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."