Posts Tagged ‘big east’

A Perfect Storm…Of UCONN Greatness

// December 6th, 2011 // 7 Comments » // Uncategorized

So the second challenge in Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East competition is upon us. “Pick five or more things you have to do when you return to your Alma Mater (places to see, best bars, best food, cool places on campus, etc.”  Before I say another word, I need to set the record right out of the gate: UConn’s Ballard Institute of Museum and Puppetry will NOT be making my list of must see things when returning to campus because it smells like kindergarten and I’m pretty sure the puppets come alive at night.

c.r.e.e.p.y.

c.r.e.e.p.y.

Deep breath. Now we can continue.

The beautiful people over at Volvo are being more than generous by putting together an alma-mater weekend visit where I get to return to UConn and enjoy the things we all love about college. Upon my February arrival in tropical Storrs, Connecticut, I’ll be staying at the Nathan Hale Inn, checking out a UConn basketball game and will DEFINITELY hit up a lot of places I haven’t been to since graduating in 2008.

nathan

Now let me set the scene for what I consider to be the best 24-hour return trip back on campus.

1.  I’ll roll onto the scene driving a Volvo S60 while BUMPIN’ Rihanna’s “We Found Love” (Yeah, did I mention Volvo’s also hooking me up with a ride for the weekend trip?). The windows will be down regardless of temperature and I’m going to give a lot of “what’s up bro?” head nods throughout campus. It’s what I do. Before even checking into the hotel, I’m stopping at Ted’s Restaurant & Bar for a buffalo chicken grinder and a pitcher of their Big Blue Drink. Not sure what’s in it, but I know it’s delicious and good for you. Ted’s is literally smaller than most Citgo Convenience Stores but has all the character a college bar could ask for. Good food, good people, and I can’t think of a time where I left unsatisfied. They have great specials ($1 pitchers when you order a large pizza, seriously?!) and what’s best is alums from all ages still go before sports games. It’s got a neighborhood feel to it, which is my kind of place. Love it all.

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Isn't she lovely?

Isn't she lovely?

2. After a quick nappy back in the hotel, I’ll be in the mood for some zerts. That’s when I’ll mosey on over to the UConn Dairy Bar for a two scoop sundae. Husky Tracks, Mint Chocolate Chip, whipped cream, hot fudge, and shots. I’ll do the same routine I always do. Where I’ll know exactly what I’m getting way before hand but still take a moment and pretend to be mulling over such a large variety of options to make it appear as though I’m not a regular or anything. The UConn Dairy Bar is a staple on campus and no matter when you go, there’s a line. The DB makes their ice cream from Cows raised in the barn right on campus. Some find it gross, I find it to add character, not to mention very fresh. I can honestly say it’s the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Yes it’s that good and yes it’s better than all other Big East ice cream spots. Taste test, anytime, anywhere.

dairy-bar

3. Then to burn off some of the thousands of calories I would’ve consumed at this point, I’ll probably try to sneak inside the Greer Fieldhouse for some intramural action. I LOVED intramural sports at UConn. I refereed. I kept score. I played. I watched. I was all about it. UConn has a great Recreational Sports program for its students on campus. It’s always competitive and makes for some great memories. What makes the field house extra special to me as a die-hard UConn fan, is how the little old Greer Fieldhouse used to be called home for UConn basketball. It shows how far both the Men’s and Women’s programs have come in just a few decades. My dad, also an alum, still talks about buying a ticket for $1 and seeing UConn get trounced on by the likes of Holy Cross and Yale. It made playing a co-ed soccer game on a Tuesday night have all the more meaning and really lets you appreciate how lucky we are to have such elite basketball programs.

greer

4. Jonathan, the Husky Dog Statue. Right next to Greer Fieldhouse stands this guy. Jonathan the Husky is probably the #1 picture parents crave after their son or daughter graduates from UConn. The line takes forever but it’s beyond worth the wait. Some people attempt to jump on for a ride, some kiss his checks and some just stand with a smile. As a true Husky fan, I can’t walk by without a quick pat on Johnny boy’s head.

huskyjohn

5. Time to get some swag at the UConn Co-Op, Husky Shop. This is the best place to go for all UConn apparel. They have everything UConn here. Sweatshirts, game jerseys, hats, umbrellas, oven mitts (what’s up mom?), golf tees, tailgating gear, etc. Whenever I’m back on campus, stopping at the Co-Op is a must and usually I can’t leave without spending at least $50 on something. I’ve also been known to complete my Christmas shopping here. (alum discount!)

uconn-co-op_3

GAME TIME-Jim Calhoun yells, folds his arms, and then stares at his bench coaches for answers. Jeremy Lamb scores 26, Huskies slaughter their competition, I continue my visit.

he's happy, I swear.

he's happy, I swear.

