Sunday turned into a day to be thankful for sports

Imagine the good fortune required at this chaotic time of the year to spend an entire Sunday flipping channels, rather than the requisite decorating, wrapping, partying and snarling at fellow shoppers that the season imposes.

Totally understand if you were otherwise occupied Sunday afternoon.

But if you blew off life (as I did), you enjoyed one of the great remote control days in recent history here in our corner of the world. From 1-7:30 p.m., we were awash in two UConn basketball games, the Giants and the Patriots, some of the stuff so compelling — in that sports kind of way — that you barely had time to do the refrigerator-bathroom thing, worried you'd still be, you know, tied up post-commercial.

What a day to be thankful for sports. Yeah, sometimes, they make us reach for Mylanta. Sometimes, Makers Mark. But they have this uncanny, wondrous way of forcing blissful preoccupation, a shield that screams: Monday can wait.

The happy recap:

• The UConn men rocked out the XL Center at 1, playing Arizona on ESPN. There aren't many more opportunities to say this, because expectations will rise soon for the Sons of Hurley. But the outcome, while surely disappointing, just didn't feel as relevant, when weighed against the decisive environmental change within the program.

Dan Hurley, the anti-Ollie, has the Huskies engaged. All in. The fandom believes. The XL Center, per some friends who were in attendance, hadn't sounded like that in years. Joe D'Ambrosio, who should still be the voice of UConn sports, tweeted about how the old barn still has her fastball. And at least for now, that's a victory.

The game was wonderful to watch. Hurley still has to upgrade the talent here, but every other detail walks in lockstep precision with success.

• The Giants played a really fun game with the Bears at 1 on Fox. (Fun for the casual football fan. Torture for loyalists of Big Blue).

It has always been my opinion that the Giants exist to keep Yankee fans humble. But those poor people who like the Red Sox and the Giants and suffered for so many years? You get a straight shot to heaven. You will get special dispensation. Trust me. He is a merciful God.

Leave it to the Giants to play great ... and still blow a 10-point lead in the final minute. We're all good at something, apparently. But a rather gritty drive in overtime led to a field goal from this kicker guy Rosas, who has only missed once all year (a rare personnel move the Giants seem to have gotten right).

Anyhoo, the Giants are 4-8. And yet I found myself as engaged as if they were preserving an undefeated season. I asked myself, "Why do you care so much?" I never provided a sufficient answer. But this much I know: My shoulder still hurts from firing my hat in disgust when the Bears recovered the onside kick.

• Then came the UConn women at Notre Dame. Oh, how fun. News of UConn's "demise" (because of allegedly insufficient recruiting) even made Sunday's New York Times, proving that idiocy isn't merely reserved for Internet message boards.

The Huskies went to No. 1 Notre Dame and tap-danced on the defending national champs, thus making all the pregame hysterical pronouncements sound dumber than talk radio.

The game wasn't merely played at a high level, but was an enjoyable listen, too, with Adam Amin, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe, who are the best of ESPN.

UConn proved, if nothing else, that no other program in the history of the world deals with expectations — internal and external — better than the Huskies. The best proof? Just look at Notre Dame's meltdown. The Irish, No. 1 and with the more experienced team, lost their minds Sunday on their home court.

And send up a flare the next time a UConn player pulls an Arike Ogunbowale and refuses to shake hands with the other coach after the game.

Perhaps the Irish could start acting as though they've been there before.

Or don't they know how?

• The day ended with the Patriots who boring-ed their way to a win over Minnesota. The least compelling watch of the day, other than Bill Belichick and Adam Thielen yelling curse words at each other.

Nice to see Coach Bill with a pulse after all these years.

It's doubtful next Sunday will be as much fun.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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