are set to perform a pre-show concert which should set the tone for a fun evening.
We’re a month away from the start of the season! Get excited!