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Calhoun’s legacy more than wins & losses

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 17, 2012

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There is a new book on UConn Mens Basketball and it is a doozy:  Shock The World:  UConn Basketball in the Calhoun Era.  By Peter F. Burns, Jr..

God.  So many places from which to begin.  I’ll start with my dentist.

Peter has been my main dental dude for a bridge, 6 root canals and several crowns since Jim Calhoun came to UConn.  Not to mention caring dentally for my wife, 3 kids, and another 6 members of our extended family.

Pete the Dentist is a caring and affable guy.  He spends 2 weeks annually giving free care in Haiti.  He is a human fireplug, with receding hair, and is always up-to-date on current affairs.  The framed Bobby Orr jersey in his hallway testifies to his love of contact sport. 

His criticism of Jim Calhoun was been like assault and battery.

“He’s corrupt.  He’s a bad man.  He ruined the program.  He built it up and then he ruined it by bringing in bad kids, kids who committed crimes, kids who didn’t go to class.  Kids who stole and cheated.  He allowed bribes to be taken and agents to get involved.  He did it for the money.  Too arrogant.  Too much power.  It’s like Jerry Sandusky at Penn State where they closed their eyes to protect Paterno.  Calhoun is a bad guy.  Everyone thinks he’s a good guy but he is not.”

As he he launched this attack I was in his chair, cotton in mouth, Novocain injected into the facial nerves.  Pete spoke while he was tearing down a tooth.  I was miserable. 

I mean I’ve had worse days.  Like the day my gall bladder was removed after 3 painful nights without sleep.  Like when my grandmother died.  Like when Grady didn’t take Pedro out even as a Nation screamed.

I was unable to argue back.  I later emailed Peter that his attack on Calhoun upset me and I didn’t want him to talk about it with me anymore.  And Pete later obliged.

But what Peter really needs to do is to read this book.  Shock The World documents that Calhoun was much more than a program builder.  He was a character builder.  He created a family on and off the court.  That family includes players, trainers, coaches, students and others. 

He spoke with Rod Sellers  “about accountability, making good decisions about women, time management and homework…..”.  The first time he heard these things from a grown man they came out of Calhoun’s mouth, writes Burns.

Others testify, too.

“He taught me everything.” (Donyell Marshall). 

“I’ve always looked at the program and Coach as family.” (Chris Smith).

“He taught us how to be men….he was like a second father to me.” (Gerry Corcoran).

He was the “father figure I didn’t have growing up.”  (Donyell again).

“I think of him more than he knows.” (Joe Sharpe).

“He is the closest thing to a father I have ever had.”  (Caron Butler, who always calls on Fathers Day).

“The wins and the championships at Northeastern and UConn were great, but the life lessons that Calhoun teaches his coaches and players were most special and important.”  (Dave Leitao).

I say that there is great depth to the man.  Great heart.  Knowing what to say just when you needed it.

At an impromptu rally at Gampel in 1990 after losing to Duke on the infamous buzzer beater, Calhoun told the crowd, “Five hours ago, Christian Laettner broke our hearts.  You people have to put them back together.”

There is so much more to this guy than Peter the Dentist thinks there is.

The UConn program will have its ups and downs.  But the downs will never remove the positive impact that Calhoun had on the UConn family.  This is the great message beneath the program building story of this book.  It goes way beyond wins and losses and effects generations.

XXXXX

If you are 35-ish or older and thus have complete memories of Calhoun’s run in Storrs you may indeed mark your own time as you read this book.  I think of my beloved, deceased Father-In-Law, Roy, who was present to see Scott Burrell’s pass and Tate George’s shot but wasn’t with us the following year for the signings of the Fair-Ollie-Donny-Donyell-Scheffer team that soon dominated the Big East.  No one would have enjoyed it more and been more fun to share it with than my father-in-law.

Or, like me, You may realize that Ray Allen’s daughter, Tierra, born on September 25, 1992 (the day Howie Dickenman made a second recruiting visit to Dalzell, South Carolina) is 20 years old today, just like your daughter. 

