Can UConn regain past glory with its return to Big East? 🏀

UCONN coming back the the Big East

Can UCONN regain it's glory in the Big East?

The UConn Huskies officially re-joined the Big East yesterday after exactly seven years out of the conference. It’s something we knew was coming after a vote approved the reunion in the summer of 2019 (a number of other conference changes went into effect yesterday as well) but now Connecticut is officially back in business and looking to recapture old glory.
Not long ago, UConn’s men’s team was considered a consistent national college basketball powerhouse. They’ve faded in relevance over their their last seven years in the American Athletic Conference. In that time, their conference record was barely above .500, they only made the NCAA tournament twice (though they won the national title in 2014, their first year in the AAC) and had just three players drafted into the NBA.
Not to mention they’ve also faced NCAA sanctions due to poor oversight, seen declining ticket sales and have been embroiled in an ugly legal battle with former coach Kevin Ollie, who was fired in 2018 due to multiple violations within the program. It’s been ugly.
But now that UConn is back home in the Big East, is redemption imminent? Our college basketball guy Matt Norlander examined the outlook for the Huskies and believes that the brand power of the Big East will help them return to better days.
  • Norlander: “I fight against the notion that UConn became truly irrelevant in the past four or five years. It wasn’t a top-30 program, but it’s still UConn and it still carries cache. If it was trending toward irrelevance, those concerns have ebbed. Fruits of the reunion have already blossomed for [coach Dan Hurley]. For example, UConn recruits nationally but has been able to find something of a return to form in targeting the mid-Atlantic. And instead of trying to make a case for an eclectic and quality basketball league with the American, the Big East mostly sells itself.”
  • Head coach Dan Hurley: “[Recruits] see now we’re in, we get the benefit of that brand name recognition, because obviously kids from the areas we’re at our strongest in recruiting, they know exactly what the Big East is. In a lot of cases they’ve always wanted to play in the Big East or dreamed of playing in the Big East and, just for us, it’s it’s a part of our recruiting pitch to prospects that, in the past we’ve had to make a case for or talk around.”
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It never really felt right for UConn to be out of the Big East to begin with, so order has been (very, very slightly) restored to the world with their return. Every once in a while I’ll go back and watch Kemba Walker execute his absolutely ruthless stepback buzzer-beater against Pitt in the 2010 Big East tourney just to feel alive

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