Monday, December 31, 2007

Brittany Hunter aggravated her surgically repaired knee is listed as day-to-day. With her potential absence, the starting lineup will again have a different look.

Who would step in? Charde Houston would seem logical, but then consider the bench options. It would be Ketia Swanier and....(crickets). Maybe moving Houston back in, with say, Tahirah Williams and putting Maya Moore back on the bench is better.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The loss of Kalana Greene hasn't seemed to hurt the Huskies, as they handled San Diego State on Friday. Now the stakes are higher as the Huskies are the new No. 1 team in the country, something that should have happened a lot sooner based on how well, and easily, they have beaten teams.

With the ranking comes the big 'ol target on their backs. and first up is Hartford and coach Jen Rizzotti. The Hawks are a strong team this year and Rizzotti has done well in building her program.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Huskies have lost junior guard Kalana Greene for at least the remainder of tonight's game against South Carolina. With 2:44 left in the opening half, Greene was hit from behind and fell to the court hard, injuring her right knee.

After being checked on by the team's training staff, Greene was helped off the court.

If it helps to serve as a measure of the injury's significance, coach Geno Auriemma was not on the sideline when play resumed in the second half. It is assumed he is with his starting guard.

This season Greene has started every game and is averaging 7.6 points per contest.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mel Thomas needs five points tonight for 1,000 in her career. My guess is she'll have that within three minutes of tipoff.

Coach Geno Auriemma has said a few times in recent weeks that he never would have imagined Thomas scoring 1,000 points when he recruited her out of Mount Notre Dame in Cincinnati, OH.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Huskies ran away with tonight's game, 80-34, but the big note here is that Charde Houston, playing 12 minutes, had six points, five rebounds and a steal.

It will be interesting to hear what Geno Auriemma has to say shortly.
Mel Thomas is five points away from 1,000 for her career. She has 14 so far with 9:20 to play in the game
The team is back from the Virgin Islands and ready to get back to business at the Civic Center. Tonight BYU comes in and should be easy fodder for the Huskies.

Keep an eye out for Charde Houston, who has been in the dog house, no pun intended. Don't expect her to start tonight. When she does come off the bench, if Houston can't show that her head is in the game, don't expect to see much of her even in a blowout.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stonington High School's Heather Buck signed her national letter of intent today, joining three others in UConn's class of 2008.

“I’m shaking,” Buck said moments after signing. “I’m really excited. During last period, around 1:50 (p.m.) or so, I started getting butterflies. It’s just really exciting now that it’s officially official.”

Reportedly, the Huskies have received two leters thus far.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mel Thomas said teammate Charde Houston, who missed the season opener, will play tomorrow night against Holy Cross.
Tomorrow's national signbing day with three of the four members of UConn's 2008 recruiting class expected to sign their letters of intent. Tiffany Hayes, Caroline Doty and Heather Buck will sign on the dotted line Wednesday. Meanwhile Elena DelleDonne is scheduled to do her part on Monday.

Huskies coach Geno Auriemma can't discuss each player until the letters of intent have arrived.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Just like that, it's over.

I'm in shock, to be honest. I'm not sure what to make of the loss to LSU. My first reaction is sadness for the team. They are a great bunch of kids. You always want to see them happy. To see them crying is a shame.

They will be back, I am sure.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Rutgers is slapping around Arizona State and are on course for Cleveland. Provided UConn wins tonight against LSU, the Huskies and Scarlet Knights will meet in the Final Four. They will also face each other for a fourth time, something UConn has never done with any opponent.
Today has been exciting.

First there was no hot water at the hotel.

Then when we arrive at the arena, we are told we can't park in the media lot because we were supposed to have a parking pass that wasn't needed all weekend.

After that, the wireless internet service went kaput.

Fresno, how I love thee.
I forgot to pass along one of my favorite stories of my time in Fresno.

Last night I had dinner with Rich from the Willimantic Chronicle, Tim from the Meriden Record-Journal and Mike and Vickie from The New London Day.

First I need to say that you don't expect to find as much good restaurants in Fresno as you would in a bigger city, but our meal at Livingston's was fantastic. The highlight was the Tortilla Soup. They need to serve it in gallon portions.

Anyhow, as we are about to turn into the hotel parking lot, we pull up to a red light and a car stops next to us blasting a P-Diddy (or whatever his name is now) song. What Mike did next nearly forced Rich to fall over laughing when we exited the car.

Mike looks over at the other car, which was on our right, and turns up his radio to match the volume of the adjacent car. Playing? Herb Alpert.
It's game here in Fresno and I think it's time I make a prediction.

This may be confusing, but I have been more concerned with facing LSU than N.C. State. But I had a bad feeling about the N.C. State game.

The biggest difference is that LSU has the athletic ability to compete with UConn top to bottom. That said, I don't think neither team is going to play as well as they did in February down in Baton Rouge, La. Nor do I think LSU has more than one player who be expected to support Sylvia Fowles. There's just a lot of inconsistant play offensively. They do play solid defense -- something that didn't happen in the prior meeting.

In the end, I am taking the Huskies to advance on to Cleveland and the Final Four with a 73-61 win.
Fresno has been an OK host for the regional portion of the tournament. Aside from the lack of shuttle service to and from the hotel (I walked again before being picked up by Mike and Vickie from The Day), there is a heavy lack of support for women's basketball.

From apathetic fans to indifferent locals, this isn't where the games should be played and the NCAA -- and ESPN -- need to take notice.

Why not Seattle? San Francisco? Los Angeles? San Diego? Las Vegas? Phoenix? Tempe? Salt Lake City? San Antonio? Houston? St. Louis? Minneapolis? Sacramento?

There would have been more that 3-4,000 fans in the arena had the regional been elsewhere.

Shame on the NCAA for not being more particular in a host city's ability to successfully host games.
There was an interesting sense of dullness coming from LSU Sunday. The players and coach Bob Starkey sounded more like they are just happy as clams to be here in Fresno.

Starkey downplayed all the talk of LSU's vaunted defense by saying the last time the Lady Tigers played UConn, LSU played well and still couldn't stop the Huskies.

On the other side of the equation, the Huskies sound very much like a team on a mission. It is as if they just want to win this game to shake all the pressure that resulted in last year's loss to Duke in the same round.

While there may be some relief with a win over LSU, if the Huskies have to play Rutgers in the Final Four, the questions will return after the Scarlet Knights won the Big East Tournament against the Huskies at Hartford.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Back where they were a year ago: the Elite Eight.

Last year, a misses shot by Charde Houston at the buzzer sealed the Huskies' fate as they lost a heartbreaker to Duke. But now the Huskies find themselves faced with LSU, a team they know and played a month ago.

Charde Houston said she doesn't think about that game or that shot much these days. Good for her. She said the focus is on doing what she has to to help her team win the game at hand.

Saying you look only at the current game and not the potential next game is hard to do. Almost impossible. The HUskies have said that's what they do all season. Although when the Tennessee game came around, several players admitted that they had been thinking about the Lady Vols for weeks. Maybe having some sort of obession with an opponent explains the way UConn started out against Tennessee.

Maybe the same happened with LSU, only UConn came back and won the game. So does this take pressure off knowing there's a win under your belt? At this stage of the game, I don't think so.
I am sorry to those who stopped by looking for blog updates throught Saturday's game. The internet connection is bad at courtside and I was unable to log on.

Some thoughts from the Huskies' win:

* If the Huskies can play a full 40 minutes, I don't think anyone can beat them. They've yet to put all the pieces together for a whole game, which is a shame.

* The spirit displayed both during and after the game by N.C. State is admirable. Khadijah Whittington walked past the UConn locker and assistant coach Trina Trice tried to console the Wolfpack's best player. Seeing the pain in her eyes, not that her season ended, but that it may have been the last game for Kay Yow, was moving. If UConn was going to lose to someone, I'd want it to be to N.C. State.

