Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

Marshall’s Legacy: Growth of UConn Hockey

Even as he is busy overseeing USA Hockey from his office in Colorado Springs, Colo., Dave Ogrean ’74 (CLAS), has an eye toward Storrs and the Huskies’ ice hockey teams.

Speaking over the phone earlier this week from Colorado, the executive director of USA Hockey, said the legacy of Bruce Marshall ’85 (ED), who stepped down last week after 25 years as head men’s hockey coach in Storrs after taking an extended medical leave in November, will be his instrumental part in the continuing growth of UConn hockey.

Marshall, who won the most hockey games in UConn history, led the Huskies to increasingly better competition from the ECAC and MAAC conferences to the Atlantic Hockey Association in Division I, reaching the postseason frequently. In 2014, the men’s hockey program will join Hockey East, arguably the strongest collegiate hockey conference in the nation.

“If Bruce had not accomplished what he accomplished over 15 to20 years, UConn could not have considered a move to Hockey East,” Ogrean said. “Now you’re going to have those scholarship assets. People have confidence in UConn’s potential because of the school’s reputation broadly, especially in basketball, and because a similar kind of jump was made in football.  It’s because of the good strong foundation Bruce set down. I think he’s make the University proud in his tenure as a head coach.”

Ogrean said another thing that stands out is the continuity in the men’s hockey program at UConn. Since 1960, the Huskies have had only three coaches – John Chapman (1960-1981), Ben Kirtland (1981-1988) and Marshall (1988-2013).

“A three decade institutional loyalty, which in this day and age of coaching at the Division I level is pretty rare,” Ogrean said. “The program has evolved a great deal under him. He’s navigated Connecticut to effectively compete at that higher level without scholarship support. I see a fair amount of Air Force hockey out here. I know the quality of their program.  I love it when I see their scores of Atlantic Hockey and see Connecticut beat them.”

***

Diana Taurasi ’05 (CLAS) was named the 2012 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year on Wednesday. It is the third time Taurasi was honored by USA Basketball, previously honored in 2006 and 2010.

Now a star for the Phoenix Sun of the WNBA, Taurasi helped lead the USA Women’s Olympic Basketball Team to a fifth consecutive gold medal in London last summer on a team that featured five other former Huskies. UConn’s Hall of Fame coach, Geno Auriemma, was the USA head coach.

Taurasi was a tri-captain of the United States team, and led the team with 12.4 points per game, shooting 45.5 percent from the field, hit 42.9 percent of her 3-point shots and 96 percent from the free throw line.

This was the fourth time a player connected to UConn was received USA Basketball’s top award. Tina Charles ’10 (CLAS) was honored in 2009 and in 2011 Breanna Stewart ’16 (CLAS), a current Husky, became only the second high school player to be so honored for her performance on the Under 19 USA squad coached by Jennifer Rizzotti ’96 (CLAS).

***

Kayla Campero ’15 (ED) was named the Athletic Republic Player of the Week by Hockey East earlier this week.  Campero got four points for the women’s ice hockey team during the Huskies’ 5-1 win over Princeton.

The Huskies are back on the ice tomorrow night in Montreal, when they face McGill beginning at 3 p.m.

***

Three of UConn’s most prominent baseball minds will be leading sessions this weekend at the 2013 Mohegan Sun World Baseball Coaches’ Convention in Uncasville.

Jim Penders ’94 (CLAS), ’98 MA, Roger Bidwell ’78 (ED), ’84 MA, and Bob Shaefer ’67 (ED), ’70 MA are among the featured speakers during the conference.

Penders will begin his tenth season as head coach in Storrs in 2013. He is a three-time Big East Coach of the Year and has led the Huskies to 30 or more wins in seven of his nine seasons as head coach.

Bidwell begins his 32nd season as head coach at UConn’s Avery Point campus, where 28 of his players have gone on to play professional baseball. His teams have won six Connecticut Small College Championships, 10 NJCAA Division 2 New England Championships, four NJCAA Division 2 East District Championships, and four NJCAS Division 2 World Series appearances, including being the National Runner-up in 2010.

Schafer is currently special assistant to the general manager of the Washington Nationals. He previously managed minor league  teams for the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Kansas Royals and Detroit Tigers and served as director of player development for the Boston Red Sox. He also has served as bench coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics  and Royals, where he also was interim manager.