6. Student Union for dinner. Commonly known as “The Union” or just “The U,” UConn’s state of the art Student Union Center is awesome. There are meeting rooms, chill rooms, a movie theater, a game center, a restaurant, and a food court filled with people all night and day. My favorite part however, is getting a Burrito in the Mexican food line. They PACK these burritos to the max and it leaves you stuffed for hours. I’ve heard a terrible rumor they’ve gotten stingy with the amount they put in the burritos, therefore all the more reason for a visit so I can see for myself. For their sake, I hope the rumor is false or things might get REAL.

buritto

7. Memorial Stadium. UConn’s old football stadium. It’s basically the size of most Texas High School stadiums and like the Greer Fieldhouse, Memorial Stadium represents how far UConn’s football program has come in just 10 years. I’ve been known to jog the stairs for an early morning workout here (okay ilike 3 times ever but still) and spend hours kicking 34 yard field goals just in case coach calls me for a tryout. Your move Paul Pasqualoni.

memstadium

8. Huskies. Probably the most popular bar on campus. Infamously known for its “Thursday Night Nickel Night,” Huskies is where it’s at if you’re looking to get after it. Nickel drinks before 9pm, then the DJ comes in and people just get weird. Cell phones in toilets, girls crying over sorority drama, bros in packs grinding up EVERYWHERE, screaming bartenders, the buffest of bouncers and people packed in like sardines. God, I miss this place.

huskiesbar

9. After Huskies has last call and you can avoid a drink being thrown on you or a fight leaving the parking lot, a lot of people would get pizza on their walk home. Since it’s on the way back to my hotel, I’m getting a Buffer Zone at DP Dough. It truly is the best/worst late night Calzone anyone can ask for. The buffer zone is stuffed with buffalo chicken chunks, blue cheese, onions, among other unhealthy items. Oh and they deliver. Oh and it’s only $5. It’s fantastic and horrible all at the same time.

dpdough

10- I’ll likely wake up in a bath robe 10 lbs heavier. Time to warm up the Volvo S60 and head back home. Phil Collins “One More Night” will be on repeat the entire ride back just because I feel sorry for myself. Single tear streaming down my face as I leave the best University in all the Big East. Notre Dame doesn’t count. What is this partially committed business? GO HUSKIES!

Vote for Chris in his quest to be crowned Volvo’s “Biggest Fan of the Big East!” He needs our support. Vote here.

Big East Dream Team

// November 22nd, 2011 // 7 Comments » // Uncategorized

You can’t really talk college basketball without thinking of the Big East conference. Though it’s changed it’s make-up from time to time, several characteristics remain the same. The conference has a rich history for smash mouth basketball, intense rivalries, dominant players, legendary coaches, and oh yeah, who can forget those 5 days in early March where all 16 teams battle it out at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” in the heart of New York City? I was recently asked who I thought made the All Big East Dream Team. Natural instinct was spouting off 10 players from my alma mater (see Huskies, UConn) but knew that would be completely one sided, so I put down my UConn kool-aid and got my think on. I tried to keep the bigger picture in mind and diversify my picks when choosing a squad of dream-team worthy players. Wasn’t too sure on how to break it down. Maybe by position? The era they played in? National popularity? Biggest ladies man? (Mike Nardi would’ve come in dead last) Well after hemming and hawing for days, I decided the best way to approach this was to break it down by who meant the most to their program then and now. The following 5 players make my All Big East Dream Team and here’s why:


1. Patrick “Chewing” Ewing, Georgetown.

For me, there’s no debate Ewing is one of the best college ball players of all time. He was the first real star the Big East had ever seen. The NBA Hall of Famer remains the most popular Big East alum almost 30 years later. He was a dominate presence on the court and lived up to all his hype. Oh yeah, and he led the Hoyas to 3 NCAA Final appearances. No brainer here folks.



