HOUSTON – Notes, quotes, thoughts from the lobby of UConn’s hotel, where the Huskies arrived after long day in the air.
Their flight to Seattle last week took a lot longer than expected, because of a refueling stop. On Monday, strong head winds slowed down all flights in this direction (including mine).
But they settled in for dinner at a reasonable hour and will be able to get a good night sleep. It helps, too, to get these two Texas games out of the way during the semester break.
Coming to places like Houston will be interesting for the Huskies on a lot of levels. For one, they will have the chance to showcase their teams, as the strongest brand remaining in the AAC after Louisville goes, in areas where a lot of good basketball players grow up.
“Hopefully a seventh grader will fall in love with Shabazz,” Kevin Ollie said. “Maybe a young guard will fall in love with our style of play.”
As Ollie pointed out, UConn landed Emeka Okafor, Jake Voskuhl and Hasheem Thabeet from schools in the Houston area.
The Cougars (8-5) have been dealing with a lot of injuries, but, Ollie said, “don’t try to put a damper on it, they’re going to come out and play hard.”
Will the crowd be a factor? The Cougars are averaging 2,904 fans per home game, worst in the AAC. For a late New Year’s Eve start? You wonder if there will be more than 2,000 at Hofheinz for this one.
If you’re wondering, AAC home attendance: 1. Louisville, 20,700; 2. Memphis 15,593; 3. UConn, 9,493; 4. Temple, 6,530; 5. Cincinnati, 6,223; 6. Central Florida, 4,988; 7. South Florida, 4,180; 8. Rutgers, 3,438; 9. SMU, 3,366; 10. Houston, 2,904.
If DeAndre Daniels ends up playing against Houston’s top player, TaShawn Thomas, he’ll be up for it. “I love tough matchups, I love playing against great players,” Daniels said. “I find myself, when people say someone is better than me, I play my best.”
Here is the capsule look at the game for the Tuesday Courant.
Shabazz Napier was asked about leading the team in scoring, rebounding and assists.
“I told everybody at the start of the year, the biggest thing I can do is guarantee my effiort every day and night. I’ve played this game for a while, I understand what I’m good at, what I’m not. I don’t care too much about scoring.”
As he usually does, Napier credited the big men for setting him up for rebounds. “They do things you don’t see in the box score – I’ve got to get to those 50-50 balls.”
Here is our main advance story for the Tuesday Courant.