Or you may recall where you were exactly 4 hours after Tater Tot shot the game winner over Clemson’s Sean Tyson in 1990.  My brother-in-law and I were, at that hour, pushing my 1987 Toyota Corolla off I-91 North after the clutch ceased to work during our ride home from the Meadowlands.

Or, as the names run across the page…..Robinson, Henefeld, T. Walker, Gwynn, DePriest, King, Hamilton, El Amin, Freeman, Kemba, and on and on, you think about how cold the wind was , or how warm was the sun, when you were 25, 35, 45…55.

That’s the great thing about this book, if you are True Blue.

It’s about a program, a shared experience that still touches millions of Connecticut folks today.

It’s so visceral for Husky fans that they can measure their time on Earth through it.

It’s a great read.  So don’t miss it.

Go Huskies.  And Go Sox.

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Yankee Hell. Husky Limbo.

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 24, 2012

Injury to the future 1st ballot HOF’er foreshadowed decline.

Most days have their ups and downs.  But I knew Oct. 19 was going to be a good one.  It was the day after the Yankees were swept out of the ALCS.  Not only were they denied a single win in the C.S., they collectively batted .157 with 6 runs scores in 4 games.  They were pathetic and I love it.

 

NPR brightened my day as I shaved.  “The Detroit Tigers defeated the HAPLESS Yankees in the ALCS last night, winning the final game in a laugher, 8 – 1.”, said the on-air talent.

 

How much better can it get ?

 

A few hours later, Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio referred to the humiliating Yankee performance, calling out Cano .056, Chavez .000, A Rod .111 and Granderson .000 as leading failures.

 

Soon, Sarah Walsh was on ESPN saying, “If Alex Rodriguez was a Sprint Cup driver in Kansas City this weekend with his .111 batting average, he’d be getting lapped…and his $113 Million/5 year remaining contract would bring out the red flag.”

 

Then there were John Kruk and Barry Larkin, archived from last night’s Baseball Tonight, under a story headlined, YANKEES HUMILIATED.  The Krukster enumerated the failure, Yankee by Yankee.

 

Pinch me.

 

There is a certain pleasure in hearing this public criticism of the Empire.  The pleasure was taken to a deeper level as many others dissected the wholesale lapse by Yankee batters, pitchers, managers, and a $198 Million payroll.

 

Thank you, Baseball Gods.  27 Championships are quite enough.  Message to the Yankees & their minions:  Take the rest of this Century off.J

 

XXXXXXX

 

There are those who would condemn Jim Calhoun as a flesh trading, rule breaking, self-centered cheater.  Several weeks ago, I visited my dentist to have a tooth deconstructed as prep for a crown.  I like my dentist very much.  He’s an affable man, a devoted Dad, a hockey guy, and he spends 2 weeks every year in Haiti doing free dental work for the impoverished.  So what’s not to like, right?

 

Peter the Dentist hates Jim Calhoun.  He believes that Jim turned UConn athletics into a sham.  That the Coach is morally bankrupt and intoxicated with his success.  That Calhoun recruited bad kids, kids who never went to class, kids who are thugs, kids who made a joke out of the program.

 

Pete puffed up with all the venom he could muster and spewed. The novacaine took its effect on me while Pete’s face contorted and his body stiffened.

 

A trip to the Dentist can potentially be upsetting. This was a sure thing.  He made me miserable.  I could not believe I had to hear Peter put down Calhoun, a flawed human being (we are all flawed.), who on balance pulled off one of the greatest program building feats of all time.

 

In a year in which Fox News and MSNBC watchers attack O’Bama and Romney constantly, my ears are ringing from shrill complaints every day.  Everybody seems to have a soapbox and a loud opinion.

 

I lament that I had to take this trashing of a hero in my Dentist’s office, too. 

 

There is a lack of civility gaining momentum.  I’m weary of it.

 

I look forward to the upcoming UConn season, sans NCAA and Big East Tournaments for the Men.

 

Go Lady Huskies.

 

Go Ollie.

 

Go Sox.