2. Allen Iverson, Georgetown.

Dude only played 2 years in the league so some might gaff that I have him ranked so high, but look what he did in just two seasons at Georgetown. A.I. finished with 1,539 total points and would likely have shattered the Big East scoring record if he stayed all four years before declaring for the NBA draft after his sophomore year. In 1995 Iverson was Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year. He repeated his Defensive Player of the Year honors in 96′ along while being named a First Team Consensus All-American. Some off the court issues tarnished his legacy in the NBA, but no one can argue how truly dominant he was in his freshman and sophomore years in the Big East. Let’s not forget how SICK those Iverson sneakers were either.


3. Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Connecticut.

When you ask UConn fans who their favorite Husky is of all time, most would say Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor or Kemba Walker. For me, Rip Hamilton takes the crown as best Husky of all time. Standing 6′7 and probably 170 lbs soaking wet, Rip was a prolific scoring threat and to this day fans undervalue how significant he was to the school and UConn’s program. Although there were some key figures before and after his time, Rip simply gets the nod here by leading UConn to their first ever National Championship in 1999 and REALLY put the Huskies on the map. Did I mention they beat the almighty DUKE BLUE DEVILS who were heavily favored that year?  UConn wouldn’t be where they’re at today without this guy, and for that I am forever grateful.

4. Chris “Look at that hair” Mullin, St. John’s.

Mullin could be ranked on the haircut alone and I don’t think we’d have any argument there. He was of the best pure shooters in college basketball history and definitely a pioneer in making the Big East what it is today. He had three straight years where he was named “Conference Player of the Year,” and was 87.8% from the free throw line. He also had 57.7%  shooting percentage from the field. What makes that even more impressive? All of Mullin’s numbers were put together BEFORE the college game installed the three-point line. Can you imagine how many more points he could’ve had? Scary good. Truly legendary.


5. Kerry Kittles, Villanova.

Aside from having one of the best college basketball names of all time, Kittles is currently Villa-no-fun’s all time leader in steals and scoring which says a lot for such a storied program.  He finished his career ranked 2nd in made field goals, compiled 2,243 total points and his 715 rebounds are the most boards by a guard in Big East history. He was named Player of the Year in 1995 and was a First Team Consensus All American in 96′. Kittles kind of fizzled out in the NBA due to injuries early on, but he will be remembered as one of the most dominant players in Big East history on both sides of the ball. (That’s what she said)


image.png6th/7th Man Award: Kemba “Pittsburgh Center Gary McGhee Will Never Recover After That Crossover Dribble and Buzzer Beater Shot I Hit In His Face To Advance In The Big East Tournament” Walker and Carmelo Anthony are neck and neck here. I decided to put these two guys in the same boat since they remind me a lot of each other. Not their physical attributes nor their their timeline of success. But the similarity they share is how they each had one magical year where nothing could go wrong and it eventually led to a National Championship trophy for their school. (It should be noted during Carmelo’s championship season in with Syracuse in 2003, UConn beat them twice, just side information if you’re keeping score at home). Both got hot at the right time and were completely dominant when it mattered most, tournament time.

Need more proof? Check this out.

Dreamiest Coach: Jay Wright, Villanova.

Half the reason fans that go to Wildcat’s games in Philly are for a peak at George Clooney, I mean, Jay Wright. He’s got the three T’s: Tall, tan and toned. And that’s not all you get with a former Naismith Coach of the Year. Coach Wright has been known to partake in flash mobs on campus.

He’s the man.

——Chris the Intern

Chris is participating Volvo’s Biggest Fan of The Big East Contest. You can support Chris, who has been eating Ramen noodles every day despite graduating from college years ago, by voting HERE.  He needs your help!!!!! Help keep Chris the Intern off the streets and vote HERE

Non. Compliance. Alleging. A#*H@#*S.

// February 23rd, 2011 // 8 Comments » // Uncategorized

ncaa_i_calhoun_3002

As someone who grew up playing, watching, living and breathing basketball, Jim Calhoun has been a part of my life for almost 20 years. Calhoun recruited Reggie Lewis, my favorite Celtic as a kid, to Northeastern before taking the head coaching job in Storrs.

He has been the coach at UCONN since I was 4 years old. In that time he took the program from a Big East bottom feeder to a perennial power house. Ever since recruiting Bridgeport’s Chris Smith, Calhoun has attracted blue chip prospects by the handful. After Smith, who led UCONN to the Big East Championship and a Sweet 16 birth against Duke in his sophomore season, there was Donyell Marshall, Clifford Robinson, Ray Allen, RIP Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Caron Butler, Rudy Gay, and Emeka Okafor.

