Author Archives: Dom Amore

Kevin Ollie: ‘I’m Not Chasing Championships, I Want Championships To Chase Me’ … Notes, Quotes, Thoughts From Jerry’s World

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ARLINGTON, Texas – The Huskies were out on the floor for an hour, and met the reporters and, once again, the talking is done now. All that’s left is the game.

It’s going to be a uphill struggle for UConn, no two ways about that. Can they win? Of course, they’ve beaten Florida once before.

The psychology of this rematch tilts a little to UConn, IMO, for one very simple reason: they are still the underdogs. Florida may have lost in Storrs four months ago, but they are No. 1, they have the 30-game winning streak. The pressure would be on them, not UConn. And the vibes around the Huskies are still very good.

JIm Calhoun broke down the two semifinal games for me; you can find that here.

Here is some Kevin Ollie at the podium, as transcribed by the folks at ASAP Sports. He starts with a new Ollie-ism:

“We look at it as you can be a pro or you can be a professional.  A pro just does it in convenient times.  A professional does it in inconvenient times and convenient times.  You do it over and over again, and it becomes habit. That’s what I try to put on my team each and every day, to get better at something.  If we can do that, we’ll get better and we’ll win games and we’ll win together.  I learned that from George Karl.  I learned that from Larry Brown, of course Larry Brown, because he’s a perfectionist.  He wants you to do certain things the right way, and especially the things you can control, which is your attitude and the way you show up each and every day.  I learned that from him because without him I wouldn’t be here.
Just the toughness that you got to show each and every day.  Hopefully it feeds over into my coaching staff.”

“Having this ability to coach this program has been great.  I don’t look at it like a lot of people look at it, that I’m replacing Coach Calhoun.  Coach Calhoun is still beside me.  Continue reading

Checking In From The Final Four …

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ARLINGTON, Texas – Hello from Jerry’s World.

We’ve had technical problems on our blogs that took a day or so to sort out, but we’re up and running now, There will be content appearing here as well as on our main website throughout the day. Lots of stuff from Paul Doyle, Jeff Jacobs, John Altavilla and myself up there now.

Today begins with the presentation of teh Oscar Robertson Trophy. Doug McDermott is probably the favorite, but Shabazz Napier is a finalist.

UConn players and coaches will be available between 12:15 and 12:50 Eastern Time, and the Huskies’ open practice will follow that. So follow @AmoreCourant and @PaulDoyle on Twitter, and check back on our site for details throughout the day.

 

 

Next Stop, Arlington: Notes, Quotes and Thoughts From Gampel

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STORRS – Exciting day at Gampel. The Huskies practiced, met with reporters, hit the chow line and then boarded the bus to the airport to get to the Final Four. There won’t be much time for fun down there, Ollie said, maybe a team dinner at a nice restaurant on Wednesday. But this, he said, is “a business trip.”

… Here are some notes, quotes, thoughts. First, Kevin Ollie:

“You see how hard the [UConn] women play every night, and it’s great to see their effort. I wish them the best of luck. We’re going down to Dallas, hopefully both of us can prevail.

You just take it one step at a time. When I got this job, this was one of my goals, we want to improve each and every day, if the Final Four happens it happens, but we want to get better every day. I think we did that, I think we’re playing our best ball now. That means guys are really accepting coaching, they’re staying together and they’re playing hard. When  you do those things you reap the benefits.

“[Going to Dallas?] It’s great. Most of my family is down there. My mother is from there. I was born in Oak Cliff. My mother and father got divorced when I was five but my dad stayed down there and I always came back every summer. I’m very fond of Dallas, got some great friends down there. Got a lot of ticket requests. I’m going to be going into my wallet.

[Having players with Final Four experience is] tremendously valuable. They know what it takes, they know what the feeling is. I don’t think they’ll be overwhelmed with the crowd and they’ll be helping our young guys understand what it takes, they won’t get distracted.”

 

“Last year really made [the statement], yeah, this year we’re here. But if we’d have got dejected last year, it would have hurt us and we wouldn’t have been ready for this year, and this flood of flavor that’s coming our way.

Last year was remarkable, not only on basketball court, but academically. We were still Continue reading

Donny Marshall, Swin Cash To Call UConn-Florida On truTV

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As we learned last week, Turner is planning something new for the Final Four. There will be three separate telecasts available for the UConn-Florida game, the regular national package, plus  “team-specific” programs tailored for each audience.

