Fred Malan was a Guard for
the UConn Huskies from 1965 – 1969. He was known as one of the M & M boys,
along with Jack Melen. Fred was captain of the team his senior year. I
spoke with him in April 2005, about his memories of basketball at UConn,
and his post-collegiate experiences.
Fred began playing both basketball and baseball when he was around eight
years old. He played on local recreation league teams and at St. Mary’s
School in New London, CT, on the sixth, seventh and eighth grade teams. By
the time Fred reached Waterford High School, he was in the starting line
up of the varsity team, as a freshman. Waterford High School was built in
1960, Fred played on the team when it played New London High School, a
much larger school in 1962. “I recall I made a basket that was the
deciding basket. I think the score was 49 – 47. The first time we ever
beat them.” That game was also memorable because the New London High coach
was the same coach that Fred’s father played for when he was in high
school. Another memory for Fred was that his team at Waterford was a part
of the Eastern Connecticut Conference, and won the conference title while
Fred played, but they never won the state tournament.
In making his decision to go to the University of Connecticut Fred said,
“Quite honestly, there were a lot of New London guys like Art Quimby and
Donny Burns that had gone to UConn so UConn was well known in New London.”
Other schools he was interested in were Providence College and Holy Cross
University, both being fairly close to home, and both with Catholic school
backgrounds. Fred decided to put his college decision making process off
for a year, and went to Westminster School in Simsbury, CT to work on his
Coach Larry Panciera, the baseball coach at UConn, had been recruiting
Fred for baseball so when Fred went for his recruiting visit at UConn as a
baseball prospect. He decided to attend UConn, and went on to play four
years of both baseball and basketball. “I don’t think I was any better in
one sport or the other.” There was quite a transition to make from high
school to college. Fred had come from a very small high school where he
was the leading scorer on a team that hadn’t even played against schools
as large as Hartford Public High School. At UConn, he was now faced with
playing with kids from out of state that were recruited into UConn, who
were bigger and faster.
In basketball as a sophomore (back then you couldn’t play varsity until
you were a sophomore), he played as a player coming off the bench because
the starters were players such as Bill Holowaty and Tommy Penders, players
Fred was impressed with who went on to have successful athletic careers.
“I appreciate the time I got to spend with those guys.” As a junior Fred
was a starter, and played with Bill Corley (leads UConn with most points
scored in a single game). As a senior Fred’s role returned to be a player
off the bench when Bob Staak (junior college transfer) joined the team.
Fred shared his thoughts on a memorable game, “I recall, in fact, I
remember this very well. January 10th in 1968, my 21st birthday but it was
also the night we played Maine University, and that’s the night Bill
Corley set a field house record scoring 51 points. I recall that well that
evening because they announced it, if it was your birthday, and I remember
that as a nice memory.” Another memorable game was in 1967 when the team
traveled to Rhode Island for a game against Boston College in a National
Collegiate Athletic Association play-in game.
Fred and his co-captain teammate, Jack Melen, were known as the M&M boys.
It was during the time that Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, both players
for the New York Yankees, were trying to break Babe Ruth’s home run
record. Someone put in the CT Daily Campus Newspaper that UConn had its
own M & M boys. “Jack and I met as freshman. We became fast friends. Jack
didn’t have any intention of playing baseball, didn’t even think about it.
I remember talking to him about it, and he came out and played baseball.”
Fred still has on a wall in his family room, a caricature that was done of
the M & M boys that had been put in the Times Newspaper (Hartford, CT
daily newspaper at the time), with an article written with highlights
about them, and where they came from.
Fred graduated from UConn with a Bachelors Degree in English. He opted to
give up playing basketball, and go into teaching English and coaching
basketball, baseball and golf at Bristol Central High School from 1970 –
1980. While there, he coached Bruce Kuczenski, who also went on to play at
UConn. Next, Fred worked for a year at the Hartford Insurance Group, and
seven years at The Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company in Hartford, CT,
where he utilized his teaching background in sales training positions.
Fred then made a geographic change moving to Miami, Florida, where he
worked for a Phoenix Mutual competitor, American Bankers Insurance Group
for the next five years. Then Fred decided to go back to his teaching
profession at The University School, a private, kindergarten – 12 school,
on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Fred is currently the Dean of Students and an English teacher for the
middle school, and works a lot with intramural programs. During his twelve
years there, he’s also been an English teacher, the dean of students at
the high school, athletic director, and while he was the athletic
director, after hiring three basketball coaches that didn’t work out, Fred
coached the team for three or four years. While in Florida, he also went
back to school, and earned his Masters Degree in English Education.
Today Fred said, “Guys my size still play but they’re certainly a whole
lot better than we were back then. They jump so well, they’re so fast,
they’re so strong. I just think the physical capabilities of these kids
today is absolutely amazing.”
Fred said the current UConn team wasn’t as strong without Emeka Okafor and
Ben Gordon, who he believed should be co-rookies of the year in the
National Basketball Association. He likes the left-handed Marcus Williams
who reminds him of UConn’s former left-handed guard from the 1970’s Jimmy
Fred’s thoughts on Coach Calhoun, “I think he’s great.” Fred remembered
playing on the freshman team at UConn, and the varsity team opening game
was against American International College where Jim Calhoun was a senior.
He also remembered when Jim Calhoun was coaching at Northeastern
University, and they’d play, and win against UConn. “You knew this guy was
Outside of work, Fred spends a lot of time with his friend Barbara who’s
originally from the Jersey Shore. This summer he plans to visit New
Jersey, and hopes to catch up with Jack Melen, who lives on the Jersey
Shore. Fred was 40 years old when he decided to get married, and although
he and his wife have gone their separate ways, he has three step
daughters, Emily, Beth and Donna. Emily will be graduating from the
University of Florida in in May. She introduced Fred to the UConn Hoop
Legends website and helped to make this interview take place. Emily
couldn’t say enough positive things about her stepfather.
Looking back on his decision to go to UConn, Fred said, “I’m very pleased
I didn’t leave the state, and obviously with the notoriety the university
is getting through their success the kids that I teach are amazed when I
tell them I played basketball at UConn. I think it’s tremendous what UConn
has elevated itself to. I’m very proud of UConn.”