Saturday, January 31, 2009


January 31, 2009

Providence will look to earn their fifth straight win at UConn on Saturday afternoon, but the Huskies will look to treat their guests a little differently this time.

Providence improved to 6-2 in the Big East with their 100-94 win over Syracuse on Wednesday night. They will not be facing an team limping in like they did against the Orange, instead, they will be facing a UConn machine that has been humming along since opening conference play with a loss to Georgetown. The Huskies have run off eight consecutive wins and a ninth will likely propel them into the #1 spot in the polls come Monday.

Here are some pregame stories and previews:

Looking for a Big Basketball Game? Try Friars vs. UConn (Providence Journal)
Another Friar Roast (New Haven Register)
Providence Has Had UConn’s Number Past Several Years (Bristol Press)
Friars Visit UConn Today (Pawtucket Times)
Huskies-Friars Rivalry Always Intense (Norwich Bulletin)
First, There’s Providence (TheDay.com)

Things have fallen into place well for the Friars in the first half of conference play, but now is the time we will really see what they are made of. Not so much with a road trip to UConn, which is a tall order for any club, but this stretch of games ahead.

The win over Syracuse looks good on paper, but a deeper look shows that it was an Orange club not nearly at full strength, that is not the case with the Husky team they are seeing today.

“We’re looking forward to going on the road and trying to hang with them,” Keno Davis said this week during the conference call of coaches. “With UConn you’ve got a lot of guys that are going to be playing at the next level.”

The defensive ability and attention of a Jim Calhoun team will likely be much greater than what they saw against SU in their 100-94 win this week. While PC will have some confidence after their recent success against UConn, that will also provide plenty of incentive and motivation for the Huskies.

Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien will be very strong inside and the defense and quickness of the UConn guards should limit the PC backcourt. The Friars will look for the three-ball, but if it is not going in at a high rate, UConn will take this one going away and move into the No.1 spot in the polls on Monday.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 82
Providence 68


Read more!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Stakes Raised For Route 6 Rivalry
By Zach Smart

The stage is set for a supreme dogfight between UConn and Providence at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion (Storrs, Conn.) Saturday.

The No.2 Huskies, who have won eight straight following a listless home loss to Georgetown, will look to get the Providence monkey off their back.

The Friars have won four consecutive games at UConn, where they owned the Huskies in every aspect of last year’s 77-65 route. The game was actually more of a shellacking than the score indicates. Doug Wiggins canned a pair of treys in garbage time to cut down a 17-point deficit.

So, UConn will renew the Route 6 rivalry. The game will have some extra juice.

If UConn defeats Providence, they will become No.1 in the country for the first time since 2006.

The matchup comes in the aftermath of fourth-ranked Wake Forest’s thrilling, 70-68 win over North Carolina. The game, won on forward James Johnson’s layup with eight tenths of a second to play, indicated that the ACC is almost as stacked, talent-leaking, and wide open as the Big East this season.

“Between the ACC and the Big East, there must be about a dozen teams that can make the Final Four,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told the New York Daily News.

“I think you’re going to be in a lot of games like this, where teams get a chance to show their grit.”

UConn showed a complete lack of grit during their lone loss of the season, a late December game Jim Calhoun dubbed a “home-serving.”

The Hoyas did a solid job containing Jerome Dyson, who shot an abysmal 1-for-10. Some of Dyson’s offensive woes were self-inflicted, however, as he botched a layup and exited the game mentally.

Georgetown also limited 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet to four field goals.

“It’s better that we get this loss out of the way early,” said A.J. Price, following the lackluster loss.

“We didn’t by any stretch of imagination think we were going undefeated.”

Undefeated? No.

No.1 ranking?

If the Huskies erase the past and clamp down on a well-oiled offensive machine that features three-headed monster Weyinmi Efejuku (13.4 PPG), Marshon Brooks (13.1 PPG), and 5-foot-10 point guard Sharaud Curry (10.4 PPG, 4.5 APG), yes.

The Friars have other firepower with 6-foot-7 playmaking point forward Geoff McDermott and Jeff Xavier, shootist who is playing this season despite nagging injuries.

Randall Hanke, a veteran center and never been the sharpest tool in the shed, is beginning to flower. The 7-foot beanstalk scored 12 points (6-for-7 FG) in 19 minutes during the Friars’ 100-94 defeat of no. 15 Syracuse.

Providence (14-6, 6-2) has won three of their last four, since Xavier’s brother went Gangster on the referees in the Marquette loss.

Still, with the inside manpower of walking double-double Adrien and Thabeet, UConn looks to end Providence’s win streak and success at the Constitution state.

A Look Back: January 17, 2008

UConn was buried under a barrage of three-pointers, as Providence’s perimeter assault did the Huskies in during the second half. The Friars’ 14 treys tied for the most three-pointers allowed by UConn in a Big East game. Providence’s Dwain Williams, who dialed in from a different area code, led the sniping with 23 points and six trifectas. Jeff Adrien led the Huskies with 16 points and 15 boards. The Friars held Stanley “Sticks” Robinson, a double-digit scorer, to just two points on a wowing putback dunk in the first half. Jerome Dyson was off his game as well. Calhoun certainly wasn’t in good spirits during the press conference.

“I mean, did Jerome Dyson play tonight?” Calhoun quipped. “I’m not sure if he did or he didn’t.”


Read more!


January 30, 2009

Stanley Robinson's return to the Connecticut line-up has not meant a lot of subtance to the Huskies. In the last six games, Robinson has averaged just 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds a game. Robinson Has Yet to Find a Rhythm (Register Citizen) and with a tough finishing stretch ahead, UConn will need the 6-foot-9 junior to make more of an impact.

As a precaution, UConn's Kemba Walker Sits Out Practice (Norwich Bulletin) on Thursday. The freshman point guard has a mild left ankle and knee sprain.

In one of the most inexplicable streaks in the Big East, and maybe the country, Providence has won their last four games at UConn. So, when the two teams meet in Storrs, the Friars Figure to be Confident When they Visit UConn on Saturday (Greenwich Time) in a Big East contest.


Read more!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


January 28, 2009

The final game of a busy Big East Wednesday tips of at 9 PM at Allstate Arena as DePaul hosts Connecticut. The Blue Demons join only Rutgers as winless teams in Big East action and a victory tonight against the high-flying Huskies looks to be a near impossible prospect.

Here are some pregame stories and previews found on the internet for tonight’s game:

No. 2 UConn at DePaul: Preview (Hartford Courant)
Downturn for DePaul, but an Uptick of Support for Wainwright (Southtown Star)
UConn Needs More from Robinson (Hartford Courant)
Yes, It’s Looking Glum for DePaul; Wainwright Can Only Hope (Daily Herald)
Huskies Hope to Avoid Getting Caught in Trap Game (Middletown Press)
DePaul Seems Overmatched Against UConn (Stamford Advocate)

Stories are coming out left and right looking at Jerry Wainwright’s future as the head coach of DePaul. As of now, the administration is saying all the right things to indicate he has their support and will continue to lead the Blue Demons in the future. However, the number of empty seats and fans letting their opinions known is definitely having an impact on the coach and his players.