So if you’re not into the traditional national telecast, you can hear the game with a local slant, with Eric Frede, who did UConn women’s games for SNY, on the play by play, and former Huskies Donny Marshall and Swin Cash. Here’s an explanation from Turner Sports:

                                                                                    *****

“Saturday’s Final Four National Semifinals will feature Florida against Connecticut with tip-off scheduled for 6:09 p.m.  Wisconsin versus Kentucky will begin 40 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.  Jim Nantz will call the action with analysts Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr, along with reporter Tracy Wolfson.

Nantz will call his 24th Final Four and National Championship, with Kerr joining Nantz for a fourth consecutive year and Anthony providing analysis alongside them for the first time this year.

 

Ernie Johnson will host studio coverage from the Final Four and National Championship with analysts Charles Barkley, Clark Kellogg and Kenny Smith – joined by Greg Gumbel and analysts Reggie Miller, Seth Davis, Grant Hill, Doug Gottlieb and college coaches.

 

In additional to the traditional Final Four National Semifinal game telecast airing on TBS, “teamcasts” or team-specific presentations tailored to the individual teams competing in both games will air simultaneously on TNT and truTV.  The innovative “teamcast” concept – under the banner “Your Team, Your Way” – will present the game with unprecedented local flavor, including comprehensive team and player storylines, custom music, graphics and show packaging, additional cameras and team-specific replays, custom halftimes with school features and more.

 The Florida team cast on TNT: David Steele, who has previously hosted University of Florida basketball and football television and radio coverage and is the current voice of the Orlando Magic, will provide play-by-play for the TNT telecast.  Analyst Mark Wise, a 14-year veteran analyst for the Gator Basketball Network, and reporter James Bates, a former member of the Florida football team who played on four consecutive SEC title teams and a national championship team in 1996, will join Steele.

 The UConn teamcast on truTV: Eric Frede, a Connecticut native who covered the UConn men’s program this year as a studio host for CSN New England, will call the action on truTV.  Frede is also the current play-by-play commentator for SNY’s coverage of the UConn women’s basketball program.  Joining him courtside will be UConn standout Donny Marshall, a member of UConn Men’s Basketball All-Century Team who led the Huskies to the Elite Eight in 1995 while averaging 22.3 points per game. Marshall currently provides analysis for YES Network on the Brooklyn Nets.  Additionally, UConn legend Swin Cash – a two-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time WNBA champion and two time NCAA champion at Connecticut – will be the courtside reporter.”

Caron Butler To Huskies: ‘U-Conn Do It’

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Got an email from a PR firm representing former Husky Caron Butler, who played on the 2002 Elite Eight team and scored 32 points in a loss to Maryland. Butler, who  has had a long NBA career, is with the Thunder now for their playoff push.

Like the many former UConn players who were at the Garden on Sunday, he was thrilled by what his alma mater has done. The Thunder beat Utah on Sunday night, after UConn’s victory over Michigan State.

Here are Caron’s best wishes:

 “I’m so incredibly proud of the guys in that locker room. They’ve embraced the underdog role and have made a great legacy for themselves at the university.”

 “I had a wonderful NCAA Tournament experience and I hope those guys are just appreciating every moment.

“I love Kevin [Ollie] and I always thought he would make a great coach. He’s the perfect person to be representing our university on this big stage.”

“Florida is a tough team, those guys will have to prepare well for all that they do. It’s an uphill battle but like I’ve been saying, ‘just when you think you can’t, UConn.”

Huskies-Gators II: Billy Donovan on UConn, Kevin Ollie, Shabazz Napier

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Florida coach Billy Donovan was available to reporters via conference call today. He talked about the Scottie Wilbekin-Shabazz Napier matchup, about Kevin Ollie and, of course, about the Gators loss at UConn on Dec. 2. Here are some of his thoughts:

“Well, [Shabazz] Napier is a great player.  I obviously have an enormous amount of respect for him.  Being a Big East guy, I’ve always followed Big East teams.  I know they were in the American this year, but Napier obviously played in a national championship game, been a national championship winner.  He is a really, really gifted offensive player and I think a gifted leader, as well. 
 

