Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's My Fault

So what is Friday night at the Big East tournament like, anyway? I wouldn't know.

In four years on the Providence College beat, I saw the Friars go 1-4 in the conference tourney. This included PC's strong, John Linehan-led 2001 team that was a No. 3 seed but got bounced by Syracuse in the quarterfinals. The one win was in a Wednesday game.

Now, in my first year on the UConn beat, the No. 4-seeded Huskies get knocked off by No. 5 West Virginia in the quarters. Maybe I'll change UConn's luck in the Big Dance (don't forget, the Red Sox won their first World Series ini 86 years in my first year on that beat).

O.K., enough about me. Here are some notes & quotes from UConn's 78-72 loss to the Mountaineers:

UConn coach Jim Calhoun:

"Some games you mull over, why you won or why you lost, and it's difficult. This one's very easy. They came out and kicked our butt and they outworked us and won the game."

(on Joe Alexander's career-high 34-point game)

"He is a terrific player. He'd (not) be a lot better player if he didn't touch the ball as many times. Our kids feel after he gets it, they were going to stop him. And when he got somewhere around 27 or 28, I thought it would be a good idea if we realized he was a good basketball player. The way to play him is not to allow him to get the ball. One guy did, that was No. 11 (Jerome Dyson). But after a while, he got oversized."

(on what UConn can improve upon)


West Virginia coach Bob Huggins:

(on Joe Alexander's emergence over the last five games, during which he's averaged 29.8 points)

"I wanted him to do it the whole year. I couldn't get him to cooperate. He's such a hard matchup."

(on whether this has been an enjoyable year coaching)

"I thought it was pretty fun being No. 1 in the country a couple of times (with Cincinnati). I kind of enjoyed that."

(on the quick turnaround of possibly playing four games in four nights this week)

"We packed for the week. This is a four-game tournament, we knew that coming in. I feel pretty fresh."

(on his team getting outrebounded by WVU, 42-26)

"I'll accept that Alexander is just terrific, but I will not accept not getting defensive rebounds. If we could have got that ball back six more times … we had them in pretty good position. West Virginia should not outrebound Connecticut 46-22. That should not happen. Between Stanley, Jeff and Hasheem, we've got three of the top 18 rebounders in the league. Yet we got outrebounded badly, and really killed down the stretch."

UConn junior point guard A.J. Price:

(on how WVU's active 2-3 zone bothered the Huskies)

"The guys on the side weren't really asking for the ball the way they should have been. That makes things more difficult. Some guys got discouraged, but you've got to play through that. It's part of the game."

(on whether he thought UConn could get outrebounded by WVU, 42-26)

"With the monsters we have inside, I didn't think it could happen. But they found a way tonight."

(on how the Huskies must put this loss in their rear-view mirror, with the Big Dance coming up)

"We tell the fellas it's a brand-new ballgame, a new season ahead of us. We still have a chance at a national championship. That's what we're playing for. A lot of other teams don't have that opportunity, so we have to keep our heads high. It's a wake-up call for us. We have to be ready come tournament time. You've got to have a short memory, especially the way we lost, we don't want to remember this one. It's done, and we have to move on."

Also ...

Alexander is the 27th player in Big East tourney history to score at least 30 in a game. Cincy's Deonta Vaughn netted 30 in a loss last night.

Alexander's 34 points are the most in a Big East tourney game since Vontego Cummings of Pitt dropped 37 on Villanova on March 4, 1998. It's also the highest total by a WVU player in Big East tourney history.


Blogger Buffalo Bob said...

"They came out and kicked our butts and outworked us and won the game". So what else is new? This has been the byword at tourney time the past few years. My mind goes back to Rudy Gayes yawn (I'll call him "Rudini" for his dissappearing act at the time his team needed him most)during the Washington game in '06. Then a few night later lost to a much less talented by greatly more passionate George Mason team. This is typical of the current team; talented but lacking passion, intensity, and a do-or-die spirit. They just shrug their shoulders and say,"oh well".

I have been a UCONN fan for 40 years. I have enjoyed more much less talented teams who put their all on the line when needed. UCONN was the David against the Goliaths and played like it. Tonights team didn't do this against WVU. It is unrealistic to expect the Huskies to always win, but it would be inspiring to see all 5 players give a full effort. Perhaps Calhoun is a lame duck who can no longer inspire passion in his players.
"Oh well", lights out on another team of spoiled players looking beyond the tourney to the pros, and a season of mediocrity.

2:26 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've often wondered this about UCONN--why our teams (since '99 really) and stars seem to lack that passion. Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay--players with so much talent but only playing at 50%. Do they just assume they're better?

6:14 PM 

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