Confident Huskies ready to go in NCAA tourney
UConn walked off the KFC Yum! Center floor tonight with five minutes remaining in its allotted practice time.
The Huskies are ready to go.
They appeared confident during today's NCAA tournament press conference. And they should be.
They've played well in recent games and they're enjoying themselves.
"We're probably in a better place," coach Jim Calhoun said. "We'll find that out a little more tomorrow night."
UConn plays Iowa State at approximately 9:20 p.m. Thursday in the first day of South Region action here in Louisville.
"We're all prepared and we're all ready," freshman Andre Drummond said. "We're trying to make some noise in this tournament."
Some news, notes and quotes from today:
-- UConn's three-point field goal percentage defense was a hot topic of conversation, and for good reason. Iowa State is the top 3-pointer shooting team in the Big 12 and UConn ranks 15th in defending the three.
Calhoun pointed out that the Huskies have improved in that area in recent games.
"We have started defending the three in the last three or four games by running people off the three-pointer marker," Calhoun said. "
And he's right.
In the last four games, UConn opponents are shooting 26 percent from beyond the arc.
-- The Huskies talked about the advantage inside with the presence of junior Alex Oriakhi and Drummond.
The Cyclones basically are perimeter-powered team, playing three guards, a point forward in Royce White and 6-6 forward Melvin Ejim.
"They don't have any bigs above 6-9, so me and Alex can go ahead and do our thing," Drummond said. "We're bigger and we're quicker as a collective group."
-- Some media members and fans already looking ahead to a UConn-Kentucky match-up in the next round. The players wanted no part of that discussion.
"You definitely hear it from fans," Oriakhi said. "They definitely want to see the UConn-Kentucky match-up. Coach tells us take it one game at a time. We're just trying to beat Iowa State and then play Saturday."
-- Talking about top-seeded Kentucky, Wildcat fans were out in force for their team's designated practice sessions. Roughly 7,000 people turned out Wednesday afternoon.
One fan of star Anthony Davie held up a size with a marriage proposal. "Anthony D Will U Marry Me? My husband said it's okay."
-- As the Huskies have in past NCAA trips, they held a full workout at another location prior to a light practice at the tournament site. They practiced at Spalding University in Louisville.
-- Drummond is looking for to his NCAA tournament debut.
"I feel good. I think I'm prepared for tomorrow's game."
-- As UConn left the floor tonight, Calhoun's grandson, Sam, took a few shots. Calhoun beamed when eight-year old Sam made a basket.
-- Check out the attached video of Oriakhi.
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