Updates from Storrs, preparing for the red-hot Hoyas

The countdown has reached four.

Four games remain in the regular season for the UConn Huskies.

It’s really too bad.

This is a fun team to watch. They always play hard. And they care about winning and care about the program.

Hopefully, they’ll play before a full house against seventh-ranked Georgetown on Wednesday night at Gampel Pavilion. As of late Tuesday afternoon, only 300 tickets remained.

Before practice Tuesday, they talked about playing the Big East leader. They’re happy the game is at Gampel Pavilion, where they’re undefeated this season.

“I love Gampel,” junior Shabazz Napier said. “If I had a chance to pick our home games, they would all be at Gampel. The crowd is right on you. It can be devastating for the other team.”

Some news, notes and quotes from Wednesday’s practice:

-- Coach Kevin Ollie raved about the Hoyas, who’ve won nine straight.

“They’re doing it on both ends,” Ollie said. “They’re a great team -- long, athletic. We can’t let them get out and get in transition and give them easy buckets. Then we’re going to have to guard them for the whole 35 seconds.”

 -- Georgetown's versatile sophomore forward Otto Porter, Jr., cemented his status as front-runner for Big East player-of-the-year by scoring 33 points in Saturday’s win atSyracuse.

Porter can score from anywhere on the floor. He leads Georgetown in scoring (15.9 points) and rebounding (7.7).

“He’s got the whole game,” Giffey said.

Sophomore DeAndre Daniels may draw the tough defensive assignment.

 -- Napier is on a scoring tear, averaging 27.5 points in the last two games. He’s made 15 of 27 field goals, including 11 of 16 from 3-point land.

“I just want to be a little more aggressive,” Napier said of the reason behind his scoring tear. “It’s coming down the stretch where a lot of guys are kind of tired and restless and I’ve always got fresh legs because I just treat my body so well.

“… All-around, I’m just trying to play good basketball.”

 -- Junior Niels Giffey has been UConn’s best reserve in recent weeks. In the last four games, he’s averaging 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds. He’s also played sound defense.

“I have more confidence in my game,” Giffey said. “I’m a junior now; I have to be more aggressive.”

 -- Battling a sore right wrist, freshman Omar Calhoun has found a way to remain productive. He’s expanded his overall game, becoming a better passer, rebounder and defender.

“He’s passing the ball a little bit more because of the wrist,” Ollie said. “That’s a good thing. He added to his game by default.”

Since jamming his wrist against Villanova, Calhoun has averaged 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in wins over Cincinnati and DePaul. He’s converted 9 of 15 field goals.

“My wrist still hurts me and bothers me a little bit,” Calhoun said. “But I’m still fighting through it.”

 -- UConn (19-7, 9-5) resides in sixth place. But the Huskies aren’t far behind the first-place Hoyas (21-4, 11-3). They basically need to win their remaining games to still have a shot at winning the regular season title.

“We have to try to win as many games as possible,” Napier said. “They’re in first place. It would sit well if we win this game knowing that we can keep moving up in the standing. It’s kind of, I guess, a championship game, in a sense.”

-- According to Ollie, UConn has to rebound and run to win Wednesday’s game. That’s a huge challenge for the Huskies, who’ve struggled in the rebounding department all season.

If they can’t rebound, they can’t run.

UConn is ranked 13th in Big East games in rebound margin. Georgetown is eighth.

 -- Georgetown had one strange loss in the Big East, falling at last place South Florida. It is the Bulls’ only conference win this season. The Hoyas also lost to Pittsburgh and Marquette. Their non-conference loss came against Indiana in overtime.

-- UConn closes out its regular season by visiting Cincinnati Saturday and South Florida Wednesday and then hosting Providence on March 9 in Storrs.

Reader Comments


Post-game breakdown: Memphis

  UConn suffered a crushing 54-53 loss to Memphis Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion, spoiling Senior Night.

Pre-game preview: Memphis

  UConn is finally riding a nice wave of momentum after a bumpy regular season.

Post-game breakdown: SMU

  The Huskies secured a signature victory that they so desperately needed.

Pre-game preview: SMU

  UConn has never beaten Southern Methodist University.

Hamilton announces his retirement

  Former UConn great Richard "Rip" Hamilton announced his retirement today.

Pre-game preview: East Carolina

  The regular season is winding down.  

Post-game breakdown: Tulane

  UConn took a difficult route to victory on Sunday.  So it was a typical win for the Huskies, who held off Tulane, 67-60, at Gampel Pavilion.

Pre-game preview: Tulane

  It's hard to believe the regular season is already winding down.

Boatright, Dunn finalists for Bob Cousy award

  UConn senior Ryan Boatright and Providence sophomore Kris Dunn are two of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award in college basketball.

Post-game breakdown: Memphis

  Freshman Daniel Hamilton is a rising star.  The latest evidence came in UConn's 75-72 loss at Memphis on Thursday night.

Pre-game preview: Memphis

UConn and Memphis meet twice over the final few weeks of the regular season.

Post-game breakdown: Tulsa

 UConn played its most complete game this season on Thursday night. Its near perfect performance couldn’t have come at a better time.

Pre-game preview: Tulsa

UConn begins a make-or-break stretch tonight.The Huskies host Tulsa, the American Athletic Conference leader, at the XL Center.

Calhoun pays tribute to Dean Smith

 UConn released a statement late Sunday from Jim Calhoun on the passing of fellow Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith, the North Carolina legend.

Pre-game preview: Tulane

  Here’s a revealing statistic:  UConn is 7-1 when Rodney Purvis scores in double figures.