Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Early voting

My all-tournament team:

Repella, West Virginia
Rushdan, Rutgers
Diggins, Notre Dame
Charles, UConn
Moore, UConn

Most outstanding player:

Greene, UConn


For the first time this season, the crowd senses the Huskies need them. The response: UConn builds a five-point lead back up to 13.

Husky slumber

Liz Repella knocked down a 3-pointer with 15:57 left to cut UConn's lead to six, 33-27. The Huskies have looked asleep at the wheel since late in the first half.


The game has slowed down to a pace beneficial to West Virginia. The Huskies still hold the lead, but Maya Moore and Tina Charles have been awful. Combined, they are 3-for-17 from the floor.


UConn is lucky that its poor shooting and decision making hasn't hurt it yet. That's because West Virginia has done nothing right.


Great applause for Caroline -- the bets reception for a Husky during intros.


There is no suspense here, no drama and it feels like a regular season game. That's what happens when you set a record the night before.

At least there are a few more fans.

Doty cleared

UConn sophomore guard Caroline Doty has been cleared to participate in tonight's Big East Tournament championship game at the XL Center.

Doty was hit in the back of the neck by an elbow during Monday's semifinal victory over Notre Dame. She left the game after laying on the court for several minutes.

Doty participated in the Huskies' morning shoot around.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Down the stretch

UConn leads by 13 with 3:42 left...

Here come the Huskies

UConn has built up an 11-point lead, 44-33, with 11:10 left. Nothing is working for Notre Dame.

Quick hit

Very quickly, UConn has taken an eight-point lead. Maya Moore capped it with a big 3-pointer. Huskies lead, 32-24, with 17:51 to play.

Twenty minutes to go

What a half it has been. Top-ranked UConn was held to its fewest points in the first half since the 2007 Fresno (Calif.) Regional against LSU, but leads Notre Dame, 25-22, in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament on Monday at the XL Center.

Tina Charles has been shutdown for the most part on the offensive end, and Notre Dame has all of the momentum. Keep in mind the two earlier meetings were blowouts.

On the charge?

No coincidence that the Irish call a timeout after Tina Charles scores back-to-back baskets. It's 25020 UConn with 1:21 left in the half.

Surprise, surprise

Who would have thought this would be a one-point game inside of three minutes left in the half?

Not me.

The key here has been the excellent defensive job done on Tina Charles. Unless UConn can find a way to get her the ball -- and for her to finish -- Notre Dame may snap the 70-game win streak.

First timeout

Notre Dame has to be happy to still be in the game. UConn leads, 9-8, with 14:35 left in the first half.

Tina Charles is being swarmed by four defenders whenever she touches the ball. The Irish are giving up the 3-pointer, daring UConn to take the shot.

History, either way, and a cautionary tale

Fifty-one minutes. That's how long we must wait for the start of the Big East Tournament semifinal between UConn and Notre Dame. It's bigger than the title game because a UConn win means this team stands alone with a new record 71-game consecutive win streak. A Notre Dame win is historic because it snaps the Huskies' record-tying streak.

Based on how the Irish played the first two times out against the Huskies I would call this game as well as the tournament's two remaining games anticlimactic.

Then again, recall in 2006-07 when UConn won at Rutgers, 70-44, to end the season but lost the tournament, 55-47.

It can happen. Just not likely. This Huskies team is better than its predecessor and Notre Dame isn't as good as Rutgers was then.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Now that I think of it, Hillsman could probably coach UConn to at least five losses.


Twice in a row Maya Moore had an uncontested path to the basket and could have dunked. She didn't.


Hillsman to Troya Berry after she tackled Maya Moore: "You can't do that; They can, you can't."

Any question who is the best player in the nation?

Tina Charles has 16 points with 2:44 left and just blocked a shot from behind.


Referee Bonita Spence just blew an obvious call. A missed UConn shot comes down untouched on the baseline and called UConn ball. The play happened two feet from her and no one was nearby.

