Everything you need to know before No. 8 UConn takes on Rutgers tonight at 8 p.m. Here’s the preview.
No. 8 UConn at Rutgers
WHEN: Tonight, 8
WHERE: Louis Brown Athletic Center, Piscataway, N.J.
RECORDS: UConn 12-2, 2-1 Big East; Rutgers 8-7, 0-2
ON THE AIR: SNY (WTIC-AM 1080)
UP NEXT: Monday vs. West Virginia, 7 (ESPN2)
Shabazz Napier G 6-0 So.: 2-for-12 from field, 5 TO vs. Seton Hall
Jeremy Lamb G 6-5 So.: Team-high 19 pts vs. Seton Hall
Niels Giffey G/F 6-7 So.: 11 pts in 15 mins vs. Seton Hall
Alex Oriakhi F 6-9 Jr.: 4.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg in Big East play
Andre Drummond C 6-10 Fr.: Five FGA in 28 mins vs. Seton Hall
DeAndre Daniels F 6-8 Fr.: Made one of last nine 3-point attempts
Roscoe Smith F 6-8 So.: 3.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Tyler Olander F 6-9 So.: 8 pts, 5 rebs vs. Seton Hall
Ryan Boatright G 5-10 Fr.: Career-low 5 pts vs. Seton Hall
Eli Carter G 6-2 Fr.: 31 pts, 7 rebs, 7 asts in win over Florida
Myles Mack G 5-9 Fr.: 10.7 ppg, 2.1 apg
Jerome Seagears G 6-1 Fr.: 10 pts, 4 rebs vs. West Virginia
Gilvydas Biruta F 6-8 So.: 10.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Austin Johnson F 6-8 Jr.: 5.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Derrick Randall G/F 6-8 Fr.: Earned first career start vs. WVU
Dane Miller G/F 6-5 Jr.: 6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Mike Poole G/F 6-5 So.: 6.9 ppg, 3 rpg
Malick Kone G 6-4 Fr.: 4 pts, 2 rebs vs. WVU
Kadeem Jack F 6-9 Fr.: Has scored 2 pts in 3 games this year
THE NIELS EFFECT: Giffey looks poised for more playing time. He’s the perfect fit for these Huskies – he’ll mix it up and hustle for loose balls and can also stretch the defense as a 3-point shooter.
A FOOT-NOTE: Perhaps Shabazz Napier’s struggles against Seton Hall had more to do with physical problems – his right foot – than mental errors. Calhoun said Napier sat out of practice Thursday. He wasn’t sure whether or not the sophomore point guard would practice Friday. He’s expected to play vs. Rutgers, but clearly he’s not 100 percent at the moment.
ON THE ROAD: UConn hasn’t looked particularly crisp in its two true road games this season (sorry, the Bahamas don’t count). The Huskies held off South Florida by three points and then, of course, were run off the court at Seton Hall. The RAC (Rutgers’ home court) should be the most hostile environment UConn has seen this season.
— KEVIN DUFFY
Jim Calhoun had plenty to say about his three-game suspension, which is now officially in the books. Check that out here.
Some notes/quotes regarding UConn’s game at Rutgers Saturday night:
* Niels Giffey will start over DeAndre Daniels at small forward.
“We need a constant effort given by people, and that’s one of the reasons why, right now, Niels Giffey, who has very great focus, will start tomorrow night,” Calhoun said.
* Calhoun is still searching for more out of junior Alex Oriakhi: “Simply, he’s got to play better. I love Alex to death, I told him this yesterday at practice. He’s struggling – we all know that, you all can see that,” Calhoun said. “He’s just not the same player he was even as a freshman. He’s got to play better. To me, at this particular point, he’s strong, he’s willing, he’s a great kid, but he’s got to do more.”
Calhoun hasn’t decided whether AO or Tyler Olander will start Saturday.
* Calhoun on UConn’s stagnant offense: “We just have to be better defensively and have the same kind of movement we did in the St. John’s game. They played the exact same zone as Seton Hall — and we just didn’t have any movement. We have to get back to having that type of movement.”
And that offense starts up top with Shabazz Napier, UConn’s unquestioned floor general. Here’s a story from Friday’s Connecticut Post that chronicles point guard play in Big East wins/losses from former stars Kemba Walker, A.J. Price and Marcus Williams.
Some thoughts from Jim Calhoun on his three-game NCAA suspension:
Calhoun on watching his Huskies: “A. I felt attached, B. I felt the same feelings in my stomach, C. When I yelled, the television did nothing unfortunately. It didn’t react — I didn’t get a ‘T’ from it. It did nothing. That was the only positive.”
