Back in a New York Groove
A.J. Price: "It's always a thrill to play there. Being from New York, you always get a different rush from playing in the Garden. The first time is even more special."
It will be Kemba Walker's first time at the Garden at the collegiate level, though the Bronx native played there three times in high school – as a sophomore, junior and senior.
"Especially my first time, I was definitely excited to go on that court. I had never been on an NBA floor, it's the first NBA floor I ever played on. To play in the Garden was definitely exciting … It's my first time playing in the Garden on a college level. Just to be back home is going to be a lot of fun."
Walker said they'll be a lot of people in the crowd he knows, including at least eight family members and friends. He was asked if he grew up a St. John's fan.
"No, not really. I usually would watch UConn, and it was a rivalry with UConn-St. John's. But I wasn't really a big St. John's fan."
"No. (I like) the Hornets. I like Chris Paul."
O.K., now that that's out of the way …
***St. John's sits at 10-5 overall and 1-2 in the Big East. They've had some narrow wins over lesser opponents (69-61 over St. Francis, N.Y., for example), and their two conference losses (to Providence and No. 1 Pittsburgh) were each by more than 20 points.
But it's that one Big East win that has raised the eyebrows of Calhoun and the Huskies: a 71-65 win over No. 7 Notre Dame on Jan. 3 in the Garden.
Calhoun on the Red Storm: "They're a scrappy team, they're in position for postseason play. They're pretty mobile … they're a much better team than they have been … It's a big game. St. John's-UConn games, regardless, have always been fiercely competitive. That's the nature of things. Pretty much, everybody has played against everybody … I thought they played with great energy in the Notre Dame game. Madison Square Garden, I think, helps them. They used to play every game there. Now, it tells them it's a big game."
SJU point guard/floor general Malik Boothe hasn't played the last four games with a left thumb injury, and his status is still day-to-day.
***This marks UConn's third straight road game. In their eight previous stretches of three straight road games, the Huskies have never gone 3-0 – including a pair of 2-1 stretches in Big East play (1997-98 and 2005-06).
"It looks like we're going to stay in the East for a game, at least," Calhoun said,k before realizing the Huskies host Seton Hall and Villanova next week. "Actually, the next three games."
***Calhoun said that Tate George and Cliff Robinson have each called and requested tickets for Sunday's game with Seton Hall at the XL Center. Robinson was also looking for St. John's tix.
***Walker was asked if the reason he hasn't dunked in a game yet stems from the fact that he's be yelled at by Calhoun if, by chance, he missed.
"Yeah, definitely, that's what it is," Walker said with a smile. "It's only two points, though. But I'm going to get one for y'all this season."