Top all that off with a date with No. 2 Connecticut, and things look very bleak for the Blue Demons.

The Huskies seem like they are beginning to show signs of hitting their stride, typical of a Jim Calhoun team when the stretch run appears ahead. AJ Price is returning to his form of last season and fellow senior Jeff Adrien is controlling the paint with brute force. Hasheem Thabeet is the most intimidating defender in the country and Jerome Dyson is beginning to pour in points from the wing. This team looks to have all the pieces as a serious title contender.

DePaul, on the complete other hand, looks the part of the conference cellar dweller. Their strengths are trumped by other teams all too easily. While Mac Koshwal and Dar Tucker are fine Big East talents, every other team has a duo similar, it is the rest of the line-up that is outmatched at every position in the Big East, allowing teams to stifle their big guns and earn easy wins.

The early line has the Blue Demons as a 13 ½-point underdog on their home floor. I almost have a feeling that keeping the game that close would be a minor victory for Depaul.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 79
DePaul 63


Read more!

Monday, January 26, 2009


January 26, 2009

by Zach Smart

NEW YORK—Bob Cimmino’s Mount Vernon Knights basketball program has been a steady pipeline to the Division 1-A ranks in recent seasons. This year’s hot prospect is Sherrod Wright, who followed Kevin Jones, who followed Jonathan Mitchell and there was also Keith Benjamin, Ben Gordon and on and on. From all indications, current sophomore point guard Jabari Hinds is next in line.

Hinds’ Division-I stock is starting to soar, as Villanova, Marquette, Virginia, and UNLV are all competing for the young gun’s future services. Hinds said that UNLV and Virginia have already made a scholarship offers and Jim Calhoun and the Connecticut Huskies have expressed considerable interest in the Mount Vernon sophomore.

He’s most impressed, however, with what UConn has to offer. The Knights took in the Huskies’ win over Seton Hall at Hartford last weekend, and Hinds got acquainted with UConn’s coaching staff.

“Right now from what I see, I love it,” said Hinds, a budding point guard for the nationally-ranked Knights (10-2).

“I’ve got a couple of Big East schools looking at me, so it should be interesting.”

Calhoun, along with a coaching staff that’s widely recognized as one of the nation’s top recruiting combinations, have been in active pursuit of Hinds. Hinds shined at the SNY Invitational at NYU’s Coles Center this weekend, his performance going from efficient to electrifying.

In the Knights’ win over Brooklyn power Thomas Jefferson High, Hinds and explosive scorer Sherrod Wright (32 points) got the better of Jefferson’s three-headed monster of Keith Spellman, Davontay Grace and Joel “Air Jamaica” Wright.

Recovering from a shaky first half (four assists to five turnovers), Hinds dropped 14 points and handed out five dimes.

In the championship, Hinds played beyond his years as Mount Vernon shellacked St. Raymond’s, 70-54. The wiry 6-foot guard scored 18 points (8-for-13 FG), dealt out four assists, played stingy defense (he recorded five steals as the Knights forced St. Ray’s into 22 turnovers), and converted two steals into rim-rattling fast break dunks.

This season, Hinds is the perfect supplement to Wright, an off guard who averages 23.4 points.

The Right Fit?

As a Hall of Fame coach who’s turned UConn into an NBA breeding house and a top-notch Big East program, Calhoun has an affinity for New York guards. The New York style of play is fitting for Calhoun’s speedball, hellfire offensive approach.

A.J. Price and Kemba Walker, two of the Huskies top guards, both hail from the New York area. Price starred at Amityville High in Long Island and Walker re-wrote the record book at Rice High in Harlem.

Former Husky and current Chicago Bull Ben Gordon, who helped lead the Huskies to a 2004 national championship, played at Mount Vernon under Bob Cimmino.

Cimmino, who’s architected a perennial power, Big East pipeline (Rutgers’ Jonathon Mitchell and Michael Coburn, former Pittsburgh star Keith Benjamin were all cropped up in the system that breeds all homegrown talent) and Division-I launchpad, maintains close ties with the UConn coaching staff.

Since ascending to NBA star status, Gordon—who shelled out a boatload of cash to prevent the school system from eliminating interscholastic sports—has been a major local presence.

As a player who made it out of Mount Vernon and watched his game skyrocket, Gordon could very well have an influence on Hinds’ decision.


Read more!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


January 25, 2009

It is over. UConn Ends Notre Dame's Home Winning Streak at 45 Games (Chicago Tribune) with a 69-61 win in South Bend.

UConn Takes the Fight Out of the Irish (New Haven Register) other than Luke Harangody, and that was the key to winning. Harangody led Notre Dame with 24 points and 15 rebounds, but it took him 23 shots to get those 24 points and he was the only ND player to score in double figures.

Kyle McAlarney hit three early three's, but was shut out the rest of the way.

The Huskies are Able to Halt Irish Win Streak (South Bend Tribune) with a balanced attack led by Jerome Dyson's 15 points and Jeff Adrien's 12 points and 19 rebounds.

UConn owned a 54-44 rebounding edge and limited the Irish to 33% (25-76) shooting from the floor. Yes, ND missed 51 shots!


Read more!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


January 24, 2009

Notre Dame puts their nation’s best 45-game home win streak on the line Saturday night when Connecticut comes to town. The Irish have won 20 straight at home in Big East play and the Huskies will try to break both streaks in front of the ESPN ‘College Gameday’ crew.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on the game from around the internet:

Fightin’ Words (Journal Inquirer)
Circus Set to Descend on South Bend (TheDay.com)
Losing at Home Isn’t an Option for Notre Dame (Chicago Tribune)
Will Harangody be Ready for Thabeet? You Bet (South Bend Tribune)
Tough Talk from Fighting Irish (New Haven Register)
Joking Aside, Thabeet has to Walk the Walk (Norwich Bulletin)
Subplots Spice Up UConn-Irish (Waterbury Rep-Am)
Notre Dame Needs to Hear from Zach Hillesland (Chicago Tribune)
Irish are Decidedly Pro Joyce (Journal Inquirer)
Vitale Likes UConn’s Chances at Final Four (Hartford Courant)
Things are About to Heat Up in South Bend (TheDay.com)
Irish Hurt by Lack of Cohesiveness (Journal Gazette)

According to Hasheem Thabeet, UConn’s 7’3 center, Luke Harangody is not all that tough. Pretty interesting stuff to say about the 2007-2008 Big East Player of the Year, who is averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds a game as a junior this season.

Thabeet made that statement in the ESPN The Magazine’s preseason college basketball edition. He quickly fired off an apology to Notre Dame and claimed it was taken out of context in an attempt to be funny. Personally, I believe him and this is an incident that has gotten rekindled this week, but really is no big deal to the players and coaches involved. However, it will be a point of interest for the Notre Dame faithful who will likely be reminder Thabeet and Harangody all game long.

