Friday, January 20, 2012

UConn Supports Summitt, Still Missing Boatright

Greeetings from Knoxville, where tomorrow's UConn-Tennessee game will unfold. Hotel's right next door to the Women's College Basketball Hall of Fame.

In that vein, UConn will be supporting Tennessee's Hall of Fame women's coach Pat Summitt tomorrow by sporting "Back Pat" t-shirts during pregame warm-ups. The t-shirts will read: "I Bleed Blue and White, But Wear Purple to Back Pat."

Summitt, of course, went public with her diagnosis of dementia in late August and has formed a foundation in support of Alzheimer's programs.

“We’re more than happy to support Pat Summitt, whom I’ve been friendly with for a long period of time," Jim Calhoun said.

In other news:

*** Nothing new on Ryan Boatright, who didn't make the trip.

“Obviously we’ll miss him," Calhoun said. "We certainly could use Ryan, but we’ve really pushed Brendan (Allen).”

With that in mind, Calhoun got a kick the other day out of one of the rare e-mails he reads.

“I don’t see many e-mails because I don’t necessarily have a place you can get to me, but I did see one (which said) we should have taken Shabazz out when we got the lead for a little bit of rest," the coach said. "I felt like writing back, ‘You mean, so he could make three 3-pointers in a row from, like, 25 feet with 1:28 to go in the game, because he was so fatigued?’”

Enosch Wolf isn't here, either. He had to take two exams that he missed earlier while suffering from a concussion, but the second exam has yet to be posted, so he was left behind in Storrs.

*** Niels Giffey is back in the starting lineup, replacing DeAndre Daniels.

*** Jeremy Lamb is 3-for-19 on 3-pointers the last four games, and his patented floater so prevalent in last year's title run has been MIA.

Said Calhoun: “Jeremy’s just got to shake out of this, move quicker, come off screens better … They’re gapping him so he can’t drive, they’re muscling him low and on top of screens so he can’t quite get free. He’s got to find a way to get free.”

*** Michael Bradley won't play tomorrow (and maybe the rest of the season), but he'll have about a good amount of fans cheering him and UConn on.

Bradley spent much of his childhood at the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home, about 90 miles down the road in Chattanooga. Lynn Jordan, one of the home's organizers who has developed a close bond with Bradley over the years, will bring about 40 kids currently living at the home to see the game. The tickets were donated to the children's home by a couple from the Knoxville area.

"A lot of our churches around the area do things for us at Christmas," Jordan explained. "Several churches have met Michael and knew him when he was living here. They've kept track of him."

Most of the kids have never met Bradley, but are aware of his story. There is a plaque in Bradley's honor inside the home's gym, and the cottage he lived in still has his picture in it.

Jordan said she was happy that Bradley wound up not having to surrendering his scholarship so that Andre Drummond could play at UConn, but didn't offer any details.

"I think just it worked out that he didn't have to," she said.

Calhoun said Bradley (who fractured his ankle back in the fall) is still noticeably limping in practice.

“There’s a chance that ankle won’t be better for a year," Calhoun said. "He really had extensive surgery, he was out an incredibly long time, so there’s a chance he may not get into a game this year.”

*** UConn is 1-1 all-time against Tennessee, beating the Vols last season at Gampel, 72-61, in a game where Bruce Pearl emerged from his 8-game SEC suspension to coach the non-conference tilt. Pearl, of course, was fired after the season. His opinion is still highly valued by a local sports talk radio show, though (he's a regular guest, apparently).

The Vols are now coached by former Cuonzo Martin, who was heavily recruited by Calhoun in the early-1990's. Martin's final two choices, in fact, came down to Purdue and UConn.

*** This is the second time Tennessee has faced UConn with the Huskies as defending national champs. In a second-round NCAA tournament game on March 19, 2000, the Vols posted a 65-51 win in Birmingham, Ala. Khalid El-Amin was bothered by an ankle injury and held to just one basket.

*** Lucky 13? Tennessee's big home upset over Florida two weeks ago came when the Gators were ranked 13th nationally, as the Huskies are (for now).

*** One more note on Tennessee: I tuned into the Classic Rock radio station on the drive from Nashville to Knoxville (don't ask). Most of the standard fare: Zeppelin, Springsteen, etc., etc. Then came Black Oak Arkansas, a heavy-handed Southern rock band that (I think) was pretty big in the early 70's. You certainly don't hear them on the radio anymore, at last north of the Mason Dixon line.

Their front man was a wild guy named Jim Dandy, whom David Lee Roth has admitted to nicking parts of his act. Roth took it to a much higher, more entertaining level, of course. Unfortunately, Roth's voice now sounds like what Dandy's used to sound like.

And if you don't believe DLR took part of his act from Jim Dandy, watch Black Oak Arkansas's "Jim Dandy to the Rescue.", then watch Van Halen's "So This is Love."

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