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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Magnitude of playing in Jimmy V Classic not lost on UConn players

No basketball program has won more games in the Jimmy V Classic than UConn and even though Sunday's game against Texas at Mohegan Sun Arena will mark the sixth season in a row that the Huskies will be playing in the women's Jimmy V Classic, the meaning of the game and the event is not lost on the UConn players.

"Playing games like the Jimmy V Classic is just phenomenal, to raise awareness and do it by doing something that you love is always something we are fortunate to be a part of," UConn junior guard Kia Nurse said. "There are extended things to it, we got to go the Children's Hospital in Hartford and that was so much fun to hang out with the kids, have dance parties and those kinds of things so to raise awareness, to be able to do it on a big stage and play a great (Texas) team is just a great atmosphere to be a part of."

UConn was a part of the first women's Jimmy V Classic in 2002, winning at North Carolina State (the school where Jim Valvano had a successful run with the men's basketball program). The Huskies lost to North Carolina in the 2004 and 2005 events. Sunday will mark the fifth time the women's Jimmy V Classic will be played in Connecticut. UConn is 6-2 in the Jimmy V Classic, 3-1 in games played in Connecticut.

UConn has also gone 5-0 at the Maggie Dixon Classic, held in honor of the former Army women's basketball coach who died in April of 2006 of what her brother and veteran men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon termed an arrhythmic episode to her heart.

"It is such a fun thing to be a part of," Nurse said. "To be able to help people and raise awareness by simply playing basketball, something that you have done for a long time is truly an honor and truly a blessing. It is great that UConn has always had the opportunity to be on that big stage and be a part of something bigger."

The Jimmy V Classic is sponsored by the V Foundation for Cancer Research which was created by Valvano in 1993 shortly before he lost his battle with cancer. Valvano announced the formation of the foundation during an unforgettable speech at the inaugural ESPY Awards. The foundation has raised more than $150 million for cancer research.

None of the current UConn players were born at the time of the speech but that doesn't mean they haven't heard the speech or seen video of it.
"It is absolutely phenomenal speech, legendary," Nurse said. "It is something that you are always going to see, something that is always going to be relevant. To inspire that many people, to continue to inspire that many people day in and day out every single day of the year is absolutely amazing."

The UConn/Texas game begins at 4 p.m. and will air on ESPN.

Kansas State announced earlier today that all 12,528 tickets for the Dec. 11 game against UConn have been sold.

The last time UConn played at Maryland there were 15,327 fans in attendance, Nebraska's Pinnacle Bank Arena also has a capacity in excess of 15,000 and perhaps one of the five games remaining at the XL Center will top that mark but certainly it could be one of the largest crowds the Huskies will play in front of during the regular season.

Kansas State has averaged 4,315 fans in its first four home games so obviously bringing in the four-time defending national champions reputation of going a popular draw on the road will only be enhanced after this game.

The Wildcats are off to a 7-0 start and are coming off a win against nationally-ranked Auburn. Barring an upset loss against Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday, I would predict that Kansas State will be ranked at the time of the UConn game.



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