Monday, February 22, 2010

'Lombardi' Trophy?

Just when you think they're out, they pull you back in.

These Huskies are making things interesting, aren't they? Monday's 73-62 win over West Virginia puts them squarely back on the right side of the NCAA tourney bubble, in all likelihood. Even Joe Lunardi agrees, though we're not sure if that means anything to Jim Calhoun.

"I don't care what Lombardi, or whatever his name is (says)," Calhoun joked afterwards, referring to Joey Brackets. "He happens to be Italian, so I'm a little bit prejudiced. He doesn't know very much."

Umm, Jim ... I'd have someone else start your car tomorrow morning after that statement. (Just kidding, and so was Jim ... though I am 1/4 Italian, so I guess I can sorta say that).

Anyway ...

The story of the night was the bookend technical fouls called against Calhoun and Bob Huggins. Calhoun's, 47 seconds into the action after WVU had jumped off to a 5-0 start, kicked off a 14-1 UConn run. The Huskies would never trail again, though not before allowing a 15-point lead to be whittled down to one with 8:47 remaining.

"It definitely sparked us," senior Gavin Edwards said of Calhoun's technical, "because we knew it was going to be a real physical game after that, and we had to come out and be physical, too."

Calhoun insisted his "T" wasn't by design.

"Suffice to say, I was ready for the game," he said. "I certainly didn't try to do anything of that nature. But I wanted them to know I was ready for the game."

"Them" being his players, not the refs.

"I have no control over officials," said Calhoun. "I don't assign them, I don't blow the whistle for them, certainly. I'm not sure, after a while, what's a foul anymore in the Big East. I complain about it, but I don't know which way they're going."

Apparently, neither does Huggins, who was hit with a double-T with 42.4 seconds left and ejected from the game.

Huggins, who had to be physically restrained by his assistants after getting ejected, didn't want to get into details about the technical.

"I don't know, you watched it," he told a reporter. "You saw it. You're allowed to report on it, I'm not. You have a tremendous advantage."

When asked why the Mountaineers weren't quite able to get over the hump, Huggins responded: "I don't know if I can answer that without getting in trouble. We played triangle-and-two and zone the whole game, right from the beginning. Usually you don't foul as much when you're in that stuff. Usually."

West Virginia was whistled for 26 of the game's 46 fouls and UConn went to the charity stripe 42 times, hitting 30. WVU was 12-for-23 from the stripe. Aside from the dunks by Robinson and Walker in the final minute, the Huskies' only two field goals over the final 12 minutes of action were by Robinson – a putback with 8:25 to play, and a big 3-pointer with 6:14 left that gave UConn a 61-56 lead. The Huskies did have two players foul out – Edwards and fellow big man Ater Majok -- while WVU had just one (Wellington Smith).

Said Calhoun: "It's unfortunate that Bobby got thrown (out), and I mean that very sincerely. But the most important thing for me is my kids. Always has been, always will be."

***Craftiest play of the night: after Smith fouled out, the UConn student section did its usual "Left, right, left, right!" chant every time Smith took a step to the bench. The chant always ends when the player sits and the students yell "Sit down!" But Smith decided not to sit until just as Kemba Walker shot a free throw, and the students' "Sit down!" may have distracted Walker -- he missed the freebie.

***Jerome Dyson turned his left ankle on a drive to the hoop with about 6 ½ minutes left and left the game. He returned a little over a minute later, however, to a Willis Reed-like reception from the home crowd.

The 6-foot-4 guard held 6-7 WVU scoring leader Butler on to nine points on 2-for-10 shooting.

That's all we've got for now.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


First, great game for UConn last night. What do you think the team needs to do at this point to make the tourney. Can they lose to Louisville, and win at ND & USF and still make it regardless of what happens in Big East Tourney. Or is there another scenario you are thinking?

Also this is way off topic, but has there been any chatter about the new practice facility. Why don't some big donors get this thing rolling. I mean hell Carmelo stepped up big time for Syracuse and I would hate to start losing recruits to the Orange. Look at the football team I would say half the reason the huskies are so competitive is because the Burton Family Football Complex is gorgeous.

February 23, 2010 at 10:21 AM 
Blogger David Borges said...

I would say that if UConn loses to Louisville and beats Notre Dame and USF, it will probably have done enough to warrant and NCAA bid at 19-12. A win in the Big East tourney would probably seal it, and two wins definitely would.

I think they'll beat Louisville at home but trip up in one of the road games (even though I promised I'd stop making predictions about this team!). If that scenario happens, I still think they're in -- but a win in the BE tourney definitely seals it.

As to the practice facility, I have no idea why it's taking so long. Certainly, the current economic climate can't help. I know Jim Calhoun very much wants one, as a recruiting tool as much as anything else, but I don't believe any significant progress has been made in that direction over the last few months.

February 23, 2010 at 11:17 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the million alums uconn has in the NBA? Would any of them donate any type of money to the facility? Guys like Ray Allen or Hamilton or Gordon could easily give some money for one.

February 23, 2010 at 11:08 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the hell is funny about Jim Calhoun being anti-Italian??? I am so glad UConn flopped this year.

March 27, 2010 at 7:16 PM 
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