* I am more and more impressed by Charde Houston's growth. Just seeing the changes in her from October is impressive.

* After LSU defeated FSU, LSU center Sylvia Fowles was asked about the embrace she shared with members of the Seminoles' coaching staff. Keeping in mind Fowles is from Miami, the big smile on her face said it all.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rutgers is on the verge of defeating Duke. It is hard to think of a team playing better than Rutgers right now.

What is even more interesting is if Rutgers defeats Arizona State Monday and UConn wins tonight and Monday, the Huskies and Scarlet Knights will meet in the Final Four.

Rutgers just fouled Duke's Lindsey Harding with 0.01 seconds left and she missed both shots, which would have tied or won the game.
Tim stopped by so we can get lunch. As we were leaving, the good people of the Daily Campus were relaxing poolside.

Kevin, who likes to refer to himself as a Shining Beacon of Light, said that a guy in Starbucks could tell who was from Connecticut. Their white shirts matched their pale skin.

So true.
Somewhere along the way, the writers had been told that there would be a shuttle to and from the hotel and arena. We found out Friday morning that there was not.

After completing my work, Tim from Meriden and I walked back. Tim walked to the arena in the morning. But with added papers/media guides plus about 80 degree weather and our two mile or so journey turned into what felt like a walk in the desert.

Today, we ride with colleagues in their rental cars.
UConn's Sweet 16 history
1991: Defeated N.C State, 82-71
1994: Defeated Southern Miss, 78-64
1995: Defeated Alabama, 87-56
1996: Defeated San Francisco, 72-44
1997: Defeated Illinois, 78-73
1998: Defeated Arizona, 74-57
1999: Lost to Iowa State, 64-58
2000: Defeated LSU, 86-71
2001: Defeated N.C. State, 72-58
2002: Defeated Penn State, 82-64
2003: Defeated Boston College, 70-49
2004: Defeated California-Santa Barbara, 63-55
2005: Lost to Stanford, 76-59
2006: Defeated Georgia, 77-75

Friday, March 23, 2007

You come to Fresno, where it is in the mid-to-upper 70s, from Connecticut and the snow. Then on the first full day in town, we end up confined to the basement of the SaveMart Center.

The atmosphere is a lot less relaxed than the Big East Tournament and the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Maybe that's because I'm so used to being in Hartford.

The players seem more relaxed, but then again, the weather will do that to you.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is the odd things people say and do. My winner for today was came from one of the first people I saw in Hartford. While taling the shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal, the driver said there was a bear in one of the lots earlier this week. A passenger replied, "Well, bears don't bother people unless they're hungry or something."


What isn't covered in "hungry or something"? Bears usually venture into places where people dwell because they are HUNGRY!!!!
I've finally made it to Fresno -- after 12 hours plus of travel. I went from Hartford to Atlanta to Salt Lake City, back to Salt Lake City and onto Fresno.
Yes, I said back to Salt Lake City. My flight took off and about 20 minutes into the trip, turned around because of electrical issues.

Anyhow, as Kalana Greene told me Tuesday, it's nice to get away from the snow and into the sun.

Friday is media day, so expect some interesting comments from all four teams in town. Of course, UConn coach Geno Auriemma is always good for a quote.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Like the Huskies have done all year, they have come out witha burst in the second half. UConn is on a 10-2 run.
At the half..UWGB 40, UConn 38.
UConn down four with 26.5 to play, 40-36.
It is a bad sign when Kalana Greene is taking three point attempts. If there is one thing she shouldn't be counted on to do offensively, its shoot the trey.
UWGB takes the lead....33-32 with 2:49 to play.
UWGB is hanging around. I'm impressed how they didn't crumble when UConn turned up the heat.
The Huskies have outscored the Phoenix, 13-2, over the last five minutes plus.
UConn takes its first lead thanks to a Mel Thomas three.
Geno Auriemma subbed in Ketia Swanier for Tina Charles and she paid dividends immediately. On the first Huskies possession, she nailed a jumper from the top of teh key to bring UConn within four points, 10-6, with 15:44 to play.
Tina Charles just blocked a shot, making her the all-time freshman leader in school history in that category.
The Phoenix have come out on fire, making their first four shots.
It's about 45 minutes until the Huskies take the court to face Wisconsin - Green Bay. I like the Phoenix. They ahve a swagger to them and a chip on their shoulder, as well. That seems a bit of a contradiction because teams with swager are confident while teams playing with a chip feel they have something to prove. That said, I see how both a possible. You'd have to be a team on the rise. You know, like the Phoenix.

UWGB has the longest winning streak in the nation. None of their wins came against particularly good teams. They have three common oppoents with UConn: Oakland, Marquette and DePaul. The Huskies went 3-0 with two games coming at home. UWGB lost two, to DePaul (home) and Marquette (away) by a combined five points. They beat Oakland by 22. All of those games came in November. Other opponents of any interest are Minnesota, Kansas State and Iowa. They won all but K-State.

The trouble UConn presents for the Phoenix isn't that UWGB is a bad offensive team. They aren't. They are surprisingly good. Coming out of the Horizon League, I would subtract about 10 points per game as a means of adjusting their production as if they were in a major conference with a tougher schedule. They are 50th in RPI, UConn is 3rd.

The Phoeniz are in the Top 10 in eight team cataegories, including tops in free throw percentage and 3rd in turnovers per game.

Anyway, UWGB averages better than 77 points per game. For the sake of adjustment, I put them at 67, seven points and change behind UConn. But as I was saying, the real challenge comes on defense. UWGB allows 60.6 points per game, but allowed over 70 to Kansas State, DePaul, Loyola, Detroit, UW-Milwaukee (twice) and Butler. I think they are in trouble against the Huskies.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It didn't take long -- 1:14 to be exact -- for UMBC to call a timeout. Coahc Phil Stern didn't like what he was seeing, which was a quick 5-0 start by UConn.
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said Saturday that as Renee Montgomery and Charde Houston go, so goes the Huskies. With 7:08 to play, both are in double figures scoring.

UConn leads 29-17, a score that is surprisingly close.
Wisconsin - Green Bay defeated New Mexico, so the Phoenix advance to the second-round of the NCAA Tournament. They play either UMBC or UConn. I wonder who that will be?
Day 2 and it is also the first opportunity for UConn to play in almost two weeks. I'm interested to see how much of a quick start -- if any at all -- the Huskies start with. Also if they can sustain a run after the layoff. My hunch is they can because UConn practices are filled with running.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The snow is a big theme today. It shouldn't be hard to figure out why. But with the city of Hartford hosting the events of the weekend, you would think a better job would have been done when it comes to snow removal.

When I exited I-91, the off ramp was clear. But after the first light, it was apparent the last time the city plowed the street was sometime last night. My car got stuck at one light, and then when I turned left towards the Civic Center, I spun out. The streets immediately surrounding the HCC were mostly plowed. Hey Hartford, if you expect people to want to be at the tournament, maybe you should make the conditions they have to travel through safer instead if thinking all that matters are Church and Asylum Streets.
Today is media day for the teams playing in Hartford for the NCAA Tournament. For the most part, its Connecticut media with a smattering of others. It's fairly relaxed, but that's teh calm before the storm.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Its been a semi-hectic past few days. There was Selection Monday and then preparing for this morning's special section in the Bulletin. I hope you find the contents informative.

The real business at hand is the tournament, which begins Saturday. But I want to tuch on a different topic.

Geno Auriemma, the long time coach of the Huskies, was named as one of the finalists for National Coach of the Year. That shouldn't be surprising considering the success he's had and, when you look at the factors involved this year, it makes his performance all the more impressive.

It should be noted that no other Big East coach is under consideration. So that makes me wonder: how was he not named Big East Coach of the Year? You can possibly be the national coach of the year, but not in your conference. Riiight.

