The year 2018 began with UConn men’s hockey and it will end with UConn men’s hockey — literally. The Ice Bus played the first game of the new year on Jan. 2, a 3-0 loss to Quinnpiac, and it will play the final game of the year against Yale on New Year’s Eve. It’s fitting, considering the program biggest successes came this year with their best season ever.
But this year in review isn’t focused on the results that happened in games — that’s for the end of the athletic year in June. Instead, we’re looking back at some of the biggest news stories of the year.
Here are the biggest news stories out of UConn in 2018:
- The new year brought a new coach for the women’s soccer program as longtime assistant Margaret Rodriguez was named head coach after Len Tsantiris retired.
- While one team gained a new coach, another lost a pair. The football team lost two coaches, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and offensive line coach J.B. Grimes. The funny part? Both the coaches were Southerners, and both left during the first two snowstorms of 2018.
- Bad news struck when it was reported the NCAA was investigating the already-struggling men’s basketball program, partially over potential recruiting violations.
- Chris Dailey, UConn women’s basketball’s associate head coach, was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
- UConn was represented in the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, as former track star Phylicia George won a bronze medal for Team Canada in bobsled.
- The UConn women’s basketball team put together another dominant season, reaching a record 11th-straight Final Four before losing on a heartbreaking buzzer-beater for the second year in a row, this time to Notre Dame.
- The Kevin Ollie era came to a sad end when the coach was fired for “just cause”, starting a long, ugly legal dispute between Ollie and the school over the remaining $10 million on the contract.
- After a long few days of #HurleyWatch, UConn finally nabbed Dan Hurley from URI as their new men’s basketball coach. Things are off to a pretty good start.
- The football team also played their final spring game (for the time being) in 2018 because the spring schedule is being moved up by a month. To replace the game, the program will have a fan appreciation event on April 6 on campus.
- There were a lot of administrative changes at UConn in 2018. President Susan Herbst announced she will step down in 2019 at the conclusion at the school year. In the athletic department, COO Beth Goetz, AD David Benedict’s No. 2, left to become the athletic director at Ball State. Adrianne Swinney was hired in Goetz’s place.
- After moving from WTIC to ESPN Hartford, UConn football and men’s basketball got a new play-by-play announcer. Mike Crispino replaced Joe D’Ambrosio, the longtime voice of the Huskies.
- The greatest rivalry in women’s basketball made its return in 2018 (sort of). UConn and Tennessee announced they would play a home-and-home series beginning in 2019 at UConn to benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Ray Allen became the second Husky to be inducted in Springfield, joining Rebecca Lobo. UConn announced both players would have their numbers retired in March 2019.
- Following UConn men’s hockey’s historic season, the school finally announced long-awaited plans for an on-campus hockey rink next to the existing Freitas Ice Forum. People are.....not thrilled about the plans.
- After a long court battle, a judge ruled in favor of UConn football and the Edsall’s, allowing Corey Edsall to stay on his father’s staff.
- Jim Calhoun returned to the sideline, this time with the Division III Saint Joseph’s Blue Jays, an upstart program in West Hartford. It should come as no surprise that his staff has plenty of UConn connections.
- UConn soccer said goodbye to their long-time home, Morrone Stadium, which was torn down at the conclusion of their respective seasons. The new stadium, along with new parks for baseball and softball, is expected to be completed in 2020.
- After the worst season in the program’s history and one of the worst in college football history, UConn football fired defensive coordinator Billy Crocker along with three other staff members.
UConn in the Pros
It was an incredible year for former UConn stars in the pros. Plenty of players joined the pro ranks, a handful made their debut at the highest level and a lot kicked ass and took names.
- UConn men’s hockey had two players leave early as Maxim Letunov signed with the San Jose Sharks while Joe Masonius joined the AHL.
- The women’s basketball team had three players drafted in the top 10 of the WNBA Draft.
- Foley Fatukasi was picked by the New York Jets in the 6th round of the NFL Draft while Trey Rutherford was selected No. 2 overall in the CFL Draft.
- UConn baseball had three players selected in the MLB Draft, with pitcher Tim Cate going the highest in the second round to the Washington Nationals.
- John Andreoli became the sixth player from UConn baseball’s 2010 squad to reach the major leagues, making his big league debut with the Seattle Mariners.
- Cyle Larin moved to European giant Besiktas in Turkey from Orlando City SC.
- After being out of the league for five years, Emeka Okafor made his triumphant return to the NBA and turned a 10-day contract into a deal that lasted through the end of the season.
- Rodney Purvis also got his first 10-day contract in the NBA and worked it into an extension for the remainder of the season with the Orlando Magic.
- But while a few former Huskies got back into the game, another left it. Caron Butler announced his retirement, ending a 16-year career that included two All-Star appearances.
- Huskies made All-Star games in four different sports. Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond made it in the NBA, George Springer earned a nod for the American League side of Major League Baseball’s showcase while Byron Jones and Anthony Sherman became the first former UConn football players to earn Pro Bowl honors. And, of course, there were five former Huskies to make it to the WNBA All-Star Game.
- UConn continued dominating the WNBA, both on and off the court. Sue Bird became the Seattle Storm’s all-time leading scorer while Diana Taurasi became the WNBA’s all-time field goals leader.
- Bird also became one of the latest women to get a job in the NBA when she joined the Denver Nuggets front office.
- Then there’s Breanna Stewart. She won basically every single award there is to win under the sun: WNBA MVP, WNBA Title, Finals MVP, FIBA World Champion, FIBA World Cup MVP, etc. The list really goes on and on.
- On top of that, Stewart and Bird also appeared in ESPN: The Body Issue, championing their respective causes in doing so.
- For the second time in as many years, a UConn baseball alum became immortalized as a World Series champion. Matt Barnes helped the Boston Red Sox win the Fall Classic over the Los Angeles Dodgers and earned the win in Game 1 of the series. He is just the seventh former Husky to win a “Big 4” US championship.
- In the new NBA season, Kemba Walker became one of the elite players in the NBA.