I’ve always believed that Scottie Wilbekin is a great defender and Napier is a great offensive player.  I always believe that great offense beats great defense.  So this is not necessarily going to be a situation where Scottie is going to be playing Napier by himself.  We’ve been a team, a defensive team, and we’ve got to try to do as good of a job as we can collectively helping Scottie in whatever situation he may be in during the game. 
 

“… As it relates to the Final Four, getting a chance to be a part of some of those things, I don’t know if there’s an advantage or not in being there.  I think the one thing for all teams, I’m sure Napier could really help his team being somebody that’s gone through it as a player, but the event of the Final Four is almost like the Super Bowl.  The players just need to understand what they’re walking into. 
 

But when the ball gets thrown up at 5 O’clock on Saturday, both teams are going to go out there and play.  We’ve got to do as good of a job as we can preparing for UConn and getting ready to play them this week.

“[The game at Gampel] was a great game.  It was a great environment.  I think it was a Continue reading

UConn In Final Four: Window Shopping The Secondary Ticket Market

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Getting a lot of emails and info about tickets for the Final Four. I’ll try to round up that information in more digestible form here.

Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket marketplace, reports that tickets for the championship game on April 7 were going for $850, a 10 percent increase over last year. Tickets for the Saturday doubleheader are down 8 percent, at $600.

The minimum prices are $223 for Saturday and $323 for Monday. Of course, with the size of AT&T Stadium, you might “get in the door” and still be in the next county.

Will Flaherty of SeatGeek.com says it could be the most expensive Final Four ticket since 2011, when UConn was last involved. Here are some facts and figures from seatgeek, which can be accessed here.

  • The average resale price for a ticket to Saturday’s National Semifinals session on Saturday is $633, while the average resale price for a full-session strip to this year’s Final Four is $1,185. If you’re looking just for tickets to Monday’s National Title game, those are currently averaging $627 on secondary markets.
  • Based on prices seen the Monday prior to the Final Four, this year’s event is on pace to be the most expensive of any Final Four we’ve seen in the past four years. Through today, the average price paid for a 2014 Final Four all-session strip is $1,185 – outpacing the average prices seen up thru the Monday before the Final Four in 2013 ($938), 2012 ($485) and 2011 ($681).
  • However, despite a lofty average price, the sheer size of AT&T Stadium means that there are a number of affordable ticket options for fans as well. With over 10,000 full-session tickets currently listed on secondary markets, there are a number of upper-deck options available under $300, with the cheapest full-session ticket currently available at $271 for a seat in Section 421. Championship tickets are already available for as little as $140With over 80,000 seats for fans in the building, it is likely that this year’s Final Four sets a new attendance record for the event — and as a result, get-in prices for upper deck seats may reach some of the lowest lows we’ve seen for a Final Four in the past few years.
  • For fans still interested in buying tickets, we’d strongly recommend waiting a few days to buy your tickets. Each of the past two years, the average price paid for a full-session strip has fallen by 13 percent from the Monday preceding the start of the Final Four to the Friday preceding the event. If you’re shopping for just National Semifinals tickets, that price drop from Monday to Friday usually is in the 20-25 percent range. And if you’re looking to buy just National Championship tickets, we strongly recommend waiting until after the National Semifinals have been played to buy your tickets. Prices for that game routinely fall in 20-25 percent once two teams have been knocked out from the field (as their fans generally seek to dump Championship tickets purchased in full-session strips onto the market after a loss).
  • Since Saturday, 22 percent of traffic to our Final Four event pages has come from within the host state of Texas. Florida residents have been the second-most active Final Four ticket shoppers, accounting for 9.5 percenf traffic, slightly outpacing shoppers from Wisconsin (8.36) and Kentucky (8.33). Connecticut ranks 7th out of all states with 3.6 percent of shopping traffic.

Now, from TiqIq.com’s Chris Matcovich, some initial ticket info from the hours after UConn’s win over Michigan State. You can access that site here.