Well, I've got it figured out. The National Coach of the Year qualifies for the Big East year.

This means one of two things: either the voters for coach of the year must have missed a bunch of games and just don't know what they are talking about or the coaches in the Big East will vote for the Kool-Aid Man as long as Auriemma doesn't win.

Friday, March 09, 2007

This isn't so much related to UConn as it is to college basketball. In light of the alleged behavior of former LSU coach Pokey Chatman, I think we -- fans, media -- forget that there are college-aged kids involved. That's right, kids. They may be 20, 21 years old, but they are still kids.

Our craving to know what goes on in every moment of their lives sometimes crosses the line. We push and push and push to the point where we go beyond decency and let rumor and speculation rule the day. Now I'm not saying what may or may not have happened at LSU. I simply don't know. But in general, we forget these are kids. And sometimes the ones who put the most pressure on them are the people they don't know.

At LSU, is the story why Chatman resigned or is it WHY she resigned? If she had inappropriate relatons with a player, how important is it that we know the identity of the player or players?

Of course, if I am covering this story and it becomes known who the parties involved are, do I include this in my coverage? Yes, that's my job. But I also think its important that as a member of the public, all of us have a responsibility to respect people's privacy.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Big East Tournament is over. Honestly, it came and went too quickly. To my peers, they are probably thinking I am nuts. Hard to argue against them.

It all started with the banquet Friday night. To have 12 teams in town, all together to celebrate the season and then play in the tournament is great. I likened it to when I attended the 1996 men's NCAA Tournament in Charlotte. I got to know all the teams a little better. Found reasons to not root for Duke and reasons to cheer on Austin Croshere and the Providence Friars when they played the Blue Devils.

I can't forget Murray State. My friends and I were all but converted into Racers fans.

That's what the past five days were to me. It made me appreciate Kia Vaughn and Krystal Ellis more than I did. It made me wonder what Jessica Dickson might do if she had more talent around her.

With game after game after game, I never wanted the action to stop. I hoped that there would be consolation games added at the last minute and the other teams would suddenly appear rather than have gone home.

Then I get excited.

The NCAA Tournament is just around the corner. And it will be here, in Hartford. And collectively, maybe the teams seeded here won't be as good as the teams of the Big East. But if you love this game, like I do, then wouldn't you want to see a team like Oklahoma or George Washington? Maybe this year's Cinderella of the women's tournament tries on its slippers here. Wouldn't that be exciting?

Maybe there's a Murray State in there. Not for me. But for you.
UConn went 7:38 without scoring. That's the game folks.

55-47 Rutgers
UConn hasn't scored in nearly six minutes. And unless they start doing so in teh final 2:09, they will lose the tournament.
Renee Montgomery has not played like the calm floor leader that she is over the past couple of minutes. Poor decisions on her part have led to UConn turnovers and more importantly, Rutgers baskets. Rutgers is at the line with a chance to extend its lead to five. Right now it is 49-45 with 3:15 to play.
Tina Charles had no points, a rebound an a turnover at the half. She has eight points, several key rebounds and not to mention a blocked shot. She has been the best player on the floor the seond half. Coming out of the locker room with two fouls, she has managed to pick up just one more and play smart ball.

The game, however, is being played at a pace Rutgers likes. With 6:41 to go, UConn holds a one point lead, 45-44.
A travel call on Charde Houston set off Geno Auriemma. The coach needed to be restrained by asistant Chris Dailey.
Rutgers is on a 8-0 run and has taken the lead, 16-14.
How fitting is it that Rutgers' band plays "Back in Black" by ACDC and the Scarlet Knights wear, uh, SCARLET?
The game has been excatly what a championship game should be. Both teams have gone back and forth. What has been the biggets difference has been Rutgers inability to grab defensive rebounds. UConn leads 10-6 with 15:33 to play.
It is cold in here. I mean, I am blowing on my hands cold.

And another thing, why is the game not sold out.
Last night, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer took some exception to the notion her team is the underdog. Not because of who they are playing, but because she thinks her team is good enough to win the Big East Tournament.

Let's look at it this way: Rutgers has beaten UConn a total of four times EVER. Not in the last four years, EVER. And after getting waxed at home by UConn a week and a day ago, how are you not the underdog?

Rutgers is just the kind of team, though, that can beat UConn. They slow down the game and force you to play a half-court game.

They have strong guards, a good center and underrated forwards. If any of the UConn guards are able to have a good game, then expect this to be a blow out. Who should have a big game is Charde Houston.

I have been nothing short of impressed by Houston, especially in the two UConn tournament wins. She doesn't have the shooter's touch of Mel Thomas or the speed of Kalana Greene, but she dominates. Maybe it is done quietly because of the talent around her.

What I do expect is for UConn to attack Rutgers C Kia Vaughn in hopes of getting her into early foul trouble. If they can get her out of the way, the inside will really open up.

I like UConn tonight. My guess is they win by 15. Make it 30 if Thomas, Greene, Renee Montgomery or Ketia Swanier go off.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Its become so amusing during the tournament to watch the various mascots do their thing. Johnathan the Husky just stopped by and shook, er, paws with me and a couple other writers. Apparently, he is bored.
If I am Marquette or Rutgers, I don't want to watch this game. It would convince me that we couldn't beat UConn.
The best player for Louisville?

The male cheerleader who does backflips from baseline to baseline.

If you are at the game, you know who I'm talking about: the guy who gets an ovation every time he takes the court.
The last time these teams played, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he didn't think his team was 30 points better than the Cardinals, then the second place team. That was after UConn won by 28.

After today, Auriemma was right. His team isn't 30 points better. They may be 40 points better. With 11:46 to play, the Huskies are crushing the Cardinals, 60-28.
The game is out of hand. Uconn has outscored Louisville 10-2 to open the second half and Cards coach Tom Collen is about to remove four of his five starters with 15:49 left.
McCoughtry didn't waste any time, 1:01 to be exact before picking up her third foul.
Renee Montgomery hit a 3 with 3:25 putting the Huskies up 31-17 and forcing Louisville coach Tom Collen to call a timeout.
Renee Montgomery hit a 3 with 3:25 putting the Huskies up 31-17 and forcing Louisville coach Tom Collen to call a timeout.
Kalana Greene is having her first big game in a while. She has 12 points thus far in UConn's 22-13 lead with 6:45 left in the half.
Louisville opened on a 5-0 run, but since then the Huskies have outscored them 14-2. With McCoughtry sitting on the bench with two fouls, the game could escape Louisville's grasp quickly.
Not even 4 minutes into the game and Angel McCoughtry has two fouls. This could haunt the Cardinals. When your best player, who is also the best in the conference is having to play it safe because of foul trouble, you should expect to see Kalana Greene and Charde Houston take advantage of the conservative approach McCoughtry will have to take.

McCoughtry was covering Renee Montgomery, a surprising move, but that goes to show you how talented and versatile McCoughtry is.
UConn has moved up one spot in the Associated Press rankings to No. 2. They are still 32 first-place votes shy of No.1 Duke. North Carolina, who moved to No. 3, is seven points behind the Huskies.

In other matters...
I noticed something last night. Huskies coach Geno Auriemma wore a purple shirt with purple tie. That's what I wore to the Big East Banquet. Coincidence?

Yesterday I wore a gray shirt with a gray tie. Let's see if Mr. Auriemma mimics my fashion sense tonight.

Of course, I don't really think so, but this had been pointed out to me so I figured I should blog about this.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The best part of the tournament?

The writer who leaves the media work room to eat and otherwise watches movies and plays Warcraft. My guess is he is a level five wizard.
The game is over and the Huskies have won, 70-50. Cassie Kerns nearly matched her season-high (5), scoring four.
Everytime USF's Jessica Dickson scores, the Bulls' band chants, "All American."

