A sign of return to pre-COVID-19 normalcy, UConn’s First Night is back, albeit in modified form, to kick off the Huskies’ basketball season this Friday at Gampel Pavilion.
Serving as the annual introduction to the Huskies men’s and women’s basketball teams heading into the season, the event was cancelled in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the school is opening it to students only, but UConn fans can tune in on TV or Facebook to see their favorite players and get a first look at the programs’ heralded newcomers.
Here’s what you need to know about the event.
Who can go
Only students are allowed in. Admission is free, but students are asked to claim their mobile tickets by 5 p.m. on Thursday to guarantee admission. Fans must wear face coverings while inside the arena.
“The decision to allow admission to UConn students only was made out of an abundance of caution and is not an indication of similar plans being made for the 2021-22 season,” UConn director of athletics David Benedict said in a press release. “Seeing our fans return to our home venues during the fall has been encouraging, and I look forward to welcoming UConn Nation back to Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center in the weeks ahead. I am excited for the students to create an electric atmosphere on October 15, and I know our basketball teams are looking forward to experiencing a raucous Gampel Pavilion.”
What to expect
First Night will kick off with a block party on Jim Calhoun Way, featuring food trucks, video games, a DJ, giveaways, yard games and more. Inside Gampel Pavilion, four students will have the opportunity to take home $10,000 by either making a half-court shot or “heating up” from the 3-point arc.
Previous First Nights featured skills contests, mixed scrimmages with men’s and women’s players, and in 2019, the school’s fall concert was even folded into the festivities. Following the introductions of the men’s and women’s basketball teams this year, the teams will hold separate scrimmages, which will give fans a chance to see how the teams are jelling and who is standing out so far.
On the men’s side, this will be the only look outsiders will get at the team before games officially begin, as coach Dan Hurley intends to hold two closed scrimmages and no exhibition games ahead of the 2021-22 season. The women will also play in a closed scrimmage but will then host Division II Fort Hays State on Nov. 7 at Gampel Pavilion.
How to watch
The event will be broadcast live on CW20 and will be live streamed on the UConn Huskies Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/uconnhuskies/.
Schedule of events
5 p.m.: Block party on Jim Calhoun Way, Gampel Pavilion will start to allow people in.
7 p.m.: Official introduction of teams, followed by scrimmages (women’s first, then men’s).
Alexa Philippou can be reached at email@example.com