Alright, so I’m just going to spill the beans: For weeks I’ve been hinting at, casually mentioning and tweeting about a big surprise I’ve had to share with all of you.
And well, that surprise can’t wait any longer:
I wrote a book!
No, seriously, I wrote a book. It’s on the 2011 UConn basketball team, and it’s called 'The Unlikeliest Champion'. And believe me; I’m just as surprised to type out that last sentence as you are to read it. I still can’t believe it actually.
But I did it. It wasn’t without the help of a lot of people (no seriously, A LOT of people), and the incredible support of my family and friends. Not to mention a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. Well, actually there was no blood or sweat. But I sure did cry a lot.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re probably thinking to yourself: The 2011 Huskies? Hmm. Why UConn and why now?
Well, as most of you know by now, I’m a born and bred UConn guy. Growing up in Connecticut affords you a lot of great opportunities and experiences, but when it comes to sports- and college sports in specific- you’ve only got one choice: You either root for UConn…or you sit alone every day in the elementary school cafeteria. That’s really it. People in this state are born into UConn fandom, live it, and breathe it for 365 days a year. There aren’t many things that this state has to call its own, but UConn and its sports teams are one of them.
As for the 2011 team in specific, well, there’s a reason I wrote about them too. Simply put, in all the years I’ve been watching sports, I’ve never seen an underdog story quite like them. Not just in college basketball. But in sports, too.
Consider the following things:
- Entering 2011, UConn was coming off an 18-16 season, where they not only missed the NCAA Tournament, but got bounced early from the NIT too. Following the season they lost three senior starters to graduation and a high-profile transfer, meaning that other than Kemba Walker, UConn didn’t really return anyone of substance to the 2011 team.
- Of the recruits who came in to replace the departed seniors, only Roscoe Smith was considered “elite.” UConn missed on a bunch of other prospects, and instead ended up with a handful that most had never heard of. Jeremy Lamb hadn’t started for his high school as a junior and Shabazz Napier had to move his graduation up a year to get to Storrs for the 2011 season. Yes, both of things actually happened.
- Prior to the 2011 season, UConn was unranked in both major polls, and picked to finish 10th in the Big East. Beyond being unranked, they didn’t receive a single vote in either poll. Not one.
And the craziest thing is, that’s not all.
During the season UConn also had to deal with an NCAA investigation, not to mention simply awful play at times. It’s easy to remember now that they won five games in five days to win the Big East Tournament, but what’s easier to forget is that the only reason they had to play those five games is because they lost four of five to close the regular season, and three of six before that.
And yet somehow, improbably, UConn went on to not only win the Big East Tournament, but the National Championship as well. The 2011 UConn Huskies really were “The Unlikeliest Champion,” in every way imaginable.
And as a writer, a fan of the team, and someone who cares about sports, it was my job to capture that all, which I believe I have in this book. I’ve used a handful of my own previously written articles, as well as a whole bunch of new stuff to give you deep insight into a team and a season you probably didn’t know much about before opening up this post.
In addition, I also interviewed dozens of people for this book, including top analysts like Jay Bilas, college basketball writers, high school and AAU coaches, friends and family of the players and fellow college basketball coaches. This is the most complete narrative of one of the most exciting teams of our lifetimes, and I’m glad to share it with you.
Now, with all that said I do need to warn you about one thing: the book is not quite ready for purchase. The publishing industry moves at a snail’s pace (believe me, I harass those poor folks daily), and it’s still a week or two away from being ready for purchase. At the same time, I do understand that everyone is starting their Christmas shopping, and budgets are getting tighter by the day. Because of it, I wanted to get the word out, so that hopefully you can at least keep me in mind going forward.
In the meantime, your No. 1 resource for all additional information should be UConnBook.com. Bookmark it, make it your homepage, whatever you’ve got to do. There you will find an excerpt (which I think you’ll love by the way), answers to some of your questions, and even a goofy picture of me…which you can now blow up, put in your living room and throw darts at whenever you have friends over for beers.
In addition, you can also stay updated in a few different ways. You can:
Follow me on Twitter by clicking here
“Like” the book’s page on Facebook or
You can sign up for an e-mail newsletter by clicking “Follow By E-Mail” on the site.
Finally, I’d just like to thank each and every one of you for the support. I truly, sincerely, genuinely mean that. When I started writing a few years ago, I’ll be honest: I had no idea what I was doing (Some might say I still don’t). But what I knew was that people craved quality and intelligent writing, and that if I provided that, I would eventually build an audience. And I have. Having each of you read my articles, share them with friends, e-mail with me, argue with me, whatever, means more than you can ever imagine.
It also gave me the confidence to write this book. You wouldn’t believe how many publishers said no to this project (believe me, it’s more than I care to remember), but I knew that if I could somehow get this to the presses, support for it wouldn’t be an issue. And I know it’s not going to be. You all are amazing. Seriously.
Regardless, I just want to thank you all again, and please, PLEASE if you’ve got any questions do not hesitate to ask. Hell, if you want me to send you a personalized e-mail every single day until the book is ready for purchase, I will do that. Anything I can to help you along in this process, and get you as excited to read this book as I was to write it.
Thanks again, and hopefully we’ll be in touch.
In the meantime, happy holiday!