December marks not only the end of 2019, but the end of the decade. The 2010s have seen a number of remarkable UConn sporting accomplishments: Two men’s basketball national championships, five women’s basketball national championships and three field hockey national titles on top of a multitude of players reaching for and succeeding at the professional level across the board. The DC Sports Staff picks its favorite moments from a title-packed decade.
Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less about UConn sports until I got here. For the big dual championship in 2014, I was mostly disinterested and honestly, somewhat rooting against UConn. No, my favorite moment from this decade has to be from August 2017 onward. What could that be, you ask? Well, the one moment that sticks out to me the most is UConn men’s basketball’s dramatic win over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden last year. ‘Cuse was ranked (somehow, because they sucked), and UConn came into the game as the clear underdogs. But what we saw during the game was anything but that, and it got me excited about the new era of basketball under Dan Hurley. It was just a fun game, and we can ignore what happened the next day.
“Stepback, Walker, CARDIAC KEMBA!” I was but a young boy when this happened in 2011, but if you ask anybody who knows me, they’d tell you this is the moment that I’d pick. I was in eighth grade at the time, but even as a wee lad, I loved UConn basketball. My middle school math teacher (shout out Ms. Robbins) was also a huge UConn basketball fan. Since many of UConn’s Big East Tournament games were played in the middle of a weekday, she would wheel in one of those big box-shaped TVs (I’m really dating myself in this roundtable) so we could watch UConn play. Here’s the situation: Big East Quarterfinal game against Pittsburgh, score tied at 74, winner goes on to play Syracuse in the semifinals. UConn inbounded under Pittsburgh’s basket with the shot clock turned off. Everybody in Madison Square Garden (and Preston Plains Middle School) knew Walker was going to hold it for the final shot. He had Brad Wanamaker (his current NBA teammate) screened off of him to get a mismatch with Pitt’s center. With four seconds left, he crossed over and faked the drive, and his defender bit HARD. Kemba stopped on a dime, the defender went to the ground with broken ankles, Walker stepped back and stuck the shot. You would’ve thought this classroom of 20 or so 13-year-olds was The Garden the way we reacted. That was the moment everyone realized that this team was magical. They went from unranked to start the season to National Champions by the end of it. That 11-game run through the conference and NCAA tournament will likely be my favorite sports memory for the rest of my life.
For me, the top moment of the decade was the four-overtime win against Cincinnati in the 2016 conference tournament. The game is, of course, highlighted by Jalen Adams’s miraculous full court shot to tie the game at the end of the third overtime, but it was so much more than that. It was a classic back-and-forth, March Madness battle. This game specifically stands out to me because I just happened to put it on after school for no reason other than the game was close. I was a junior in high school at the time, and UConn wasn’t even on my radar for college yet. I saw the game was knotted up toward the end of regulation, and I tuned in. I was treated to one of the greatest basketball games I had ever seen, and I started following UConn basketball a little more after that. That game really opened my eyes to UConn basketball and may have led me to start exploring UConn as a possible school. So shoutout Jalen Adams because without his heroics, I may not be writing this right now.
Associate Sports Editor
I think what makes UConn sports so special is how many athletes get the opportunity to play at the professional level. George Springer, a stud outfielder as a Husky and the program’s all-time home run hitter, cemented UConn as one of the nation’s top programs with his 2017 World Series performance. He drove in seven runs on 11 hits and five home runs, one in each of the last four games of the series. Springer set a record for most consecutive dingers in the World Series when he clubbed on in Game 1 in 2019, but the Astros didn’t win the series like they did in ‘17. Behind a .379/.471/1.000 slash line in the 2017 series win over the Dodgers, Springer was named World Series MVP, and the whole country knew what UConn baseball was all about.