Thursday, March 26, 2009

PRE-GAME PRIMER: Scandal-Free Zone

Greetings from courtside at the University of Phoenix Stadium (my big head will be in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen).

Feels a little strange that it's nearly gametime. For one, it's still light out, even though it's nearly 7 p.m. back home. The crowd also seems a little sparse, though that's what happens when you play a regional semifinal basketball game in an 80,000-or-so-seat football stadium. It is busy around here: the Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers have a game tonight right next door, and Billy Joel and Elton John are performing in concert downtown.

Also feels odd because so little seems to have been said about tonight's actual game, in the wake of the recent allegations of UConn recruiting violations. For the next two hours, at least, we promise you a Nochimson-free zone. Unless something breaks in the meantime, of course.

Jerome Dyson is here, dressed to the nines as usual. He flew in yesterday after staying back in Storrs the prior few days to take classes.

Mike Kitts is one of tonight's referees -- another reason to make Jim Calhoun unhappy. Or should I say, Timothy Kitts. That is his actual name, and how it's listed on the pregame lineup sheet. But it's the same Mike Kitts whom Calhoun blasted following that DeJuan Blair-flipping-Hasheem-Thabeet-over-his-shoulder Pitt-UConn game on Feb. 16.

Do the UConn players look loose during pregame warm-ups? Impossible to tell. We'll know if the scandal is a distraction by the way they play tonight. Or maybe we won't. It's entirely possible they'll play a lousy game just because they played lousy. Or vice versa.

We'll soon find out. Enjoy the show.


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