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Baseball Roundup: Boring Sox, Rocking Nats & Farting in Church

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 15, 2012

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SIGN OF THE TIMES:  The Marlins put a e-blast out to ticket-alert customers about a 50% off ticket deal for the last game of the Red Sox series on June 13.  Not only do the Marlins’ bolstered roster and lovely new stadium not fill the stands, but the Red Sox, able to pull huge crowds everywhere for the last 7 or 8 years, don’t seem to sell too well there, either. 

BEWARE, YANKEE FANS.  The Bronx Butt Heads play a 3-game set at Nationals Park against the squad with the (almost) best record in Baseball.  The Nats are 38 – 23, a whisker below the Dodgers 40 – 24 status.  Hughes vs. Gonzalez.  Pettite vs. Zimmerman.  And Nova vs. Jackson.  GG, Zimmy and EJ have recently gone an average of 7 IP’s while allowing under 3 runs.  The Yankee bats had better not cool off or  Nats fans will be getting out their brooms on Sunday night.  Just like they did in Boston last week.

 

WINNER, WINNER, GET YOUR OWN DINNER.  Longtime Sox fan, co-worker, Johnny V., is not too excited about heading to Fenway this summer.  Johnny is a 50-something fan that cherishes his photo of Johnny Pesky, worships Yaz, Rice & Lynn, and himself batted .375 for Pittsfield High School.  Red Sox baseball is in his D.N.A..  But he sold his 4 tickets to the Sox-Yankees game in July.  Seems his family is not too interested in our Mediocre Sox, and thus, neither is he.  The Sox are not Winners anymore.  They are former Winners.  Feel the indifference.

 

THE PRIDE OF ITALY FARTS IN CHURCH.  (beat.)  Sorry.  I know how vulgar that sounds.  I wanted to write THE PRIDE OF ITALY SHITS THE BED.  Something like that…..something dramatic.  You get the idea.  Some to really punctuate how Gene Auriemma has tarnished his permanent record. 

 

My 82-year-old Italian father takes great pride in all of Geno’s accomplishments.  My Dad is from an era in which Italians trusted Italians, liked Italians, took great pride in the accomplishments of other Italians.  Recent news about alleged misconduct by Geno has raised many an old Italian eyebrow.

 

If you don’t know, a woman has filed a discrimination suit against the NBA.  In part, the suit accuses Geno of first asking the woman to bed, and subsequently demanding that she be penalized by the NBA because she rejected him. 

 

Of course, my Dad thinks the woman, Kelley Hardwick, is full of poop.  He thinks this is a money play.  However, if you read John Altavilla’s column today, you would know that Ms. Hardwick is not after a quick payday.  You can read the column here:

 

http://courantblogs.com/uconn-women/trying-to-understand-the-point-of-law-on-a-difficult-case/

 

No, Ms. Hardwick is going after the female-hating NBA at large, and she is taking Geno down with the League to attract attention.  If she was just after the bucks, this would have been settled before it was made public.

 

 

 

 

COOPERSTOWN ON THE HORIZON.  In case you hadn’t heard, two fine players will be inducted on Sunday July 22 in the old village by the lake.  Barry Larkin, a National leaguer who I did not see play much, will be enshrined after earning 86% of the vote in his 3rd year of eligibility.  While I wasn’t watching he won 9 silver sluggers, 1 MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, was selected for 12 All Star Games, and posted .295 BA, 198 HR, 960 RBI with 379 SB over 19 years at shortstop with the Reds.  He might have won another 7 Gold Gloves had Ozzie Smith not locked them up through Larkin’s 7th year in the Bigs.

 

Another man about who I know little is being inducted, the venerated Ron Santo.  No Chicago icon is more beloved.  Beginning in 1960, he anchored the Cubs batting order and infield for 14 years.  Then, from 1980 to 2010, he came into Chicagoland homes 162 times per year as a Cubs broadcaster.

 

Were that constancy not enough to cement a place in the hearts of Midwesterners, Ron Santo’s contributions on the field laid the foundation of the job.  Ronny included a .277 BA, 342 HR, 1331 RBI, 5 Gold Gloves and 9 All Star Games appearances.

 

When Cub fans think of Santo, they could rightly remember him in 1964, when he fielded everything hit to third base, won his first Gold Glove, batted .313, poled 30 dingers, drove in 113 runs, hit 13 triples, 33 doubles, and led the NL in BB, Assists, Put Outs and Double Plays.

