Monday, March 31, 2008
Getting to the coliseum for today's press sessions with UConn and Rutgers I find there is no coke, diet coke, etc. Have some coffee? I hate it. I like the cold, carbonated stuff.
The lady overseeing the snack table told me that one of the tournament's sponsors, Coke, decided that its supply for Saturday and Sunday was more than enough.
Hey, NCAA, maybe you should rethink your sponsors.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
But something funny happened on the way to Hartford. Rutgers lost to Louisville, ending any hope and hype of a rematch.
Just when both sides thought they were clear of each other, the NCAA selection committee played a cruel joke on both teams by placing them as teams 1 and 2 in the Greensboro region. Now that each team has won three games, they are set to meet again Tuesday with the winner advancing to the Final Four.
For everything these squads have gone tbrough this year, it's only fitting that they need to go through each other to make it to Tampa next weekend.
Also, Maya Moore needs two more points to set the new single-season Big East freshman scoring record.
I've been impressed with ODU's Tiffany Green. She's displayed some nice moves in the paint keeping UConn defenders off balance.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
He said this of the freshman who turned 19 today:
“Today is her birthday, so she’s a year older, she’s much wiser than she was yesterday, has a lot more experience, sees things a lot clearer, so she’s grown up a lot in the last 24 hours,” he said. “So I’m inclined to give her an opportunity this coming weekend. How much of the piece of cake she gets though remains to be seen.”
As for Dixon, she feels she let her teammates down.
“It’s just something I had to go through,” Dixon said. “It’s just something I hadn’t learned in previous years that I needed to go through before moving on to any other thing in college. The fact that it happened now, I’m glad that it happened sooner rather than later. I wish it never happened at all.”
We have the scoreboard that in the media work room. It shows us how much time is left in a team's practice session. Next are three of Old Dominion's players speaking to the press about tomorrow's game, and finally one of several framed sections of the wall signed by visitors of the coliseum. This segment includes Stevie Nicks, Coach K, Brett Michaels of Poison and Little Steven.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Moore was simply amazing. It wasn't her best game, but it was the game she controlled the most, which is the next step in her evolution. When she begins doing this nightly -- not just every other night, she will win every major award in the country and the Huskies will be viewed as favorites hands down until she graduates.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Tina Charles, showing some determination, got the ball on the lower right block, faked her defender into the air by going left and went right for the layup and the foul. After missing the free throw, UConn has a 29-13 lead with 11:35 to play in the half.
It's 13-4 and everything is going their way. If the Huskies can prevent a Longhorns run, this one could be over befor the half.
BTW: It's official, Old Dominion advances with an 88-85 win in OT over Virginia. ODU hit a trey with four seconds left in the extra period and UVA missed a game-tying shot with one second left.
This should be a good one. With the Virginia-Old Domion winner waiting in the wings, I think this will be the toughest test for UConn until it possibly faces Rutgers.
The junior averaged 12.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists and led her Heritage Christian High School to its third consecutive Class 2A state championship this season.
This is what should be a great has turned into for the disinterested. Sorry there aren't any dunks -- unless Maya Moore surprises us tonight -- but this is worth watching.
Far more worthy than a lesson in how to match your plates and cups.
Monday, March 24, 2008
*The school's mascot was not always a steer. It used to be a pit bull named Pig.
* You may have noticed that Bevo, the current mascot, was wearing the no. 1/2. That's because it isn't the primary mascot; it's the backup, according to a Texas band member (credit given to Zac Boyer of Rivals.com for asking the band member in the parking lot).
Maybe this doesn't make much sense, but I just didn't think the Huskies played that well in the first half against Cornell. This is by no means my trying to be the glass half empty guy. In fact, I think its more half full. Why? Look at how UConn played in the first half then in the second. Night and day.
Yes, part of the second-half success was that the game was over and Cornell wasn't going to be able to do much of anything. But it's also to show you what can happen when the entire team is clicking.
Sure the first half saw Maya Moore not score a bunch of points as we've become accustomed to and Tina Charles didn't start and was downright awful, plus Renee was in a daze. Now, if someone told you those three things would happen in the tournament, by a show of hands, who would have figured the Huskies to lose the game? Raise your hands. C'mon...yes, you, too.
