Thursday, January 12, 2012

UConn Heads Straight into the Storm

The nation's first real snowstorm of the new year appears to be brewing as we speak, and UConn (and the writers that cover it) will be heading straight into the teeth of it.

Some 10-16 inches of snow are expected to fall in South Bend over the next couple of days. It's supposed to be particularly brutal tonight through tomorrow.

UConn is slated to practice at Gampel tomorrow, then take a 2 p.m. flight out of Bradley straight to South Bend. We'll see.

Saturday's game, of course, is an 11 a.m. start, in an attempt by ESPN to avoid going up against NFL playoff games. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey doesn't see the early start as a big deal.

“I don’t really think it’s a factor," he said. "When you’re practicing preseason, you’re weekend practices are usually 10, 11 a.m."

Alex Oriakhi doesn't think much of it, either.

“You’re not used to playing so early, but we practice pretty early, too, so it’s really not an excuse," he said. "You’ve got to get used to it. We practice at 8 a.m., so it shouldn’t make a difference. It’s basketball.”

But guess who does have a big problem with the 11 a.m. start?

“I’m not crazy about it," said Jim Calhoun. "I continue to say it’s a bad idea for everybody involved. Nine o’clock (p.m.) games are bad for people, and I don’t think 11 a.m. games are good … It’s the way things are, I guess you’ve got to live with it.”

*** UConn may be without Tyler Olander on Saturday. He's sat out the last two practices with a bruised right heel that's hurting him pretty badly. It happened in the West Virginia game.

DeAndre Daniels is expected to reclaim his starting spot over Niels Giffey, and Roscoe Smith will be the first power forward off the bench if Olander can't go.

Said Oriakhi, of the possibility of Olander being out: “I’m just looking at it as an opportulnity to hopefully play more minutes. I’ve got to step in there if he’s not able to go.”

*** Ryan Boatright, who hails from Aurora, Ill., just outside Chicago (about 120 miles from South Bend), says he could have some 400 friends and family at Saturday's game. Yup, 400.

Boatright is most looking forward to seeing his brother, Deahjay McAllister, who's now starting at point guard for Aurora High.

"It’s been a while since I’ve seen my little brother. I haven’t seen him since I left in the summertime ... The fans back at home aren’t really used to seeing me lose.”

*** As always, Shabazz Napier had some interesting things to say:

(on going scoreless in the win over West Virginia)

“I don’t look at how much I score, I look at how much we score. I’m not worried about that ... All my shots, except for the last one, were wide-open. I shot too strong, sometimes too short … Lamb and Andre finished around the basket, so I’m not worried about my shots not going in.”

(on his team's biggest problem)

“We’d be undefeated if we didn’t turn the ball over a lot. That has to do with myself, with Ryan, some of my other teammates.”

(on his comments after the Rutgers game that he didn't feel his teammates viewed him as a leader)

“I’m not even worried about that anymore. If it happens, it happens. We’ll find (a leader) sooner or later. We’re going to win games and lose games without a leader. I feel as though if we play team basketball, we should be fine. Within that, we’ll find a leader.”

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