Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kids and the Hall

Notes & quotes from UConn's rather routine, 76-61 win over Seton Hall today in Hartford:

When Jim Calhoun's and Bobby Gonzalez's teams play each other, one thing is usually certain: the postgame press conferences promise to be pretty entertaining.

Today was no different, as Calhoun veered off on a number of different topics. Gonzalez was fairly subdued (for him), but I talked to him afterwards about the incident at Providence Saturday night, when Jeff Xavier's brother, Jonathan, walked onto the court in the middle of the PC-Marquette game at the Dunkin' Donuts Center and yelled at an official for not calling a foul on a play on which Jeff suffered what appeared to be a pretty bad injury to his eye.

First, an absolute classic quote from Calhoun on the incident: "They even had a visitor in that game, and he called a timeout. I don't know if the timeout was legal or not. I love Providence and it's got a great atmosphere … his girlfriend went around the bench, he went through the bench, and then he called a timeout. He's got poise and composure, I like seeing that in a player. If you asked me, though, what building (would that have happened in)? Easy one, easy one."

Gonzalez recruited Xavier out of St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, R.I., and coached him for one season at Manhattan before taking the job at Seton Hall.

"It looked like Jeff drove in there, and the player from Marquette wasn't trying to do anything malicious or vicious," Gonzalez said. "It looked like he just went up to block the shot, and I don't know if he just caught him wrong with his elbow or whatever. Certainly I felt bad, because it looked like Jeff took a hell of a shot."

"I do know his brother, but I couldn't tell on TV last night when I saw the replay. It was definitely a surprise that happened. I would think that's a matter I would leave up to the conference."

Gonzalez also was an assistant coach for four seasons at PC.

"I certainly loved my time up there. I'm not going to say anything negative, but I do know that they get a crazy crowd up there sometimes."

Calhoun and Gonzo also met briefly in between their turns at the podium. Overheard was the following:

Gonzo: "How about Coach Kzryzewski, saying his league is better than ours."

Calhoun: "Tell him to come to our (league)."

***UConn shot nearly as well from 3-point territory (6-for-14, 43 percent) as it did from the foul line (8-for-18, 44 percent). Jeff Adrien (3-for-8) and Hasheem Thabeet (3-for-7) were the two biggest culprits.

Calhoun: "I'd like to apologize for our foul shooting coach, George Blaney. He sends his personal condolences to all UConn fans for doing such a poor job this week. I said, 'This week, I want you to grab a hold of Hasheem and Jeff and do a better job with them.' I guess you can see the results, I'm not going to make a public comment about it."

Umm, too late, Coach.

"We're going to have to improve on that," Calhoun added. "If we go 8-for-18 and, say, we're at Notre Dame or something and we come out of there with a 'W' doing that … I don't think so."

***Jarrid Famous, a highly-touted 6-foot-11, 235-pound power forward/center out of Westchester Junior College in New York was at the game on an unofficial visit.

***There were really only three stars in this game for the Huskies: A.J. Price (23 points, five assists), Thabeet (15 points, 17 rebounds) and Adrien (13 points, 12 boards).

UConn has now had a different leading scorer in its last nine games.

"The game where we get everybody rolling on the same page is going to be a very scary day for our opponent," said Price. "I really do believe that, because right now it just seems to be somebody else every night."

It could have been an even better game for Thabeet, according to Calhoun.

"If he had made some foul shots … he obviously had a terrific game, but he could have easily had a 22, 23-point game. Early, he got engaged with a lot of their guys, physically. I think it took a little bit out of him. He started the game that way. The first play of the game was for him, he kind of walked to his position after getting a real good screen from Jerome. That's when I took him out. I said to him, 'If you don't want the ball, you'll do a lot more here than you'll do on the floor.' We put Gavin in for a couple of minutes, then realized the middle would be open, so we put Hasheem back in."

For Adrien, it was his 40th career double-double, tops among all active Big East players. Notre Dame's Luke Harangody is next, with 37.

"I'm definitely proud," Adrien said. "I'm going to try to continue to increase it. I don't want Harangody to catch me, at least as long as I'm playing. It's a good feeling, it's cool."

***Calhoun said that Jerome Dyson's knee is "banged up pretty good," and that Dyson may get practice off tomorrow. As for why Stanley Robinson was nearly invisible once again and played just 10 minutes (two in the latter half), Calhoun said he wanted to go with a three-guard look for most of the game against the smaller Pirates.

***Gonzo was impressed by the play of Adrien and Thabeet.

"To me, they're like an NBA four and five," Gonzalez said. "I just don't see too many teams in the league that have two special guys like that. They're a problem, especially with A.J. Price and Dyson. They make 3's, so you've got to kind of pick your poison with him."

***One of Price's three 3-pointers was banked in, similar to a bank job Kemba Walker had Thursday night against St. John's.

"It's a New York thing," said Adrien.

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