Thursday, August 28, 2014

Breaking down UConn's 2014-15 schedule

The release of UConn's 2014-15 schedule means -- never mind football -- college basketball is just around the corner. Sort of.

The Huskies can actually start practicing on Oct. 3, per NCAA rules, though they likely will start after that. Teams can get in 30 practices in the 42 days prior to their first game (in UConn's case, on Friday, Nov. 14 against Bryant).

Anyway, here's a breakdown of UConn's 2014-15 schedule, with a look at some of the Huskies' opponents:

Tuesday, Nov. 4, vs. Southern Connecticut State University (exhibition): Huskies play Owls in an exhibition for second straight season. Won 93-65 last season at Gampel.

Sunday, Nov. 9 vs. Assumption College (exhibition): Greyhounds, Huskies have never met in an official game.

Friday, Nov. 14 vs. Bryant: Just second time programs have met. UConn demolished Bulldogs 88-58 in 2008 in Hartford.

Thursday, Nov. 20 at Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 12:30 p.m.: Huskies open up against College of Charleston. Will UConn be going against current assistant Karl Hobbs, who is reportedly a candidate for the (amazingly) still vacant head coaching job?

Friday, Nov. 21 at Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico: UConn will face either Texas A&M or Dayton. Flyers beat Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford last year en route to Elite Eight, where they finally fell to Florida.

Sunday, Nov. 23 at Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico: Huskies could face Boston College for second time in as many seasons after not playing former Big East rivals for nearly 10 years. Steve Alford's New Mexico, which beat UConn in Paradise Jam finals in 2012, and George Mason (need we remind you) are other possible foes.

Sunday, Nov. 30 vs. Texas: Longhorns return all five starters and should be a preseason Top 15 pick – until Rick Barnes finds a way to mess it all up.

Friday, Dec. 5 vs. Yale: Huskies tamed Bulldogs 80-62 last year in the teams’ first meeting in 10 years.
UConn holds a 44-22 all-time advantage. Yale won't have Stratford's Brandon Sherrod, who'll be singing somewhere across the globe with the Whiffenpoofs.

Sunday, Dec. 14 vs. Coppin State: UConn is 5-0 all-time against Eagles, who will also play at Michigan this season.

Thursday, Dec. 18 vs. Duke at IZOD Center, East Rutherford, N.J., 8 p.m.: Despite losing Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood to the NBA draft, Blue Devils will be a preseason Top 5, maybe even No. 1. Duke boasts the top-rated recruiting class in the land, led by 6-foot-10 center Jahlil Okafor. This should be a fun one, as great rivalry is renewed. Two of Huskies’ biggest wins in program history (the 1999 national championship game and the 2004 Final Four) came against Duke. The Blue Devils, of course, handed UConn a crushing, overtime loss in the 1990 Elite Eight, ending the Huskies’ “Dream Season” on a Christian Laettner buzzer-beater. Duke holds the overall series edge, 5-4, including the most recent meeting, a 68-59 win on Nov. 27, 2009 in the NIT Season Tip-Off championships at Madison Square Garden.

Monday, Dec. 22 vs. Columbia: UConn is 7-2 all-time against the Lions, most recently with a 70-57 win on Nov. 11, 2011 at Gampel.

Sunday, Dec. 28 vs. Central Connecticut: Huskies face former longtime UConn assistant Howie Dickenman’s crew for first time in nine years. UConn has never lost in 12 meeting with these Blue Devils.

Wednesday, Dec. 31 vs. Temple: For first time in three years, UConn isn’t on the road for New Year’s Eve. Huskies open up AAC play against Owls, who finished ninth in the 10-team league a year ago at 4-14.

Saturday, Jan. 3 at Florida, O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida, 2 p.m.: Gators went 36-3 last season – 36-1 against teams not named UConn. The Huskies edged Florida on Dec. 2 at Gampel, 65-64, on Shabazz Napier’s 15-foot jumper at the buzzer. Gator coach Billy Donovan called the play “luck,” and Florida had the chance to avenge the loss in the Final Four. But the Huskies’ clamped down defensively, frustrating SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin all night, and needed no “luck” to score a 63-53 win. This game finishes the teams’ home-and-home series.

Tuesday, Jan. 6 at South Florida, Sun Dome, Tampa, 7 p.m.: Huskies stay in the Sunshine State for an AAC bout with USF and its new head coach Orlando Antigua, the former John Calipari assistant at Kentucky. Antigua should help Bulls on recruiting trail, but that won't do them much good this season.