Good job.

This is what just happened

A Syracuse player walked into a trap set by Tina Charles and Maya Moore. This is that player's inner thoughts:

"I can go into this trap. It's only the two best players in the country."

"I can come out it."

She's right. But she didn't have the ball.

Thanks for playing

Syracuse is down 13, 15-2, with 14:23 left in the half. Coach Quentin Hillsman has used five reserves already and Otto the Orange is about to check in.


Where was the foul on Tiffany Hayes' 3-pointer?

And the loser for winning is...

Notre Dame. The Irish survive the Red Storm and will play the UConn-Syracuse winner. Not a good prize. Unless you face the Orange.

Late start

St. John's and Notre Dame are going a little longer than expected. This is fine, but there's a sense of "get over with it already" at the XL Center. There's only one show here today and the other three games are merely distractions.

Closing in on 70

UConn and Syracuse are set to tip off in about two hours, which puts the Huskies about 40 minutes from matching its 70-game win streak that went from 2001-03.

It's beyond logic to suggest Syracuse could win this game. A lot would have to happen. But I think there are couple things to keep an eye out for.

Last year, Syracuse said they had the defense to stop Maya Moore. They stopped her at 40 points. Then Moore puts up 38 and 20 two weeks ago. Clearly, she treats orange like a bull does red. Maybe Tennessee knew something when it chose to discontinue the series with UConn. I'm just sayin'.

That first game had some drama -- very physical play that UConn took exception to and the Nicole Michael-Geno Auriemma tripgate, not to mention the Orange's contention that the Huskies ran up the score. From my perspective, they did, to make a point about the trash talking and physical play.

This season's meeting saw some more fireworks. Syracuse said it hadn't forgotten what happened the previous year, but downed down the rhetoric. But in the game, Erica Morrow of Syracuse was ejected for throwing a punch at UConn's Tiffany Hayes.

So...what should you expect? I'm looking for another very physical game -- maybe the most physical game between these teams. I can't imagine the Orange want to be No. 70, so they could be scrappier than usual. My gut tells me there's going to be a blow up of some sort.

Also, Maya Moore scores 39 points. If she doesn't it's because Auriemma takes her out of the game early to rest her for tomorrow's semifinal against Notre Dame or St. John's.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Charles in charge as Moore honors roll in for Huskies

Tina Charles, having one of the most memorable seasons by a Husky, was named the Big East's Player of the Year. You'd imagine this is a precursor to Charles winning the Naismith Award for National Player of the Year, but you never know. Two years ago, it was expected that Candace Parker would win the Naismith only to have Candice Wiggins surprise just about everyone by taking home the honor.

Still it's tough to imagine Charles not winning it, especially since her main competition is teammate Maya Moore.

Just to chew on: What does it tell you about Charles' season when she beats out Moore, who is considered the best player in the draft and probably the best player in the world before too long?

Moore didn't come away empty handed Friday on the second day of conference awards. After being named an Academic All-American last month, Moore was named the Big East's Scholar-Athlete. She is the fifth Husky to be so honored, joining Leigh Curl, Rebecca Lobo (twice) and Jennifer Rizzotti.

Lastly, Geno Auriemma shared Coach of the Year honors with West Virginia's Mike Carey. I like Carey here, but I also like Georgetown's Terry Flournoy-Williams, who took a team that has been a non-factor and led it to the Top 25. Auriemma would have had my third vote.

Also, just a side note...check back here often Sunday through Tuesday as the Huskies aim for the Big East Tournament title and try to eclipse the record 70-game win streak.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Huskies honored

Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Kalana Greene were named to the All-Big East First Team on Thursday. Charles and Moore were both unanimous selections.

Tiffany Hayes was a second-team pick and Kelly Faris made the all-freshmen team.

Also, the Huskies will be on the cover of Sports Illustrated next week and were interviewed by the CBS Evening News today after practice.