There were several ups and downs for UConn Athletics in 2017, and there are sure to be more of the same in 2018. The DC Sports staff gives its takes on what UConn Athletics should resolve to do better in 2018 in this week’s edition of the Roundtable.
Zachary Lane, Campus Correspondent
Can my New Year’s resolution be to steal Kemba back from the Hornets? No? Alright, well then in that case my resolution would be to fire Kevin Ollie. Our men’s basketball team is bad, plain and simple. Our best player, Jalen Adams, is pretty good on offense but his lack of defense makes him a wash. Our next best player, Terry Larrier, may actually think he’s Demar Derozan with some of the wild mid-range pull-ups he takes. But, these two guys are actually pretty good, and could be even better in an offense that doesn’t rely on passing the ball around the perimeter for 30 seconds and then hoisting a contested three at the shot clock buzzer. Ollie isn’t doing his players any favors. He looked like a good coach when he had good players, as most coaches with good players do. The real test is when you have to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, and Ollie isn’t doing that. Time to pull the plug.
Matt Severino, Campus Correspondent
UConn Athletics cannot panic in 2018. Yes, the men’s basketball team has been nothing short of a disaster for the past few years. With that being said, the university is in no place to fire head coach Kevin Ollie. The state of Connecticut was threatening to cut funding back in the fall, so to pull the plug on Ollie, pay him the millions of dollars that he would be owed and then go out and find a new coach and pay them too doesn’t make any sense. He is no Calhoun. Not even close. But some of the issues with the team have been out of his control. The off-the-court distractions, injuries and transfers haven’t helped. The best thing the program can do is bring in an assistant coach that could revamp the offense and make it semi-possible to watch the team on the offensive end of the court.
Story Salit, Campus Correspondent
UConn Athletics’ resolution in 2018 could be to ramp up efforts to leave the American. Ever since the old Big East fell apart and the Huskies left for the American, UConn Athletics, especially men’s basketball and football, have taken a general turn for the worse. The move to the American can’t be the only thing to blame for UConn’s athletic struggles, considering other programs in the conference have had success at the national level (UCF football bowl win, Cincinnati and Wichita State being highly ranked in men’s basketball for several years). However, it has seriously weakened UConn’s recruiting power and limited its teams exposure to the highest levels of competition. A push to move back to the Big East, which has restored its reputation as a top conference (at least in men’s basketball), or to the Big 12 or ACC, if they consider expanding, could bring new hope to UConn athletics.
Matt Barresi, Staff Writer
If you ask mega-donor Peter Werth, it would be starting a men’s lacrosse program. And I don’t hate that resolution because men’s lacrosse is entertaining. However, as a student, my biased resolution would be to play more games on campus. At least start the process. I get why they have to go to Hartford. It’s the capital and more accessible to more people. But attendance is dwindling. For football, for basketball and for hockey. Football and hockey cannot relocate currently. But it really, really hurts student support. These are the students who you are supposed to be cultivating for life. Last year, men’s basketball played Auburn at the XL Center, where I anticipate next year’s Arizona game will be. The women’s team played Notre Dame there this year. These are games that should be played in a packed Gampel Pavilion, with a raucous atmosphere. The Villanova game this weekend would probably draw people camping out for seats, something that hasn’t happened in a while. Bringing these games bring a rowdiness and memory for students (and all fans) that will last a lifetime. There should be a conscious effort to play games in Storrs. Right now, it seems to be the other way around.
Luke Swanson, Campus Correspondent
My New Year’s Resolution for UConn is a little different than the previous ones, but just as important. A major goal for the UConn athletic department should be to increase attendance at baseball games in 2017. UConn baseball is primed to have a huge season, returning three legitimate MLB prospects in ace pitcher Tim Cate, junior catcher Zac Susi and sophomore shortstop Anthony Prado. The Huskies were picked to finish second in the conference in the AAC coaches poll and have as good of a shot as anyone to make the NCAA tournament this year, but the buzz around campus is nearly non-existent. UConn finished second to last in the conference in baseball attendance last year, averaging just over 500 people in the stands. A large part of that can be attributed to the lack of night games, but 14 out of 22 home games this year fall on a weekend series, and the school just doesn’t do enough to promote them. Day baseball games are one of my favorite sporting events to go to, and more UConn students would make the short walk down to J.O. Christian Field if the school promoted it better.