 

If you are within a 5 hour drive from Cooperstown do not miss this induction.  Make it to the great lawn with your accordion chairs and cocktails.  All 30 nationalities in the Baseball World will be gloriously present, but Cub nation is sure to be there in force to give Ron Santo the loving welcome he deserves.

 

 

Go Sox.

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Calhoun should depart with dignity — in 2014.

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 17, 2012

I’m writing this before I read anything about Thursday night’s disturbing game in which Iowa State bounced UConn from the NCAA first round, 77 – 64. 

 

The Huskies looked unnerved and poorly coached.  Andre Drummond showed that he has no clue about offense after spending a full year under his Hall of Fame Coach.  Alex Oriaki was out-of-synch when he got near a rebound or his own basket.  Jeremy Lamb stayed in his shell for 25 minutes, waiting for someone else to step up and be the best Husky on the floor.

 

Ultimately, the poor performance is Calhoun’s problem, not the players.

 

Connecticut is out of the Big Dance and standing at a crossroads with Jim Calhoun.

 

Should he stay or should he go ?  Left to his own devices, Jim will never leave.  The ego is too big.  Jim seems unconcerned with making a classy exit.

 

When Dean Smith retired from UNC in 1997 he left with dignity – and 2 National titles, 11 Final Fours and a record 879 victories.  He produced NBA stars, D1 Coaches, good students, and Michael Jordan.  Smith was 66 years old at the time.  He left with a squeaky clean reputation.

 

There are similarities between the accomplishments of Dean and Jim.

 

Jim will be 70 years old on May 10.  He has 866 career Div 1 victories.  His UConn dossier includes 3 National Titles, 1 NIT Title, 4 Final Fours, 27 NBA players, and 4 D-1 Head Coaches.

 

Jim has had some academically talented students.  There was Kemba Walker and Emeka Okafor.  But Jim isn’t squeaky clean on grades & recruiting like Dean Smith.

 

Jim is responsible for failing to comply with NCAA regulations.  Eleven months ago, Calhoun received a 3 game suspension and UConn was placed on a 2-year probation.  The team forfeited one scholarship.  These punishments were for recruiting violations and for failing to create an atmosphere of compliance.    

 

Jim has also for several years brought in academically challenged student-athletes who lowered UConn’s graduation rate. As a result, it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that UConn will be banned from the 2013 N.C.A.A. Tournament.  Calhoun is ultimately responsible for accepting these ball players.

 

Given that, it is a little creepy to think about how Jim has defended the low graduation rate at UConn by referring to some non matriculating players as having “graduated to the N.B.A.”.

 

There is a dull odor of arrogance in that comment.

 

There are some real pros and cons to Jim staying.

 

If he leaves now he will damage the University’s recruiting capabilities.  Taking away the N.C.A.A. Tournament AND the lure of being coached by a Hall of Famer is a double whammy.

 

But, if he leaves now the wheels will be set in motion to build the program under a new Coach. 

 

If he stays, he can steer the ship away from the rocks and make ready for his successor.

 

 

And, if Jim stays he will be a constant reminder of the 2012 banishment that 3.5 Million Connecticut residents will endure next year.

 

Making matters worse, Husky Nation will likely see Lamb and Drummond leave in the NBA Draft.  Next year could get ugly.

 

My vote is to keep Jim in the job for two more years.  Let him clean up the program and make the violations and academics a distant memory.  Give him a chance to depart with dignity and in the manner of Dean Smith.

 

In the long run, it is best to get the transition going.  Thursday night Calhoun had a bunch of kids on the floor who (except for Shabazz Napier) did not want the ball in crunch time.  Napier, and Walker before him, are exceptions.   The last 6 years have seen a steady parade of Huskies that did not learn, improve, work together or step up.

 

Jim’s lost something off his fastball.  For sure.

 

 

 

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UConn Men will roll on as Drummond learns

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 20, 2011

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Little Lee and I watched pre-game warmups before the UConn-Wagner game from the 8th row of the end zone. Most of the Huskies were shooting around, massed in front of the UConn bench. That is where most of the Gampel crowd focused their attention.