  • The current average price for the Final Four all sessions strip is $1,367.55 (Up 29.08 percent since Friday night- $1,059.49) with a get in of $391.  Below is the average and get in price for previous Final Four all session tickets:
    • 2011-(Kentucky, UCONN, VCU, Butler):$856.14 ($213)
    • 2012-(Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas):$822.53 ($201)
    • 2013-(Louisville, Wichita State, Michigan, Syracuse): $895.69 ($331)
  • The average price for a ticket to the Final Four is currently is $764.93 (Up 24.37% since Friday night- $615.07)  with a get in price of $206.  Below is the average and get in price for previous Final Four tickets:
    • 2011: $595.41 ($161)
    • 2012: $722.74 ($185)
    • 2013: $887.90 ($309)
  • The highest priced ticket currently listed for the Final Four is in Lower Prime 111 listed for $7,900-plus. There are also suites listed for up to $31,900+
  • The current average price for the National Championship game is $614.32 (Up 7.52% since Friday night- $571.35) with a get in of $118:  Below is the average price and get in for the past 3 National Championship games:
    • 2011- (UCONN v Butler): $316.75 ($60)
    • 2012- (Kentucky v Kansas): $362.60 ($65)
    • 2013- (Louisville v Michigan): $486.16 ($91)

*****

On StubHub, which you can access here, I’m seeing about 1,500 full session tickets starting at $683, and 1,000 for Saturday only, starting at $457, and a couple of thousand for Monday only, starting at $257.

 

UConn 60, Michigan State 54: Wrapping Things Up At The Garden

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, DeAndre Daniels, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, NCAA, Rip Hamilton, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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NEW YORK – What a day, what a weekend, what month.

What a ride.

I asked UConn fans via twitter if they would rather be in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Final Four. Most who answered didn’t get it, but a few did.

The point being, quite frankly, the UConn brand endures. Kevin Ollie has been promising that, and his promises have a way of being kept. The Huskies will raise a banner of some kind when they come back to Gampel, as he promised. They are back in the Final Four, waving their “Amercian” flag, as Ollie said.

Conference affiliation matters, it matters in recruiting, it matters in money. But getting t the Final Four and winning it is about who you are. The Huskies had what it took, even if the AAC didn’t impress the selection committee.

It was joyous, the nets coming down, the celebration on the floor. The crowd was phenomenal. Players were wearing bits of the nets they cut down tied to their hats as reporters entered the locker room. The former Huskies were sharing in it.

Unforgettable day.

Here’s some Kevin Ollie at the podium:

   “It was just a great game plan.  Our players, our student?athletes executed the game plan perfectly.  My coaching staff came up with a great design out there and the defense was amazing.  It was great to get off to a great start, and we wanted to fight.  We wanted to throw the first punch and I think we did that.  At the end of the first half we had a lull, and then in the second half we turned it on.

                “It started with ball pressure with Ryan Boatright picking up, then everybody denying Harris, because Harris got off on us the second half.  And we started having our attention there.  Shabazz did a great job, and then our bigs did an exceptional job.  Phil Nolan came in and give us huge minutes.  DeAndre was on the string and then didn’t let Dawson go off any.

                “It was just an amazing feeling to do it in Madison Square Garden, and for the NCAA not to be here for 50 years and then we come out and we win it, it just puts a great bow on this gift.  And we’re going to unwrap it again and we’re going down to Texas.

“We’re going to see where it takes us.  We play a great Florida team and we’re going to be well prepared, because I know about these guys’ heart, and that’s what got us through, it was a heart of a champion, heart of a lion and I love these guys.

“You can’t take it for granted.  I thank Coach [Jim Calhoun] for giving me this opportunity.  I knew what I had, though.  I had faith in my players, I had a great coaching staff, two of my coaches coached me and got head coach experience, and my belief in God.  I knew God was going to give me a way out of no way.  And I thank Him for this opportunity.  I thank Coach for always being there.  I thank my AD and my president, that gave me an opportunity and signed me for that one?year deal and then extended me during the season and their faith in me.

                “I just want to make these kids better people.  If we can do that and win a National Championship on the way, that’s good.

“We got a lot of great fans out there and we got a lot of great student?athletes that came through UConn.  You can see everybody come back Andre Drummond, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Richard Hamilton, even players that you don’t even know in the NBA.  It’s a big family.  And that’s what Coach created and I’m glad he passed me the baton, and I’m just trying to run on it and try to still create that environment, because it’s all about family with UConn.

“[The Huskies] did a wonderful job.  Yes, Big?10 is known for that, but American Conference is known for it, too.  And we got our American flag waving out our window going down to Texas.  And we’re going to keep it up high, and we’re going to keep playing the right basketball.

