Thursday, December 07, 2006

Notes from Northeastern game

Some notes from last night's game that made the print edition but not the Web.

MINUTES STILL BEING SHOPPED AROUND
ROBINSON'S ARE UP, KELLY'S ARE DOWN

By Brett Orzechowski
Register Staff

STORRS – As with most early seasons, the non-conference schedule is used as a litmus test for young players and allows coaches to figure out a concrete rotation before the Big East portion begins.
The University of Connecticut’s, though, remains a puzzle with little calculation.
Against Northeastern on Wednesday night, UConn head coach Jim Calhoun distributed a majority of the minutes to his starting five for most of the first half, much like the first seven games this winter. Doug Wiggins was the first guard off the bench while Craig Austrie played his role.
Then, the only question that remains with UConn’s rotation was left unanswered again.
Calhoun continues to look for minutes for Stanley Robinson and found some in the post for the freshman forward. The time once reserved for Gavin Edwards and Curtis Kelly was used by Robinson while Jonathan Mandeldove did not play any quality minutes.
The tinkering and the head games continue.

MOVING UP

With the victory, Calhoun moved into a tie for 13th with former Temple head coach John Chaney on the all-time Division I coaching wins list with 741.
Next on the roll at No. 12 is legendary Kansas coach Phog Allen with 746. Lurking behind the group is Jim Boeheim. The Syracuse coach sits at No. 15 with 733 victories since arriving at the school in 1977.

A FEW FIRSTS

At 7-foot-3, UConn freshman center Hasheem Thabeet approaches shot blocking unlike most players his size.
Most of his blocks are directed toward guards on the wing and very seldom does he leave his feet on ball fakes. But never, until the eighth game of the season, had Thabeet been called for goaltending.
At the 16:10 mark of the first half, Thabeet caught a shot on the way down from Northeastern’s Bobby Kelly.
The whistle was followed 10 seconds later by another call.
Calhoun and the UConn bench were assessed the first technical foul of the season.

BEAT UP IN THE BIG EAST

Granted all were guarantee games, but Northeastern has woven through the Big East before Wednesday night at Gampel Pavilion against UConn.
"I think we're the 17th best team in the Big East right now," coach Bill Coen joked after the game. "It sometimes feels that way."
Northeastern opened its season at Syracuse, an 81-58 loss, before traveling to Pittsburgh two nights later. Pitt handed Northeastern a 78-52 defeat. Now, before it jumps into its Colonial Athletic Association schedule, it will play one more Big East team with a Boston connection.
On Dec. 27, Louisville and former Boston University coach Rick Pitino will be another gracious host. If Boston College remained in the Big East, Northeastern would have played five conference teams this season. Instead, the Eagles defected to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

RETURN VISIT

Marcus Williams, now a rookie guard with the New Jersey Nets, attended Wednesday night’s game at Gampel Pavilion. It was the first return this season by a former UConn player from last year’s Elite Eight team.

Brett Orzechowski may be reached at borzechowski@nhregister.com

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