Calhoun: 'It's Going to be a Very Good Night'
"It’s a big deal. A national championship is a big deal,” said Jim Calhoun, who’s won three of them. “I’ve always considered it a big deal. I think it will be very good to finish it off and start anew. It’s going to be a very good night."
After that banner is unveiled, it's all about the quest for another for the Huskies. Of course, this year's three freshmen weren't along for last year's remarkable ride. They want to start their own.
At UConn’s national championship dinner in Hartford a month ago, where last year’s players received their championship rings, Andre Drummond, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels sat at a separate table while the rest of the team sat up on the dais.
“I was actually pretty angry watching them get their rings,” Drummond said, with a smile. “It just made me want to get a ring, put in blood, sweat and tears to make sure I get a ring ... Now, I’m a part of the UConn family. I wasn’t there for the national championship team, but I’m a part of the family, so it’s just as good.”
A few things to know about Columbia:
*** The Lions went 15-13 overall and 6-8 in the Ivy under first-year coach Kyle Smith. Four starters return from last year's team, led by a top-notch backcourt: senior Noruwa Agho averaged 16.8 ppg last year and junior Brian Barbour 13.3.
*** Senior Blaise Staab's full name is Blaise Voskuhl Staab. Yup, he's Jake Voskuhl's cousin. Staab, a 6-5 forward, didn't play at all last season due to injury. He averaged 1.7 ppg in limited time as a sophomore and missed all but four games as a freshman due to a bout with mono.
*** UConn and Columbia haven't played in nearly 30 years. Their last meeting was on Dec. 28, 1983 -- an 85-60 UConn victory in the Connecticut Mutual Classic. The Huskies hold a 6-2 all-time advantage in the series. Columbia's last victory: 72-71 on Dec. 7, 1976 in New York City.
*** Friday's bout is the first for Columbia against a defending champ since 1947, when the Lions beat Holy Cross.
In other news, SNY has announced that it will cover televise 14 UConn games this year, beginning with Monday's 7:30 p.m. bout with Wagner.
Following that game, SNY will debut SNY Spotlight: Jim Calhoun, a look at the coach's career.
Here's SNY's UConn TV schedule:
Mon 14 UConn-Wagner: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn. 7:30
Thu 17 UConn-Maine: XL Center, Hartford, Conn. 7:00
Sun 20 UConn-Coppin State XL Center, Hartford, Conn. 1:00
Sun 18 UConn-Holy Cross XL Center, Hartford, Conn. 1:00
Thu 22 UConn-Fairfield XL Center, Hartford, Conn. 7:00
Wed 28 UConn at USF St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Fla. 9:00
Sat 31 UConn-St. John’s XL Center, Hartford, Conn. Noon
Tue 3 UConn at Seton Hall Prudential Center, Newark, N.J. 7:00
Sat 7 UConn at Rutgers Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, N.J. 8:00
Sun 29 UConn-Notre Dame XL Center, Hartford, Conn. Noon
Sat 4 UConn-Seton Hall XL Center, Hartford, Conn. Noon
Wed 15 UConn-DePaul Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn. 7:00
Tue 28 UConn at Providence Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, R.I. 7:00