UConn Bolstered by Return of Big Daddy Cane
“I can’t walk with a cane on the sidelines, because two officials might get hit,” he quipped after Tuesday’s 81-67 win over DePaul.
He opened up a little more about his surgery, how he feels right now and what he must do to keep feeling better.
“But without question, I will definitely try to get more rest than I normally do.”
*** Believe it or not, there was a time not long ago when UConn couldn’t win a Big East tournament game.
From their four-point loss to Syracuse in 2005 to an embarrassing beatdown at the hands of St. John’s in 2010 – and with a certain six-overtime loss in between – the Huskies lost six straight conference tournament games.
Then came last year’s unprecedented five-wins-in-five-days run. Suddenly, the Huskies can’t lose at Madison Square Garden in March.
UConn has now won six straight Big East tournament games, the fourth-best streak in the event’s history. Ir has also won 12 consecutive postseason games overall.
“When we get into tournaments, obviously it’s a new season,” said Jeremy Lamb, who popped in a game-high 25 points. “All year we’ve been finding ourselves and everybody on the team has been stepping up. We’ve been preparing all year for this time. Now that it’s here, we just want to give it all we’ve got and don’t look back.”
*** Drummond finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four blocks in his Madison Square Garden debut.
“It’s been great, a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to play here.”
Drummond has also been displaying some improved low-post moves lately, including a few nifty spin moves for hoops on Tuesday.
“I’ve been working on that a lot, just trying to get myself better with my back to the basket, because I’m more of a face-up person,” he said. “Getting the basic spin move and trying to finish on somebody, I’ve been working a lot on that move.”
He even unveiled a nifty behind-the-back crossover in the lane, something not seen prior to Tuesday.
“I can’t show ‘em all, can’t show ‘em everything,” he quipped.
The lowlight: Drummond missed all six of his free throw attempts. He is now 4-for-26 from the charity stripe in his last seven games.
*** Less than five minutes into the game, Oriakhi was hit with a flagrant technical foul after shoving 5-foot-11 guard Worrell Clahar on the low post.
“I just got hit in my mouth and I reacted,” he said. “When anybody gets hit in the face, you just react. It was a dumb mistake on my part, but you’ve got to learn from it.”
Indeed, he did learn his lesson in the second half: “I got hit again (by Cleveland Melvin) but I just kept calm.”
“The first time we played them, I felt like I pressed a little too much and just missed a lot of easy shots and (had) a lot of careless turnovers,” he confessed. “Coach talked to me more, said I didn’t play very well the first time but said at practice, ‘You’re going to have a great game.’”
*** Lamb’s layup with seven seconds left in the opening half made him the 46th player in UConn history to go over the 1,000-point mark for his career. He has also scored in double figures in all six of his Big East tourney games.
*** Calhoun has now won 34 Big East tourney games, passing John Thompson for sole possession of second place on the all-time list.
*** The win may also have punched the Huskies’ ticket to the NCAA tournament.
*** Caron Butler was in the house, and paid a visit to the UConn locker room after the game.