Was riding back from Auburn Friday when a story link about the first Tennessee-Connecticut women’s basketball game appeared on my Twitter feed. It was the 20th anniversary of that game and the date had totally slipped my mind.
If this had been a wedding anniversary, I’d be so far in the doghouse I couldn’t see daylight.
I’ve always felt that day was more significant to UConn and ESPN than Tennessee. And that’s not to diminish the game or the hoopla that surrounded it. Nor does it ignore the ensuing history.
It’s a matter of context.
By Jan. 16, 1995, the Lady Vols had appeared in 11 Final Fours — either AIAW or NCAA — and won three NCAA national championships.
They had played before a crowd of 24,563 on Dec. 9, 1987, at Thompson-Boling Arena against Texas. The pregame traffic was so thick, coach Pat Summitt struggled to reach the arena.
Vanderbilt and Tennessee played a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup on Jan. 30, 1993 at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville that drew 15,317, the first advance sellout in the sport’s history. Tickets were going for as high as $200. The game ended up being oversold. Not even Joe Wyatt, who then was Vanderbilt’s Chancellor, could get in. He and 300 others watched the game on local television from the nearby Stadium Club
Lady Vols tennis coach Mike Patrick was Down Under at the Australian Open and read a preview of the game in a local newspaper. More than 100 media outlets, including Sports Illustrated, covered the game.
Events like that tend to get lost in time. I was in Nashville in 1993 and I was in Storrs in 1995.
For me, there’s a lot dates and events to remember. I guess there’s too many. So from the doghouse I offer a belated, but no less hearty, Happy Anniversary!