Students were allowed into Gampel Pavilion at 6 p.m. and ESPN promptly made them practice this “flash mob” dance repeatedly. Seriously, I watched the students do this routine (while I was working, of course) for an hour. It came together nicely. Check out the video.
Notes/Quotes from Syracuse: “I got fouled, everybody’s seen it. If you didn’t see it, it will be on TV.”
Big picture first: Moral victories don’t exist in Storrs, Conn., but if you’re searching for 68 teams better than UConn, good luck.
The Huskies dug themselves a big hole, then re-grouped and put the No. 2 team in the country — perhaps the best team the Big East has seen in years — on its heels.
Now 17-11 overall and 7-9 in the Big East, UConn certainly needs at least two more wins (in the final two games of the regular season and the Big East tournament) to solidify its tournament resume. If the Huskies get a eight or nine seed, that No. 1 — whether its Syracuse, Kentucky, Kansas or Duke — won’t be too happy. UConn is capable of beating anyone — and also capable of losing to almost anyone. And that’s why it’s on the bubble.
* I couldn’t really see the final play from my seat, but I just caught the replay on SportsCenter. Honestly, I’m not really sure. That’s a really tough call to make, as Roscoe Smith and Andre Drummond said afterwards.
“It’s a tough situation for the referees — they probably didn’t want to have the game be decided on (a foul),” Smith said. “But I got fouled, everybody’s seen it. If you didn’t see it, it will be on TV.”
* Andre Drummond was a monster tonight. Here’s my story about his freshman season.
Jim Calhoun plans to return to the sidelines on March 3 for UConn’s regular season finale against Pittsburgh, according to ESPN’s Andy Katz.
Katz cited multiple sources that indicated Calhoun “desperately wants to return to coaching the team.”
Ever since UConn announced his medical leave of absence on Feb. 3, Calhoun (or anyone else in the program, for that matter) has never said that he was done for the year. The 69-year-old Hall of Famer is scheduled to have surgery Monday and will be hospitalized for “one or two days” following the surgery, according to a UConn official.
The Huskies play Pittsburgh in the season finale the following Saturday. The Big East tournament starts just three days later.
Follow tweets from fans at Gampel Pavilion, along with updates from Hearst Connecticut Media Group beat writer Kevin Duffy as ESPN College Game Day broadcasts lives from Gampel Pavilion.
Then join us again later tonight as the Huskies host Syracuse at 9 p.m., searching for a marquee win to solidify their NCAA tournament standing.
Notes/Quotes from Feb. 24: “I think it would definitely stop the bubble talk and give us a spot in the tournament.”
That’s about as cut-and-dry as it gets.
As Alex Oriakhi said, a win over second-ranked Syracuse on Saturday would put a cease to all the bubble talk. Barring an epic collapse, it would assure the Huskies a spot in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
ESPN Gameday is in Storrs right now prepping for tomorrow’s game and “show,” which starts at 11 a.m. on ESPN. Oriakhi and Jeremy Lamb are scheduled to participate in a “Know Your Teammate” trivia game, which should be interesting/potentially very funny.
Some more relevant notes:
* Shabazz Napier (foot) has been “fine” in practice, according to Blaney, and will be available Saturday. He probably won’t start, though. And that means we’ll likely see Ryan Boatright, Lamb, Roscoe Smith, Oriakhi and Andre Drummond to open the game.
“We’re never too concerned about who starts,” Blaney said.
* Blaney on the Orange: “I’ve been saying this all week and I hope Jimmy doesn’t get mad at me for saying it, but this possibly could be (Boeheim’s) best team.”
“It remains to be seen what they can do in the tournament to actually say its his best team, but at this point, it’s his best team.
* Defense of the 3-point shot will be key for the Huskies Saturday. It’s been an Achilles heel all season.
“It’s not getting a hand up – that’s the primary thing,” Blaney said. “It sounds like an easy thing, but if you watch basketball – at any level – it’s one of the things that players do least.”
* Rudy Gay will be inducted into the Huskies of Honor Saturday. Gay played two seasons at UConn and was a first team All-American as a sophomore.
Some people are getting awfully generous with their money…and UConn is reaping all the benefits.
Almost two months after Peter and Pamela Werth pledged a $4.5 million donation to the construction of a new basketball practice facility, the UConn soccer teams received a $3 million gift for a new stadium.
Check out the release from the UConn athletic department:
The University of Connecticut Division of Athletics has received a commitment of $3 million toward the construction of a new soccer stadium on the Storrs campus. The pledge was made by a former UConn student-athlete, who wishes to remain anonymous. The first $1 million is an outright gift and the remaining $2 million will be given over the next five years.
The gift will be directed to the “Morrone Stadium Enhancement Fund.” The detailed scope of the project is still to be determined.
“We are grateful that a former UConn student-athlete has given back to the University and the sport of soccer,” said UConn Interim Director of Athletics Paul Pendergast. “Our men’s and women’s soccer teams are nationally-competitive programs. It is critical that they have facilities comparable to peer institutions, in order to maintain UConn’s standard of excellence.
“I also wish to acknowledge Coach Ray Reid’s ongoing participation in our fundraising efforts for this project, which helped us secure this historic commitment for our soccer programs.”
UConn now has more than $4.5 million in pledges earmarked for this soccer facility project.
UConn coach Jim Calhoun will undergo a surgical procedure Monday that will keep him out at least two more games, the University announced Wednesday.
Calhoun, 69, has been on medical leave of absence since Feb. 3 due to spinal stenosis, a lower back condition. He is expected to be hospitalized for one or two nights following the procedure and his status will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis afterwards.
“I’m glad we have finally determined the best course of treatment to deal with the problem,” Calhoun said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to having the procedure done, hopefully recovering as quickly as possible, and putting it all in the past.”
UConn, which is 3-3 since Calhoun left, will be under the direction of George Blaney when it hosts Syracuse on Saturday and travels to Providence the following Tuesday.
Calhoun could potentially return for the regular-season finale against Pitt on March 3.