 

On the far side, two players engaged alone. Jeremy Lamb stood behind the 3 line, guarded by another future NBA draft pick, Andre Drummond. Lamb leaned right-right-left and, feeling he was clear, attempted a shot that Drummond swatted back with an easy smile. The ball fell back into Lamb’s calm hands.

 

Mr. Lamb was relaxed, almost tranquil, even though his defender was 5 inches taller and 90 pounds heavier. Though well on his way to a Shawn Kemp-like body, Drummond has quick reflexes and instincts.  Most of us would be nothing approaching calm in his court presence.

 

What Drummond of course lacks is Big East experience.  So Lamb gave him some.

 

This time, Lamb leaned right and then freely fired left, leaving Drummond one full step behind him awaiting another fake that did not occur.  Swish.  All net.

 

Drummond smiled again.  Lamb showed not one iota of emotion.  And then, they danced on, two exceedingly tall colts, frisky and jubilant in their well matched game. One the teacher, the other a rookie.  Two friends.

 

 

XXXXX

 

Mr. Drummond did not start.  Calhoun put Olender, Oriaki, Napier, Lamb and Roscoe Smith on court first.  He came in soon enough, though, looking a half step behind everyone else.  No doubt, he was adjusting to the game being played at a pace and level with which he was unaccustomed.  Although he is big, strong and fast, he had little impact until the light went on toward the end of the first half.  Suddenly aroused, Drummond blocked two shots in 6 seconds and then came flying across the lane like an acrobat at the other end in an attempt to jam a team mate’s miss in what would have been a sensational play.  Soon, he showed us this superior speed and coordination again.  Although Mr. Drummond did not score on these plays he did  cause a sensation to ripple through a crowd.  They had gotten a glimpse of his pure athleticism.

 

Drummond would toss down 8 points in the game.  He scored his first UConn points on a put back and next 2 on a sweet reverse layup executed beautifully on the run.

 

This team is loaded with talent.  Deandre Daniels had 11 points and looked like a pure shooter, an assassin.  Tyler Olender looks 100% improved and could become a solid D I player.  Napier is confident with the rock and is scoring when needed.  Lamb looks like a bona fide Naismith candidate.  Add Drummond and Boatwright and you’ve got a team that can beat anyone.

 

That said, beating Columbia by 13 and Wagner by 12 does not instill confidence.  Nor does beating Maine by 20 and Coppin State by 17.  Cupcake season should be called Preseason.  These foes are record fatteners, helping the team get nearer the 20 wins that credential NCAA Tournament teams.  If you don’t beat the cupcakes by more than 30, you aren’t really ready for Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

 

The Huskies will be no worse than 9-2 (and no better than 11 – 0) when the confront USF in their Big East opener on Dec. 28, a game quickly followed by one against the Johnnies on Dec. 31.

 

Can Calhoun channel them into a team by that time?

 

Time will tell.

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It’s Kemba, & 4 guys who can play

Posted by athomeatfenway on February 20, 2011

 

The ball is in good hands, now and next year.

 

Traveling on a train from New York to New Haven, I remarked to my boss that the current UConn Men are easy to like.  They have talented freshman that are not so talented that they will jump to the NBA after Junior year, but they are developing steadily into a gang of plucky defenders that can score.

To wit, my boss inquired, “How many times has UConn won this year when Kemba Walker did NOT score 25 points ?”

“I don’t know.”,  I said.  But I’m going to find out.

UConn is a one trick pony.   

That has been the coda from the chorus all year long.  UConn, say the critics, is Kemba Walker and four other guys.

The last 16 games indicate that the chorus is off key.

 UConn has gone 10 – 6 in 16 games since beginning the Big East schedule against Pitt on the road.  (Two of those games were against non-conference foes Texas and Tennessee.)

Kemba scored less than 25 points in 13 of those 16 games, and UConn won 8 of the 13.

My boss’s selection of the number 25 for Kemba points is a fitting number.  25 points in a D-1 game is iconic.  A player who has scored 25 points has had his way with the opponent. 