I guess Thabeet is forgetting the 32-point, 16-rebound performance Harangody had against UConn last season. Although, the first meeting last year between the two teams, won by ND, Harangody was just 5-23 from the floor as he was bothered by the size of the UConn frontline.

It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Harangody is going to accrue big numbers in points and rebounds every time out. In his last three games, he has averaged 27.6 points and 15 rebounds a game, however his efficiency has taken a big hit. He is just 30-79 from the field in those three games. I imagine UConn will be more than happy to let Harangody get his 25 points if it takes him 25 shots, especially since it means Kyle McAlarney is not getting more attempts. In ND’s win over UConn last year, McAlarney went off for 32 points, hitting 13 of 19 (including 6 of 7 on three’s). In the loss, K-Mac was just 4-14 for 12 points.

The Huskies will need AJ Price to continue his revitalization and the big front line to make things difficult for Harangody to get his points. Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet seem like the perfect duo to do just that. Also, defensively, Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson need to keep McAlarney and Ryan Ayers from getting going on the perimeter.

Notre Dame is in the midst of a brutal stretch of games. The started this run out with a pair of losses, OT at Louisville and they were run out of the Carrier Dome by Syracuse. Now they host UConn on Saturday night and turnaround and have Marquette coming in on Monday. Following that they have a three-game road trip against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and leave the conference for a date with UCLA. Then, they return home to meet Louisville. Getting back into the win column is very important for the Irish, but it might be a very tough task against the streaking UConn Huskies. The Irish will have to prove it on the defensive side of the ball against the UConn club, something I am not sure they are willing to do and will see their home win streak stopped.

The latest NCAA basketball odds have UConn as a 2 1/2–point favorite on the road.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 81
Notre Dame 77


Read more!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Senior guard leads Huskies to sixth straight win

There has been a bit of a feeling that Connecticut has lacked a true go-to player this season. Signs are pointing that the issue could be settled as UConn's AJ Price Scores Career-High 29 Points to beat 'Nova (NY Daily News), 89-83, on Wednesday night.

Price's 29-point effort came on the heels of his 23-point outing in a win Sunday over Seton Hall. It was the first time this season that Price put back-to-back strong offensive outings, showing more signs that AJ is Just What UConn Kneeds (New Haven Register) as we head towards the midway point of conference play.

Price scored 20 of his 29 in the first half as both teams scored at will, going into halftime knotted at 48-all. The Wildcats hung even with UConn by shooting 56% in the first half.

Jerome Dyson added 19 points for the winners and his four-point play after being shoved from behind by an intentional foul committed by Corey Stokes gave UConn momentum to make a run to finally put some distance between then and 'Nova as the Huskies Push Back (TheDay.com) to win their sixth straight.

With Hasheem Thabeet limited to just 17 minutes because of foul trouble, Jeff Adrien picked up the slack inside with another double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds) as 'Nova's Rally Falls Short (Philadelphia Inquirer) as the Wildcats only connected on 34% of their shots in the second half.

Villanova was able to put five players in double figures, led by Dwayne Anderson's 15 points, but Villanova Falls Short Against UConn (Philly Daily News) and their strength as the Huskies fixed their foul shooting woes (just 8-18 on Sunday) by connecting on 31 of 39 attempts as the Huskies Hold Off 'Nova (Norwich Bulletin).


-UConn held a 37-32 advantage on the boards and both teams turned the ball over 14 times in the contest.

-'Nova committed 26 fouls, leading to the Huskies outscoring the Wildcats 31-18 from the foul line.

-UConn improves to 6-1 in the Big East and will attempt to put an end to Notre Dame's 45-game home win streak Saturday night in South Bend

-UConn finally got word on freshman Ater Majok from the NCAA. The 6'10 Majok is to Enter Classes at UConn (Connecticut Post) and Majok is Partially Cleared to Play Next Season (Hartford Courant). Majok is from Sudan via Australia, and has been granted partial eligibilty by the NCAA. He will move into a dorm and begin classes at UConn Thursday, and he is eligible to practice with the team. However, Majok is not eligible to play in games until after exams of the fall 2009 semester.


Read more!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


January 21, 2009

Just another night in the Big East when a pair of ranked teams go head to head as 20th-ranked Villanova makes the trek to Hartford to take on No. 3 UConn.

The recurring theme when this game is analyzed is the need for Villanova to make a statement. The Wildcats have played three ranked teams, losing to all three (Texas, Marquette and Louisville) and we are 17 games into the season and their two best wins have been against local Big 5 rivals Temple and St. Joe's.

For UConn, they have something weighing on their mind as well, a three-game losing streak to jay Wright's squad.

Here are some pregame stories and previews found on the internet this morning:

No Break for UConn (TheDay.com)
'Nova Looks for Respect vs. UConn (Evening Bulletin)
Easy Times May Be Over for Villanova (Philly Inquirer)
Villanova Looks to Make Statement (Philly Daily News)
Taken for Granted, Adrien Becomes UConn's Leader (Rep-Am)
Huskies Hope to Shake Wildcats (Norwich Bulletin)
UConn Trying to Keep Momentum Rolling (Rep-Am)
Versatile Villanova to Test UConn (Hartford Courant)

The match-up between UConn and 'Nova is concentrated on by looking at the size and NBA frontline of the Huskies and the traditionaly strong guard play of the Wildcats. While Dante Cunningham is enjoying a strong senior season and has given the 'Nova frontcourt new life, they just can not match-up withthe size and strength of a line-up that will start Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien and Stanley Robinson and also bring Gavin Edwards off the bench.

While Scottie Reynolds leads a strong Villanova backcourt line-up, it is probably pretty accurate to say that the UConn backcourt should be, at least, the equal to their counterparts tonight. If AJ Price can build some momentum from his hot-shooting in the weekend win over Seton Hall (although, do not expect the same number of open shots tonight) and the speed infusion that Kemba Walker brings and Jerome Dyson's ability to play both ends of the court, this is a pretty good backcourt in its own right, even if they are overlooked because of their frontline.

We are still waiting on proof of how good Villanova is. They will certainly have motivation to make a statement, but UConn might as well with the bright lights of the ESPN cameras on their home floor against a previous nemesis. As a 9 1/2-point favorite, we like UConn to start flexing a little more muscle and knock down some free throws tonight.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 74
Villanova 62


Read more!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


January 18, 2009

“Right now we’re 0-4…We gotta win. We gotta find a way to win,” said Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez during this week’s Big East coach’s conference call.

That might be easier said then done. SHU, who have lost six of their last seven overall, must now travel to Hartford to take on Connecticut in a Big East conference match-up.

Since dropping their conference opener, UConn has reeled off four straight league wins, including three straight on the road. The Huskies have a schedule that builds to a crescendo down the stretch, so they hope to avoid any pitfalls along the way.

The difference between these two teams is greatest in the frontcourt. Bobby Gonzalez is well aware of the challenge his undermanned and undersized front line will face.

