Friday, January 11, 2013

UConn Out to End Another Irish Winning Streak ... and Ryan Boatright Gets to Help Out This Time, Too

In 2009, UConn came to Purcell Pavilion and ended Notre Dame's school-record, 45-game home win streak.

A year ago, sans Ryan Boatright, the Huskies ended the Irish's 29-game home win streak.

Notre Dame is now on a 12-game overall winning streak, which matches its best ever under head coach Mike Brey. Can UConn spoil another Irish streak? Or will Notre Dame top its previous best winning streak under Brey, originally set from Nov. 14, 2006 to Jan. 3, 2007?

*** Last year's 67-53 win at Notre Dame was an emotional one for UConn. The night before, the Huskies learned that Boatright's eligibility was still being looked into by the NCAA and they had to sit him out of the game, even though some 300 friends and family were slated to make the two-hour drive from his hometown of East Aurora, Ill., to South Bend. The group even had special UConn shirts with Boatright's name and No. 11 on the back made for the game (though far fewer than 300 showed up, since they knew he wouldn't be albe to play).

There are no eligibility issues this time for Boatright, however, and he's expecting a healthy turnout tomorrow afternoon.

Boatright is happy with the way he's been playing lately.

“I’m in a rhythm, man," he said. "I’ve got a flow going. Last year, I was holding it out. Now, I’ve been playing all year, I’m comfortable. The team chemistry is great. I’m actually having fun playing ball again. All this that’s gone on, it just adds fuel to the fire. Every time we come up against a Big East team, everybody doubts us. So, we’re looking forward to playing them tomorrow.”

Kevin Ollie likes what he's been seeing from the sophomore guard, as well.

“Today was one of his best practices ever. He looked like he was in a good place. Probably coming close to home, where he can see his family, puts you in that state of mind. Hopefully, he can put on a great show for his fans and family that’s coming down to watch him play.”

*** Remember when Jack Cooley was just known as the guy who looked a lot like former Irish teammate Luke Harangody?

He's come a long way over the past few years. Cooley, a 6-9, 246-pound senior, is aeraing 15.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per game to lead the Irish.

“He’s a double-double machine," said Ollie. "He’s just a load down there, and he don’t mind hitting you. It seems like he embraces it. It’s going to be a challenge for our big guys, but our big guys are playing exceptionally well, and I think they’re going to be up to it.”

Enosch Wolf and Tyler Olander will be charged with trying to stop Cooley. The watched some film of him on the flight to South Bend with coach Glen Miller.

“He’s a real physical guy," said Wolf. "We’ve got to hit him first, get him out of his position. He’s not a particularly fast player, but where he stands, you’ve got to hit him first and get him out of his position.”

“He doesn’t jump high, he’s just very strong. I’m probably going to be able to contest his shot and be able to shoot over him.”

*** Shabazz Napier was a little banged up at practice Friday, but it doesn't appear to be a big deal, according to Ollie.

*** A report by Mark Blaudschun at stated that UConn was looking into joining the so-called "Catholic 7" in all sports but football, and that its football team could join the Mountain West Conference.

But a UConn official said that AD Warde Manuel has not had any such conversations and would not even consider separating the school's football program from its other sports.

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