And that's my point. Moore didn't score a lot in the first 20 minutes, but she played good defense, worked the boards, found her teammates with passes. Montgomery generally played good defense and was still the floor general , and while Charles was nowhere to be found, Kaili McLaren scored the team's first five points, Brittany Hunter looked as good as I've seen her since December and Charde Houston has been on a role for four or five games now.
This doesn't even begin to touch on Ketia Swanier, who filled up the stat sheet in a Moore-like fashion; and how about Meghan Gardler. This is a player who knows where to be and how to get there. It's pretty common to see players without a clue out there -- Gardler isn't one of them. Don't laugh, but she's going to grab a rebound that will ultimately make all the difference in whether the Huskies win a game or not at some point in this tournament.
If you are Texas Tuesday night (9:30 p.m. tip off), you hope the game was a fluke. You hope all of the role players forget theirs and that Charles struggles and Moore looks like she did against Louisville and Pitt in the conference tournament and that Montgomery has a period of rare mental lapses.
Speaking of Montgomery, she's what worries me the most. Twice in roughly three weeks, Geno Auriemma has said she's looked asleep during games (at DePaul, Louisville) and throw in Sunday's game and you have to wonder if she's tired mentally or physically. For all of the hype around Moore, the most important player on UConn's team is Montgomery. Take her away and it's good night.
Maybe she's not feeling challenged, but in my conversations with her this weekend, I wouldn't buy that explanation. She's missed an unusually high amount of free throws, especially for someone so reliable at the line; not to mention fouling a Cornell player tonight, allowing her to shoot three free throws. Yes, Montgomery "wakes up" in the end, as Auriemma puts it, but what if she doesn't? Texas is much better than Cornell, and they use three guards similar to UConn. They are the focal points of the offense, which means Montgomery, Swanier and Moore will be busy all night.
The Longhorns have big, athletic forwards but they seem to have some issues finishing plays. This will be a great test for the Huskies. They get past Texas and either Virginia or Old Dominion will be waiting in Greensboro.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
“Maybe it’s a New York thing, I don’t know. Lorin falls into the same patterns of maybe I will, maybe I won’t; sometimes I will, sometimes I won’t. My feeling is if you’re going to play basketball at Connecticut, if you’re going to play at this level in this program as long as I’m coaching here, there’s a certain way that it’s going to get down. That means in every single area. And if it’s not done in exactly that way, your playing time is going to suffer.”
I'll get back to you on that later....
Let's give Cornell credit here, though, they are playing with heart even though nearly every shot fails to find the inside of the rim.
What is she doing? She's making smart passes, she's boxing out, she's crashing the boards, she's hustling, she's taking shots only when they are present. These are things that good players do -- they play within themselves.
Charles hasn't looked good and neither has Renee Montgomery. Maya Moore is tied for the game-high in scoring, but hasn't be as much a factor on the scoreboard as she has on the glass and in doing the little things.
UConn may want to consider pressing on defense.
Both schools' bands sound good so far, too.
UConn was just out on the court and looked relaxed. Cornell, on the other hand, looks tense as if it knows what's to come.
Louisville advances to face Kansas State here Tuesday night. Miami's Laura Parkwood (center, on the floor) had her career end on a sour note. Not only did her team lose, 81-67, but she needed to be helped off the floor following a foul. In her final collegiate game, Parkwood had 13 points and eight boards.
I've discussed here and in the paper the outragous comments made by Cardinals coach Jeff Walz, most note worthy is how the Big East Tournament being played in Hartford cost his team the tournament, not, say, turnovers. Anyhow, Walz didn't waste too much time complaining. He was in the ear of one official before the game even began.
Lord knows just about anything could have or might have been said to get the coach worked up, but that's not likely. He's just overly emotional.
He's a good guy and a good coach, but PLEASE stop whinning.
It's gameday in Bridgeport and already in the opener there was some history. Kansas State, which held off Tennessee-Chattanooga, set a tournament record by making all 21 of its free throw attempts. Eight schools have previously shot 100 percent from the floor, but none has made as many as the Wildcats. Rhode Island hit all 15 shots in 1996 against Oklahoma State.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
An ESPN reporter asked coach Geno Auriemma a Tennessee related question and was told by the tournament moderator to keep questions tailored to this weekend’s games. After being rebuked, another ESPN staffer asked a similar question and debated with the moderator over what can and can’t be asked. Infuriated with its lack of success, one of the reporters followed Auriemma in hopes of extracting an answer.
Why, after ESPN was denied at the Big East Tournament, is the cable sports network continuing to push the situation?