“They’ve got kind of an NBA front line with [Hasheem] Thabeet and Jeff Adrien,” Gonzalez said this week. “Thabeet can change a game by himself. Jeff Adrien is a warrior.”

UConn can also add 6’9 Stanley Robinson to the floor as well and you have an NBA sized trio. On the other hand, Seton Hall uses a 6’5 forward and a 6’9 center with gimpy knees and three guards…ouch.

Seton Hall will also look to run and gun, playing right into the hands of UConn’s preferred style of play as Jim Calhoun will look for freshman guard Kemba Walker to push the pace as everyone on the UConn team can get out and run. If AJ Price can find his niche with the ball in Walker’s hands more, look out…this is a team that has yet to hit their stride and are 18 ½ point favorites today.

Here are some links to pregame stories and previews found on the web:

Hazell is a Scoring Machine for Seton Hall (Connecticut Post)
UConn Taking Hall or Nothing Approach (Journal Inquirer)

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 94
Seton Hall 74


Read more!

Friday, January 16, 2009


By Zach Smart

New York—For UConn freshman Kemba Walker, being away from home is a major transition that college life has brought about.

As the sixth man on the Huskies Walker doesn't have much time on his hands, let alone time to spend in his old New York City stomping grounds.

So Walker made his brief homecoming worthwhile yesterday, torching St. John's for 21 points en route to a pivotal 67-55 UConn victory at Madison Square Garden.

Walker, a Bronx native who starred at Rice High School, stung the Johnnies with a little bit of everything Thursday night.

The 6-foot-1 point guard snaked through the defense, beating defenders off the dribble at will. Walker got players to bite on fakes, finished in transition, and facilitated an early 8-0 run that smacked some life into a sleepwalking UConn offense.

Read More...Click 'Read More' Below!!!


Simply put, the nifty neophyte played in a different zip code.

He connected on eight of 12 shots and doled out four assists. He provided the fireworks and crucial buckets before a crowd of 7,545 at the World's Most Famous Arena. In attendance were Donyell Marshall, Cliff Robinson, former SJU standout Walter "The Truth" Berry and the legendary Lou Carnesecca.

Jeff Adrien recorded yet another double-double, pouring in 17 points and pulling down 11 boards. The 6-foot-7 forward has more double-doubles than any active Big East player.

Adrien helped build a 14-point second half lead on a jumper and a pair of freebies. St. John's, which led during the first half and trailed by just a point at the half, cut the lead to nine after Stanley Robinson was charged with goaltending late in the second.

UConn responded as Walker danced around the defense and found a wide open A.J. Price for a three-point dagger. On the ensuing possession, Walker got out in transition and completed a traditional three-point play.

Paris Horne scored a career-high 24 points for the Johnnies (10-6, 1-3), who trek to Villanova on Jan. 18 before hosting Cincinnati Jan. 22.

Horne scored 13 first-half points, connecting on 5 of his first 7 shots as he kept the gritty Redmen in the game.

D.J. Kennedy, a presence in the running game, dished out six of his game-high seven assists in the first half. The Johnnies seized control of the lead early, with Kennedy's fast break layin giving them a 12-6 edge. They capitalized on a torrent of turnovers that incensed Jim Calhoun, and a trey from Horne made it 22 all.

Hasheem Thabeet looked like he hadn't touched a basketball in weeks in the first half. The surefire NBA draft pick was softer than a pillow purchased at Sleepy's. Softer than a Sidwell Friends bookworm. He bricked a layup and got called for steps as the momentum pendulum shifted in SJU's direction.

The second half was a different story. It looked as someone sparked a fire underneath him. The 7-foot-3 Center got free for some powerful dunks and delivered an eye-popping block on Kennedy. He punched Kennedy's shot attempt high in the air, as the ball soared before falling into the hands of Horne behind the arc. Thabeet finished with a game-high five blocks.

But it was Walker who emerged as the venomous buzz saw, soaring in for a fast break layup that culminated a 9-2 spurt.

Walker, a fixture on the hardscrabble New York City courts where go-go basketball is the norm, later banked a three that gave UConn a 51-38 advantage.

UConn recovered from a lackluster first half (scoring wise) by turning up the defensive pressure. They employed tight, lockdown defense in the second. The defensive upgrade and Walker's blink-quick antics proved to wear down the assertive, aggressive, never-say-die Redmen.

There are a number of dazzling Big East freshman that have come to fruition this season--Mike Rosario, Samuerdo Samuels, and Greg Monroe, to name a few. If Walker keeps turning in performance like he did Thursday, essentially a coming-out party on his homecoming, he'll be catapulted into this elite, high-rent district.


Read more!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


by Zach Smart

The Huskies look to close out a road swing that began down in West Virginia, when they gutted out a 61-55 win over the Mountaineers, who were shooting blanks and couldn't scrape the side of a Morgantown barn in the second half.

Jacked Jeff Adrien, an elder-statesman who's played a significant role since he was a freshman bench sparkplug on UConn's then NBA team (Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, Marcus Williams, Hilton Armstrong), helped the Huskies' stave off the stubborn, willful Bearcats in Cincinnati.

Now, the Huskies are back to their old March stomping grounds, ready to battle a familiar foe in St. John's.

Read More...Click 'Read More' Below!!!


St. John's, a program that has dwindled, significantly, should be ready. The Johnnies pulled off a heart-racing, hard-to-believe 71-65 upset of St. John's to open the New Year on a high note. The inevitable ecstasy would turn to agony, however, as the Johnnies were drubbed by the nation's top-ranked team in Pittsburgh.

Against the Panthers in the first half, some lingering effects of the Notre Dame upset were evident. The Johnnies played neck-and-neck with the Panthers, seizing a three-point lead following D.J. Kennedy's baseline jumper with 5:36 remaining.

The Panthers were suddenly in the midst of a first have dogfight.

With the game log-jammed at 29, DeJuan Blair's putback of Gilbert Brown's missed free throw broke the tie. It was a veritable microcosm of the game, Blair fighting for position and ripping down boards with reckless regard for his opponent.

Blair, the homegrown Pitt product and high school teammate of St. John's DJ Kennedy, scored 23 points and ripped down 15 boards.

With under two minutes remaining in the half, Sam Young slammed on the breaks in transition, lofting the ball high in the air. Floating somewhere between the arena ceiling and the hardwood, the freakish Gilbert Brown jammed home the alley to give Pitt a 41-36 halftime edge.

The Panthers broke the game open in the second half, ripping off a momentum-rolling 16-6 lead that gave them a 64-48 lead by the half's midway mark.

So, the tri-state area rivalry renews itself tonight at 7 PM at MSG.

No.4 UConn (14-1, 3-1 Big East) is no Pitt, but they're front-loaded with super-sized bigs that could clog up the key and keep the Johnnies from attacking the cup.

