UConn up for Big Challenge from Georgetown, Otto Porter
The Big East player of the year race may be over (G'town's Otto Porter has all but sewn that up), but coach of the year is still somewhat open, and two of the three favorites (Kevin Ollie and John Thompson III) will be on opposing sidelines. Incidentally, he Republican-American's Ed Daigneault polled 13 out-of-town college hoops writers on Big East player of the year and coach of the year. Porter was unanimous for player and, surprisingly, JTIII got all but two votes for coach of the year. Ollie and Buzz Williams split the other two. It's possible the league's coaches (who actually vote on the award) could see things differently.
About 300 tickets were still available for the game as of Tuesday afternoon.
Here's some of what Ollie and Shabazz Napier had to say before Tuesday's practice at Gampel.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a team – probably since some of Coach (Calhoun’s) teams that went 16-2, 17-1 in league – both offense, defense, field goal perentage. They’re doing it on both ends of the table. They’re a great team – long, athletic. Can’t let them get out in transition, can’t give up easy buckets, and we’re going to have to guard them for the whole 35 seconds.”
(on Otto Porter)
“He’s just a great player. He’s a typical wing player, can put it on the floor, can shoot at a high rate … long, gets offensive rebounds, can go down on the block. Anything else I missed?”
(Ollie said it’ll be a group effort trying to stop Porter)
“Just like our guards. They don’t put one guy on Shabazz or one guy on Ryan (Boatright) … Otto’s gonna be a concentrated effort by all five of our guys in the paint, loading up, making sure he’s not on his sweet spots, distorting his catches, and making sure he sees a lot of UConn players and not getting a lot of easy buckets in transition.”
(on Omar Calhoun)
“He’s passing the ball a little more because of the wrist. It’s a good thing. He had to alter his game by default.”
"I love Gampel. If I had a chance to pick our home games, they would all be at Gampel. The crowd is so right there on you, it can be devastating for the other team. It helps when we go through spurts where we don’t score, and when we go through spurts when we do score. I just really appreciate Gampel.”
(on what happens if DeAndre Daniels guards Porter)
“DeAndre always comes up big in games where we need him to come up big.”
(on the possibility of winning their 20th game of the season on Wednesday)
“It would be a lot. We’ve been through so much, and not one day have we allowed excuses to overcome this team. We’ve continued to fight and be resilient.”
(on how big a game Georgetown is)
“This is, I guess you could say, a championship game, in a sense.”
*** A heavily-bearded Stanley "Sticks" Robinson was at Gampel on Tuesday. He's taken a break from hoops after suffering an Achilles tendon injury, living in Willimantic and working at Prime Materials, the scrap-metal place at which he worked while sitting out the first semester in 2008-09.
Always good to see Sticks.
*** The UConn athletics department and office of environmental policy will host a Green Game Day on Wednesday night. As part of the event, fans are encouraged to bring any lightly-used sneakers to donate for reuse – especially children’s shoes. These shoes will go to Kicks for Africa, a UConn student-run organization whose mission is to donate lightly-used shoes to less fortunate children in Africa. The shoes will be collected at all entrances as fans enter the game.