Greetings from South Bend.
We haven’t been here since the UConn football team turned its season around with a big win over the Irish. Now we’re back, and the basketball-playing Huskies are hoping to do something similar (though it wouldn’t as much of a surprise) and get their season back on track.
It’s almost 9 here and the Huskies just arrived. Here are a few of the highlights from our chat with coach Jim Calhoun and a few of the Huskies:
— Like sands through hour glass, so are the days of UConn’s lives.
Calhoun used the metaphor first but I like it.
“The sand is running as we speak,” Calhoun said.
Time is running out for UConn to re-define its season.
“I don’t think this team has underachieved,” Calhoun said. “I think it’s caused an awful lot of scratching of one’s head, or waking up at 3 in the morning and saying ‘Why did we do that?’ ”
— By the way, how is this for an analysis?
Calhoun on UConn playing up or down to the level of its competition:
“I would rather have us play 20 really, really good games. That would have been a lot easier for us,” Calhoun said. “Because we’re capable of beating most everybody in the country. That much I’m sure of.”
Pretty spot on. Now, why not just work like crazy to convince the Huskies they’re playing Kentucky and/or Syracuse every night?
Easier said than done, isn’t it?
— Is UConn in or out? It depends on who you ask.
Either way, it would seem as if they really, really, really need the Notre Dame game if they want to make the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re in that numbers game that I don’t know how they (NCAA selection committee members) will ever figure out,” Calhoun said.
— The obvious key to victory is not to turn the ball over 22 times like the Huskies did against Louisville.
“Twenty-two is just an ungodly number,” Calhoun said. “It really is.”
What’s the problem?
“It’s really not throwing it to the other team. It’s a little bit of miscommunication with whoever you’re throwing the ball to,” guard Jerome Dyson said. “We just have to do a better job of taking care of the ball.”
— Stanley Robinson and Jerome Dyson are the only pair of teammates in the nation to have scored in double figures in every game this season.
— PG Kemba Walker is obviously playing well. He’s averaging 23.5 points over his last four games.
“He’s been clearly out best player recently,” Calhoun said. “When we look back on the season, he might be our best player.”
But UConn needs all of its big three (big four with Gavin Edwards) to be at its best every night, it seems.
“We need the three of them to really play well all the time,” Calhoun said. “We need a little better play from our bench. I always exclude Gavin from that bench role.”
— For the first time in 11 years, UConn is finishing Big East play with consecutive road games. The last time it did that was in the 1998-99 national championship season.
— UConn has won four straight over ND but has lost in three of its last four trips to South Bend.
— It’s Senior Day at the Joyce Center today. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is in the same boat Calhoun was on Sunday: if the Irish win, it’s probably their last home game. If not…who knows?
“I’ve used that ‘Let’s make this our last home game,’ ” Brey said of a possible motivational speech. “I’m probably .500 with that. I think I’m 2-2.”
Actually, Brey believes the Irish may get a little NCAA luck even if they don’t beat the Huskies. ND has beaten Pitt and Georgetown in its last two games.
“I don’t know if it is a must-have,” Brey said. “But it is a big opportunity for us.”
— Notre Dame F/C Luke Harangody (knee) isn’t likely to play, giving Brey fodder for a little hyperbole about the matchups.
“They have four pros. And my pro is in street clothes,” Brey said. “But we’ll give it a shot.”
— The notion that Notre Dame is a better team without Harangody has been thrown around (kind of like the way UConn was supposed to be better without Calhoun). Obviously Brey (and most right-minded individuals) think it’s bunk.
“I think that’s kind of been the cool thing to talk about all weekend,” Brey said. “I don’t agree with that at all. I’d love for that guy to walk through the door at practice today and with the development of (Carleton) Scott and all these other guys to throw him back in there.”
Actually, it probably doesn’t matter if Harangody plays to the Huskies.
“Either way we’re going to have to rebound and play defense,” Dyson said. “If he does play or doesn’t play it’s going to determine how many turnovers we have.”
— Oh, and if you don’t recognize the quote that serves as the headline for this entry, it’s from the same actor (different movie, obviously) who said “Yo, bartender! Jobu needs a refill!”