With Kemba’s reputation for scoring 30 points in a game, it may surprise that he did not score 25 points 75% of the time.  True.

In fact, Kemba did not score 20 points 50% of the time.  He scored 16 or less 25 % of the time.

Although he did score 30 in some UConn wins, like Georgetown & DePaul, he didn’t do it alone.

Freshman Shabazz Napier, lightening fast guard from Randolph, Mass., is the first player off the bench every game.  He will dribble one off his foot or throw a pass away, but he also brings instant offense and pushes the ball.  He scored 18 against Notre Dame, 15 against Texas, 11 vs. Marquette and 23 vs. Louisville.

Jeremy Lamb, another Freshman, is a 6’ 5” stick figure with a sweet jumper that does not fall when he gets rattled.  He poured in 24, 21 and 22 points in the middle of 8 consecutive games in which he averaged 16 and scored no less than 10.

Also Class of 2014, Roscoe Smith, the 6’ 8” 205 pound forward out of Baltimore has flashed offense in spurts with 11 vs. Notre Dame, 13 vs. Texas, 12 vs. Tenn., 11 against Marquette, and 16 against the Johnnies.  He has disappeared against other teams, scoring 0, 2 or 3 points four different times.

These three Freshmen are essential to UConn’s success.  Without them, the Huskies don’t get to the Big Dance.  Without them, they don’t even have a winning record.

The 3 Freshmen are no more alone in creating success than is Kemba.  Alex Oriaki has scored in double digits 9 times.  Coombs-McDaniel scored 48 total points in two straight games vs. Providence & Georgetown.

UConn is a team with 6 guys who score in double digits.

It’s a team from which freshmen and role players emerge to share the scoring responsibility.

It’s a young team that makes mistakes, becomes intimidated, and sometimes shrinks.

Overall, they do not give up.  These young guys are blue collar.  Calhoun’s kind of players.

They will learn to close the deal.

They may reach the Sweet Sixteen.

They should win a game in the BE Tournament, their first since 2005.

And they should continue to be easy to like  — right through graduation in 2014.

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Stanford showed UConn a few unfamiliar sights

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 31, 2010

Geno & Shea ponder the path to defeat.

The Uconn women saw a few things from Stanford tonight that they had not seen in years.

A sold out house of raucous opposing fans.

A team that UConn could not wear down with speed, athleticism, size and depth.

A team that out-rebounded them.  43 to 36 on this night.

A team that hip checked them, jumped in front of them, and pressed ball handlers without let up.

A team that scored FOUR uncontested buckets on breakaways.

Opposing post players that followed their misses with twisting under-the-hoop put backs that would be the envy of any team’s front court.

A senior guard on the opposing team that personified toughness, clutch shooting and leadership equal to if not greater than any UConn Player on the court.  Senior Stanford guard, Jeanette Pohlen, that is.

And the UConn Women saw a few unfamiliar things in themselves, too.

Maya Moore, taken out of her game, standing with hands on hips watching play rather than hustling to stay with her man.

Maya Moore playing most of the game and scoring 14 instead of notching 20 points in  28 minutes as in a typical romp.

Maya Moore, yielding first scoring option status in the final minutes to Kelly Faris, whose heart was as big as the State of Connecticut. Faris scored  a career high 19 points.

A game in which UConn was down 10 points (or more) for 10 minutes or more.

One entire game in which UConn did not hold the lead once.

Stanford was focused, ballsy, physical and equal to the task.

There is a large gap between #1 and #20 in the Womens poll.  I get a boot out of it when UConn Women Fans get a taste of Husky vulnerability.   It doesn’t happen often enough.

A regular season loss is the best protection against a loss in March.  Geno should keep 5 or more Top-10 opponents on the schedule every year.

Credit Geno for scheduling 5 Top-10 non-conference opponents this year.

Credit Stanford with a ton of poise and talent.

Tara Vanderveer’s team has all the tools and intangibles needed to capture a national title this year.

One can only hope for a March rematch.

Stanford Prof Condy Rice & pal whoop it up.

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Until UConn v Stanford on Dec. 30, watch the fans !

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 29, 2010

U Can't Beat that UConn Spirit !

