Greatest Uconn Exhibition Game Of All-time | The Boneyard

Greatest Uconn Exhibition Game Of All-time

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Waquoit

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Most point to the 1988 NIT Championship as the beginning of the UConn era. A team that was 6-point underdogs for their opening round game jumped up and won the title from Sweaty Gary and tOSU. But the next year was a bitter disappointment, a possible NCAA bid lost for good in the ugliest game I’ve ever been to in the ugly PCC filled with ugly PC fans.

I submit that the true beginning of the UConn basketball renaissance came in 1989 when the Huskies played a pre-season game in the HCC against the Russian National Team. I haven't been able to find an account of the game in my very brief search, which is a shame. That's the one UConn game I would like to see again. The Russians had only lost to UNLV (that UNLV, the team that ended up winning the whole thing) on their American Tour. Most games were blow-outs and here they are playing a UConn team that had just lost Cliff Robinson to the NBA. I’m just hoping they don’t get killed and here I am watching a tremendous end-to-end barnburner of a game. I’m thinking that the Russians are just keeping it close for the sake of glasnost as the Berlin Wall had just recently fell. But that wasn’t the case, UConn ends up winning by 6 or so. After the game, the Russian coach said that UConn was the best team they played during the entire tour. Everyone left knowing that we just might be on to something here, or was it just a mirage? History has shown that it was no mirage, the “dream season” had begun.
 
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Awesome job. I remember that comment from the Russian coach. Gotta be something about that game in either Calhoun's Dare to Dream or the book about that team?
 
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That was the very first UCONN game I went to after getting season tickets. Before that, I had only been to a few games here and there. I took my dad to the game. He had escaped the Soviets in Lithuania after WWII and so it was fun to see the "big bad Soviets" go down....Turned out to be a great one. I have the 1990 book called "The Dream Season - the Road to the Elite 8". It's got game by game reviews. Lot's on this game. Awesome stuff.
 
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November 13, 1989. Ah, yes, I remember it well. It was just the start of things, although a 101-78 thrashing of Marathon Oil on Nov 1 had offered some hope of a better season than 88-89 on the horizon.

There is a good account of that game, including the box score, in the book UConn's Dream Season by George Ferencz and David Tosatti. UConn led 49-47 at the half and won it 97-87. Russians actually had lost a pair of 5-point games to UNLV and LSU.

That was the night JC unveiled the uptempo pressing style that the Dream team would use throughout the season. 10 players played double figure minutes, with only Chris Smith playing more than 22 minutes. The pressure resulted in 5 steals and 13 Soviet TOs, not overwhelming numbers, but the defensive pressure bothered the Russians.
Coach Vladas Garastas said that " the UConn team is just as good as the two other teams we've played" and "this team's defense is much better than the team of two games ago(UNLV)"

Smith led UConn with 28 points on 9-18 shooting, 2-6 threes, and 8-9 FTs. Rod Sellers added 20 on 8-11 shooting and Scott Burrell had 13. Nadav Henefeld had a quiet 4 points and 3 boards in 21 minutes.
The Huskies destroyed the Soviets off the boards 56-38 with a team effort - 7 players with 5 or more led by Sellers and Burrell with 8 each. D
UConn shot 45% to to 37% for the Soviets.
 

Waquoit

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That Marathon game was important because you could tell then that Henefeld was a player. Contrast that with Emeka's 1st game where he looked totally lost. The guy did have a steep learning curve, though.
 
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The USSR coach was actually a Lithuanian. After his country regained it's independence, he would go on to coach the Lithuanian national team to Olympic bronze medals in '92 and '96. He's currently the head of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, a position he will hand off to Arvydas Sabonis next year.
 
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Yeah that was Nadav's first game. i remember going home and calling a friend and saying I think I just saw Larry Bird play for UCONN.
Thus the steel curtain defense hit the court for the first time.
 
