Archive for January, 2011

No. 2 UConn destroys No. 3 Duke

By Colin McDonough, Senior Staff Writer

The student section chanted “overrated,” Gampel Pavilion’s crowd of 10,031 stayed on its feet to give the No. 2 UConn women’s basketball team an ovation after it had built up a 30-point lead over No. 3 Duke. And all of that happened before the buzzer sounded for halftime.

The Huskies began the game on a 21-2 run and the Blue Devils could not overcome a 26-point halftime deficit. Duke was handed its first loss of the season as UConn improved to 21-1 with the 87-51 win.

Maya Moore finished the game with 29 points and outscored the Blue Devils 16-15 by herself in the first half. Tiffany Hayes added 20 points while Kelly Farris pitched in 14. The Huskies’ backbreaking run to bury Duke really ended the game before the first half ended.

“We talked a lot going into the game about how physical they played us last year and how we needed to set the tone right away, those first five minutes of how we wanted the game to go,” said coach Geno Auriemma. “You talk about all those things and whether it happens are a totally different story. I was as surprised as anyone else probably.”

The Blue Devils fell to 20-1 and coach Joanne McCallie was disappointed with her team’s effort and their inability to respond to UConn and a near sellout at Gampel Pavilion.

“It’s just a great place for women’s basketball,” McCallie said. “I didn’t think it was exceptionally loud this way. There’s no doubt about the run, some great shooting from UConn but I thought Connecticut came out punching and we just took a step back.”

Women’s Basketball runs Duke out of Gampel…. at halftime

Andrew Callahan, Staff Writer

Historically, when the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams get together in any sport, you’ll find exactly what you’d expect. Back and forth game, blows traded by each squad and generally a close finish. Just twenty minutes through No. 2 UConn’s battle with No. 3 Duke, this game will surely go down in history– just for all the wrong reasons.

With a national television crowd watching, the Huskies opened the first five minutes on a punishing 13-0 run and did not let up until the buzzer sounded. At the commencement of a merciful halftime for the visiting Blue Devils, the scoreboard read 41-15 in favor of the Huskies. Backdoor cuts, long-range three pointers and UConn defensive stops highlighted the first half for the home team while Duke simply imploded. Nothing has been going their way and things aren’t looking up after a turnover to start the second half.

Maya Moore leads all scorers  (and Duke) with sixteen points as Kelly Faris trails behind her with eleven. Following a five-game slump in which she’s failed really to do anything, it’s been a very encouraging performance for the sophomore. A comfortable plus-10 edge in rebounding has been propelled by freshman center Stephanie Dolson while senior Jasmine Thomas leads the Blue Devils with a measly three points.

Coming to terms with the Louisville loss

By Matt McDonough, Associate Sports Editor

Kemba Walker said it himself.

“He slipped and I was open,” Walker said. “It just missed… It looked good but it didn’t go in so it didn’t matter.”

The UConn men’s basketball team, due to missed free throws, lack of interior and perimeter defense, shooting woes or a lack of killer instinct, blew a nine-point second half lead and lost to Louisville 79-78 in double overtime Saturday at Gampel Pavilion. Whatever the reason you want to use, the Huskies lost their first home game of the year and dropped to 5-3 in Big East play.

Walker’s final shot attempt from what seemed like the banks of the Connecticut River, was one of multiple long 3-point attempts. The shot at the end of the second overtime, like the two prior shots UConn took at the end of regulation and first OT period, was off the mark. Walker had a good look and the shot rimmed out. Like Walker said, it doesn’t matter how close it was. Like all sports, basketball is a game of inches and the Huskies gave the Cardinals too many inches, squandered too many opportunities to win on the last shot and let Louisville drive to the basket at will. UConn never should have lost this game.

Did the Huskies know that just a couple weeks ago the Cardinals came back from 18 points with six minutes left? A nine-point lead over Louisville is nothing.

Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb and Roscoe Smith all played well. Napier owned up and took the blame for his missed free throws that could have forced Louisville to tie the score with a 3-pointer rather than a wide-open dunk by a guard in crunchtime. Walker, who finished with 20 points, struggled again, shooting 7-for-23 and 2-for-10 from 3-point range. Had Walker’s desperation last-second shot gone in, it may have been the best buzzer beater of the decade, and the clutch 3-pointer would’ve immediately swung the Player of the Year award from Jimmer Fredette in Utah back to Walker in Connecticut.

Alex Oriakhi only had six points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes as two Cardinal post players sat out with injuries.

Between now and Wednesday, there will need to be a different mindset in the locker room. Unlike last year, one loss can’t turn into three in a row. The Huskies have a great opportunity, with what seemed like everyone in the league losing this weekend, to have a high seed in the Big East tournament.

Fans can’t dwell on the loss either. It’s time to move on and turn the page as No. 10 Syracuse comes to Hartford Wednesday after losing three in a row. The Orange don’t do losing streaks. The XL Center crowd will have to be live. There were positives and negatives from Saturday’s shocker in Storrs, but it’s not worth savoring anything in a losing effort.