Hasheem Thabeet, the 7-foot-3 beanstalk, loves to influence, alter, manipulate, and change the trajectory of shots by guards and forwards audacious enough to take the ball to the rack on him.

Thabeet, a junior and surefire NBA lottery pick, hasn't been the presence he was last year. He had only two blocked shots against Cincinnati and looked lost and listless against Georgetown. The Huskies have won three consecutive games since then and will look to conclude the road swing with a victory that will help them in the conference race. The Huskies are currently tied for fifth place with Providence, who scored two Big East wins over downtrodden programs.

It should be an intriguing homecoming for Kemba Walker, the point guard who played at New York City power Rice High school last year. Walker is familiar with Madison Square Garden, aka "The Mecca," having played there in AAU tournaments and various high school games with former UConn Husky Curtis Kelly. He knows as good as anyone that the Huskies will need to bring their 'A' game.

"We can't sleep on them," said Walker during an interview with the Hartford Courant.

"We have to go as hard as every other game. Coach told us that they always play us hard."

The rivalry has been one-sided these past 10 years. The Huskies have won seven straight since Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor and company suffered a loss in 2002.

Last year against the Johnnies, Jerome Dyson tied a program record with nine steals and A.J. Price scored 25 points as the Huskies rolled to an 81-65 route. Dyson's nine steals in a game tied Scottie Burrell. Burrel played for the Charlotte Hornets during the "Grandma Ma" Larry Johnson era and won a ring with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1998. He originally set the record in 1990 against Maine.

Dyson, who loves to play at the Garden and beat up on the on-the-bubble teams, should have his hands full this time around. Last year, around this time, Dyson was virtually nonexistent in the UConn Huskies system.

The Rockville, Md. native was arrested along with former Husky Doug Wiggins, for an alcohol-related incident in which a small amount of marijuana was found near the car. When Dyson failed a drug test following the incident, he was suspended for around a month.

The Huskies seemed to be better without their go-to scorer, winning five straight, with three of the wins coming against nationally-ranked opponents. Dyson, who entertained thoughts of eventually bolting for the NBA draft at the beginning of his sophomore season, was in a brief funk once he returned. Out of the groove he'd been in at the first half of the system, Dyson's stock plummeted before he returned to formidable form.


Read more!


St. John’s will look for an instant replay tonight as they try and upset the second straight top-10 opponent to visit Madison Square Garden in two home games. Back on January 3rd the Redstorm stunned Notre Dame, 71-65, behind DJ Kennedy’s double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Tonight, Connecticut brings their lofty national ranking to the Garden and will look to leave with it intact.

Here are some pregame stories and previews found on the internet this morning:

Huskies Make Turn in Fine Form (Middletown Press)
Second Half of Season Starts Tonight (Norwich Bulletin)
Johnnies’ Rob Thomas Up to Huskie Task Tonight at Garden (NY Daily News)
Huskies Make the Turn (TheDay.com)
It’s Homecoming Day for Walker (TheDay.com)
Huskies Bracing for Back Nine (Connecticut Post)
UConn Plays St. John’s at the Garden (Courant)

UConn enters the contest with an overall record of 14-1 on the season and 3-1 in the Big East. The Huskies have rallied for three consecutive wins since opening conference play with a 74-63 home loss to Georgetown. This is the third and final leg of a three-game road swing for Jim Calhoun’s squad, coming up with a 61-55 win at West Virginia and an 81-72 win at Cincinnati.

In the victory at Cincinnati, AJ Price shook off the cobwebs from his perimeter game by pouring in 22 points and Jeff Adrien had another day at the office with a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double for the victors.

St. John’s hung with #1 Pittsburgh for the first half on Sunday afternoon in the Steel City before the Panthers overwhelmed SJU after intermission in a 90-67 loss for the ‘storm. SJU turned the ball over 24 times as they continue to miss point guard Malik Boothe.

As usual, expect a very large contingent of UConn fans to invade the Garden tonight, giving it a strong feeling of a game being played in Hartford, or even Storrs, when the two teams take the floor. The Huskies will also look to use their size and strength in the paint with 7’3 Hasheem Thabeet and Adrien to take away the scoring opportunities of SJU. Pressure from Price and freshman point guard Kemba Walker in pushing the pace of the game will also be a detriment to SJU who will be without a point guard. In the loss to Pitt, Quincy Roberts, a freshman filling in for Boothe, had just one assist against 8 turnovers.

The oddsmakers are listing the Huskies as 12 ½-point favorites, but that seems to be a road line, we feel UConn will feel much more at home than this line indicates and they should role and get their offense moving with some easy buckets and a stingy defense making things very hard on SJU. It will be quiet different than playing against Notre Dame…

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 78
St. John’s 63


Read more!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


High Adrenaline Adrien, Price Lead Huskies In Road Victory

By Zach Smart

Has Jeff Adrien's mohawk actually had an affect on his play?

What appears to be a mind-numbing question might actually raise some eyebrows. Look it up in the notes if you don't believe me.

Since Adrien arrived on campus with a fresh dome-slice and unique new style (prior to the Fairfield game), he's been a man amongst boys. The Brookline, Mass. native has been assertive as ever, hustling his hairdoo off and playing with a tenacity and passion that ignites fans, infuses confidence and offers instant energy.

Read More...Click 'Read More' Below!!!


It happens every game, like clockwork. Adrien scores crucial buckets, snares rebounds, and spills to the floor for loose balls like he just downed a 40 of Red Bull.

The mohawked man continued his exceptional play Saturday, notching his 38th career double-double while helo=ping propel the Huskies to an 81-72 victory over an obstinate Cincinnati club.

Adrien, the senior strongman who sported a Superman shirt and cape during UConn's First Night event, scored 13 points and ripped down a game-high 12 rebounds Saturday night.

Since deciding to shred some hair and go with the mohawk, Adrien is averaging a robust 15.8 points and 9 boards. His high-horsepower, high-stakes mentality bodes well for a UConn team that's looked sleepy-eyed and lackadaisical at times this season.

Adrien helped clog up the middle Saturday night, joining forces with 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet. The inside tandem manipulated and altered the trajectory of shots in the paint, en route to the road win. This made life difficult for freshman forward Yancy Gates, who had been shooting over 51 percent. Gates struggled Saturday, shooting just 4-for-14 and failing to perculate inside.

The Huskies out-rebounded the Bearcats by a 31-26 margin. Those 26 boards marked a season-low for Cincinnati, which fell to 10-6 and is still searching for their first Big East victory. Before a strongly partisan crowd of 9,029 at the Fifth Third Arena, it looked as if the Bearcats could pull off an improbable upset over the no.5 Huskies (13-1, 2-1).

UConn never led by over five points in the first half. Cinci tied the game on a Larry Davis three-pointer and seized a 32-30 lead following Gates' free throws with 1:16 to go in the first.

A.J. Price thwarted the thin margin with a big three from the corner. The Huskies quickly regained the lead, heading into the intermission holding a slim 38-34 lead.

The willful Bearcats kept within striking distance.

