Paramount Studios presents
CONNQuest: The Official 2004 NCAA Championship DVD (2004)
"We just went out and grabbed it."- UConn guard Ben Gordon
Stars: The University of Connecticut men's basketball team
Director: CBS Sports
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 2h:51m:00s
Release Date: 2004-06-15
DVD ReviewTwo words. Emeka Okafor. The towering University of Connecticut center with the dazzling smile and devastating block led a gifted roster of future basketball stars to a much-deserved national championship last April. With laser sharp focus and unshakable resolve, Okafor and the rest of the UConn Huskies overcame adversity and at last lived up to their preseason hype by first beating Duke in a classic come-from-behind semifinal, and then dominating Georgia Tech to take the title. CONNQuest: The Official 2004 NCAA Championship DVD allows Husky fanatics (of which I am certainly one) to revel in the victory with a comprehensive recap of the entire tournament, including interviews with Coach Jim Calhoun and most of the major UConn players, as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.
Last year, my colleague Jon Danziger proclaimed Finally Orange, the salute to that other Big East NCAA basketball champion, as "the greatest DVD ever made." Sure, Jon's a nice guy, and I usually trust his opinion implicitly, but I have to say, buddy, that in this instance, you got it all wrong. CONNQuest is hands down the greatest DVD ever made. And here's why…
The road to San Antonio's Alamodome and a Final Four berth wasn't always easy for the Huskies. The preseason #1 weathered some embarrassing losses during the regular season before stepping up their play in the NCAA tournament. After trouncing early-round opponents, UConn faced top-seeded Duke, its tournament nemesis and the team the Huskies narrowly defeated to win their only other national championship in 1999. Okafor, in early foul trouble, sat out most of the first half, but the formidable arsenal of Ben Gordon, Taliek Brown, and Rashad Anderson kept Connecticut in the game with clutch perimeter shooting, deft ball handling, and trademark pressure defense. Okafor stormed back in the second half, but with less than three minutes left in the game, the Huskies still trailed by eight. Yet UConn refused to lose, and with Okafor leading the charge, the team waged a remarkable comeback against one of college basketball's premier programs, and eked out an unforgettable one-point win.
Amazingly, what seemed like the championship game was only a semi. Could the UConn faithful endure another cliffhanger? Thankfully, we wouldn't have to find out. In the final, the Huskies put on a breathtaking display in their systematic demolition of Georgia Tech. Except for a one-minute stretch early in the game, UConn led from the opening tip (and by as much as 25 in the second half), and sealed their national title with an emphatic exclamation point. Again, Okafor (who would be named the Final Four MVP) stole the spotlight, but his talented teammates all contributed big plays in the 82-73 victory.
Veteran CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz narrates the 50-minute recap, which features memorable moments from the entire 64-team tournament. Like a heavy metal music video, early round highlights whiz by, as a barrage of dunks, stuffs, blocks, and buzzer-beaters assault the viewer. In fact, the sequence employs such a dizzying array of off-kilter camera angles, lightning-quick edits, pans, and zooms, you might need a dose of Dramamine before you watch. Although the DVD rightfully focuses on UConn, it's a shame more attention couldn't be paid to some of the heart-stopping early upsets that make the NCAA tournament such a unique and riveting event.
More extensive (and less frenetic) highlights comprise the Final Four segment, which includes insights and perspective from Coach Calhoun and his Husky champs. In addition to typical studio interviews, we also eavesdrop on locker room pep talks and watch the Huskies clown around during a riverboat cruise on the San Antonio canals. The DVD also includes special condensed versions of CBS' coverage of UConn's semifinal triumph over Duke, as well as their championship deconstruction of Georgia Tech (see below).
As a Connecticut transplant living for the past decade in the Southwest, I can speak from experience when I state that Huskymania runs deep. Once this team gets into your blood, even a transfusion can't flush it out. Players may graduate, superstars may bolt to the NBA, but over the past 15 seasons, Coach Calhoun has built a top national program that competes at the highest level of collegiate athletics year after year after year. You don't have to be a UConn fan to appreciate the achievement of Okafor and company, but it certainly sweetens the appeal of this celebratory DVD. Conn-quest, indeed.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Back in April, I watched the Final Four in hi-def, and although this transfer can't come close to duplicating the clarity and vibrancy of HD, it still sports rich hues, crisp images, and solid contrast. The video quality of the tournament roundup varies depending on the type of camera used, but the interview segments are uniformly bright and sharp. The condensed games also score big, bringing back the excitement and colorful atmosphere of NCAA basketball.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The tournament highlight film features an active Dolby Pro Logic track that balances music, narration, and intricate game sounds with ease. Calhoun's New England accent is often tough to decipher, and some of the Huskies mumble a bit during their interviews, but all-in-all this track impresses with its depth and presence.
The two condensed games are presented in Dolby stereo and feature clear tones and enough subtle ambience to recreate the rousing atmosphere of the Final Four. Crowd noise spreads nicely across the front speakers, and plenty of sneaker squeaking punctuates the action. The play-by-play from Jim Nantz and Billy Packer can sound a bit muffled at times, but all their comments can be easily understood.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
- Condensed version of the UConn-Georgia Tech national championship game
- Condensed version of the UConn-Duke national semifinal game
- Behind-the-scenes footage
Yet anyone who knows UConn fans knows that as much as we love watching our Huskies win the national championship, the game we'll never forget (and the one we'll replay again and again) is the semifinal triumph over Duke. CONNQuest includes a 48-minute condensed version of that clash of titans (with nine random chapter stops) that preserves for posterity the tension and spectacle. Man, what a game! It's no secret UConn fans hate Duke. Ever since Christian Laettner dashed Connecticut's hopes of reaching its first-ever Final Four with an agonizing buzzer-beater in 1990, the Husky-Blue Devil rivalry has been fierce, and watching UConn dramatically come from behind and defeat the basketball powerhouse by the exact same score of 79-78 was indeed sweet revenge. (Call me a wimp, but seeing it again months later, I still got a lump in my throat when Okafor drained the game-clinching free-throw.) Thanks, Paramount, for including this treasured bonus game.
The three-minute Behind-the-Scenes section replays some of the footage used in the main tournament recap (such as the Huskies' riverboat cruise), but also shows the team arriving in San Antonio, a coaches strategy session, and some cute moments of Coach Calhoun interacting with his grandkids at the hotel.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsCONNQuest: The Official 2004 NCAA Championship DVD lets college basketball addicts experience the thrill of March Madness any month of the year. A collector's keepsake of a remarkable tournament run, this fast-paced, action-packed DVD salutes the champion Huskies, and allows their fans to relive the team's shining moment over and over.
David Krauss 2004-09-02