Coach Jim Calhoun said he didn’t like what his team showed from the opening tip-off on. Maybe a noon game on a Saturday was too early for a college crowd and a college team. The whole arena seemed sleepy, and at times UConn’s play reflected the atmosphere. But like the Huskies, the crowd eventually woke up and turned into what Calhoun called a great atmosphere.

Unfortunately the No. 23 Fightin’ Rick Pitino’s bettered No. 5 UConn. The Huskies didn’t seem interested in locking up the game– for whatever reason.

Fans shouldn’t let this loss ruin the start of their week. After all, perhaps the reason UConn couldn’t finish off the Cards is because they were doing what students and CT natives should do after this loss: look ahead.

UConn athletes remember Jasper Howard on his birthday

By Mac Cerullo, Sports Editor

Jasper Howard’s life was tragically cut short on Oct. 18, 2009, but even over a year later, Howard’s name still resonates powerfully throughout the UConn community. For those that knew him, today is an especially powerful day, as today would have been Howard’s 22nd birthday.

So today, UConn athletes from all over took to Twitter to remember Jazz on his big day.

If you come across any other Jazz tweets, retweet them at @DCSportsOnline so we can assemble a whole collection.

UConn vs. Louisville: Preview Interviews

Alex Oriakhi on tomorrow’s game against Louisville.

Jim Calhoun.

UConn baseball tabbed at No. 9 in preseason poll

By Mac Cerullo, Sports Editor

UConn baseball turned heads last year, winning a program record 22-straight games en route to the team’s best season since 1979. The team is returning a lot of talent from last year’s squad too, enough that many of the experts are predicting an even better season this year.

The fact is certainly reflected in the preseason rankings anyway. Baseball America released their preseason poll yesterday afternoon, and they have UConn tabbed at No. 9 in the country. It was the first time the school has ever been ranked in the Baseball America preseason poll, and the first Top-10 preseason ranking the school’s ever achieved in any national preseason poll.

The Baseball America poll dates back to 1981. This year’s rankings tab Florida as the No. 1 team in the nation, and features two Big East teams in the Top-25 (UConn at No. 9 and St. John’s at No. 23.) Here is the complete poll.

1.    Florida
2.    UCLA
3.    Texas Christian
4.    Vanderbilt
5.    Oklahoma
6.    Texas
7.    South Carolina
8.    Cal State Fullerton
9.    Connecticut
10.    Clemson
11.    Arizona State
12.    Florida State
13.    Stanford
14.    Oregon
15.    Virginia
16.    Baylor
17.    California
18.    Rice
19.    Arizona
20.    College of Charleston
21.    Texas A&M
22.    Louisiana State
23.    St. John’s
24.    Miami
25.    Tulane

No. 2 Huskies defeat rival Rutgers

By Colin McDonough, Senior Staff Writer

Maya Moore and Stefanie Dolson fight for a loose ball. - AP

Coach Geno Auriemma said last Saturday he wanted more out of Tiffany Hayes. Tonight, he got just that.

Hayes led all scorers with 18 points and Maya Moore added 17 of her own to lead the UConn women’s basketball team to a 63-44 win at Rutgers.

A 13-0 run by the Huskies at the start of the second half propelled them to the victory of the Scarlet Knights and improved their record to 19-1 and 8-0 in the Big East. UConn also handed Rutgers its first conference loss of the season. April Sykes led the Scarlet Knights with 20 points.

The Huskies have now started a nice, little winning streak after their record-breaking 90-game win streak that concluded Dec. 30 at Stanford. UConn has won seven in a row after the Cardinal snapped its streak. The Huskies next game is Saturday afternoon at Cincinnati.

Robert Burton asks school to remove name from building, return $3 million

By Mac Cerullo, Sports Editor

Robert Burton in 1997 - AP

Another major bombshell has hit the UConn athletic department, and this one could be the most damaging at all. Robert Burton, the football program’s No. 1 donor and the namesake attached to the Burton Family Football Complex, has demanded that the school return $3 million and remove his name from the building. He plans to sever all ties to the University, according to the letter he wrote to athletic director Jeff Hathaway that was released today by the school.

The six-page letter can be read in it’s entirety here.

The reason for Burton’s anger stems from Hathaway’s failing to consult him during the coaching search, and his apparent dissatisfaction with the hiring of Paul Pasqualoni.

“You hired a coach that only knows CT coaches and players,” Burton said. “CT players alone will not put UConn’s program where we want it to be.”

Burton also said he was extremely dissatisfied with the way the coaching search was conducted, and that Hathaway never consulted his opinion during the course of the search. Burton referenced his son’s experience with Pasqualoni as a particular reason his input would have been useful, and that he felt that Hathaway’s failing to return his calls was a sign of disrespect and a “slap in the face.”

