Thursday, November 16, 2006

A quick look at this weekend

First, check out today’s Register to see what goes into college basketball scheduling.

Now, moving on from the shameless plug.

Three games in three days is never easy, especially in November. UConn did it last year at the Maui Invitational. Different team.

Much different team.

If anything, it will be a good endurance test for a few young Huskies. It will also mean the UConn coaching staff will have plenty to evaluate with four games on the season to dissect.

Let’s take a quick look at what the Huskies will see.

FRIDAY

Central Arkansas, Scottie Pippen’s alma mater, makes the jump to Division I in the Southland Conference. The Bears will play in a conference which receives a 14 seed every year and is always one of the first games of ESPN Championship Week. There’s a great game with a lot of athleticism, fans storm the court, then they wait almost two weeks to get beat up by a middle-of-the-pack team from a major.

Still, the Southland is fun to watch.

But the Bears enter this weekend at 1-1, after losing to St. Bonaventure earlier in the week in overtime. The Bonnies are not UConn, but do have some talent. They are also rebuilding because some administrators thought a few shop classes qualified for college credit a few years back. Not an easy job to rebuild, but Central Arkansas pushed an A-10 team to overtime. A nice way to start the season. Good for morale. To check out more on the Bears, go to their site.

Quick word to the Web master there. St. Bonaventure is in Olean, N.Y., not St. Bonaventure. The Franciscan Friars just south of Buffalo would take serious issue with that.

Also, since the game is not televised anywhere, the UConn sports department will provide a Webcast of the game Friday night. Because of television rights and all that good stuff, this is the only Webcast of the season.

One last note about Central Arkansas: Pippen’s game was always fun to watch. On any other team early in his career, he would have been a marquee name. Except he played with Michael Jordan, wins a few titles, makes the NBA’s Top 50 greats as a guy who plays second fiddle, then is hung out to dry in Portland.

Tough break. I’m sure he’s not complaining, though.

Anyway, the only thing I remember about Pippen, aside from standing behind Jordan in every interview clip, is the McDonald’s commercial with the two kids who were suppose to be Pippen and his brother from decades ago. His brother says, “Now Scottie!” in a high, Southern drawl with a hint of Bobby Brady's awkward puberty-inflicted voice, and young Scottie cuts backdoor for two.

The only time McDonald’s grabbed on to someone besides Jordan, Bird, Magic, Mia Hamm or Tab Ramos or the guy who offers up Big Macs as hors' dourves at his party.

Super Size Me.

I digress.

SATURDAY

The last time UConn faced in-state Fairfield was in 2000-01 when the Huskies started the season ranked 13th and ended their year in the second round of the NIT.

The Stags are under first-year coach Ed Cooley and have started the season 0-3 against some decent competition. As much as this weekend is a test for UConn, it is for Fairfield. The Stags have youth and experience and Hamden Hall’s Danny Oglesby, but this will be a building year, not a rebuilding one.

SUNDAY

Looking for a story on Ole Miss’ first-year coach Andy Kennedy and his thoughts about taking over as interim head coach at Cincinnati when Bob Huggins was shown the door.

Couldn’t find one. Interesting to see what that was like.

Anyway, Kennedy, the former UAB standout, has his own program without the “interim” label, and should have a decent, if not competitive year in the SEC.

The Rebels are 2-0 heading into the weekend and should be UConn’s toughest test Sunday night at the Hartford Civic Center. They are physical, have some athleticism, and should be fun to watch.

MISC.

Word has traveled the country and back that USC received a fax last night from O.J. Mayo, considered the top recruit in the United States. Interesting take on the decision in today’s L.A. Times by J.A. Adande.

Also, the New York Times published a few college basketball stories today.

One was about Georgetown and Roy Hibbert and the other on Rutgers and Fred Hill.

Both Hibbert and Hill have received too much pub in this space so we’ll relax on their mentions until January.

Or December.

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