That is, until the Huskies ripped off a 13-4 run midway through the second half, landing a lead they wouldn't relinquish. In typical Husky fashion, they went through the motions before suddenly reeling off a surge. UConn's lead grew to 70-58 after Adrien's two-handed jam with 4:16 remaining.

The Bearcats responded with a jumper by Dion Dixon, but the Huskies found Thabeet for a layup that made it 72-61.

Deonta Vaughn (19 points), Mike Williams (14 points) and Rashad Bishop would hit shots, but it was too little too late.

The Huskies shot somewhere below freezing in their win over West Virginia. They re-wrote the script by showing some heat waves Saturday night, shooting the rock at 58 percent (29-for-50) clip, hitting 53 percent (8-for-15) from beyond the arc.

Price, the catalyst throughout UConn's pursuit of a Big East title last year, overcame an abysmal 0-for-9 shooting night at West Virginia. Price scored a game-high 22 points (hitting five treys) and doled out five dimes, outdueling the quick-sniping Vaughn.

Vaughn, who gave UConn 34 points on the strength of seven treys last year, shot 8-for-15 from the floor.

In the end, it was Adrien's interior toughness, ball denial, stingy defense and boardwork that brought the Huskies their second consecutive Big East road win.

Is it the shoes? No. Is it the mohawk? Maybe.

The mohawked man and the Huskies look to extend their conference win streak to three games on Jan. 15, as their road swing returns to the tri-state area for a stop at St. John's.


Read more!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


January 10, 2009

Last season, Connecticut and Cincinnati played a classic game at Fifth Third Arena on the UC campus with a potential game-winning shot rimming out on the Bearcats. After an 0-2 start in conference play, including this week’s disappointing loss to Providence at home, Mike Cronin’s team will look to right the ship defensively as they welcome in the powerful Huskies.

This match-up features two of the biggest teams in the conference. UConn used that imposing height to overcome some poor shooting to earn a road win at west Virginia this week. UC has allowed 85 points a game in two Big East contests, so what ails the Husky offense could be cured come late Saturday afternoon.

Here are some preview articles and game stories from around the web this morning:

Perimeter Opportunities for #5 UConn (Hartford Courant)
Travel Thoughts, Sights: UC vs. UC (Courant)
Huskies Need to Keep Playing Defense New Britain Herald)
Huskies Continue Big East Navigation at Cincinnati (Norwich Bulletin)
This One Promises to be Big (Journal Inquirer)
Dyson’s UConn Challenge: Slow Vaughn (Connecticut Post)
Calhoun on UC: Stay Steady (Cincinnati Enquirer)
UC Still Not Heading North in Big East (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Calhoun Knows of UC’s Woes (Enquirer)
Haralson, Okwandu Not Here in Cincinnati with UConn (New Haven Register)

Connecticut is an 8 ½-point road favorite according to the oddsmakers. The Huskies definitely have the firepower and the gameplan. Slowing Deonta Vaughn is the key against UC. Jerome Dyson has all the tools to be a dominant perimeter defender and will have the challenge of stopping Vaughn in this game.

While the Cincinnati frontline is improved and bigger than a year ago, Yancy Gates, Mike Williams, Anthony McClain, and company will have their hands full with Jeff Adrien, Hasheem Thabeet and Stanley Robinson, who have all been through the Big East battles time and time again.

It will be a learning experience for the Bearcats and show them where they are and where they want to get to in the next couple years when playing UConn.

NBE Blogger Prediciton:

Connecticut 75
Cincinnati 69


Read more!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

UConn Tops 'Neers In Cold Front

January 7, 2009

by Zach Smart

The UConn Huskies showed resolves, resilience, and fight en route to scoring a much-needed victory over West Virginia in Morgantown last night. Though the no.5 Huskies are still seeking that signature victory following a lackluster loss to Georgetown last week, the Mountaineers are no slouch.

They stamped BlOhio State (if B.J. Mullens is actually a consensus top-5 NBA draft selection this very easily may be one of the worst draft classes of all time) with a 30-point victory before Big East play, handing the Suckeyes their first loss of the season.

The lack of a formidable frontline certainly hampered the Mountaineers. It opened the seas for 7-foot-3 gargantuan Center Hasheem Thabeet and 6-foot-7 senior strongman Jeff Adrien.

The two 2XL-sized bigs combined for 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting. Adrien scored a game-high 17 points and was one of the few players on the floor that shot the ball at an efficient clip.

Read More...Click Below!

It was the jumping jack antics of the freakish Stanley "Sticks" Robinson, however, that lifted UConn to the victory. Robinson's ability to sky for rebounds and outwork other players through shear, otherworldly athleticism helped the Huskies dominate the interior and pound the glass all night long.

Robinson, the previously exiled Husky, was employed at Prime Materials in Willimantic for much of the first semester. Sticks showed how the hard labor and blue-collar format rubbed off on him.

He showed up with his hardhat and lunch pail and snared a game-high 15 boards. The Huskies out-boarded the Mountaineers by a whopping 52-33 margin, en route to no.5 UConn's 61-55 gut-it-out victory.

Both teams suffered from a case of backcourt frost bite.

The trio of Jerome Dyson, A.J. Price, and Kemba Walker shot a combined 5-for-24, albeit an array of offensive boards and stickbacks bailed out the super-athletic Huskies. The Huskies shot 28 percent from the field in the first half, their worst shooting percentage in any half this season by miles and kilometers.

The Mountaineers were nearly as bad, shooting a measly, meager 9-for-26 (25 percent) in the second half.

Typically a team that can tantalize and torment on the perimeter, the Mountaineers shot an arctic 6-for-26 from behind the arc, and Bobby Huggins had no idea for it.

Still, with the snipers shooting blanks and building a new arena with all the bricks they stacked, UConn had a palpable advantage with augmented manpower.

In a hotly contested battle of this magnitude, before a partisan home crowd expecting them to defend the castle, the Mountaineers can't expect a win if they don't split the nylon the way they are accustomed to doing.

Shooting the rock at a 30.3 percent clip, WVU suffered its worst shooting performance from the floor. The loss dipped WVU's record to 11-3. They are now 1-1 in Big East play.

With the win, the bad taste of Georgetown dominance is somewhat washed from UConn's mammoth mouth. While there are no lingering effects of that hammering home serving, the Huskies (13-1, 2-1 Big East) are still searching for that resume win as the Big East slate continues.

A road swing that features stops in Cincinnati and St. John’s, followed by a game at Seton Hall (who’s fell off the radar following blowout losses, and in case you didn’t see Scottie Reynolds lit them up for 40 last night) before a Jan. 21 game vs. Villanova.

That showdown at the XL Center should be a real litmus test for the Huskies.

Oh, and the Buckeyes are still weaker than Chinese tea (in hoops, that is).


Read more!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


January 6, 2009

after splitting their first two Big East games at home, Jim Calhoun's Connecticut club takes to the conference road and looks to throw their hat back into the ring as a conference challenger when they take on West Virginia. As always, expect the Colisuem to be rocking in Morgantown when the 5th-ranked Huskies come to battle the #25 Mountaineers.