 

It is a common occurrence when the UConn Lady Huskies humble a Division I opponent.  That was the case when I took the President of the Yankee Pug Dog Club to the Nov. 26 chewing of Howard University.  The Huskies took to fresh Bison like a coyote to a lap dog.

 The Bison starting point guard looked to be 5’ 2” and 140 stones of solid muscle.  Far too much compact mass to keep up with the young greyhounds of Storrs.

5 minutes into the game, I and the Pug Prez were certain that the smaller, heavier, less conditioned Bison would be down about 50 – 12 at halftime.

It was actually 52 – 16 at the break.  And the final was 86-25.  To say that the Bison ran out of gas is an understatement. The walloping did not end there for the Bison as they lost their next two games by 30 and 27 points.  Let’s hope they do better against the Long Island Blackbirds on Wednesday.    They may have entered the pit of abject despair after their Gampel pummeling.  Cross your fingers.

UConn’s Maya Moore and Freshman stud Bria Hartley were as good as expected against Howard.  To the surprise of many, however, a nice performance from Frosh Center Stephanie Dolson brought 13 points to the effort.  13 points is one more than Dolson scored in all THREE of the previous games combined.

“Oh, Dolson ?”, the Pug Prez demurred.  “Geno didn’t put her in the Baylor game until the very end, when he had no choice. “  She paused.  “We don’t trust her yet.”

Now mind you when the Pug Prez hands me a nugget I think about her mixed credentials.  On one hand, she is a UConn Women’s season ticket holder and has been to 4 Final Fours.  On the other, I have on several occasions heard her yell TOUCHDOWN ! as the baseball cleared the outfield fence in a televised MLB game.  She is my sister, and I can’t always tell if she’s acting dumb or is as genuinely sports-ignorant as she seems to be.

Of course, she’s right about Dolson.

The Bisons made Dolson look good.

It will still be a while before the Pug Prez knows as much about Sports in general as she does about Pugs, but she does know the Lady Huskies.

The Bison blasting was the 82nd consecutive win for UConn.  With it, they surpassed the longest winning streak by a womens collegiate basketball team.  (Sorry about that Div. III Washington U. of St. Loo.)

Over the following two days UConn defeated Lehigh and LSU by a combined 162 – 89, getting wins 83 and 84.

They are now 4 wins away from tying UCLA’s magical 88 straight, fashioned in the Jabbar-Walton eras under HOF’er John Wooden.

They will have no problem steamrolling USF, Sacred Heart & Marquette for wins 85, 86 and 87.

But they will have to best Ohio State, #7, on Dec., 19 in NYC to tie Wooden.

And then defeat Florida State, #15, on Dec. 21 in Hartford to pass the Wizard.

Heck.  I’m not really concerned about the Buckeyes or the Seminoles or those others.

UConn’s best chance to lose will occur on Dec. 30 when they face #3 Stanford in Palo Alto, seeking win 91.  The Wooden record will be far, far in the rear view mirror by then.

They’ll be 3,000 miles from home for that one, 96 hours after leaving Storrs, playing at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, their second West Coast game in 3 nights.

They might lose that one.

Not only are they on the road against a top ranked team, but UConn’s decidedly young squad faces a Cardinal team that relies upon two Seniors and a Junior. 

LSU Coach Van Chancellor sees the vulnerability.  He told The Hartford Courant’s John Altavilla, ”The three teams that will give them the greatest problems will be Baylor…Stanford and Tennessee, teams with athletic post players….”.

Should be a great game.

After that, UConn won’t play a Top 10 team until Jan. 31 (#5 Duke) and Feb. 8 (#10 W. Virgainia.)

If Maya Moore stays healthy the Lady Huskies should continue to beat all comers by 10 to 50 points until they meet the Cardinal by the Bay.

Until that time we may celebrate a new all time record but we won’t have much to inspire us.  Except the amazing fan fashions created by loyalists like the one pictured above.  That’s an all home-made quilted sweater constructed with scraps of old UConn T-Shirts and fabric from Joanne’s.

That fan is a Top Dawg.

XXX

Of note:  Many empty seats despite the fact that ticket prices have been reduced from $22 to $15.

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