It is airing a feature Sunday morning on “Outside the Lines” on the UConn-Tennessee rivalry.
It's Day One of the festivities in Bridgeport. Right now Kansas State is practicing and will be followed by UT-Chatanooga. There's mostly Connecticut media here right now, but that will change soon enough as everyone slowly filters in.
Check back for pictures and video over the next four days.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Just go to ESPN.com, click on women's basketball and then on tournament coverage and then on tournament challenge. Once you sign up, look up public group named "NB 2008."
*Elena DelleDonne was named the McDonald's girl's high school player of the year.
* Geno Auriemma was named the WBCA Region I Coach of the Year.
*Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore were named to the State Farm Coaches' District I All-America Team
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
"Concerning the recent reports relating to our women's basketball program, the University of Connecticut maintains a strong commitment to NCAA rules compliance. After learning of allegations last year, the University and the NCAA have completed their review of all the facts and circumstances. This review resulted in a self-reported secondary violation. The institution worked cooperatively with the Association and information was recently submitted following standard NCAA procedures. The University and the NCAA now consider this matter closed."
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
You can reach me through this blog. Just leave a number or e-mail address -- don't worry, I won't post your info.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
If a tour of ESPN was so bad, then why wasn't UConn penalized in the last 2 1/2 years? Because it made no difference. This is just the Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt being a pain in the rear to the Huskies' Geno Auriemma.
I feel bad for her, I do. She's so worried about getting hammered by UConn she's resorted to allegations of cheating that she can hide behind when the inevitable happens.
Just wait, Pat, your day is coming.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Renee Montgomery ignoring my question...just kidding.
Ketia Swanier doing the interview thing
Charde Houston talking to folks like me after the championship game
Huskies great Shea Ralph working on the Pitt bench
The Louisville mascot during the Cardinals win over Rutgers.
DePaul's band, which was the best in town
UConn showed itself to be as battle tested as it is talented. But there are reasons to be concerned. Two straight games that Ketia Swanier was scoreless in the second half; two straight games the Huskies stunk in the second half; no one was clearly dominant over three games.
Geno Auriemma was just happy that his team was able to win tonight, and that's fine. He should feel that way. A major hurdle has been cleared and now the team can use a much needed break before it plays again on Easter Sunday in Bridgeport against a team yet to be named.
The time away should help Maya Moore, who is definitely feeling the foul from the regular season finale against Rutgers. She said she wasn't 100 percent on Friday and three games in three days doesn't help.
What Auriemma did say bothered him was that Renee Montgomery looked out of it in shootaround and for most of the game. It was when Louisville came within a point that her eyes lit up as if she knew what to do. That she sleepwalked for 35 minutes didn't sit well. I am sure he's already said something. He's not worried about her, after all, she's the captain. But knowing how Geno needles his players, "Ne-Ne" is no exception.
"Renee was asleep today from shootaround," Auriemma said. "There was a segment in shootsround today that she didn't move from one spot for 10 minutes. She was guarding the shooter, so she didn't move for 10 minutes. Then she showed up tonight, missed a couple shots; she snoozed through the whole first half. In the second half, you knew that if she got a chance she's going to start making plays. The one things about Renee is that she's so competitive that she gets so mad at herself when she doesn't do what she thinks she can do. So any chance she gets to get on the line to put the game away, she loves that scenario. ... She was smiling from ear to ear."
He later said: "The thing that bothers you as a coach was that was the only time Renee looked like we were going to win the game. As soonas they cut ot to one, she had this look like, 'Alright, now it's time to play.' Like she was bored the rest of the time. I'm like, 'You know what? Knucklehead, if you hadn;t been snoozing all this time it wouldn't be a one-point game. God bless her; she's a gamer."
All Tournament: Angel McCoughtry, Candyce Bingham, Renee Montgomery, Ketia Swanier and Tina Charles.
Most Outstanding Player: Charde Houston.
Huskies lead 61-54 with 26.9 seconds left.
The Huskies got possession, came down court, Renee Montgomery missed a three and grabbed her rebound before hitting a short jumper.
Now Ketia Swanier is on the line. She's given the Huskies a 12-2 ru and a 19-8 lead.
Watching them guard each other as well as move away from the ball gives a great appreciation for what these women can do on the court.
McCoughtry has had a fantastic Big East Tournament and, if Louisville were to win tonight, will be named the tournament MVP. There are two other candidates for that honor, both from UConn: Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery.