Here are some pregame stories and previews found on the web:

No. 5 Huskies Happy to be on the Road (TheDay.com)
Murderer’s Row Begins (Charleston Gazette)
Firing the Musket (TheDay.com)
Big Test for WVU (Times West Virginian)
Mountaineers vs. Huskies (wvmetronews.com)
Defense Has UConn Feeling at Ease (Hartford Courant)
Mazzulla Hoping to Make it Back (Charleston Gazette)
Thabeet Center of WVU’s Attention (Connecticut Post)
UConn Men’s Gameday (Connecticut Post)

UConn started off conference play with a result and effort that left Jim Calhoun very irritated against Georgetown. UConn rebounded with an 80-49 blowout of Rutgers on Saturday, but this is a chance to the Huskies to re-establish themselves as a Big East favorite. You know they will come out fired up in an effort to avoid a 1-2 conference start.

West Virginia has been a very interesting team that has been quietly been building some impressive momentum while not many were looking. In their last four games (Miami OH, Radford, at Ohio State, at SHU), WVU has won by an average score of 85-54, yet the 11-2 Mountaineers barely squeezed into the top 25 this week at #25.

The obvious match-up area to watch will be in the paint where UConn will have a starting frontcourt of 7'3 Hasheem Thabeet, 6'9 Stanley Robinson and physical 6'7 Jeff Adrien setting up shop as starters with versatile 6'9 forward Gavin Edwards most-used off the bench.. A guard line-up of AJ Price, Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker and Craig Austrie, for the most part, makes up the UConn rotation.

WVU is not that tall, usually using several forwards in the 6'7-6'8 range to make up their frontcourt. It truly is a group by committee as Devin Ebanks, Wellington Smith, John Flowers and Kevin Jones all have the ability to go inside and out offensively and will hit the boards aggressively. Their effort will be at a high level and will force the hand of Thabeet to be the aggressive post player that UConn needs in order for them to be successful.

A quick way to ignite the WVU faithful is a quick-htting htree from senior Alex Ruoff. Da'Sean Butler has the potential to light up a scoreboard, so the defensive pressure on the wings by UConn will be a key. With only true freshman Darryl Bryant left as a true point guard with Joe Mazzulla's shoulder injury, a big weight is on the NYC native against the big boys of the Big East.

This game is a personal challenge to Hasheem Thabeet and will likely be presented to him in that way by his coach. Thabeet must step up and control play in the paint to give Jeff Adrien the room to dominate the boards. If Thabeet is passive against the smaller Mountaineer forwards, UConn could be in trouble as a Bob Huggins team will not back down on their home court.

The latest NCAA basketball odds have WVU as a three and a half point favorite. I just do not see a UConn team going 1-2 in Big East play to the hands of a freshman point guard and a smaller line-up. It will be a battle, but if AJ Price can step up his game and Thabeet doesn't run and hide, UConn should earn a very tough road win.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 70
West Virginia 65

This one will be worth watching!!!


Read more!

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Huskies rout Rutgers, resuscitates itself after conference opening loss

By Zach Smart

Storrs--After being verbally thrashed by their coach following a lackluster loss to Georgetown Monday, the Huskies came roaring back Saturday night. After suffering a severe power outage, appearing crippled before the Hoyas stifling matchup zone, the Huskies routed a downtrodden Rutgers team, 80-49.

The win restored order and allowed the Huskies to resuscitate itself after the humiliating home defeat. Though the Huskies lost by 11 points to the Hoyas, Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said his team played without passion, deserved to lose, and “got beat by a solid 20 points.”

“Quite frankly we were hammered pretty good, in every aspect of the game,” a dejected Calhoun said as he sauntered out of the press room Monday night. Calhoun, who’s battled a bad case of the shingles and a bad cold that’s been hampering him for the past few weeks, left the game after the first half.

He funneled down the driver’s keys to Associated Head Coach George Blaney. Under Blaney, the Huskies’ seemed to play a looser, less tense and less conservative brand of basketball.

Read More...Click Below!

Hasheem Thabeet re-registered his presence in the college basketball landscape after downing some Tylenol PMs and literally going to sleep against Georgetown and top-flight freshman big Greg Monroe.

Monroe and teammate Chris Wright torched Thabeet on Monday, penetrating the teeth of the defense and taking to the ball to the tin at will.

This time, Thabeet got the better of Rutgers counterparts Gregory Echenique and Hamady N’Dyiaye, 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-11, respectively. The 7-foot-3 behemoth outclassed the towering tandem, pouring in 15 bounds while snaring eight boards.

The Huskies took care of the basketball as if it were a cylinder chunk of 80-karat gold, committing zero turnovers in the first half. Uconn finished with a sizzling 21-to-6 turnover ratio.

The Huskies scorched the nets in the second half, brandishing a 67.8 shooting percentage.

The souped-up, go-go offense was back in superior form, as the Huskies’ runned-and-gunned to the tune of 21 points on the fast break. This wore down the Scarlet Knights, which allowed the Huskies to shoot them out of the gym throughout the second half.

After dropping games to St. Bonaventure, Lehigh, ad Binghamton—all teams which lack the personnel and essential ingredients to tred water in the Big East Ocean—the Scarlet Knights were downgraded to the low-rent district of the nation’s toughest conference (that’s it, I’m no longer referencing it as “perhaps one of..” or “easily” or “arguably”).

That nonconference slate screamed Big East doormat. Still, the Knights have played a cement-hard schedule this week. It started at top-ranked UNC and took a PITT stop before ending with the UConn walloping.

“Carolina can score with anybody in the country, but this was the best defensive team of the three that we’ve faced,” said Rutgers coach Fred Hill, emotionally and mentally drained from having to play the nation’s no.1, no.2 and no.3-ranked teams in succession.

That defensive prowess was certainly on display, as the Huskies threw Rutgers into a 28.8 percent field goal shooting funk.

The Huskies and Jerome Dyson clamped down on Rutgers leading scorer Mike Rosario, who hung 26 in the loss at North Carolina.

Dyson, recognized for his on the ball defense more during his freshman year, clamped down on Rutgers’ fabulous freshman. Rosario, who came into the contest averaging just a thread under 18 points, was held to 10 on a dreadful 2-for-13 shooting night.

Rosario looked like a perfect fit for the Mason Convention in the first half, landing a set of eight straight bricks before finally thwarting the drought in the second half. Hey, he’s only a freshman (I know that one-and-done wunderkinds Kevin Durant, O.J. Mayo, and Michael Beasley would probably laugh their balls off at that statement).

When asked about his defensive prowess, Dyson didn’t flinch.

“I think I have the ability to lock down any player,” he said. “I really thrive on it, because if you play good defense, it’s always going to leave you with something good on the other side.”

Dyson’s words echoed in Blaney.

“He can lock people up.”