                “We’re physical, too.  Don’t get it mixed up.  We are predators out there.  And we’re going to go in and we’re going to do a great job.  We’re going to not only use our physicality with our muscle, we’re going to use our physicality with our mind.  I think that’s what we did tonight.  When they were physical, we played the right type of game.  We made hard cuts, we were going downhill, we shared the basketball.  And then when we get up to the free?throw line, that’s our toughness.

                “It doesn’t have to be a wrestling match.  We use our toughness mentally.  I think we put on the board ‘concentration and mental toughness’, and that’s what we had today.  Because concentration, if you go 18?for?18 in the second half, you got to be mentally tough.  And that’s what we have been doing if you’ve been watching us.  And we get up to that free?throw line, we knock them down.

 

“Madison Square Garden is a great place.  I don’t care if you ?? now from here whenever I walked in here in the NBA.

 “It’s always in the back of your mind and thinking about certain things, is this the right job?  Should I stay in the NBA?  You have those thoughts going on in your mind.  But at the end of the day I wanted to be close to my family and I wanted to come back to my second family, which is my UConn family.  And just to be around Coach all the time and him believing in me, even before this coaching thing, even as a 17 year old and believing in me that I could be a point guard.  And passing up on a lot of guards to have me come way from Los Angeles to Connecticut is like unbelievable.  And he always believed in me from day one.  And I thank him to death for it.  And that’s what I told him in his ear.  ‘Thank you for believing in me.’

                “And you know what, I can do this job, but I need a lot of help.  It’s not just a one?man show.  That’s why I got a great coaching staff, that’s why I got great players, and that’s why I want to just keep forging on and keep building.  Don’t lay on your success.  Keep building on your success.  I think we’re doing that and we are going to enjoy a trip to Texas again.

“That was just a great experience.  It’s a great time when you can get on that ladder, but I was really taking my time.  One step at a time.  And that’s what you got to do to get up top of the ladder.  You can’t skip no steps.  And the last two years we didn’t skip no steps.  We took one step at a time.  I he keep telling you that and that’s what it’s all about.

                “Guys believe.  They didn’t get out of their roles and they believe in each other, and we call it something called Level Five and that’s a championship mentality, and if we can have Level Five all the time, and not only on the basketball court, in the classroom, too, we’re going to be fine.

                That’s what we try to strive for each and every day to have that Level Five and play for one another and play this game the right way.  The right way is believing in what’s on your chest, on your chest and not what’s on your back.  We don’t play for what’s on the back of our jersey, we play for what’s on the front.  And it’s a great, great school that’s on the front.”

 

*****

Shabazz Napier was the Most Outstanding Player of the Regional. He averaged 23.3 points per game in Buffalo and Manhattan. DeAndre Daniels was also on the all-Regional team, along with Adeian Payne, Gary Harris and Duston Hogue.

Napier has now played in 141 games, a UConn record. He scored 1,925 to pass Ray Allen on UConn’s scoring list.

****

I messed up on Twitter. I thought Tom Izzo said he called timeout to give UConn fans a chance to enjoy the moment. He said he DIDN’T call timeout for that reason, but to convey something to his younger players. Want to set that straight. Here is his quote.

 “ Sometimes you got to pay the price of the process and sometimes ?? the reason I called timeout with six seconds left, it wasn’t so that the UCONN fans could really enjoy it a little longer.  I just told our underclassmen and that, that I didn’t think ?? we had a couple stretches where we didn’t bring it, but we did and I don’t want to ?? don’t trademark the line, but out?of?body experiences, a couple times I came out of the huddle and I was shaking my head, like I haven’t seen this before. Sometimes that happens with pressure.  Sometimes it happens with fatigue, and I just wanted our team to capture the moment and learn from it, so next year we can be better at what we do.”

 

****

All kinds of stuff from Paul Doyle, Jeff Jacobs, Rich Messina, Brad Horrigan and myself going up on our site throughout the night. Rich Coppola will have lots on FoxCT tonight, do check all that out.

… Well, I’ve done eight Super Bowls and 10 World Series for The Courant, never a Final Four. Glad to be adding that to my career. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some travel arrangements to make!

UConn vs. Michigan State: Setting The Scene at The Garden

by Categorized: Andre Drummond, DeAndre Daniels, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, NCAA, Niels Giffey, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
Date:

NEW YORK – The Huskies and Spartans are on the floor, the start of the NCAA East Regional final is about 25 minutes away.

