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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Friday, April 26, 2024

Great Giving Opportunity, and Media Coverage

Connecticut CASA is participating in the April 26-May 2 online “Great Give”; it includes matching incentives, so please consider donating, and circulating information about this online philanthrophy event, including our profile.

In recent weeks the New Haven Register cited several committed volunteer advocates in discussing Connecticut CASA's statewide growth.

Also, the Arts Paper covered our April 17 Benefit, held at the Yale Child Study Center with a musical performance by the Shades of Yale. Lead sponsors included Yale University and Claire's Corner Copia, with sponsorship also from Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the NewAlliance Foundation, and Better Rhodes. The Wine Thief donated wine. Thanks to everyone who attended/contributed, as well as to all who support our child advocacy work year-round!

In previewing the event earlier, a shoreline outlet noted two local neighbors among our new Board members.  (We also have Advisors and Ambassadors.)

6:46 pm edt 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Another Title for the UConn Men

This blog has periodically reflected on UConn men's basketball, for example in April 2011, April 2014, and April 2023.  Each of those years produced titles, as in 1999 and 2004.  Now, the Huskies have done it again.

One pre-season ESPN collection of predictions had excluded UConn altogether from the predicted final four for 2023-24; one pundit (M. Medcalf)'s forecast was that a "title hangover" from 2023 would doom the Huskies to an early exit from the tournament in 2024.

Yet UConn has shown that, with what is now a 12-1 record across 7 final fours in the last 25 NCAA men's tournaments, and a 6-0 record in title games, it isn't hyperbole to call Storrs the "basketball capital of the world"--at least the college world, particularly with the UConn women as holders of 11 championships and a remarkable 23 final four appearances during the past three decades or so.  (The UConn women are 11-1 in title games, making the men and women a combined 17-1 in those games.)

Here's Brendan Quinn in the Athletic/NY Times:

"How can this possibly be put in context? UConn’s back-to-back national titles have come at a time when mass parity is flattening the landscape of college basketball. That the place was dormant only a few years ago is impressive, but also typical. While so many awaited the Huskies’ demise in recent years, they somehow only grow stronger.  

The real feat here? Six titles won by six radically different teams by three different coaches playing out of two different leagues in 25 years. Six titles that come on top of the women’s program’s 11 national titles since 1995. 

Connecticut’s six-pack of men’s banners has passed Duke and Indiana and now stands even with North Carolina. The only remaining programs with more titles are Kentucky with eight and UCLA with 11. The difference? Kentucky has won one in the time that UConn has piled up its entire share and UCLA has zero. The Bruins’ last title came in 1995, when Dan Hurley was a junior guard at Seton Hall....

The only place that’s fully proven it most belongs is Connecticut, a one-time regional program with some marginal success back in the day, one that also went from 1968 to 1989 with only two NCAA Tournament appearances."

Quinn underscored the distinction in Storrs:

"UConn is in a club of its own.... All this history comes as a means of answering the question everyone remains perpetually stuck with. UConn? Why? How? Of all places, this program has played in roughly a quarter of the national title games since 1999 and is 6-0 in those appearances. 6-0!..."
ESPN's Pete Thamel offered another tribute:
"...UConn finished this tournament winning its six games by an average of 23.3 points. The 140 combined points they won those six games by blows away the next most dominant title winner, which was North Carolina winning by a total of 125 in 2009....

Despite different personnel and different eras, UConn displayed unprecedented dominance. No other team in NCAA history has won all six NCAA tournament games by 13 or more. UConn did it back-to-back."

As noted in one of my Connecticut opinion pieces, back in 2015, I've been a fan of UConn basketball since the 1970s and in the 1980s myself attended basketball camps run by Jim Calhoun's predecessor (Dom Perno, a graduate of New Haven's Wilbur Cross H.S. as well as of UConn). Never could I then have imagined the success that Coach Calhoun in particular, then briefly Kevin Ollie and now Dan Hurley, have brought to this sport, this state, and this university.

As the Huskies' 2024 pre-NCAA tournament hype video suggests, Coach Hurley inspired his team by invoking the legacy of prior UConn teams' success while driving this year's squad to play as hard and as together as possible, offensively and defensively.  Tenacious effort, unity, and talent combined to fuel a 2-year run of what Coach John Wooden surely would have called "competitive greatness."

The result was yet another "shining moment."

7:16 am edt 

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