Thursday, December 25, 2014

Connecticut Loves a Parade

(Guru's note: This is the Associated Press coverage of Connecticut victory parade Sunday in Hartford celebrating the Huskies' unbeaten season and sixth NCAA women's basketball title.)

Connecticut Loves a Parade

(Guru's note: This is the Associated Press coverage of Connecticut victory parade Sunday in Hartford celebrating the Huskies' unbeaten season and sixth NCAA women's basketball title.)



By PAT EATON-ROBB
ASSOCIATED PRESS
HARTFORD, Conn. —
Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma told the fans
who turned out at Sunday’s parade for his national champion Huskies
not to expect another 39-0 season next year.

“The only reason I say that is because if we play every game and
win ’em, I think we can go 40-0,” he said to thunderous applause.

A crowd estimated by police at 25,000 lined downtown streets on a
sunny afternoon to celebrate the programs’ sixth national championship
and third perfect season in 14 years.

Richard Machia, of Bristol, said he’s attended every victory
parade since UConn won its first championship in 1995.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” the 62-year-old said. “With the recession
the way that is, this shows there is some good in the world.”

The Huskies dominated women’s basketball this season, going 39-0
and beating opponents by an average of better than 30 points. They
capped the season on April 7 in St. Louis with a 76-54 victory over
Big East rival Louisville, moving them closer to arch rival
Tennessee’s eight championships.

This was the first chance for many Connecticut fans to celebrate
that win. Victor Rodriguez, of Hartford, took his 10-year-old
granddaughter to the parade.

“This team put us on the map,” he said. “Geno is God.”

The players climbed on to the top of a double-decker bus and
followed bands, politicians and even the state’s Siberian husky club
for the 50-minute parade, which ended with a rally at the Statehouse.

“Seeing all those faces, it was amazing,” senior guard Renee
Montgomery said. “It was an unbelievable feeling. I couldn’t believe
that all those people came out just to see us.”

But the crowd was well short of the 300,000 people who in 2004
celebrated the duel championships won by the UConn men and women.

“Maybe we’ve just gotten used to it. People are a little spoiled
maybe,” said Joy Mouland, of Rocky Hill, who took her 16- and
10-year-old daughters to see the Huskies. “I think (this team) really
portrays young women in a positive light. They are good students. They
are good athletes. They are very positive role models today.”

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said the women gave the state a happy diversion
from all the bad economic news of the winter. There was almost no
grumbling over the price tag for the event, estimated at about
$50,000.

The Hartford Business Improvement District’s executive director,
Michael Zaleski, said organizers raised about $40,000 from private
donors and received in-kind donations, including use of the bus.

Auriemma told the crowd that as good as the celebration made the
state feel, he also enjoyed it for another reason.

“The one thing that we get a kick out of, all of us, is that
whenever we have these parades,” he said, “the doctor’s offices in
Tennessee are filled with people who get sick.”



 

Mel Greenberg Inquirer Sports Columnist
About this blog
Mel Greenberg covers college and pro women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he has worked for 38 years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather. He was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.



Click here for Mel's list of All-Decade players from Philadelphia-area schools.

Other contributors

Jonathan Tannenwald is a producer with Philly.com. In addition to covering the local college scene, he spent two years as the Washington Mystics beat writer for Women's Hoops Guru. He also writes his own blog, Soft Pretzel Logic, which covers men's college basketball, football, and other sports.

Kathleen Radebaugh is a recent graduate of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. She covered women's basketball for the school's newspaper, The Hawk, and served as sports editor her sophomore year. She was also a four-year member of the varsity crew team.

Erin Semagin Damio covers the University of Connecticut and the WNBA's Connecticut Sun for the blog, and contributes other features. The Storrs, Conn., native also attends Northeastern University, where she is a coxswain on the varsity crew team.

Acacia O'Connor is based in Washington, D.C., where she reports on the Mystics and the college basketball scene in the nation's capital. A graduate of Vassar college, she played on the varsity women's basketball team and was editor of the student newspaper.

Click on any of the contributors' names above to e-mail them.

Reach Mel at poll416@gmail.com.

Mel Greenberg Inquirer Sports Columnist
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