UConn: Construction to begin on basketball center

UConn: Construction to begin on basketball center

STORRS, Conn. (AP) The University of Connecticut plans to break ground in the spring on its new basketball training center after raising $24 million toward the construction of the building.

The UConn Foundation announced on Tuesday that it has donations and pledges in hand for 75 percent of the estimated $32 million in construction costs for the facility, which is being built entirely with private funds.

The school said it expects to finance the remaining $8 million. School officials said the overall cost of the center, including furnishings and equipment would likely approach $40 million.

``UConn is fortunate to have many strong supporters across the nation, who have dedicated themselves to the academic advancement of the university, the research ambitions of our faculty and students, as well as athletics,'' UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement.

``As we continue to build and renovate so many facilities on our multiple campuses, an outstanding new home is needed for our championship men's and women's basketball programs.''

The facility will be built adjacent to Gampel Pavilion on the site where the former football stadium was razed earlier this year.

Plans call for separate practice courts for the men's and women's basketball teams, locker rooms, weight rooms, classrooms, a sports medicine center and offices for the basketball staff.

Women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma said it will give the program and players a lot more flexibility.

``It gives us an opportunity to practice at times that are convenient to us and not to the building,'' he said. ``We get a chance to maximize whatever talents our players have, basketball-wise academically.''

The center also is expected to have a public area to celebrate the history of UConn basketball, and house Husky memorabilia, including the trophies from the three men's and seven women's national championship seasons.

The project is expected to take about two years to complete.

Alumnus Mark Shenkman, the chairman of the UConn Foundation Board of Directors, and his wife, Rosalind, recently committed $2 million to help the fundraising effort meet the goal to start construction, the school said.

The Shenkmans previously donated $2.5 million to help build the Mark R. Shenkman football training center, which opened across the street in 2006.

This summer, the school announced that Webster Bank had made a significant donation to the basketball building, but would not release the details.

Last December, the school announced that a Woodbridge couple, Peter J. and Pamela H. Werth donated $4.5 million for the building, the largest single private gift to the Division of Athletics.

Former coach Jim Calhoun, who retired last month, has said he would be visiting NBA training camps this fall and plans to ask former UConn players for their help with the center.

``The success of our men's and women's basketball student-athletes, in both the classroom and on the court, will be greatly enhanced by the UConn Basketball Development Center,'' UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel said.

``I want to thank Mark and Rosalind Shenkman and all of our benefactors whose generosity are allowing us to begin construction of this project. We will continue to fund raise to obtain the entire cost of the project.''

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!


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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."