|Saunders (Post athletics)|
I am watching games from the first national championship season of 1998-99, and there was a local connection to that team.
On Nov. 15, 1998, a 6-foot-8 big from Waterbury made his UConn debut.
And what a debut it was for Holy Cross High School's all-time leading scorer Edmund Saunders.
Saunders played 17 minutes off the bench, and he compiled 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds in the 102-60 victory over Quinnipiac at Gampel Pavilion. Quinnipiac, then known as the Braves, was playing the first game of its inaugural Division I season. They faced the No. 3 team in the country. Yikes.
Saunders was 6-of-8 from the floor. He displayed good footwork, athleticism and a nice touch around the basket.
Saunders played in 35 games and averaged 6.0 points and 4.7 rebounds as a freshman. He played 11 minutes in the 1999 national championship game against Duke, a 77-74 UConn win. Saunders scored four points and grabbed three rebounds, but he was important because he had five fouls to give against Duke All-American Elton Brand. The Huskies threw several different bigs against Brand in an attempt to slow him down, and it worked to an extent.
In the national semifinal against Ohio State, Saunders played 23 minutes and totaled five points, five rebounds and a block.
Saunders played in 100 games in his UConn career and averaged 7.8 points and 5.6 rebounds. He will never forget his debut with the Huskies, or the end of his first season, when the team that couldn't win the big game finally did.
After UConn, Saunders played professional basketball for eight seasons.
The above photo of Saunders is from his time as an assistant coach at Post University.