* “The price of being refreshed doesn’t offset the anxiety you feel when you’re watching your team play on TV.”
“I don’t think it gets me removed the way it gets any ‘normal’ person gets removed.”
On contemplating retirement: “When I contemplated over the spring and summer about what I was going to do, I had grandeur’s at times of being Al McGuire, and that’s it. We won the national championship, we had done some great things. But I always felt there was something hanging a little bit out there…The University, all of us included, were penalized, and I wanted to make sure I was that sat out, that I was the guy who finalized it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s something of that past. What was done was done, it is what it is kind of thing, and all those other terminologies.”
Just caught wind of these highlights for the first time. You won’t learn much about the game, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled that the previous three UConn games will count towards George Blaney’s career record, not Jim Calhoun’s.
Calhoun was suspended by the NCAA for the first three Big East games due to his failure to “promote an atmosphere of compliance” during the recruitment of Nate Miles.
Blaney’s record is now 461-383 and Calhoun’s is 865-368.
Here’s the release sent out by UConn:
“The Committee on Infractions‘ expectation and mandate is that no coach serving a suspension be given credit for any wins or losses accrued by his/her team during the term of suspension. This is consistent with the complete removal of the coach from all aspects of game preparation (practices, film study, team meetings, etc.) from the time the last game the coach is allowed to be present for ends through the end of the final game of the suspension period.”
George Blaney filled in for Jim Calhoun on the weekly Big East teleconference today. The Huskies were on their way to practice for the first time since Calhoun returned from his NCAA suspension. UConn did not practice Wednesday following it’s blowout loss to Seton Hall.
A few quick words from Blaney:
* “Seton Hall gave us a whole lot of problems with how aggressively they played us. We didn’t shoot the ball well, and Seton Hall played great.”
* “For some reason, everyone thinks that we’re an old team. We play three freshman and a lot of sophomores. We’re as young as anybody in the league. And I think that’s absolutely true — you don’t know what you’re going to get night-to-night.”
* “We know what (Calhoun’s) message is going to be. It’s going to be ‘defend,’ it’s going to be ‘run,’ it’s going to be ‘compete’ and it’s going to be ‘rebound.’”
* “Anytime you go into the RAC, you’re going to have a problem.”
UConn squares off against Rutgers Saturday at 8 p.m. at the aforementioned RAC.
On the drive to Newark yesterday, I had this brilliant idea: Grade UConn on its performance after each game.
Simple enough, but still a fun little feature.
Professors never like handing out F’s on the first exam, and I’m no different. Unfortunately, UConn doesn’t deserve anything better than a failing grade for its effort versus Seton Hall.
A good friend of mine texted me during the game and summed it up perfectly: “They’re playing like they only met five minutes before the tip.”
UConn was discombobulated and pretty much overwhelmed by The Hall.
Let’s run through a checklist of basketball’s basic elements:
Ball protection: UConn turned the ball over 13 times (13!!!) in the first half. And that’s the main reason the Huskies trailed 35-22 heading into the locker room. Turnovers morphed into Seton Hall fast break points, and soon, an early UConn lead became a double-figure deficit.
Rebounding: The Huskies surrendered nine offensive boards to SHU in the first half, which equated to nine second-chance points. UConn had zero.
Shooting: Aside from Jeremy Lamb (7-for-14), the Huskies were miserable 13-for-43 from the field.
Balance: UConn never established a low-block presence — Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi combined to take just seven shots — and oftentimes had two guys on the high post.
“We wound up taking a lot of shots at the end of the clock and it was very stagnant,” Blaney said. “I just couldn’t get them out of it, so I’m not happy with my performance, either.”
Defense: UConn didn’t close out on 3-point shooters, something it’s struggled with at times this season. SHU point guard Jordan Theodore scored all 19 of his in the second half and hit a trio of 3-pointers that really opened things up.
The Little Things: No stats for this, but Lamb said “They made more hustle plays at some points in the game.”
Intangibles: Outside of the first few minutes, UConn never looked completely composed. The Huskies were on the opposite end of a blowout for the first time this year, and they failed to draw any closer than nine points.
That big UConn run we all expected — the oop to Drummond, the three by Napier, another three by Lamb — just never came.
So, chalk it up as a bad game on the road in the Big East. UConn gets an F. By no means, though, is it a reason to hit the panic button. This is still one of the most talented teams in the nation.
It just has some work to do.