Keep an eye on Louisville defensive rotations that leave Charles covered by the two or three in the post. The Cardinals aren't trying to go small on Charles, that's just dumb. But they swing bigger players out onto the perimeter to make the outside shots for Moore, Montgomery and Swanier more difficult.
So far, that's not happening as the Huskies are on a 7-0 run and lead 14-6 with 14:44 to play in the half.
My take: if you put UConn in either Oklahoma City or Spokane, Wa., you are saying it isn't the top No. 1 team.
On a conference call taking place at this moment, the women's tournament selection committee chairwoman Judy Southard said the team deemed No. 1 overall will be placed as close to its campus. Therefore, if UConn wins tonight against Louisville, they will go to Greensboro. If they lose, expect North Carolina to get Greensboro and UConn going to New Orleans. Tennessee would and in Oklahoma City and Stanford, who I presume will be the fourth N0. 1 seed, would be in Spokane.
My guess at the top four seeds at each location...
4. Old Dominion
1. North Carolina
3. Texas A&M
4. Kansas State
4. Oklahoma State
Also worth noting is that Vic Dorr of the Richmond Times-Dispatch finally moved UConn up in his poll. He had them at seven. Now they are No. 1.
Monday, March 10, 2008
What happened in that second half? UConn just took the game for granted and decided t go into cruise control. It's March, and you simply can't do that. The way Louisville is playing -- back-to-back wins against ranked teams for the first time ever -- they are on a high and are not just ready for UConn, but WANTS UConn.
Does anyone remember how the Cardinals' star, Angel McCoughtry, had her tournament end last year? She fouled out and was heckled by the Huskies' fans.
"I know a lot of people are probably going to underestimate us tomorrow," she said. "That's fine. We're going to give it what we've got. ... We're not going to back down from UConn. I think a lot of teams are afraid of just the name. We're not going to back down."
Also keep in mind that when UConn went to Louisville in January, the Cardinals played them tight for 20 minutes and the talent of the Huskies eventually took over. UConn also still had Mel Thomas.
So if you are UConn, you just played a bad half that a good team would have pounced upon and next up is a team that wants to play you. That's not a great mix.
UConn has played a few games where it came out taking a win for granted. Its lucky to have this wealth of talent because it covers up so many mistakes and flaws. This being said, do I think the Huskies will turn around and play anything close to what happened in the second half tonight? Not at all. They know what they did and they know how to correct those issues. To that extent, the Huskies aren't worried.
But if UConn rests on Louisville, we'll see the Huskies coming away empty handed in the conference finals once again.
Wisely, after another turnover, Geno Auriemma called a time out. While the team has a 22-point lead, there's plenty of time for Pitt to comeback if UConn lets it.
It may seem odd hearing that when you think about the close games where she didn't show up or missed critical shots, but maybe this time the coulda, woulda, shoulda is real.
With a 20-7 lead 9:21 into the game, UConn is getting open shots in the paint, on the perimeter and in transition. All that usually adds to a bad night for the opponent. At this rate, look for a 40-point win, because what's scary is the Huskies aren't even in a groove yet.
Worth noting...off the opening tip-off, Moore got the ball all alone and looked as if she was going to dunk, but settled for the safety of a finger roll. Trust me, the writers want her to dunk as much as the fans do; it would just make for a nice "I was there moment."
*Big East Player of the Year, the first time a freshman has ever won the award
*Big East Freshman of the Year
*Named Big East Freshman of the Week a record 10 times
*Named to the Big East's All-Freshman Team
*Set a new UConn freshman scoring record, passing Svetlana Abrosimova's old mark in seven fewer games
*Set the new team record for most consecutive games scoring in double figures to start a career
Tonight, if Moore scores 10 points or, er, more, she will break the program record by scoring in double figures in 32 consecutive games. Currently Moore shares the record with Diana Taurasi, arguably the greatest player in school history. Taurasi set the mark from Feb. 19, 2003 to Jan. 27, 2004.
Originally, the first three days of the tournament were slated to be seen on ESPNU only, but Gov. Rell contacted the president of ESPN after many of UConn's fans complained that their cable carriers either do not carry ESPNU or require an elevated service package.
The game, between the Huskies and Pittsburgh Panthers is slated to tip-off from the XL Center at 6 p.m.
