Men's Basketball: Rivalry renewed, former coach wins award

UConn guard Jalen Adams (2) dribbles past a UCF defender during the Huskies 64-49 victory over the Knights on Jan. 8, 2016 at the XL Center in Hartford. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

In what might be the ultimate throwback Thursday moment, UConn and Villanova will start a home & home with the Huskies hosting the first game of the series in the 2017-18 season, with the return game at ‘Nova in 2018-19. In that last meeting of the two teams, UConn eliminated the Wildcats in the 2014 March Madness round of 32 game, behind Shabazz Napier hitting three deep threes to sink Wildcat hearts.

The two teams share a deep history as both were foes in the old Big East, as the Wildcats hold an all-time series record of 33-31, and are the current reigning National Champions. The series dates back to 1941 and the two teams became Big East rivals 40 years later in 1981.

This season, the Wildcats are having the better season as they are an impressive 17-1 and are ranked no. 1 in AP top 25 poll, as they feature Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson. All three players are averaging over 13 points per game and the team as a whole is averaging 79 points per game.

After starting the season in the AP top 25, UConn has been very inconsistent this season as they are 7-10 overall and 2-3 in the AAC conference. Leading the team in scoring this year for the Huskies is sophomore Jalen Adams with 15.6 points. UConn as a whole has averaged 65.8 points per game.

UConn, since joining the AAC, has made a concerted effort to bolster their out of conference schedule as they have matchups with Arizona and Syracuse and three games in the 16-team field in the Nike event in Portland, Ore.

Also in UConn news was the announcement of Donald E. (Dee) Rowe, former head coach at the University of Connecticut being selected by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to receive the 2017 John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award. This award was created in 1973 and is considered the highest and most prestigious award presented by the Hall of Fame outside of Enshrinement.

During his time as the head coach at UConn, Coach Rowe was named the New England Coach of the Year twice, led UConn to a pair of NIT berths and guided the 1975-76 UConn team to the ECAC New England Championship, a berth in the NCAA Tournament and a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. Along with his coaching credentials, he was a key member of two UConn search committees in the mid-1980s that brought Hall of Fame head coaches Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun to the University of Connecticut.

Joining Coach Rowe in receiving the award is Michael Goldberg, a long-time Executive Director of the National Basketball Coaches Association. The award was named after hall of Famer John W. Bunn, the first chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame Committee who served from 1949-64. The award honors former coaches, players and members of the basketball community who have helped positively shape and impact basketball on the high school, collegiate, international or professional level.

Rowe and Goldberg will be joining a list of basketball legends as former recipients of this award include John Wooden, Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy and Pat Summitt.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu