FIFTY YEARS OF UCONN MEN'S BASKETBALL

By BRIAN GIRASOLI
Norwich Bulletin
April 29, 2005

Success and the UConn menšs basketball team seem to go hand-in-hand these days.

For some people, however, the Huskies' success begins with their NIT
championship in 1988.

Or Tate Georgešs last-second shot against Clemson two years later.  Or even the 1999 National Championship.

UConn, however, has always had a successful basketball program, going back to the days of playing in the old ROTC hanger and Field House with such names as Art Quimby, Wes Bialosuknia and Toby Kimball.

In "Hoop Tales: UConn Huskies Men's Basketball," co-authors Wayne Norman and Robert Porter retrace the steps of a small New England university just beginning its basketball rise in the early 1950s to the dominant team of today.

"Most of (the former players) were very open and most were thrilled that
someone remembered their era," said Norman, who is the longtime radio voice of WILI AM-1400 in Willimantic.  "People forget there were very successful teams that went to the NCAA tournament before (current coach Jim) Calhoun got here."

Norman said this is the first book of its kind to present the early years of
UConn mens' basketball.

"We interviewed 45 people for the book, and tried to get the characters
involved--such as (former Athletic Director) John Toner or (former coach) Dee Rowe--rather than just our memories," he said.

Norman and Porter were UConn students during the late 1960s and broadcast games for the student station WHUS.

After graduation, Norman stayed in radio and by 1981 was broadcasting UConn games again for the UConn Radio Network, a job he still holds today.

"Hoop Tales" begins with UConn's upset of Holy Cross in 1954-- one of the defining wins in school history.

Also, Dom Pernošs steal of Princeton's Bill Bradley in a second-round NCAA tournament game in 1964, giving UConn the win over the Ivy League champs, is called "the most memorable win in all the years prior to the 1986 arrival of Jim Calhoun."

The book also highlights such aspects as the three loudest games at the
Field House, UConn's beautiful little sardine can of a gym from 1954-89;
George Ehrlich, the first "Voice of the Huskies" for WTIC; and the move to the Big East Conference.

Of course, the recent success of the Huskies' teams with the likes of Chris Smith, Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton are also presented.

For Norman--who credited Porter for the idea of this book--the switch from a microphone to a keyboard for him wasnšt all that difficult.

"I think the most important thing I learned was from (author) Wally Lamb . . . and his advice for aspiring authors was rewrite, rewrite, rewrite," Norman said.

"I had to look at the documents critically, and that was challenging."
 

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