And the letter got uglier from there. Here are some of the lowlights.

“I believe that you are not qualified to be a Division I AD and I would have fired you a long time ago. You do not have the skills to manage and cultivate new donors or the ability to work with coaches.”

The primary reason Randy took another job was because he could not work with you. I assume it will not take your new president long to find out that you also have problems in your working relationships with the basketball coaches and other UConn managers. Randy even met with a senior board member to complain about his working relationship with you. I cannot count how many times Randy came down to my office to ask for funding on projects that you were not able to get done.

Don’t underestimate me or what I have outlined and requested in this document. I have already secured legal counsel from several law firms. If you are looking for a fight, then you have selected the right family. You have hurt and embarrassed the Burton family for the last time.

This situation underscores a situation that often goes unnoticed by the UConn student body, but has been simmering beneath the surface for some time now, and that is the fact that UConn’s donors aren’t happy.

Mike DiMauro of The Day of New London, who broke this story, wrote an excellent piece a few weeks ago that touched on this issue. Despite the rousing success of UConn athletics and the rise of the football program to national significance, the school’s donor list has shrunk in the past five years.

The downward trend started after the departure of Paul Pendergast in 2006. Pendergast was the senior associate AD for development, and his job was to work with boosters and get donations to help keep the athletic department afloat.

But as DiMauro writes, his position was never filled after he left. Since then, donors have dwindled, and now the program is about to lose the biggest donor of all.

Maybe that’s something Hathaway should address. I mean, it’s practical business sense that if you’re not good at something, hire someone who is to do it for you.

UConn Oddity of the Day: Caroline Doty releases trick shot video

By Mac Cerullo, Sports Editor

This isn’t really an oddity so much as it is awesome. Regardless, Caroline Doty may be sidelined for the year, but she has clearly been making the most of her downtime. Check out this impressive video of Caroline Doty’s trick shots, it was sent to me by Kyle Campbell, best known in as the Pink Hat Kid at men’s basketball games, who edited the video along with Greg Mihailides, who produced it. They did a great job with it, and naturally props to Caroline for pulling all of these shots off, along with coach Geno Auriemma, who hits one of his own as well.

UConn beats Pitt 66-46

By Colin McDonough, Senior Staff Writer

Maya Moore scored 28 points to lead the way for the No. 2 UConn women’s basketball team as they defeated Pittsburgh 66-46 at Gampel Pavilion. Moore scored 20 points in the first half and the Huskies’ starters put away the pesky Panthers in front of a near-sellout crowd in Storrs.

“I was really proud of the way we pulled it out,” Moore said. “We kept fighting and the coaching staff said it in the locker room, it’s ok to struggle.”

Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson also scored in double figures with 13 and 12, respectively. But UConn did not get any help from the bench, scoring zero bench points. Lorin Dixon and Heather Buck were the only reserves to take field goals but missed both.

“There wasn’t a great flow to the game,” said coach Geno Auriemma. “Except when Lorin Dixon was in the game there didn’t seem to be a lot of good stuff happening, it was all forced.”

UConn’s defense stifled Pittsburgh and only allowed two Panthers to score in double figures. Chelsea Cole and Taneisha Harrison scored 10 and 16, respectively but Pitt also had trouble scoring bench points with only one. But an amazing stat was free throw differential. UConn shot 20 foul shots while Pitt only had four chances from the line.

“It’s amazing to me, it’s amazing to me,” said coach Agnus Berenato. “It was a pretty fun game for everyone to watch and I guess they didn’t want to stop the clock.”

The Huskies next game is Wednesday at Rutgers.


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UConn Men’s Basketball

West Region - No. 3 Seed, 30-9 (9-9)

Last Game: 65-63 W vs. (5) Arizona (March 26)

Next Game: vs. (4) Kentucky (April 2, 8:49 p.m., Reliant Stadium, Houston.)

1 - Enosch Wolf
2 - Donnell Beverly
3 - Jeremy Lamb
4 - Jamal Coombs-McDaniel
5 - Niels Giffey
10 - Tyler Olander
13 - Shabazz Napier
15 - Kemba Walker
21 - Kyle Bailey
22 - Roscoe Smith
23 - Benjamin Stewart
25 - Michael Bradley
34 - Alex Oriakhi
35 - Charles Okwandu

UConn Women’s Basketball

Philadelphia Region No. 1 Seed, 36-1 (16-0)

Last Game: 75-40 W vs. (2) Duke (March 29)

Next Game: vs. (2) Notre Dame (April 3, 9 p.m., Canseco Field House, Indianapolis, Ind.)

3 - Tiffany Hayes
5 - Caroline Doty
12 - Lauren Engeln
14 - Bria Hartley
23 - Maya Moore
25 - Michala Johnson
30 - Lorin Dixon
31 - Stefanie Dolson
32 - Heather Buck
34 - Kelly Faris

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