The finalists are:
Natalie Doma, Idaho State
Sylvia Fowles, LSU
Amber Holt, Middle Tennessee State
Tasha Humphrey, Georgia
Crystal Kelly, Western Kentucky
Crystal Langhorne, Maryland
Erlana Larkins, North Carolina
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville
Maya Moore, Connecticut
Courtney Paris, Oklahoma
Candace Parker, Tennessee
Epiphanny Prince, Rutgers
Andrea Riley, Oklahoma State
Angela Tisdale, Baylor
Kristi Toliver, Maryland
Candice Wiggins , Stanford
I have to think this comes down to about a third of the players, with Moore, Parker, Fowles, Langhorne and Paris being the main contenders. Logic would say that with Fowles besting Parker for SEC player of the year that Parker is out, but that's simply not how awards work.
It's costs $30 for a ticket that grants admission to both games tonight or for one tomorrow.
Tonight, UConn vs. Pitt at 6 p.m.; West Virginia vs. Louisville, 8 p.m.
Tomorrow, the winners of each game, 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
The answers, we learned, are 1) kind of and 2) no.
In fact, Geno Auriemma attributed some of his teams first-half problems to carry over from shootaround this morning.
"I wasn't too hapy with them a t shootaround this morning, so that might have carried over. This team's funny....when I say that and i get mad at them, they allget together and say 'we're going to punish him.'"
The only punishing was done to DePaul, which had no answers for the Huskies inside and no other way to resolve its inability to make outside shots consistently. That's the Blue Demons' bread and butter. Take that away and they become.
A quick glance at the stats and you see the Huskies went from a 10 rebound advantage last week to nearly 20, 50-32. They also outscored the Blue Demons in the paint, 52-30.
That will be a little tough tomorrow night against Pitt and Marcedes Walker. The Panthers ahve been struggling the last month of the season. They needed to beat Notre Dame and now, as long as they are competitive against UConn, can go into the NCAA Tournament feeling good about itself.
BTW: Moore tied Diana Taurasi's team record of 31 straight games scoring in double figures.
As the second half was getting set to begin, th eentire arena was clapping along to the warm-up music. That's everyone except the half of a section filled with Rutgers fans. To see a few thousand fans clapping and having fun and then there are 30 or so decked out in red sitting with their arns crossed.
C'mon people, have some fun and show some life. It's just basketball.
I'll have a photo later. Oh, and even during the t-shirt toss, the Rutgers fans stayed put. I have pic of that, too.
It's a bird? No.
It's a plane? No.
It's Charde Houston coming off the bench with three straight baskets for the Huskies, building the lead back to eight, at 27-19.
Considering how maligned she has been this year, to see her step up is much needed right now with Maya Moore struggling to make shots.
Maya Moore seems to be fighting the ill-affects of being fouled hard Monday against Rutgers, as she has made just 2-of-8 shots.
UConn's missed its fair dhare of shots, but the missed shots and turnovers by DePaul have presented a few fast break opportunities. On one turnover, Ketia Swanier got the ball near DePaul's foul line --and three feet behind Missy Mitidiero. By the time Swanier reached her own 3-point line, she had already passed Mitidiero by a couple of feet for an easy layup.
Now if the Huskies can stop committing silly fouls.
There are decent number of fans from Rutgers and DePaul here, too, which makes the atmosphere nice. That's what makes tournament season special.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
“I’m nursing it. I don’t think I’m 100 percent right now, but I’m getting there. It’s getting better every day and its tough playing with any type of nagging injury. I’m fine, I can play and I’m going to do my best.”
Friday, March 07, 2008
Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery were also first team selections, while Ketia Swanier was named the top sixth man and Lorin Dixon made the all freshman team.
Geno Auriemma shared Coach of the Year honors with Syracuse's Quentin Hillsman.
So without further ado...
