Friday, January 24, 2014

There'll Be A 'Black Out' for UConn's Final League Visit to the RAC on Saturday

There will be a "Black Out" at The RAC Saturday night, when UConn visits Rutgers for the final time, at least as league rivals (unless, of course, the Huskies garner an invite to the Big Ten some time soon. And can someone please remind me how the heck Rutgers got an invite to the Big Ten?).

The RAC (it's actually called the Louis Brown Athletic Center) will be sold-out on Saturday at 7 p.m., and the school is looking for what it's calling a "Black Out on the Banks,” as fans are encouraged to wear black to the game and the first 1,000 to enter the RAC will receive a complimentary blackout t-shirt.

Even more "exciting," prior to the game, Tim Sweeney, The Amazing Race competitor and former RU and professional baseball player, will sign autographs on the lobby concourse from 5:45-6:45 p.m.

Be still my beating heart.

Anyway, Jim Calhoun always used to call The RAC "a tough place to play." Of course, Calhoun's teams went 9-2 in Piscataway, N.J. during his years at the helm, as well as 18-2 overall. Kevin Ollie is 1-0, after a win last season in Storrs.

Rutgers isn't very good (again), at 5-11 overall, 2-4 in the American and in the midst of losing four of its last five games. The Scarlet Knights are shooting .386 from the floor in AAC games and a mere .280 from 3-point range.

But expect a pretty charged-up atmosphere Saturday night, further proof that a lot of teams (even longtime league rivals) are really getting up for visits from the Huskies this season. We saw it in Houston, we saw it at SMU, we saw it in Memphis, and it looks as though we'll see it again Saturday night at The RAC.

*** With Saturday night's sellout, UConn will have played before season-high crowds for all four of its AAC
road games: SMU (a sellout, its first in years), Memphis (over 18,039, a near-sellout) and even Houston (4,035). In fact, including today's UConn-Rutgers game (but not including the other games on the docket today), the AAC will have had six sellouts this season. UConn will have played in five of them (including two at Gampel and one in Bridgeport).

*** Incidentally, Ollie never played at The RAC, as Rutgers entered the Big East a season after Ollie's graduation. He was an assistant for UConn's last game in Piscataway, a 67-60 loss on Jan. 7, 2012 that had Jim Calhoun in an infuriated mood at practice the next day.

Ollie did, however, play for Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan in 2001, when Jordan was an assistant coach for the New Jersey Nets.

*** Ryan Boatright was back in practice on Wednesday and should be good to go against the Scarlet Knights.

*** Here's a look at UConn target Donovan Mitchell, by former Register intern Zach Smart. Apparently, Mitchell's father used to be in the New York Mets' organization and now works for the team. Didn't know that.

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