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That Marathon game was important because you could tell then that Henefeld was a player. Contrast that with Emeka's 1st game where he looked totally lost. The guy did have a steep learning curve, though.

How in the hell do you remember this stuff so well and vividly? I have forgotten half of last year's games already.

I need your vitamins or meds!
 
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The thing about that team is, despite the exhibition season, it started the year really slowly. Part of that I think was attributable to Nadav not having gotten to CT early due to either military or national team service. I am hard pressed to see how anyone could have seen that season coming until the week in January where we beat Syracuse, Georgetown and St. Johns in succession.
 

Waquoit

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The thing about that team is, despite the exhibition season, it started the year really slowly. Part of that I think was attributable to Nadav not having gotten to CT early due to either military or national team service. I am hard pressed to see how anyone could have seen that season coming until the week in January where we beat Syracuse, Georgetown and St. Johns in succession.

True, remember when the team was "booed off the court" against Nova early on? But once that press told hold we could beat anyone. I still say we could have given UNLV a run for their money. A cocky team like that, not used to working hard would have had a tough time with the press.
 
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True, remember when the team was "booed off the court" against Nova early on? But once that press told hold we could beat anyone. I still say we could have given UNLV a run for their money. A cocky team like that, not used to working hard would have had a tough time with the press.

You will never convince me that we couldn't have won that game. I thought that, defensively, we matched up with them well. Augmon wasn't used to being guarded by anyone near him in athletic ability, and Burrell was. And, while LJ was dominant, and would have been stronger and quicker than Nadav, Nadav was, physically and more so mentally, one tough SOB.
 
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You will never convince me that we couldn't have won that game. I thought that, defensively, we matched up with them well. Augmon wasn't used to being guarded by anyone near him in athletic ability, and Burrell was. And, while LJ was dominant, and would have been stronger and quicker than Nadav, Nadav was, physically and more so mentally, one tough SOB.

Im sorry but i have a hard time believing uconn wins that game. that unlv team was deep and by the time the final four rolled around they were running on all cylinders. that being said i think if hurley doesnt get sick duke doesnt get blown out which leads me to believe a healthy uconn team couldve played unlv tough for forty minutes but i believe unlv pulls away late.
 
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True, remember when the team was "booed off the court" against Nova early on? But once that press told hold we could beat anyone. I still say we could have given UNLV a run for their money. A cocky team like that, not used to working hard would have had a tough time with the press.
Don't know why I remember ths but I think Tex Spradling bricked a layup right before the half. Then the boos rained down at the HCC.
 
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Don't know why I remember ths but I think Tex Spradling bricked a layup right before the half. Then the boos rained down at the HCC.

Wrong memory my friend, Tex Spradling did not play on the 1989/90 team. But you are right, the team did get booed off the court in their BE opener in Hartford that season. It was pretty ugly. Then they got blown out at SJU and things looked prety bad.
 
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Wow, I vividly remember the Nova boo-ing game including debating whether college fans should or should not boo their team with Tim Brando (he strongly said on-air and afterwards that college fans should never boo their own players) at the Russian Lady after the game. But I never would have guessed that game occured in 1990. Can we go back to Brando and claim that are boo-ing contributed to the team getting its together? ;)
 
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Wrong memory my friend, Tex Spradling did not play on the 1989/90 team. But you are right, the team did get booed off the court in their BE opener in Hartford that season. It was pretty ugly. Then they got blown out at SJU and things looked prety bad.[/quote



You're right Spradling played before 1989/90 what was I thinking.
But I do remember that Johnnies game being right after New Years in 1990. They played it at Alumni Hall on campus @t John's.
 

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While I have no doubt that (if we made it that far) we would have given UNLV a far tougher game than Duke did, I'm not sure we had enough offense to win that game. I also don't know if we could have matched up against Arkansas (who Duke beat in the national semifinal). If we did pull out the OT game against Duke (and if anyone has the tape, watch what k does when Tate was in the process of intercepting Hurley's pass), I'm not sure we make it to the title game.
 
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