Clearly Calhoun has some serious game when it comes to recruiting.

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The NCAA has suspended Calhoun for the first 3 Big East games of 2011-2012 for “failing to create an atmosphere of compliance.”

Failing to create an atmosphere of compliance? Sounds like something one of the Borgs would have said to the crew of the Enterprise, or something that would have been used to justify the burning of a beloved book.

I have no idea what an atmosphere of compliance is, and frankly I don’t care. Calhoun has admitted that mistakes were made in the recruiting process, but insisted that he is not, nor has he ever been a cheater. I not only believe him, I blame the NCAA.

The rules should be designed to protect our athletes, promote fair play, and ensure the integrity of college sports.

They should not be designed to ensnare quality coaches who have devoted their entire lives to teaching a game that they love.

The NCAA has made a habit out of stealing headlines with their investigations. This past fall, Cam Newton got burned at their stake for the sins of his father, and it nearly derailed his career. It is time for the NCAA to learn its place.

We don’t watch sports to hear about sanctions, probations, and atmospheres that lack compliance.

We watch sports because we love what they bring into our lives; the competition, the excitement, the athletic ability that has left most of us years ago, if it was ever present at all. The NCAA is taking the fun out of sports. The NCAA is gradually turning college sports into a police state, where each day gives us a new court case to consider.

Maybe he made some mistakes, but Jim Calhoun is no cheater.

Shame on the NCAA for dragging his name through the mud in the interest of something so ridiculously obscure as an atmosphere of compliance.

Congratulations To UConn DE Lindsey Witten

// December 31st, 2009 // 5 Comments » // Uncategorized

wittenA big congratulations are in order for Lindsey Witten, defensive end for UConn.  Not only is he a totally stand up guy, but he has also been invited to participate in the NFL Combine.  For those of you who don’t know, he was the best rush end in the Big East this year, and arguably the country.  But, beyond that, Witten is the kind of player who demonstrates a maturity beyond his years on and off the field.  Couldn’t be happier for this guy.

Wake Up! And Get Your Tickets To Birmingham

// December 7th, 2009 // 8 Comments » // Uncategorized

I couldn’t be more excited for UConn taking on South Carolina in the 2009 Papa John’s Bowl.  There are a number of reasons behind this.

1)  Who is more deserving of a bowl game than UConn?

2) The Judge (my dad) called me this morning and told me to ‘pack my shit, we’re going to Dixie’  (well, not those exact words)

3.  Last season, while I was still enjoying my playing days, we played at Louisville’s Papa John’s Stadium and at half time the Papa John’s daughters were there.   The  “Papa John’s Twins” as I have come to call them.  As I noted back then, and I’ll repeat now, “Better ingredients, better offspring”  Much to the lament of my girlfriend, I think there is something in tomato sauce.  Come to the game, you’ll see.

This Past Weekend In College Football

// September 28th, 2009 // 1 Comment » // Uncategorized

tim-tebow-injury

Well it’s the second episode of my new feature. If you missed last week’s installment, check it out here. For those of you unfamiliar with it, this is where I break down what we’ve learned about college football from the previous weekend’s games. Let us begin.

If this past weekend in college football has taught us anything …

It’s that after Tim Tebow went down, “concussion” replaced “early-bird special” as the most googled term in the state of Florida.

It’s that the Big East has rallied back from preseason obscurity. I doubt you’ll read about it anywhere but here, but they were 5-2 this weekend. Cincinnati cracked the top 10, South Florida took down Florida State, UConn embarrassed Rhode Island, and even Syracuse got in on the winning (hooray, Greg Paulus!).

It’s that, despite popular belief, getting only 17 yards rushing will not win you games in the ACC. Yes, I’m talking about you, University of North Carolina.

Some Call It Weak, I Call It Wide Open

// August 28th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Uncategorized

WVUThe criticisms surrounding the Big East have been plenty, and the debate rages whether the eight-team football conference deserves an automatic bid to a BCS bowl.

This season is no different, especially since there is neither a clear favorite to win the conference title nor a single team in the top 25.

Here are three reasons why you should still be excited about the Big East.

READ THE REST HERE