Saturday, Jan. 10 vs. Cincinnati, 11 a.m.: Sean Kilpatrick (the guy who was peeved he lost out to Napier for AAC player of the year honors) and Justin Jackson are both gone, but Bearcats should play their usual tough defense and be solid once again.

Tuesday, Jan. 13 at Tulsa, Reynolds Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma: Huskies’ first-ever trip to Tulsa would’ve been more fun if Danny Manning were still head coach. But he bolted for Wake Forest, and instead former Missouri, Miami head man Frank Haith is at the helm. This could be a tough game for Huskies.

Saturday, Jan. 17 at Stanford, Maples Pavilion, Palo Alto, Calif.: Cardinal handed UConn its first loss of the season last year, 53-51 on Dec. 18 in Hartford, and wound up advancing to the Sweet 16.

Thursday, Jan. 22 vs. Central Florida, 7 p.m.: Knights have lost virtually everyone from last year’s team that went 4-14 in AAC, including all-league pick Isaiah Sykes. Could be a long season in Orlando. Incidentally, this will be only time the teams play this season.

Sunday, Jan. 25 vs. South Florida, noon: Anthony Collins, a preseason all-AAC pick who missed almost all of last year due to injury, should be back at the point for Bulls. Corey Allen, Jr. and Chris Perry are also decent returnees.

Thursday, Jan. 29 at Cincinnati, Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, 8 p.m.: Are the Bearcats UConn’s biggest rival in the AAC?

Sunday, Feb. 1 at Houston, Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston, 3 p.m.: Huskies return to site of their awful New Year’s Eve loss last season. Kelvin Sampson has taken over as head coach, but Ta’Shawn Thomas  (Oklahoma) and Danuel House (Texas A&M) have both transferred, leaving cupboard bare. Had those two stayed, Cougars may have been an NCAA tourney team. Now, they'll rely primarily on a bunch of JUCO's.

Wednesday, Feb. 4 vs. East Carolina, 7 p.m.: First meeting as league rivals between Huskies and Pirates. UConn actually holds a 3-1 all-time series lead, but haven’t played each other since 1978.

Saturday, Feb. 7 at Tulane, Devlin Fieldhouse, New Orleans, 6 p.m.: Green Wave will play most home games at 3,500-seat on-campus arena, but it’s possible this one could be switched to downtown arena where New Orleans Pelicans play.

Thursday, Feb. 12  vs. Tulsa, 7 p.m.: Don’t sleep on Tulsa, which went on a late-season surge and won the Conference USA tournament last season. Golden Hurricane is led by James Woodard, a do-everything guard who could warrant preseason all-AAC honors.

Saturday, Feb. 14 at SMU, Moody Coliseum, Dallas, 9 p.m.: An ESPN College GameDay presentation, should be a rowdy night. Mustangs could’ve been preseason top 15 if No. 1 national recruit Emmanuel Mudiay hadn’t bolted to play professionally in China, but they still might be the AAC favorites. After all, SMU did beat UConn both times they met last season.

Thursday, Feb. 19 at Memphis, FedExForum, Memphis, 9 p.m.: Huskies went a perfect 3-0 last year against Tigers, including twice at FedExForum – the latter game a 72-53 dismantling in an AAC tournament bout.

Sunday, Feb. 22 vs. Tulane, 4 p.m.: Green Wave return 90 percent of its offense from team that went .500 overall (17-17) and in C-USA (8-8).

Wednesday, Feb. 25 at East Carolina, Williams Arena, Greenville, North Carolina, 7 p.m.:  Four of five top scorers are back from team that went 17-17 overall.  However, top scorer Akeem Richmond is gone.

Sunday, March 1 vs. SMU, 2 p.m.: A CBS-televised affair, could be marquee game of AAC schedule. Despite no Mudiay, Mustangs have all-AAC standouts Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy back, along with talented Keith Frazier and Xavier transfer Justin Martin.

Thursday, March 5 vs. Memphis, 9 p.m.: Tigers lost Joe Jackson and other top guards to graduation, but may have league’s best frontcourt, led by all-AAC pick Shaq Goodwin and AAC rookie of the year Austin Nichols.


Saturday, March 7 at Temple, Liacouras Center, Philadelphia: Owls lost top scorer Dalton Pepper to graduation, top rebounder Anthony Lee to transfer (Ohio State). Could be another tough one for coach Fran Dunphy, who'll rely on whole slew of newcomers.

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