Player of the Year
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville
Freshman of the Year
Maya Moore, UConn
Most Improved Player
Shavonte Zellous, Pitt (she won last year)
Defensive Player of the Year
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville
Allie Quigley, DePaul
Ketia Swanier, UConn
Coach of the Year
Quintin Hillsman, Syracuse
First Team All-Conference
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville
Renee Monthomery, UConn
Shavonte Zellous, Pitt
Essence Carson, Rutgers,
Tina Charles, UConn
Maya Moore, UConn
Allie Quigley, DePaul
Charel Allen, Notre Dame
Krystal Ellis, Marquette
Matee Ajavon, Rutgers
Epiphanny Prince, Rutgers
Second Team All-Conference
Olayinka Sanni, West Virginia
Shantia Grace, USF
Ketia Swanier, UConn
Kia Wright, St. John's
Diedre Naughton, DePaul
Marcedes Walker, Pitt
Laquita Owens, West Virginia
Meg Bulger, West Virginia
Kia Vaughn, Rutgers
Chandrea Jones, Syracuse
Monique McLean, St. John's
Maya Moore, UConn
Erica Morrow, Syracuse
Angel Robinson, Marquette
Keisha Hines, Louisville
Ebonie Williams, Seton Hall
This is a tough one because you have four teams that returned just about everyone (only Tennessee lost a key player); one coach new to his team (Chancellor); another coach who lost two starters but still has the most talent (Auriemma) and another who continues to improve a program out of ashes (Stringer).
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
In just her first year with the UConn women’s basketball team, Maya Moore has made quite the name for herself. One day after leading the top-ranked Huskies to the Big East’s regular season championship,
Is Player of the Year next? We'll find out Friday.
Game 1: No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Villanova (noon)
Game 2: No. 8 Marquette vs. No. 9 DePaul (2 p.m.)
Game 3: No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 St. John's (6 p.m.)
Game 4: No. 6 Syracuse vs. No. 11 USF (8 p.m.)
Game 5: No. 4 Notre Dame vs. Game 1 winner (ESPNU, noon)
Game 6: No. 1 Connecticut vs. Game 2 winner (ESPNU, 2 p.m.)
Game 7: No. 2 Rutgers vs. Game 3 winner (ESPNU, 6 p.m.)
Game 8: No. 3 West Virginia vs. Game 4 winner (ESPNU, 8 p.m.)
Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner (ESPNU, 6 p.m.)
Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner (ESPNU, 8 p.m.)
Game 11: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner (ESPN2, 7 p.m.)
Monday, March 03, 2008
It's also important to note the contribution from Kaili McLaren. In reality, she made life hellacious for Rutgers. McLaren had a solid all-around night with seven points, six rebounds and a team-high five assists. What she did in the high post, combined with Tina in the low post, the UConn forwards created matchup problems for Rutgers all night. At one point, Rutgers went with four guards to try and use speed against UConn's big players and that didn't work. There was one play where I wanted to gauge hustle and what I saw was McLaren start off after the rebound as the player furthest away from the ball. By the time she got to her spot, she had passed three Rutgers players and one of her teammates up court. That isn't speed; that's heart.
Heart is something cliche in sports and in journalism. Scribes such as myself may write about heart as if its a jump shot. If you practice heart enough, it comes to you. Not excatly. Few player truly have heart and you know it when you see it. For as much gruff as Auriemma give shis squad, Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Kaili McLaren, Lorin Dixon, Charde Houston, Brittany Hunter, Ketia Swanier and Meghan Gardler all showed heart.
Rutgers didn't show its heart. Kia Vaughn, is normally displaying her heart on her sleeve. Not tonight. Same with Essence Carson and Epiphanny Prince. Not here. I know they tried hard, but when trying hard doesn't get the job done, heart gives you the courage to fight through your woes.
Don't worry. These teams will meet again and I suspect it will be in the conference tournament title game. Just remember, the Huskies blew away the Scarlet Knights in the season finale last season only to be thumped in the tournament. We saw the difference Moore makes when she can play by staying out of foul trouble. If her medical report comes out OK, the rest she'll get from days off Tuesday through Friday will be valuable. The first-round bye helps, too.
Maybe she won't play against Marquette or DePaul. Not likely, but the Huskies could probably win without her in those matchups.
Anyhow, three big games in eight days. Now the games get bigger.
The boobirds are giving it to Prince and rightfully so. That was an unnecessary foul. Moore is out of the game and stretching on the sidelines. Kaili McLaren shot the free throws and Renee Montgomery hit a 3 to make it a 20-point game.
UConn by 12 with 6:13 to play....timout called by Rutgers.
As for Dixon and Houston, neither has hurt UConn. Dixon looks more poised than a month ago and made a great rebound while falling down and maintained her dribble. This is the kind of effort she needs to go into the conference tournament with some confidence.
Kaili McLaren came down with a rebound earlier and was pushed in the back, but no foul was called.
Matee Ajavon faked past Renee Montgomery and than traveled, but she was allowed to continue.
