Thursday, December 27, 2007

Plenty of good seats available

After playing on Friday night, UConn and Central Florida will play again the following day. No, not the basketball teams. Both schools' football squads are playing in Bowl Games -- UConn in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte against Wake Forest, UCF in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis against Mississippi State -- on Saturday afternoon.

With that in mind, don't expect much of a crowd at Friday's UConn-UCF men's basketball game at brand-new, 10,000-seat UCF Arena. With about 10,000 UCF fans having traveled to Memphis for the football game, and with students out on winter break, officials are only expecting a crowd of about 3,000 or so on Friday. The Knights are averaging 4,771 fans in their five games so far at the new, on-campus facility, including a school-record 5,574 on Dec. 8 against Ole Miss.

Incidentally, the UCF campus is interesting. There are apartment-style dorms and retail stores all over the place, and the new basketball arena, baseball field and football field are all within the same radius, giving it an Olympic Village sort of feel. Coming soon will be a new cafeteria right next to the gym.

"Our guys literally eat, sleep, workout and lift within a one-block area," said Knights' coach Kirk Speraw. "Then, they have to walk all off seven, eight minutes to class."

  • UConn's 7-foot backup center Jonathan Mandeldove is still suffering from a sore ligament in his foot and didn't make the trip to Orlando with the team. He's working out with a trainer back in Storrs.
  • Junior guard Craig Austrie, who was hospitalized with pneumonia two weeks ago and has missed the Huskies' last two games, has come along "better than I thought he was going to be," according to UConn coach Jim Calhoun, and should be available to play tonight.
  • It doesn't appear as though many UConn players have made a visit to Disney World, Sea World or any other of Orlando's world-famous attractions. Rather, the Huskies seem more intent on relaxing, maybe taking in a movie or hitting the mall ... and enjoying the gigantic swimming pool ("the biggest pool I've ever seen in my life," according to Stanely Robinson) at their equally gigantic hotel near Disney.

David Borges may be reached at dborges@nhregister.com


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