Let’s set the scene at Madison Square Garden. Anna Negron has just belted out the anthem, impressively one might add.

Kevin Ollie’s featuring a light gray suit today.

UConn’s staying with the lineup it has been using – Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, Phil Nolan and Niels Giffey.

You know Lasan Kromah and Amida Brimah will be off the bench early, Terrence Samuel will get in  there for a spark. One wonders if Tyler Olander, who has played only three minutes in the tournament, gets some action today against this big Spartan line. He played well against MSU in Germany.

Michigan State starts Adreian Payne, Brandon Dawson, Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Denzel  Valentine, no surprises.

Your refs: Mike Roberts, Tom Eades, John Higgins.

Andre Drummond is in the house, watching his former teammates. Imagine if he were on this team as a junior? Anyway, he was down behind the UConn bench chatting with Jim Calhoun.

Classic matchup today, not much to be said that isn’t already up on our website. UConn has the better backcourt, Michigan State the stronger front court. Let it fly.

UConn Vs. Michigan State: Taking The Train, ‘Not Backing Down,’ Notes, Quotes and Thoughts From The Garden

by Categorized: Alex Oriakhi, Andre Drummond, Jeremy Lamb, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, NCAA, Niels Giffey, Roscoe Smith, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
Date:

NEW YORK – First, how to get there. Metro North will again provide a special train, added to its regular schedule of trains running between New Haven and NYC’s Grand Central Terminal on Sunday morning.

Here are the details from  the Governor’s Office:

Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that MTA Metro-North Railroad will run a special, extra New Haven Line train on Sunday, March 30, to accommodate the UConn men’s basketball fans expected to travel to New York City for the NCAA tournament game at Madison Square Garden (MSG).

 

“With another great win last night, I have no doubt that thousands of Husky fans will be heading down to the Garden on Sunday to show their support,” said Governor Malloy.  “Another win, and our next stop will be the Final Four.”

 

The special train – the “Huskies Fan Express” – will depart from New Haven’s Union Station at 10:40 a.m., and will make just three intermediate stops before arriving at Grand Central Terminal at 12:23 p.m. The train will stop at West Haven at 10:45 a.m., Bridgeport at 11:03 a.m., and Harlem-125th Street at 12:10 p.m.

 

For the return trip, the train will be ready and waiting at Grand Central to depart as needed based on what time the game ends and fans arrive at Grand Central.

 

UConn games at the Garden have historically drawn big crowds from the Bridgeport and New Haven areas, and many of the fans take Metro-North to the games. Fans are urged to buy round trip tickets at their boarding station.

 

******

The Huskies have a different destination in mind: Arlington, Texas, home AT&T Stadium, also known as Jerry World, for the Cowboys owner who built it. UConn toured it during their disastrous Houston-Dallas trip at the start of 2014, a reminder of where Kevin Ollie wanted them to go. “It seemed far away then,” Niels Giffey said.

Now UConn is one game away.

But the road is blocked by Michigan State, and that’s formidable. The Spartans have size and experience inside, and the tandem of Adriaen Payne and Brandon Dawson could be too much to handle. We’ll see. UConn’s guards are more experienced, which gives them an advantage.

Whether UConn’s backcourt or MSU’s front court takes control, the game will be about defense. Both teams hold opponents under 40 percent. UConn’s defense broke down in the second half against ISU, something that can’t happen Sunday if the Huskies are to have any chance.

Lot of talk at the podium about Tom Izzo replacing a legend, or program-builder in Jud Heathcote and how Kevin Ollie is doing the same. It’s not easy, more often than not it proves impossible, but both these guys have done it. They were around earlier and players and/or assistants and had the support of their predecessor, but, mainly, both are very comfortable in their own skin and that’s probably the key to stepping into a high-pressure situation like this.

This is the topic of my main advance for the game. Paul Doyle is writing about Payne, Jeff Jacobs about the slap-gone-viral. Lots of stuff in the UConn notebook. Just a ton UConn content on our main web pages, going up this evening, including John Altavilla reporting from Nebraska with the UConn women.

Let’s change it up, and give you some Shabazz Napier stream of consciousness at the podium:

“Like I’ve always said, I felt like I owed this university a lot.  I felt like after my first year we won, and the sophomore year I didn’t play up to my capabilities.  I felt like I owed the Continue reading