Saturday, February 25, 2012

Amped up at Gampel

A predictably festive atmosphere at Gampel. Students were let in at 6 p.m. and have been getting pumped up ever since -- first treated to the broadcast of last year's win over Syracuse in the Big East tournament on the videoboard, then put through some rather taxing "cheer routines" for the ESPN cameras. Then, just getting plain old rowdy.

There are 20 NBA scouts expected to be in the house tonight, from three different NBA teams. The Memphis Grizzlies have three scouts here, and that's not including Rudy Gay, the ex-UConn great who will be inducted into the "Huskies of Honor" prior to tonight's game.

Gay met with the media prior to the game:

“It makes you feel kind of old,” he quipped. “I took pride in what I did when I was here and had a lot of fun.”

Gay, now a standout with the Memphis Grizzlies, said he’s hoping UConn gets a new practice facility built … soon.

“Our success in the NBA helps in recruiting,” he said, “and a practice facility will help even more.”

*** An ESPN report Saturday stated that Jim Calhoun plans to return to the sidelines for the Huskies’ March 3 regular-season finale with Pittsburgh, assuming Monday’s back surgery goes without a hitch. Of course, it’s impossible to say whether Calhoun will be ready to go just five days after lower back surgery. His plan since last week was to miss the Syracuse and Providence (on Tuesday) games, and consider his options after that. So, in essence, nothing’s changed.

*** UConn is 4-0 against Syracuse in Gampel, with wins in 1995, 2005, 2007 and 2009. This year's Orange are a whole different matter, though. Syracuse has been ranked in the top five all season and in the top two since Dec. 12. It leads Division 1 in turnover margin (6.7) and ranks second in assist-turnover ration (1.55).

A win tonight clinches the Orange's third Big East outright regular season title. It would also mark Jim Boeheim's 400th Big East victory.

Buckle up ...

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