Right Now, This is Not an NCAA Tournament Team. Sorry.
I don't care what Joey Brackets says. I don't care what their RPI is, or whether they (somehow) still have the nation's No. 1 strength of schedule. I don't care if the ol' "last 10 games" aren't supposed to matter much, if at all.
They should matter. The Huskies have lost nine of their last 12 games. Their only three wins over the past 1 1/2 months came against a Herb Pope-less Seton Hall, last-place DePaul and 14th-place Villanova.
It's all well and good that UConn beat Florida State back around Thanksgiving -- before Florida State was the Florida State that beat both Duke (on the road) and North Carolina in consecutive weekends. It's nice the Huskies have won at USF and at Notre Dame.
It's nice that UConn has played, in February alone, five games against Top 25 teams. The Huskies lost all five of them.
I'm sorry, but getting an NCAA tourney invite shouldn't be based beating a few good teams two months earlier, then playing a lot of really good teams and losing to all of them. There are too many hungry mid-major teams that, while perhaps not as talented, are more likely to make a better showing in the NCAA tourney than the Huskies.
UConn still, believe it or not, can play its way into the Big Dance. I'm not going to get into the scenarios of how for the 900th time, but it's still possible.
But sorry ... right now, UConn does not belong in the NCAA tournament. Not in my eyes.
*** A few revealing quotes from tonight:
A couple of players were just about speechless after the 72-70 loss to PC.
“I’m not sure,” Jeremy Lamb said as he tried to explain how the Huskies had collapsed. “It’s very frustrating. I don’t know.”
Asked why such a talented team has now lost nine of its last 12 games and fallen to 17-12 overall, 7-10 in the Big East, the normally effusive Roscoe Smith shook his head, took a long pause, and simply replied: “I don’t know. No comment, I don’t know.”
But perhaps Shabazz Napier gave the most revealing answer to UConn’s failure to put away the Friars (15-15, 4-13).
“No disrespect to them, but this is one of those games that you put a ‘W’ by it before you even play it,” the sophomore point guard said. “But they came out real hard … and they took this one away from us.”
*** Andre Drummond was hit with a technical after apparently throwing the ball back at ref Roger Ayers with too much force after Drummond had been called with an elbow foul.
“I told (Ayers), ‘It’s Andre Drummond, he doesn’t know how to do that. He’s too nice a person,’” associate head coach Geroge Blaney explained. “I can’t imagine that would be intentional. He just misread it, I don’t know.”
Drummond agreed: “I tossed it to him. I guess he wasn’t prepared for it, and he thought I tried to throw it at him. I usually just toss the ball to the ref. I guess he wasn’t looking and it looked like a cheap shot.”
But Drummond wasn’t about to use the call as an excuse.
“That’s part of the game. I’m not going to complain about the refs and how they officiate the game. They made a call.”
*** Drummond had 12 first-half points – including four alley-oop dunks, three of them in the first 3 ½ minutes – as PC had no answer for the 6-foot-10, athletic freshman.
But after a transition alley-oop dunk to start the second-half scoring, Drummond went scoreless the rest of the way.
“I think we went away from what we were doing in the first half,” Drummond said. “They also did a great job on defense. They went on a really big run, came back and took the game.”
Napier took responsibility for UConn’s inability to get the ball inside in the latter half.
“I just think I didn’t run the ball like I usually do,” he said. “It’s not Andre’s fault, I didn’t run the ball at all. When I did run the ball, Andre had open lanes, alley-oops. In the second half, I didn’t run the ball quick enough.”
*** Jim Calhoun was released from New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center on Tuesday and is back home after undergoing lower back surgery on Monday. Calhoun will recuperate at home and be monitored by his personal physician. The hope is that he will be back on the sidelines for Saturday’s regular-season finale against Pittsburgh, but it’s still too early to tell.