Basketball: UConn opens new season with 2016 First Night

Amida Brimah (#35) gets airborne for a two-handed dunk while Daniel Hamilton (#5), Breanna Stewart (#30), Rodney Purvis (#44) and others look on during last year's First Night at Gampel Pavilion. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

The UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams will break ground on their 2016-17 seasons Friday night with the annual First Night celebration at Gampel Pavilion. The yearly event features the official introductions of the two teams, along with various skill contests, other on-court entertainment and a headlining scrimmage match.

Gampel Pavilion will open relatively early Friday, as the UConn volleyball team plays host to UCF at 4 p.m. in a conference match. Promotions and other on-court entertainment will begin at 7 p.m., and First Night officially begins at 7:30 p.m.

Following a 2015-16 highlight video and player introductions, First Night will pit players against each other in a Shooting Stars competition and a skills challenge, while the men’s team will compete in a dunk contest.  

The night’s headlining event will be the Blue vs. White scrimmage, which in the past has split both the men’s and women’s teams in half for one large game featuring both teams on the court at once. Men’s coach Kevin Ollie and women’s coach Geno Auriemma coached the two squads.

This year, Ollie and Auriemma will again be coaching, but instead they will each oversee separate men’s and women’s teams. There will be a men’s scrimmage and women’s scrimmage. Ollie will coach the White team while Auriemma will coach the Blue team.

In the men’s game, Ollie will be coaching Alterique Gilbert, Amida Brimah, Rodney Purvis, Mamadou Diarra, Juwan Durham, Vance Jackson and Mike Noyes. Auriemma will be coaching Jalen Adams, Steve Enoch, Terry Larrier, Kentan Facey, Christian Vital and Christian Foxen.

In the women’s game, Ollie will be coaching Azura Stevens, Kyla Irwin, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Molly Bent and Tierney Lawlor. Auriemma will coach Natalie Butler, Batouly Camara, Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Crystal Dangerfield and Saniya Chong.

The scrimmage will consist of four 5-minute segments, with two each for both the men’s and the women’s team.

First Night will officially begin Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion. The doors open at 3 p.m.

Tyler Keating is associate sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering football and men’s basketball. He can be reached via email at He tweets @tylerskeating.