The UConn men’s basketball program officially added their fifth championship banner to the Gampel Pavilion rafters Monday night prior to their season opener against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.
The banner was revealed in front of a sellout crowd of 10,299, which set a new record for attendance at Gampel. Student fans began lining up outside the north entrance of Gampel as early as 12 hours before the game’s 6:30 p.m. tipoff.
“I just feel energized being in Gampel again,” says Alexa Buxbaum ‘24 (BUS) while awaiting the start of the game. “It’s so exciting.”
During the banner ceremony, the remaining members of last season’s winning team were individually honored on the court with the NCAA National Champions trophy on display alongside them.
The commemoration also included a video message from head coach Dan Hurley praising his players and thanking UConn Nation for their support last season. Former Huskies who played key roles in the team’s tournament run also made appearances on the video boards to shout out their old teammates and their fans.
The Huskies followed the ceremony with a dominant 95-52 victory over the Lumberjacks. Returning players from the championship team included starters Tristen Newton, Donovan Clingan, and Alex Karaban, who led the pack with 22 points on the night. Fans also got a first look at some new faces in action including freshman five-star recruit Stephon Castle and graduate transfer Cam Spencer.
“I’m excited to see how the new players bring the team together and make them even stronger,” says Lianna Policano ‘24 (CLAS) on what she is looking forward to most for this season.
The team’s impressive first showing previewed what UConn fans hope will be another successful campaign ending with another NCAA Tournament title. The banner ceremony allowed fans to relive the magic of the Huskies’ fifth national championship victory, leaving them with their sights set on the sixth.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience that not all students get,” says Buxbaum.