Before Shabazz Napier rescued the Huskies on Sunday afternoon, Scott Kirkpatrick came through in the clutch Saturday night.
If you’re looking for Kirkpatrick on the roster, you won’t find him. He’s the team bus driver, and he earned extensive praise from Kevin Ollie after Sunday’s 78-67 triumph at Seton Hall.
After getting stuck at a Hartford hotel early in the trip, UConn switched buses and took a creative route to Newark, where they finally arrived five hours later. All the credit, Ollie said, goes to Kirkpatrick.
“We went 91 to 3– no not 384, to 691,” Ollie said. “We were trying to find somewhere (to go). There was always a truck right on the entranceway, so we had to find another way. (Fitzpatrick) didn’t get frustrated, we didn’t get frustrated, we knew we had a job to get to and that’s what I’m (referring to) when I say ‘excuses.'”
UConn could have made excuses Sunday. The Huskies didn’t get much sleep — they arrived in downtown Newark shortly after midnight — and a 16-0 Seton Hall run, sparked by junior Fuquan Edwin, gave the momentum to the Pirates.
The Huskies (16-6, 6-4 Big East) stuck with it, though, and Napier controlled the second half en route to the win.
Some notes/quotes from Sunday:
*R.J. Evans gave UConn a nice lift, scoring six points in the second half and defending Edwin down the stretch, as well.
“R.J. does a great job; he’s always ready,” Ollie said. “I put the word professional around his name whether its two minutes or 20 minutes.”
*Behind Napier (22 points, nine assists, six steals) and Ryan Boatright (20 points, five rebounds), UConn went on a late 28-8 run that essentially sealed the deal. The spurt was capped by by an alley-oop off the backboard from Napier to Boatright.
“I wouldn’t have done it, but let the kids have fun — they deserve it,” Ollie said. “They’ve been through a storm, got in here at (midnight), I got them in early to eat breakfast. It’s something I wouldn’t do, but I’m fine with it as long as it goes in.”
*Fuquan Edwin was a gunner to the Nth degree. He launched — and yes, I mean launched — 11 3-pointers Sunday. UConn only took 14. Against St. John’s and South Florida, the Huskies had jacked up a combined 54, which Ollie deemed far too high. On Sunday, UConn scored 17 points in transition and held a 31-25 edge on the backboards.