Right. Because what I'd want is an All American over a national championship. Even a conference championship.
The Huskies put an end to the Bulls' 6-0 run to end the first half. Instead the tables have been turned the tables and outscored the Bulls 11-4 in the second half.

UConn leads 47-28 with 15:07 to play in the half.
The Huskies have decided that there's noting wrong with a little bit of sloppy play. In th eprocess, USF has gone on a 6-0 run and cut the lead to 12, 36-24, with 20 seconds to play.
Charles is been more than the Bulls can handle. I think she may best her 34-point outburst against USF from the previous meeting. She has 12 points with 5 minutes to play in the half.
Far from a sellout at the HCC, but the fans that are here are drowning out the small USF contingent and are making themselves heard.
The game has a similar feel to when the Huskies went down to Tampa a couple weeks ago. It was close and evenly played in the early going. But UConn doesn't look as flat and leads by 9, 19-10.
At the first timeout, the Huskies lead the Bulls by two, 6-4. Tina Charles has four points.
It's Day Two of the Big East Tournament, so let's recap Day One.

No. 5 Louisville did what it was supposed to do and beat No. 12 St. John's. The Cardinals used eight threes and superior bench play to end the Red Storm's season. Louisville outscored St. John's 28-0 off the bench. Louisville plays West Viginia, the tournament's No. 4 seed.

No. 8 USF toopled No. 9 Seton Hall, 79-64, and faces UConn today at 2 p.m. The Bulls never trailed and Jessica Dickson posted 27 points. The win gives USF 20 on teh season, its second-most in school history (21 in 04-05).

No. 10 DePaul upset No. 7 Notre Dame, 76-71. The two teams played in the regular-season finale. At one point, DePaul led by 11, but the Irish battled back, going on a 10-0 and holding the Blue Demons without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. The Blue Demons made all but one of their 23 free throws. Four players scored in double digits. Next up for DePaul is Rutgers.

No. 6 Pitt set a school record for wins (23) by knocking off No. 11 Cincinnati, 76-71. There were 1 ties and 12 lead changes in the game which featured Shavonte Zellous' game-high 28 points. Pitt plays No. 3 Marquette in today's final game.
As the UConn women's basketball team prepares to take the court in a few hours, the trend in women's hoops Saturday doesn't bode well for the Huskies.

Six top seeds were eliminated from their conference tournaments, including the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country Duke and Tennessee.

My guess would be if the Huskies can win out in the Big East Tournament, they should be viewed as the No. 2 team in the country and not have to worry about being placed in the West region for the NCAA Tournament. The catch with Tennessee is what's the differnce between them being in Dallas or Dayton. For the Huskies' sake of travel, Dayton is a better choice.

For the sake of better location/weather, I'd like to see the Huskies land in Dallas.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A funny thing happened on the way to the Big East awards banquet. The conference posted all of its award winners on its website about 15 minutes before the banquet began. Way to kill the suspense. Maybe they did that so the writers could digest UConn not getting as many awards as it should have. Or how Seton Hall's Monique Blake had zilch. Or better yet dull the attendees with the video montage they played while everyone ate.

It was nice. There was no music. Were they affraid people would start dancing?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Big East Tournament is set to begin Saturday. We have four games Saturday and UConn will Sunday afternoon (2 p.m.).

Most of the teams should be getting into Hartford tonightor first thing tomorrow.

To get the latest on the tournament and UConn check out Friday's Bulletin.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'm watching the UNC-Duke game and I'm actually impressed with Ivory Latta compared to when the Huskies played the Tar Heels. Maybe she had an off game last month.
It's been 30 minutes since Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was supposed to join writers for a teleconference discussing tomorrow's UConn-Rutgers game. For the most part, all I've heard is the Rutgers fight song. I didn't think I was meant to die a slow, painful death, but it appears to be in the cards.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sorry I was MIA throughout the game. The wireless connection at the HCC kept booting me back to the sign on screen. Here are some observations, albeit late.

* Villanova is BAD. I don't know if the Wildcats' starters could beat Ketia Swanier, Tahira Williams, Kaili McLaren, Meghan Gardler and Cassie Kerns.

* Watching the UConn coaching staff observe the team pose with the conference championship trophy, you can tell they might be as proud of this team as any to take the court for Geno Auriemma.

* During his post game press conference, Auriemma was told that Rutgers defeated Notre Dame. Rutgers locked up the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament and will host UConn Monday to end the regular season. Auriemma could care less about the Scarlet Knights' win.
I thought about discussing my parking situation (right near the entrance to the lot) or how the snow of two days ago might keep people from the game, but the snow has all but melted. So instead I will turn my attention to something far more interesting -- the game. Yes, folks, there is a game at the HCC today and if it is close, all five of the UConn starters became injured.

What I am curious about will actually take a few days. Playing a team like Nova allows you to work/fine tune a few things. But I don't think Villanova prepares you for playing Rutgers at Rutgers. Unfortunately, my gut tells me the Huskies will lose to the Scarlet Knights Monday. Then again, my gut tells me a lot of things, not the least of which is to eat.

Friday, February 23, 2007

One of the great things about this beat is that nearly every day something amusing happens. Today was no diferent.

Geno Auriemma was talking via tele coneference with a couple of out of town writers. While on the line, there was a loud, heavy breathing coming over. With about a dozen local media on the other end, we just looked at each other. Some, like me, had to be immature and laugh.

The real question is whether it was a far away admirer or a horror film stalker like the one I blogged about earlier this year.

How funny would it be to have Jonathan the Husky heavy panting on the other end of the phone line? This would make a great commercial.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

When you travel, there's no telling what you will see. On my flight from Tampa to Newark was Tampa Bay All-Pro Ronde Barber. When an older gentleman saw Barber, he began shaking. Another passenger turned to me and asked if that was that Tiki Barber guy who played with Bill Murray in a celebrity pro-am golf tournament. Who knows either Barber brother as a golfer?

Then there is a guy at the gate for my flight to Providence picking his feet. Lunch anyone?
I'm at Tampa International Airport watching the clock tick towards my departure. It's never fun to leave the 70s for the 20s and 30s of home, but I am anxious to get back to Norwich. I haven't felt particularly well for the last day or so. I was running a fever and a headache during the game last night, so some rest will do me well. It was funny because the crowd noise helped my headache last night. LOL.

There are no shortage of words to describe Tina Charles' performance last night. You know, there were a lot of smiles over the game she had. She's dominated games before, but she was easily the best player on the court and that says something when you are playing against a team with Jessica Dickson.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Big East champions....81-67
Tina Charles has made five straight free throws and has 25 points and 14 rebounds with over 10 to play
At 13:12 of the second half, Charde Houston scored her 15th point of the game and 1,000th of her career.
There is a fan behind me that is saying to the UConn players, "You're undefeated in the Big East?" I suppose he forgot why his team has five losses in the conference.
Hunter is coming into the game at the next time out.
Brittany Hunter was checked out by a doctor Monday and the verdict is.... day to day. I don't know if we'll see her tonight.
It's awesome, baby!

This morning when leaving a restaurant in Bradenton, where I am staying with a friend, none other than Dick Vitale was walking in. I was told Vitale is the unofficial mayor of the joint, where they sell merchandise with Vitale's likeness and signature. On the walls, you will find dozens of photos of Vitale with celebs.

Kind of cool.
I wanted to start this blog with, "Ahh...Tampa." But the fact is when I try it with "Ahh Piscataway" next week at Rutgers, it just wouldn't seem right.

Anyhow, Tampa is looking good. The weather is in the mid-to-high 70s and wish I spent some time in the sun. The sad part is leaving tomorrow knowing that it is a lot colder at home.

If nothing else, all the Huskies fans in town should head back filled with the warmth of a conference title. Did I just sound like a greeting card or what?

Monday, February 19, 2007

I'm on my way to Tampa for what should be the game in which the Huskies clinch the conference title.

