Taking Digs at Digger
After UConn's 69-61 win over Michigan, Jim Calhoun concluded his postgame presser with this good-natured (and totally unprovoked) rant:
"The last thing I heard last night on TV, they had an analyst, I think his name was Digger Phelps, who I think coached at one time at Notre Dame. I don't know how long his tenure was there, but … someone asked him the simple question, 'Does UConn deserve to be No. 1?' I don't know if that is true, but we are 22-1 and we have done a couple of things. I had to say that, for no particular reason … but I feel so good now, because it (peeved) me off so much. He was begging for Wake Forest to be No. 1. I just couldn't understand. Our body of work is OK. I think we've played 12 games outside the league, and I think we've won 12. Gonzaga, Miami could have won today at Duke … There probably are eight or nine teams that could be No. 1. I just think you've got to let the games play out, before you make a determination. When you come off a Louisville game – and Louisville could go to the Final Four, no question – and say, 'No, they don't deserve to be No. 1.' And now we've just won our 11th in a row, you'd have to hink, somewhere along the line, we're deserving of at least a Top 10 ranking."
Calhoun also teased Phelps following the Huskies' win at Notre Dame a couple of weeks ago. We're pretty sure there's no real feud going on here … but we're just as positive that Calhoun was not pleased with what he heard from Phelps last night.
Gotta love it.
Anyway, as for tonight's game …
***The most inconsequential rebound of Saturday night's game wound up being a very consequential milestone for Adrien.
With 3.4 seconds left to play and UConn's victory well in-hand, Adrien hauled in a rebound of a missed Wolverine shot. It was Adrien's 14th rebound of the game and, more significantly, the 1,000th board of his career.
Adrien, who also has 1,436 career points, became just the fifth player in UConn history to notch at least 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in his career.
"I definitely didn't come in here making that as a goal," said Adrien, a senior, "but coming in this year, I knew it could be one, and I definitely did try to make it as a goal."
He also joins Emeka Okafor as just the second member of UConn's 1,000-1,000 club in Calhoun's 23 years at the helm.
"It's an honor, it's great to be mentioned with a name like Emeka Okafor," said Adrien. "To achieve something like that, shows a lot of hard work that I've put in, day-in, day-out."
The other members of UConn's 1,000-1,000 club: Corny Thompson, Toby Kimball and Art Quimby.
Said Michigan coach John Beilein: "He's on a mission to get the ball. He was when I was at West Virginia and he was a freshman, and we couldn't stop him then. Now, he's dieseled up even more."
***Jerome Dyson scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the latter half, but it didn't come without some pain. With 5:19 to play, Dyson drew a charge. While Dyson was sprawled out on the ground, however, Hasheem Thabeet – all 7-foot-3, 263 pounds of him – stepped squarely on Dyson's chest.
"It was painful, to say the least," Dyson reported. "I felt like I was going to die there on the floor. I couldn't breathe for a couple of seconds there."
Dyson lay motionless for a while before leaving the floor under his own power. He returned a few minutes later and scored four more points down the stretch.
"He's a tough guy," said Thabeet. "When I landed on him, it didn't feel good at all, too. He looked like he died and then came back to life. He said, 'You almost killed me.' That's all he said."
***During a break early in the first half, p.a. announcer John Tuite introduced some former Husky stars in the house: Cliff Robinson, Chris Smith, Lyman DePriest, Murray Williams and Norman Bailey. Only problem: Ray Allen and Donny Marshall were sitting two rows behind the bench, in plain view of everyone. The student section had even broken into a "Ray Allen!" chant a few minutes earlier.
That chant went up again, and a few timeouts later, Tuite introduced Allen and Marshall, as well.
***Ater Majok said an MRI on his left knee revealed a "joint problem," but that it doesn't appear to be serious and he should be back practicing soon. Majok said the knee has some swelling, a result of slipping on ice while walking on campus recently. A Sudanese native who has lived in Australia for the past several years, Majok had never seen snow before coming to the United States.
*** Nate Miles, the short-time UConn player who was expelled from the university in October, made his collegiate debut for the College of Southern Idaho Friday night. Miles scored 24 points, hitting three 3-pointers, in CSI's 118-112 overtime win over College of Eastern Utah. CSI is a junior college program that competes in the Scenic West Athletic Conference.
***The UConn Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be sponsoring a book drive at Wednesday's game against Syracuse at Gampel. All patrons are invited to bring "gently used" children's books from their collection.
The books will be donated to the Burgdorf Health Center in Hartford. There will also be a book drive at the UConn women's game on Sunday, Feb. 15 against Pittsburgh, also at Gampel.
***Calhoun believes that facing a team like Michigan, which switched back and forth from both a 2-3 and 1-3-1 zone and man-to-man defense and employed a patient, Big 10-style offense, will help the Huskies down the road.
"We're going to see somebody, somewhere – Big East play, NCAA (tournament) play – that's going to do the exact same kind of thing, and we'll at least have been through something like this. It was a terrific win for us."