The lockdown operation led to a flurry of fast-break opportunities, helping the Huskies break the game open in the second half. Aside from the splintering shooting, the Huskies racked up 51 points as Rutgers dug itself an insurmountable hole.

“I liked our overall attitude,” said Blaney. “But I really liked our defense.”

Beyond Thabeet, Stanley “Sticks” Robinson had a solid all-around game, scoring 11 points, hauling down seven boards, and dishing out four dimes. He also recorded three blocks and helped handle Rosario.

Jerome Dyson added 14 points (albeit he’s four for his last 21), while senior strongman Jeff Adrien chipped in with 12.


Read more!

Saturday, January 03, 2009


January 3, 2009

Rutgers completes their grueling three-game stretch on Saturday when they travel to Storrs (CT) to take on Connecticut in a Big East conference match-up on Saturday evening.

Rutgers has already lost to No. 1 North Carolina on Sunday and #3 Pittsburgh on Wednesday and now must face the second-ranked Huskies to finish an unprecedented three-game stretch. So far, as expected, RU is 0-2 in the stretch. However, they have shown some signs of improvements since dropping home contests to St. Bonaventure, Lehigh and Binghampton earlier in the pre-conference schedule. The Scarlet Knights lost at UNC 97-75 and hap Pitt on the ropes, with a 55-50 lead with just over 10 minutes left on New Year’s Eve before a 20-4 Panther run ended the hopes for an upset.

Connecticut fell from the ranks of the unbeaten when they were surprised by Georgetown at home in the conference opener Monday night in Hartford. The Hoyas took command early with a 15-1 run to start the game and they turned back every Husky run in the 74-63 victory.

Here are some pre-game stories and previews found on the internet this morning:

Rosario Brings Respectability to Rutgers (Bristol Press)
UConn Men Jump Back into Big East Battle (Connecticut Post)
Happy New Year; Sticks to Start, Rutgers Coming In (Hartford Courant)
A Line-up Change for UConn (TheDay.com)

Well, it did not take long, after one-loss, Stanley Robinson is back in the starting line-up and Craig Austrie will be coming off the bench. It was not too long ago that Robinson was an expendable piece of the UConn puzzle, but after Nate Miles was expelled from school and the NCAA decision on the Ater Majok eligibility continues to hang in the balance, the former sheet metal industry professional is back in Jim Calhoun’s starting line-up just three weeks after coming back into the program after a hiatus.

Rutgers will not be intimidated heading into Storrs, but a Jim Calhoun team coming off a loss in a game where he did not like their effort or toughness, the Scarlet Knights could be in some serious trouble. Rutgers is led by freshman scoring machine Mike Rosario, who has averaged 24 PPG the last two against UNC and Pitt, but the emergence of Corey Chandler from an early shooting slump seems to be a catalyst for their improved play.

Improvements or not, look for UConn to be personally challenged and motivated in this game. Jeff Adrien, Hasheem Thabeet and Stanley Robinson is an NBA-sized frontcourt and AJ Price and Jerome Dyson make up an excellent backcourt duo.

Look for a complete effort early on from the Huskies at both ends of the floor as they quickly put the memories on Monday’s beating behind them and put Rutgers, who is a 21 1/2–point underdog according to the latest college basketball odds away early on.


Connecticut 86
Rutgers 66


Read more!

Calhoun Rips Team, Lauds Fans

By Zach Smart

Hartford—Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of encountering Jim Calhoun following a UConn loss will tell you the same thing over and over again.

He’s a positive, calm, and serene individual who always takes ample time to answer any questions (he’s a firm believer of the phrase “even the genius asks questions”) the media peppers him with.

Yeah, right.

And Mike Tyson never once lost his cool, Woody Allen isn’t a pervert, and smoking XXX video vixen Eva Angelina is a virgin.

Calhoun ripped into his team following their lackluster performance during Monday’s 74-63 loss to no.11 Georgetown.

“I want to congratulate coach Thompson for coming in here and giving us a bigger lesson on how to play basketball with enthusiasm, execution, and energy,” said Calhoun, the longtime game general.

“Quite frankly, we got beat by a solid 20 points. I really want to thank our fans for trying to help bring it back into a game, but they seemed to want it more than we did.”

Read More...Click Below!

Calhoun continued, “We had looked like we had never seen a matchup zone before, we play nothing but matchup zone. 11 out of 12 games we play against matchup zone. Our size was certainly one of our disadvantages tonight.”

Suddenly, a reporter popped the question about Hasheem Thabeet’s lackadaisical evening. Thabeet was outplayed by freshman Greg Monroe, who scored 16 points, and simply did not have it Monday.

“I’m not going to comment on any player, you saw what you saw,” Calhoun tersely replied.

“The freshman played great.”

The reporter may have been confused as to whether Calhoun was referring to Monroe or Kemba Walker, who scored 14 points.

So, when he interjected by simply asking, “Monroe?” Well, it was like challenging a pitbull to a barking match.

“I do know his name,” Calhoun said, irritably as he grilled down the reporter. I actually did do a scouting report.”

Calhoun continued, “If guys are going to the hole that many times, you’re going to have problems. Whether you like every call or don’t like a call, is not important to me. People getting into the lane are going to create difficult situations. And we had no help from our big guys on hedges. Georgetown did a great job executing.”

Calhoun talks at a rapid pace, with a Boston drawl so thick you might ask him to repeat what he’s saying.

That happened early in the press conference, and Calhoun refused (to repeat his words). Oh, and the Georgetown team he talks about is pronounced “Gawgetown.”

Calhoun has done great things during his time at UConn. He’s won national championships and turned boys into men, made me-first individualists into team players and winners. So, the coach who said he still gets butterflies to play Bryant College was not pleased.

“All the things that could’ve happened tonight, I didn’t expect to play just as poorly as we did. In comparison I think Georgetown just took full advantage of everything, did a wonderful job…I didn’t know if their body language was quite the same as the crowd’s. There was a couple guys like AJ, still fighting. A couple of the other guys were upset about individual totals or bad calls or whatever else kids get upset about. This was very, very poor performance for us, opening Big East game, sold-out crowd and for us to perform like that. For us to play that poor…I apologize, I just don’t know how we can play that poorly. I hated our body language early, during the fleeting moments I liked it, and detested it.”

“I don’t even understand what team I was coaching tonight. Once again, I can’t tell you the amount of disappointment I personally have. When it’s all said and done, I’m the guy coaching this team. Coach Thompson’s team, they were meant to go steal a home win they knew exactly what that meant. And we knew exactly what it means to hold court at home, to home serve. We didn’t just home serve, quite frankly we were hammered pretty good in every aspect of the game.”

The Hall of Fame coach isn’t playing around. He’s the foundation of the program and has been through the battles.

Kemba Walker, who admitted he “can’t really repeat” what Calhoun said in the locker room, believes the verbal pummeling will give his team motivation to work harder against Rutgers Jan. 3.

In senior captain A.J. Price, his teammates’ words resonated.


Read more!