In the meantime, I am connecting in Clevelan. That wouldn't be a bad thing if I could go to Jacobs Field or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Instead, my flight here landed on an icy runway and then the battery on my laptop went kaput. Thank God for my Treo. Otherwise this blog wouldn't be possible. Maybe that would be better. I can hunt and peck on this thing like a champ.

Now for some bragging...
It is supposed to be in the mid-to-upper 70s in Tampa tomorrow.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

82-68....the Huskies clinch at least a tie for the Big East regular season title.
There's a dog show going on at the Hartford Civic Center at the same time as the game. Near the media working area is a bunch of pooches being groomed for their big moment. I love dogs, but it smells like a pound in the corridor.

This game has gone to the dogs. The Huskies lead by 20, 45-25 at the half.
Way to go, Joe. I say something about the Huskies' run and Pitt goes on a 9-0 run. Blame me.
This game is turning out uglier than the Louisville game. After trailing 4-0, the Huskies have outscored the Panthers, 29-2.
It was a nice pregame ceremony for Shea Ralph. She was presented with a plaque at center court by Geno Auriemma and UConn Athletic Director Jeffrey Hathaway. The standing ovation by the near capacity crowd was great. Years after suiting up for the team, Ralph is still loved by Husky Nation. Her Pittsburgh team met her half way to the bench an dpresented her with a flowers. A nice touch.
Interesting...Brittany Hunter, who coach Geno Auriemma said is not playing, is in uniform. The past three games she had been in street clothes. We wil wait and see.
We are about 30 minutes until game time and the Huskies will honor one of their great players, Shea Ralph. Ralph missed the Huskies of Honor ceremony in December. The reception by the fans at the Civic Center should be great.

I spoke with Ralph yesterday and there is a deep appreciation for the love and support the fans have shown her from Day 1. This is going to be a special moment for her.
We are about 30 minutes until game time and the Huskies will honor one of their great players, Shea Ralph. Ralph missed the Huskies of Honor ceremony in December. The reception by the fans at the Civic Center should be great.

I spoke with Ralph yesterday and there is a deep appreciation for the love and support the fans have shown her from Day 1. This is going to be a special moment for her.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Huskies are having their way with the Cardinals...73-41 with 7:50 to play.
This has been one of, if not the best, 4:31 the team has played all season. It appears to me that the win Sunday at LSU has given them a boost of confidence that I can't imagine anyone could have expected. To overwhelm a ranked team in such decisive fashion has been impressive.
Here is something we have gotten to see progress as the season went along: instead of coming out of the gate flat, the Huskies are more frequently starting with more energy and intensity. Tonight is no different as they have a 10-0 lead.
Brittany Hunter is on the bench and in street clothes. The Cardinals have a good deal of front court depth so the Huskies need to stay out of foul trouble if they want to minimize Hunter's absence.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Finally back from Red Stick, er, Baton Rouge. I,m quickly becoming less and less a fan of early morning flights. It was nice to again have familiar faces on board. With five other members of print/radio press on both flights was pleasant, although we sat apart.
I was litterally crushed on my connecting flight from Atlanta. Good thing there were no emergencies at the airport today.
The good news is that Tina Charles was named FOW for the fifth time.
Also good was the food in Louisiana. Last night I had Natchitoches meat pies and a fried chicken po' boy. Like I said in a previous post, you have to partake in local cusine.
Anyhow...enough on Baton Rouge. If you want more, e-mail me. Time to focus on Louisville. This is a first for UConn; four straight games against ranked opponents. You have to think after LSU that the worst is over. But the Cardinals are tough even on the road. We'll find out tomorrow night.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Montgomery hits a 3 with 6.7 and than Porsha Phillips hits a shot at the buzzer. The officials are looking to see if her foot was on the line or if it was a 3....It was a two. UCONN WINS, 72-71.
22 seconds left and UConn by 2.
Under 2 minutes and the Huskies ar eup 4 thanks to Renee Montgomery hitting another big 3.
Now it is LSU's turn to go on another run. They are on a 12-4 run to trail 62-61 with 5:50 left.
How stupid is this: S0meone associated with LSU announces during a timeout at 11:34 and says that if LSU scores within 15 seconds on either side of 11:20, the Tigers will win.

Well, they didn't. So I guess UConn wins by result of poor prognostication.
This has become a GREAT game.

The Hueskies went on a 13-0 run. Since then, both teams have traded BIG shots. What has be confused, though, is that LSU refuses to go inside to Sylvia Fowles when Houston and Charles have fould problems. Kaili McLaren enters and LSU attacks inside. Go figure.
How many stupid fouls must UConn committ? The Huskies aught a break when what was Charde Houston's third foul was credited to Tina Charles, her second.

This game is near being broken wide open and the Huskies have shown no signs of life.

Let's not talk about how they came back against UNC and Tennessee. You don't always get to comeback.
For a game between two good teams, both have come out with high energy levels, something UConn usually does not do. This, I think, is a sign of the team's maturation.

Some early observations...The Huskies are hurt by Brittany Hunter not playing. It appears more and more that the team can not depend upon the junior pivot to contribute much down the stretch of the season.

UConn is still allowing too many open looks. Good teams will make them pay and a 7-2 LSU run was a sign of this trait.

The Huskies had gotten a couple quick, sloppy fould from LSU. But the roles seem to have reversed in the lats three minutes or so.

UConn holds a 14-13 lead with 13:34 to play in the half.
One of the things I most enjoy about visiting a new city is experiencing the culture. A great way to ensconce myself with my locale is to try the local foods. So in Baton Rouge, good, southern, cajun/creole cooking was my mission. Boy did I find it!

There's this place not too far from LSU called Jubon's. It is a little pricey, but well worth the money.

The chicken, roasted duck and andouille sausage gumbo was awesome. I followed that with a variety of baked oysters. All of that was followed with Colorado Lamb in a mystery sauce, accompanied by a rather large medallion of cheese grits and a mixture of bacon, okra and tomato.

When my stomach is happy, I'm happy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ahh...Atlanta. I'm sitting with Bob Joyce and company, alarms start going off with an announcement that there's an emergency at the airport. I think the Huskies were trying to shoot free throws.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Today is an off day for the ladies, who are preparding for a big matchup against No. 7 LSU in Baton Rouge Sunday afternoon (4 p.m.). And after last night, the Huskies' lead in the Big East moved to at three games on everyone. Notre Dame beat Louisville, who was the only team within two games.

This may be jumping the gun, but to use something we see in baseball, UConn's magic number is two to clinch a tie for the Big East title.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

There have been some bad calls tonight, but I don't know if there is one worst than the fould called on Charde Houston with 1:17 to play. She went up and got all ball on Kia Vaughn's attempted jumped. Vaughn came back down with the ball still in her hand. The call: foul on Houston.
Just when you think the Huskies are about to put the Scarlet Knights down, the Huskies go into a spell allowing Rutgers to stick around. Will this haunt them? It hasn't yet, but there is still 11:37 for UConn to blow a 12-point lead.
UConn over Rutgers at the half, 30-23.
The Huskie are really putting their size and strength to use so far against Rutgers. Be it in the post or extending forn rebounds, the Huskies are overpowering their rivals.
Rutgers is shooting 3-of-16 and down 13, but don't get too confident. Rutgers came back from more last year.
Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was so upset with one of her players traveling, she needed to be moved back to her bench by an official. The official grabbed Stringer by the arm and pulled her back.
This is an ugly game. With all caps, really. So it is UGLY.

This is a poor attempt at humor, much like a poor attempt by these teams to play ball.
Brittany Hunter is a no-go, as she is in street clothes and sitting on the bench.
It's a near sellout.

