Friday, January 8, 2010

Monroe Doctrine

Greetings from Washington, D.C., home of Kevin Durant, Elgin Baylor, Byron Leftwich, Maury Wills, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, Gilbert Arenas's arsennal, Dave Grohl, bad baseball and Bad Brains. Oh, and a whole lot of historical stuff.

Jim Calhoun was off on a recruiting trip and wasn't at tonight's media availability at the team hotel. George Blaney did the honors and talked about what he's seen from the Hoyas this year.

"It looks to me like (coach John Thompson, III) is just not playing as many people. They're really playing 6 ½ guys. They're a little more veteran. (Greg) Monroe is a little better, if you can get better. He certainly had his coming-out party against us last year. He's playing very much like a leader, versus just a good, talented player."

Indeed, as a freshman in his Big East debut last season, Monroe ran circles around UConn's Hasheem Thabeet, outscoring him 16-4. A 6-11 center who can step back and hit the 3, drive to the hole and distribute the ball deftly, Monroe is a tough matchup.

"It's tough because he's really long and really athletic," said Gavin Edwards, "and it's kind of tough to play against a kid who's left-handed because it kind of goes against everything you know as a player. It's a little unique, I guess, but he's definitely a good player."

Under the tutelage of Princeton grad and Pete Carril disciple John Thompson III, the Hoyas employ a slow-down, Princeton-style offense that primarily runs through Monroe. Guarding that type of offense requires a lot of work and patience – on both ends of the floor.

While the Huskies (11-3, 2-1) will have to fight through screens and backdoor cuts on defense, they'll also have to be more patient on offense. Possessions, after all, will be at a premium, and UConn must try to make each one count.

"If we have no good shot, we've got to kick it back out and run a good offense," said Blaney. "Kemba (Walker) and Jerome (Dyson) have to take care of the opportunities they get on the break. It's hard to get (the score) in the 70's, let alone in the 80's."

***The Hoyas are one of the few teams that have had UConn's number in recent years and have won the last three meetings. Two years ago, a 3-pointer in the waning seconds by 7-foot center Roy Hibbert (now A.J. Price's Indiana Pacer teammate) gave the Hoyas the win at Verizon Center.

***Hometown boy (Potomac, Md.) Jerome Dyson arrived in D.C. on an earlier flight to spend some extra time with his family and wasn't at UConn's media availability on Friday at the team's hotel.

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