HBO special bounces back as NCAA tournament is underway

Freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield drives to the basket during the Huskies 94-64 victory over the Syracuse Orange on Monday, March 20, 2017. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

Another week, another episode of the “HBO Special: UConn a March to Madness” this week’s episode detailed the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. After a disappointing Spring Break episode, the show bounced back in a riveting 28 minute fourth episode.

The episode opened with legend Rebecca Lobo reflecting back at her time at UConn and at the start of the UConn dynasty. She summed up March Madness perfectly by saying “only one team will win six more games, that’s what March is all about.” Both games were touched upon in greater detail than previous games. For example,  as fans were shown pre-game speeches from both head coach Geno Auriemma and Albany head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee.

The differences between the speeches could not have more apparent as Auriemma preached consistency and how they play every game as if it were an NCAA game, while Bernabei-McNamee told her team to play as though they were champions and to relish the moment. She also told them not to worry about the score, but considering they lost by 61 points and let UConn score a program record 116 points, they probably should have.

Along with the game footage, there were also in-depth interviews with UConn radio personality Bob Joyce and assistant head coach Shea Ralph. Both interviews were interesting in their own right: you learn about the difficulty in calling 30 and 40 point blowouts and what Ralph’s favorite part about scouting other teams is.

One of the current themes of the HBO special, besides basketball, is cooking, as every episode has food and the ability to cook as a vital theme. In this episode, the Huskies went to a cooking lesson during the snowstorm at the end of Spring Break and took part in the first ever Top Chef challenge, judged by Cathy and Geno Auriemma. Without spoiling the winner, the team cooked garlic herb roasted beef tenderloin and Geno pulled an Oscar moment and faked the results before telling them who won the contest.

Only one team will win six more games, that’s what March is all about.
— Rebecca Lobo

Also during the snow storm, the viewers found out the player’s held their own practice session when the coaches could not come to Gampel. The players, led by sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson, broke the all-time scoring record in one of Geno’s practice drills. It was interesting to see how intensely the players took practice without their coaches compared to the mood during the next practice held by Geno.

Overall, this episode was an arm and a leg above the past two episodes as there was a bigger focus on basketball and the hanging cloud that is March Madness. The fifth episode will premiere on March 29 at 10 p.m. and it will highlight the Sweet Sixteen and possible Elite Eight matchup the Huskies will partake in the Bridgeport Region starting on March 25 at 2 p.m. against UCLA.


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.