How sad.
Tonight is the first of two games between UConn and Rutgers (the last ends the regular season). I think what is interesting to watch is if many Rutgers fans come to Storrs for the game and what their behavior towards coach Geno Auriemma will be in light of recent comments the coach made about Rutgers fans. While made more in jest than anything, I suspect whatever Rutgers fans here at Gampel will give him the biz.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Let's be frank, Charde Houston has been far from good lately. So far from good that to say she has stunk up the joint may be fitting.

She played four minutes against Cincinnati Tuesday and was then benched for the remainder of the game. The only number on the stat sheet for her besides the 4 for minutes was 1 for turnovers.

Then came Saturday at Marquette. She didn't start for the first time this season. In 15 minutes, Houston posted 4 points, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 2 fould, 1 assists and 1 rebound.

Based on what I observed during the team's practice Monday, Houston will be back in the starting lineup against Rutgers Tuesday night.

As for Houston, coach Geno Auriemma had this to say:
"Charde is Charde. Some days she;s good; some days she's bad."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw last week spoke of tomorrow's UConn at Marquette game.
" Connecticut has a huge advantage in the post. Marquette is a msart team, they don't make many miostakes and they play solid defense. They also have a great zone, but I think it will be a game where Connecticut's athletic ability wins out in the end. I don't think Marquette can match up with them."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What a game!

I think we saw a few of the things I wrote about in today's paper. Kaili McLaren's late-game heroics made all the difference in the world. Playing with four fouls, McLaren played with smarts that had escaped her most of the year.

Let's not forget Renee Montgomery making big shot after big shot, especially after the Huskies fell behind with nearly six minutes on the clock.

I was also impressed with the job UConn has done at the free throw line over the last two games. Maybe they are turning a corner in that area. Now if they can play smart and not play down to their competition.

Anyhow, they have a few days until they visit Marquette, which may prove to be the toughest game for UConn this season to date. I know, I know that sounds stupid considering games against Purdue, Carolina and Tennessee...just wait and see.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Huskies are getting ready to travel to Mel Thomas' hometown of Cincinnati to face the Bearcats Tuesday night. I find this to be an interesting matchup for a few reasons. Namely, it is a road game. But also because Cincy just played Marquette, the Huskies opponent after the Bearcats.

Beating Notre Dame, a quality opponent is nice, especially after struggling aganist DePaul. But that was a home win, and the Huskies rarely lose at home.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Huskies are now up by 19 and Tina Charles is a blocked shot from a triple-double.
Charles is back.
Charles seems to have injured or bothered her troublesome right shoulder and has left the game for the time being.
Through 9:40 of the second half, UConn has 14 blocked shots.
A pair of baskets serving as bookends to a Irish turnover has give UConn the largest lead of the game, 44-30.
Tina Charles just tied her career high with six blocks.
A nice start to the second half. The Huskies picked up a couple of baskets from Tina Charles, who also had the team's first missed free throw, and a clucth layup from Charde Houston. Houston, who is playing with three fouls, push the lead to 10....35-25.
halftime...UConn 29, Notre Dame 23
Just that quickly, the lead is down to 3. A layup and a jumper and onehave gotten the Irish within 3.
Mel Thomas sank a 3 with 4:33 remaining in the opening half to push the Huskies' lead to 8, the largest lead of the game.
This is going to be one of those games where whichever team wins they would have had to grind out the win. There is 11:41 left in the half and UConn holds a 10-8 lead.
Stonington High School star Heather Buck, who has been linked to several colleges including UConn and Notre Dame, is in attendance at the game. She is sitting a few rows behind the Huskies' bench.
Tina Charles has come out with a good amount of energy. She has two points , a rebound and a block.
The house appears to be full for the first time all season. It's nice to see the fans come out and support their Huskies.
Hi my name is Joe Perez and I am the Norwich Bulletin's UConn women's basketball beat writer (Thanks, Rich). You may not know me because I missed the DePaul game. And, as everyone in these parts knows, if you missed the DePaul game, you might as well have missed the entire season. At least the seems to be the case today.

As I attempted to enter through the SAME DOOR I have entered Gampel Pavilion from ALL SEASON, I found the door was locked. Coming behind me was Assistant coach Chris Dailey. When she asked me to confirm the door was locked, she tried to enter through an ajacent set of doors. She told the door security detail that she "didn't know about about" me. I flashed a smile and my media credential and the Guardians of Gampel let me through. As I made my way down the stairs, Dailey turned to the security at the base of the stairs and told them I didn't belong here.

The "guard" is someone who knows me by name and they held their ground saying I entered illegally. I suppose I will be deported to Mexico any day now. Thanks, Border Patrol.

I guess Dailey had a valid concern. The combination of media credential and wearing pink in support of the WBCA's cancer awareness initiative gave me away as an international spy (if you consider Norwich to be outside the U.S.) who timed my entrance to swipe away the secrets of the Huskies' superb free throw shooting.

What is more amusing is the "guard" who knows me by name was likely on his radio calling for help to handle a security breach. When you hear about the writer carried out of Gampel in handcuffs, you'll know why there wasn't a game story in tomorrow's editions.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Geno Auriemma was asked about the possibility of starting Ketia Swanier instead of Renee Montgomery considering Swanier has been, in the coach's words, the team's best player.

To that Auriemma said, "That would mean I'd have to sit somebody that's starting now. I don't think I'm comfortable doing that. I don't think anyone who's starting now would be justified to move them. I don't like changing roles that have taken all this time to kind of be somewhat solidified."
Hey everybody!

I'm back. But before I write any more, I'd like to thank Marc Allard and Arthur Sherman for filling in for me while I have been sick.

The Huskies are returning to the court tomorrow night against Notre Dame. They have a lot to prove after a less than impressive win against DePaul Wednesday night. Sure, a win is a win, but Wednesday's contest wasn't -- on paper -- supposed to be as close as it was.

Later today, it will be interesting to hear what coach Geno Auriemma has to say. The Irish aren't a pushover. Despite coach Muffett McGraw not having as good of a team as she has been used to, Notre Dame can cause some havoc.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

This game is slowly getting out of hand. St. John's missed two shots and had one blocked by Kaili McLaren on the same possession before the ball went out of bounds and remained the Red Storm's ball.
At the half, UConn is hanging on, 37-24.
SJU is playing some uninspired ball. The Huskies have extended their lead to 35-16 with 3:21 to play.
Thomas is killing the Johnnies. Five bombs in less than eight minutes....30-14 UConn with 8:13 left in the first half.
The Huskies went 3:10 without scoring, but St. John's was only able to score four points. Without Angela Clark, who left the team because of personal reasons, the Red Storm are not much more than a warm breeze.
I've got a great seat. Right next to the SJU pep band.
I said pep band.
I said PEP BAND!

Thomas nailed another 3 and Charde Houston picked up her 99th career block. One more and she will be the seventh Husky with 100 blocks, steals and asists.
The Huskies haven't been shooting particularly well, missing many short-range shots. On the other hand, Mel Thomas has knocked down back-to-back 3s. The Huskies lead 13-8 with 15:52 left.
This is my second time coming "home" in a week. First was North Carolina. Now, NYC. This is where I was born and have lived most of my life. I love it here. But I guess what makes it special is this is the second time I worked at the Garden. I did stats for a Spurs-Knicks game in 2002. This, however, is my first time working at MSG as a writer. It feels good.
Sometimes media types (myself included) are spoiled. We are spoon-fed quite a bit. You might even say we are spoiled on a basic level. What I mean by that is we are given prime seats to games so we can cover them; we are provided food (usually good except at Providence) and in return we are expected to report the news. Some "journalists" think news is defined by whatever their agenda is and not what is happening. I don't like this element of my profession.

But then there are times when the environment we work in is less than. Again, see Providence's ham fried rice, or like today at MSG, Because there is a doubleheader, seating is at a premium. And so is food.