On Moore's off-balance three, she was interferred with, but no call was made.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
In the last week, UConn has played two road games in which the crowds at LSU and DePaul put the best crowd at either the XL Center or Gampel Pavilion to shame. Why can't the Huskies be given a better home-court advantage? Or is it just good enough to sit at home and watch it on CPTV because $15-$22 is too much when you throw in $10 for parking and another $10 for a drink and popcorn or whatever? Carpool with a friend and split the parking and share the popcorn. That's enough because you should be too busy screaming to eat anything. We don't want popcorn-related choking.
You don't think those women who you cheer for don't notice the drop off between a home crowd and a road crowd? This is your Tennessee game now. Pat Summitt isn't about to walk through the door to give you a reason to pack an arena.
If UConn's biggest rival on the last day of the season with the conference title up for grabs isn't enough to get you out the door and into a seat, what is?
I'll start with the little things that made my stay exceptional.
* My hotel. It was $10 more than where I stayed at in Baton Rouge and the total opposite. Assigned to the Bellagio of the South, a.k.a the Dis-Comfort Inn, outside of a comfy bed, it was a dump. The people there were more than nice and made me feel at home as much as possible.
Here, the Renaissance O'Hare was bordering on luxurious. The staff bent over backwards, and with the exception of some bad directions, acted as if they were my personal staff.
* Dinning. This was my birthday weekend and as a gift, I was given a dinner at Harry Caray's steakhouse. I have two words for you: Holy Cow. Another two? Poterhouse steak. It was truly one of the best meals I had ever had. No worse than top three. It's up there with Juban's in Baton Rouge and Delmonico's in Las Vegas.
The staff followed up my great steak with a key lime cheesecake. The wait staff came out and said, "It might be, it could be, it is! Holy Cow! Happy Birthday!"
* Entertainment. After dinner, a trip over to the famed Second City Comedy Club was in order. I love laughing, so checking out some of the best up-and-coming comedians was a can't-miss for me. Two hours later, Second City delivered the laughs I wanted.
This leaves me with one question: Why isn't the Big East Tournament held here? I understand proximity to the team whose fans travel the most, as well as proximity to the league headquarters in Providence, but this place needs to be given a good, hard look.
Accomodations aren't hard to find, games can be played at AllState Arena, where DePaul's men's team plays and with so much to do here, events can be planned around and tailored for the tournament.
It just surprises me because usually players from other teams or their teams don't get much love here; just look back at the older polls.
What it does tell me, presuming that only UConn fans voted, is that there isn't as much homerism going on. Not that it shouldn't be expected. Afterall, do you know how hard it is for me to say anything negative about the Yankees? Trust me, I much rather eat hagis.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
It was senior night for DePaul, and the looks on the faces of Deirde Naughton and Allie Quigley were ones of devestation. It's understandable.
They still have positioning to worry about for the Big East Tournament next week.
Assuming that UConn, DePaul, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Pitt, Louisville and Marquette win their final games, this is how the brackets should look for the first round.
No. 5 Pitt vs. No. 12 Villanova, winner faces No. 4Notre Dame
No. 8 Marquette vs. No. 9 DePaul, winner faces No. 1 UConn
No. 7 Syracuse vs. No. 10 St. John's, winner faces No. 2 Rutgers
No. 6 Louisville vs. No. 11 Georgetown, winner faces No. 3 West Virginia
At halftime, this was the breakdown:
UConn: 14 turnovers for 13 DePaul points
DePaul: Six turnovers for eight UConn points
In the second half:
UConn: Five turnovers, three DePaul points
DePaul: 10 turnovers, 13 UConn points
Understandably, not all the turnovers came on steals -- UConn had seven -- but it was UConn's pressure defense that did the trick. Don't be too surprised if UConn uses the press on Rutgers, sort of giving a dose of its own medicin. I admit, however, that Rutgers does have an impressive pressure package that I don't know if UConn can match,
With that in mind, it makes what the Huskies did tonight even more impressive. They could have given up, but didn't. With the wins at LSU and DePaul, the Huskies have lots to ride on going into Monday and beyond.
"We can take a sense fo confidence. We were in a hard enbvironment, down 17 points, and we managed to find a way to come back. I think if we're ina situauation in the tournament where it looks like there's no way we can win, we can always think back on these last couple of games and give us a sense of accomplishment -- we've done it before and we've done it again."
That's great, but if DePaul loses, I'm not sure how much that diminshes the event.