Behind The Lens: Reflecting on the men’s American tournament run

Senior Rodney Purvis is consoled by head coach Kevin Ollie during UConn's American Tournament loss to Cincinnati. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

“Would you have preferred to cover the women this year?” It was a fair question considering the circumstances. I was sitting with our associate sports editor and our associate managing editor in Wendy’s in East Hartford. The men’s basketball team had just lost to Cincinnati for the third and final time this season, ending any chance of a NCAA tournament appearance. It was the end of the men’s season and the end of any major sports coverage for me at UConn. My senior year has basically ended with an “L” and for some reason I’m fine with that.

For a kid who was born in Connecticut, I’ve been a follower of a UConn sports for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching UConn basketball games on TV and used to go to UConn football games at the Rent with my Boy Scout troop. My dad grew up playing field hockey, so our awesome field hockey team was always talked about in my house. In high school we used to watch UConn games on the smartboards in my chemistry teacher’s classroom.

None of that changed when I got to UConn. I joined the Goal Patrol and bought season tickets for football my freshman year. I went to as many basketball games as I could and even went to a few field hockey games with my dad. Watching both the men’s and women’s team win the national championship that year will be one of the highlights of my time at UConn. As it stands, I have only missed three men’s soccer games and maybe six women’s soccer games as either a fan or a member of the media. I have been as a fan to every single sport that UConn offers.

Joining the paper only added to my enthusiasm as a fan. Through the paper I have been granted every opportunity to cover something cool within the world of UConn sports ranging from a soccer game at Rutgers to a basketball game at Mohegan Sun.

Based on all of that, it would be pretty fair for our associate managing editor to ask me if I would’ve preferred to cover the women’s basketball team. After all, the women are one of, if not the best, team to ever play any sport ever, it would be any photographers or reporters honor to cover that team. Heading into March, I would’ve said yes to the question in a heartbeat. Covering that team, knowing that I would get to watch history unfold right there in person would be amazing, but after watching the men’s team play this weekend I can honestly say that I’m happy that I got to cover their attempted tournament run and I don’t regret that decision at all.

Everyone knows that the men’s team had a rough season. Plagued by injuries and teamwork issues, it took a long time for a cohesive team to come together, but come March we saw the UConn basketball team that everyone knows and loves; the team that played on that court showed more energy and more heart than any other men’s basketball team this season.

They went into that tournament knowing that there was almost no chance that they would make it onto the NCAA tournament and they fought on regardless. The young guns of the team, like Christian Vital, Vance Jackson and Jalen Adams showed how they earned their minutes. The seniors (Rodney Purvis, Amida Brimah, and Kentan Facey) showed exactly why they were the leaders this team needed. They may not have won but they showed that true champions are made in March and made me proud to call myself a Husky.

So no, I don’t wished that I had covered the women. It’s going to be sad that I can’t go cover a Final Four, but I’ll take the consolation of helping to design the championship jacket and reminiscing about us beating Syracuse. So for my sports swan song, I’ll leave you with two things that you should never forget. (1) UConn owns March and (2)  Did you know in 2014 the UConn Men’s and Women’s Basketball team won the Natio


Amar Batra is a senior staff photographer and opinion’s staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email amar.batra@uconn.edu. He tweets at @amar_batra19.