You'd think the folks at MSG would be better prepared for a larger media contingent, but they weren't. They were also more than ready to charge the media $8 to eat. Of course they claim the $8 is going to benefit the children of New York. I am also sure it will be under the guise of a donation by the Dolan family, which has systematically destroyed the Knicks with bonehead signings and hirings. But that's another story.

Then we can go back to the writers, who despite knowing seating in the work room is limited, show up an hour before tip off and then are insensed they don't have a seat.

I suppose the late bird gets the worm.
New York is an interesting place. The sheer volume of people makes it possible to see things that you otherwise wouldn't, or at least would be seen by few if any people.

When weather is as cold as it has been recently, you always here people being advised to drive carefully, especially with the presence of ice.

As I got out of my cab and began walking towards the Garden, a man wanted to take a photo of cops and fell on a large patch of ice. Part of me wanted to laugh, but he fell so hard, I felt bad for the guy. I wonder if he got a photo of the sky as he fell?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tahirah Williams appeared to have turned her ankle and is leaving the game with the Huskies up 90-45 with 5:06 left.
It's scrap time. Coach Auriemma has inserted Tahirah Williams, Jacquie Fernandes, Meghan Gardler and Cassie Kerns. And there is still 9:30 to play.....UConn up 82-43.
Houston was not credited with her second blocked shot.
15:14 to go in the game, UConn leads 71-36.
More on Houston.

If she gets that third block, she will become the 7th Husky to get 100 assists, blocks and steals.
A couple tidbits:

Marandola has her shorts on correctly...I guess no more points for her.

Charde Houston has two blocks, one more for 100 in her career.
Kaili McLaren is making her presence felt. She scored a quick basket and then followed that up with a silly foul.

UConn leads 42-27 with 3:18 to play.
It's retro night at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Providence's Chelsea Marandola is paying tribute to 90s hip-hoppers Criss Cross by wearing her shorts backwards. Apparently, her success thus far -- 11 points -- does not explain why Criss Cross was a one-hit wonder.
Kalana Greene continues to do it all -- except hit the three. She is graceful, like a gazzelle, when she sprints towards the hoop.
We've got 11:51 here at the Huskies lead 21-13.
BREAKING NEWS:UConn's Brittany Hunter is playing!!

OK, so it isn't breaking, but thought you'd care.
What's worse than bad Chinese food? Faux Chinese food. At Providence, the pre-game spread is ham fried rice and salad. What, was pork unavailable? Did all of the pigs used by the pork industry go on strike and refuse to be slaughtered? I just realized PETA is going to be on me for this. I don't care. I'm hungry.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Yesterday I was the beneficiary of a upgraded hotel room and rental car. For someone who travels frequently, those are nice gestures that you are sometimes presented by generous vendors. So I would like to thank Enterprise rental car and the Hampton Inn - Chapel Hill.

Today, is clearly not one of those days travelers enjoy. My flight home is connecting in Newark. But snow caused my flight to not arrive here on time from Cleveland. I have an angry mother traveling on this flight. Her son, about eight, has a nasty cough. The mother is furious the flight is delayed. She complained that she and her son ran to make the flight, which they were told was still on time. Call me rotten, but I have no sympathy. Anyone who flies knows to get to the airport on time. It's not like a wedding where if you are minus the bride, the ceremony takes place anyway.

My biggest concern is that there is another passanger who has a cat. On a leash. I hate cats. Why? I'm allergic to the buggers. God help me if she is sitting anywhere near me. Mine eyes will see the swelling from the presence of el gato.

While on the topic of travel, all the people who complain about having to check in their toiletries, etc., should pipe down. How can you act surprised? Do you not read or watch the news? Are they hermits, living under rocks, who one day suddenly decide they want to go on a trip?
It's the morning after and my mind is still processing the events of last night. My flight out of RDU is delayed at least 45 minutes, so that's an extra 45 minutes the game marinates in my mind.

I know to some this may be offensive, but I was not impressed with Ivory Latta. I had not seen her play before last night and all I heard was hype. Is she good? Yes. But she was outplayed by a backup last night. That is just one game, one night. I was far more impressed with Carolina's size and depth.

Monday, January 15, 2007

This one is all but done...82-76
I'm not sure why, but the Huskies decided to not foul Erlana Larkins when she came down with the rebound. Instead, they allowed more time to run off the clock and allow Ivory Latta to get the ball and foul her. She sank both free throws. UNC leads, 81-76, with 39.6 left.
With 1:02 left, Kalana Greene slipped and Ivory Latta drained a three-pointer, giving the Tar Heels a 79-76 lead. There is now 53.6 seconds left on the clock.
It is crunch time. The game is tied at 76. Charles is gone. Greene has 23 points. 1:41 to play.
Tina's done...she drew her fifth foul while defending a driving Ivory Latta.

UConn 74
UNC 72
3:16 to play in the second half.
The lead is the Huskies', 70-68.
Tied 66-66
Tina Charles cleared out the cobwebs and is playing like the talent she is. She is on a 7-0 run over the last 1:10. Uconn trails by 2, 64-62.
It's funny how a six-point lead can seem so much larger. It isn't because the Tar Heels are outplaying the Huskies. The Huskies just aren't all there, if you will. The mental mistakes, the blown layups, these may haunt them.

UNC 64
UConn 58
7:39 left in the half.
The Huskies are hanging around. But if they want to pull out the win here, they will have to go on a run sooner rather than later. 64-55, UNC...8:28 to go.
She's back...Hunter returns to sub for Charles (four fouls).

It is 60-49 UNC with 11:56 to go.
UConn kept giving UNC open looks from behind the 3-point line. After a Tar Heel miss, they took another, this one by Rashanda McCants went into the cyclinder.

UNC 55
UConn 44
14:20 to play.
Brittany Hunter has been a force early in the second half, but it appears she may be done. She is having her ankle taped, so hopefully it isn't serious.
Halftime...UNC 41, UConn 36
OK...the Huskies drew within one, but the Tar Heels have been able to open the lead back to six, 39-33, with 1:34 remaining in the half.
The Tar Heels have been ripping balls out of the hands of the Huskies. Finally, Charde Houston had enough. She used her elbows to create space and forced a foul against the home team. It is UNC 33-27 with 3:54 to go.
The Huskies are standing around flatfooted being outhustled and outplayed for rebounds and loose balls. Because of this, UNC has upped the lead to 26-17 with 7:19 to play.

It also hasn't helped the Huskies have left Heather Claytor wide open for two long jumpers, one of which was good for three points.
Coming out of that last timeout, UNC built the lead to 10 and in less than 30 secoinds, the Huskies cut it back to six. 18-12, 10:35 left.
North Carolina has begun pressuring the ball and have cut down on turnovers but the Huskies are still blowing layups seemingly every time down court. If they made a quarter of their missed sots, they would be leading right now. Instead, with 11:19 left, they trail UNC 16-8.

I'm really impressed with Tar Heel forward Erlana Larkins. She is built similarly to UConn's Kaili McLaren, but is faster, stronger and has a sweet shot.
The Huskies need to start sinking their layups and short jumpers. Eventually the Heels will stop turning the ball over. They have seven in the first 4:35 of play.
Turnovers have been a problem so far, especially for the Tar Heels. UConn needs to respond with baskets and not fouls. Charles and Houston both have a pair of fouls with 16:15 left in the half.
Early foul trouble for Tina Charles, two in 2:10...enter Brittany Hunter....

UNC 6, UConn4
It looks as if Kaili McLaren and Brittany Hunter will be available for tonight's contest.

It is LOUD in here. There is about 90 percent capacity and the crowd is seemingly on top of you. This is not like playing at Holy Cross.

I am finally in North Carolina and ready to blog the night away.
Blogginging the night a-waaaaaay!

Please humor me and laugh. Thanks.

Anyway, it's been a crazy day. Between the rain while driving to the airport and forgetting my phone in the car, it's not that bad. The guy at my hotel gave me wrong directions to Carmichael Auditorium, which caused me about an extra 30 minute delay getting here. And it is sweltering in this joint. I mean, you'd think the Heels turned up the heat. Maybe they did.

