Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ho-Hum, Here Come the Hoyas?

Not the greatest pre-Big East season-opening practice today.

For whatever reason, UConn looked a bit subdued and sluggish this afternoon at Gampel Pavilion. At one point, after a sloppy fullcourt drill, Jim Calhoun shouted out, "Why take time off now? You think you're going to find it tomorrow in the game? That's not gonna happen. Never has, never will."

At the end of practice, the Huskies have to hit at least 9 of 12 free throws before they can go home. Once they miss their fourth, they've got to run. They failed the first time through and had to run a lap. They failed the second time and had to run a sprint. Then they failed a third time and ran a suicide.

Finally – mercifully – the Huskies hit their number, and practice was over.

Whatever sluggishness they may have showed should surely wash away tomorrow night, in front of a big crowd at the XL Center against traditional rival Georgetown.

"It's an exciting time of year, it's my 23rd time going through this," said Cahoun. "I don't think it really changes. Having Georgetown coming here this year, I think puts an extra sparkle in the air. Hopefully our fans – and I know it's tough economic times – will show up. There should be a little more electricity in the air (tonight)."

Apparently, a few tickets are still available for the game.

***For what it's worth, a total of 169 credentials – so far – will be handed out tomorrow night, including 30 NBA scouts, three scouting service reps and a couple of European scouts.

***Ater Majok watched practice with his coach from Australia, Ed Smith. Majok stuck around after practice and shot around with Scottie Haralson.

***This will be the first time that UConn and Georgetown have met as ranked teams since the famous 1996 Big East Tournament championship game, when No. 3 UConn beat Allen Iverson and the No. 4 Hoyas, 75-74, on Ray Allen's wild shot near the end of the game.

A.J. Price watched that game on TV.

"I remember that game," he said. "That's a classic game. Georgetown-UConn, two of traditionally the most powerful teams in the Big East."

***This will be the ninth time UConn and Georgetown have met as ranked teams. UConn is 5-3 in such meetings; only one (Jan. 16, 1995, a 93-73 UConn victory in Hartford) previous took place at UConn.

***Georgetown's 6-foot-11 freshman center Greg Monroe is off to a fine start, averaging 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Calhoun and assistant Andre LaFleur paid a visit to Monroe's Louisiana home in September, 2007, but shortly thereafter, Monroe elected to go to Georgetown.

"Monroe will come out 16, 17 feet and go by you," Calhoun noted. "He's a little more mobile big man. He's obviously a very good player."

UConn freshman Kemba Walker played against Monroe in AAU and at some camps.

"He's good," Walker reported. "He's 6-10, can put it on the floor, run the floor and shoot it pretty well."

***Expect the same starting five tomorrow night, as the Hoyas essentially run a three-guard lineup. When asked if he'd eventually like to see Stanley Robinson work his way into the starting lineup, Calhoun replied: "I don’t care about that. I'd like to see him get better. In fairness to him, it's just a matter of reps and playing, shooting, etc. We need him to be better. He's got to match up with (6-8 DaJuan) Summers and that kind of player. But we can't force the issue of a guy you haven't played with in six months."

***Jerome Dyson, who twisted his left knee while diving for a loose ball on Dec. 20 against Gonzaga, looked a bit uncomfortable in practice on Sunday.

"It's alright, it's still sore," he said. "I'm just trying to fight through it. I've still got some pain in it."

***With a win tonight, Calhoun would move into a tie with Lefty Driesell for No. 7 on the all-time NCAA Division I wins list with 786.


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