But all is not lost...we've got great wireless setup here, so I will be bloging througout the game, so keep checking back for updates.

Also, this is a homecomming of sorts for me. I went to school in North Carolina and lived here for almost eight years. 75 degree weather in January and sweet tea (oh, how I have missed this treat) are tough to beat.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Looks like Kaili's foot is keeping her from playing. The guess here is coach Geno Auriemma is resting McLaren and Brittany Hunter until Monday's big game at No. 2 North Carolina.
Keep a close eye on Kaili McLaren today against Syracuse. After Friday's practice she was limping on her left foot, for which she had recieved injections earlier this season. I asked her as she hobbled past me whether she was OK and she said she was fine. Look for McLaren to play limited minutes if her foot causes a problem today.

Friday, January 12, 2007

You know what is great? Perspective.

After the team spent Wednesday at the Manchester Homeless Shelter, coach Geno Auriemma told the Huskies he didn't want to hear any complaints of being tired. After all, he told them, they can very easily switch places with the people they were helping.

It may not be the holidays despite school still being on holiday, but being able to appreciate what we have and what we can do, be it writing, basketball or anything else, should keep us grounded.

Sometimes when you see how little some have, you really appreciate every ounce of what you have.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

No Brittany Hunter, no problem. The Huskies are manhandling the Pirates, 58-29, at the half. I think the six turnovers may be a little high considering the opposition, but regardless of that, there are lots of good things coming out of tonight's game.

Another solid night from Charde Houston: 13 points, three steals.
It may be a coincidence that in consecutive years that the Huskies face the Seton Hall Pirates in the game following a loss to Tennessee. But that is about where the similar paths come to an end and we keep in mind that this is a very different team; a much younger team.

How will the Huskies respond to their first loss of the season? We'll find out shortly. I think the keys to a positive response will come from freshmen Tina Charles and Kaili McLaren. I suspect that both will have big games. We should also see a return to action by Meghan Gardler.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's the day after a tough home loss to Tennessee. The teams obviously had different moods about them in post-game interviews. But what I found particularly interesting was the exact attitudes each had.

Tennessee was cocky, even defiant. They seemed more concerned with comments West Virginia coach Mike Carey made earlier this week. They sat on the dais rolling their eyes, seemingly annoyed they had to speak to the media.

Connecticut was sullen and knew they cost themselves the game. There were moments where the four players didn't seem to agree with the assessment of coach Geno Auriemma. In my opinion, Renee Montgomery and Brittany Hunter took this loss hard. I'm not saying the others did not, but I think the two I mentioned took the loss harder.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

That should do it. Candace Parker's block of Kalana Greene's shot with less than eight seconds left, all but ices the 70-64 win for Tennessee.
It's down to three points, 65-62, Tennessee with 1:22 to play.
Oh yeah...Tennessee 63-60, 2:50 to play.
When Mel Thomas hit the game-tying three pointer with 4:50 left, the crowd reached a decibel level unmatched this afternoon.

Sidney Spencer's three with 3:49 to go is Spencer's lone points thus far in the half.
If the Huskies are able to complete the comeback and rally from 18 down, where does this game fit in with the rest of the games in this rivalry?
Closer and closer they come...The Huskies rest Brittany Hunter, who served as the bane of Candace Parker's existance, holding her scoreless and picking up two fouls, and turn to Charde Houston.

Tennessee leads 56-53 with 7:47 remaining.
Brittany Hunter is playing with the heart of a warrior. She has stymied Candace Parker and along with Renee Montgomery, have brought the Huskies back from the point of no return. Since Parker's dunk, the Huskies have outscored the Lady Vols 19-7.

Charde Houston is feeling it, even if feeling it means passing up wide-open teammates. Instead of passing the ball to Kalana Greene, who was open by a few miles, Houston went hard into the paint. Fortunately for her, she drew a foul on Nicky Anosike, her third.

Lady Vols still lead 50-39, with 14:27 to play.
Could there be life? Is there a pulse? The Huskies, down 19 moments earlier, have cut the Tennessee lead to 11 and are doing what they do best -- running the break. Tennessee, 48-37, 15:31 left in the second half.
How incredible is Candace Parker? She gets out on the break, flashes a smile, dunks, goes back down the court, blocks a shot and then dishes an assist.

47-27, Tennessee with 17:54. The Huskies need help.
Just a few more seconds until the second half begins. Trailing 41-29, the Huskies need to not be affraid of Candace Parker and defend the three-pointer better if they are to win.
The Huskies have not learned. You would think after numerous games in which they allowed teams to tee off from long range, that when you face a high quality team that can, get this, SHOOT THE BALL, you would play defense. Instead, UConn leaves Shannon Bobbitt open from behind the arc.
Thanks to allowing 5-foot-2 Shanon Bobbitt to be left wide open from three-point range twice in 1:02, the Huskies are trailing 34-26 with 2:09 left in the first half.
Look for the technical fould called on UConn coach Geno Auriemma to be a turning point in this game. The Huskies were down three, but both free throws and a score on the possession made it seven.
No sooner do I remark about the Tennessee run, does UConn make a small push of their own. A putback my Kaili McLaren, plus layups from Charde Houston (who appears to have something in her eye since tip off) and Tina Charles pulled the teams even. Then Sidney Spencer went down the other end of the court and nailed a clutch three pointer...20-17 Tennessee with 7:38 to go in the first half.
In a case of role reversal, instead of the opposition getting out to a fast start and the Huskies putting together a streak to climb back into the game, UConn got out to a fast five-point lead, but Tennessee has gotten themselves back into the contest.

Thanks to a 9-1 run, which was highlighted by UConn's Tina Charles missing three of four free throws, the Lady Vols are in the lead, 12-11, with 11:58 to play.

Charles looks hesitant at the line. Instead of her typical too strong free throw attempts, she seems to be taking a little bit too much off her shots and they aren't really that close. For the Huskies' sake, Charles needs to get a better grip on her emotions.
What great effort from Kaili McLaren against Candace Parker. McLaren refused to be intimidated by the nation's bets player, attacking the basket -- and Parker to help UConn out to the early 6-3 with 15:48 left in the first half.
And the tip off goes to...Tennessee.
This place is loud. I can't hear the people next to me or even myself, for that matter. It's nice to see a near full house for a women's basketball game.
The Tennessee-UConn rivalry brings out some of the best quotes in people. Here are a few leading up to today's game that stand out and weren't seen in the Bulletin.

Geno Auriemma, on whether the rivalry is "sexier" when it focuses on him and Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt:
"Not for me. I don't think Pat has ever looked at me in sexual terms. I don't think she finds anything attractive about me whatsoever."

Mel Thomas:
"This whole week you can tell there's added excitement, coach is more fired up than usual."

"You think Tennessee, you just want to go out there and destroy them. ... When I signed here and when I was watching games on TV, I didn't like Tennessee and I wasn't even part of the program."

Former UConn guard Maria Conlon:
"Three out of four my years at UConn, when I was playing, every time we played Tennessee, there seemed like there was some huge snow storm. There's ice on the roads and hazardous conditions, and we're still selling out."
Stay posted to this blog throughout the day, especially during the game, as I will post updates to bring you the emotion and energy from courtside to your computer screen.
Today's the day all UConn fans -- and players -- have been looking forward to for sometime: the Tennessee game. Maybe that's a good thing because it's a reflection of the confidence level. But maybe it is a bad thing, considering the way the Huskies tend to get out to slow starts and don't shoot particularly well from the foul line. Those are two things that can't happen today or the Huskies will experience their first loss of the season.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Looks like a typical first half for the Huskies. Start slow and then pull away at the end. There needs to be concern that a slow start against a good team, ahem, Tennessee, could prove fatal.