STORRS – The Huskies will have first-place Georgetown right where they want them – at Gampel Pavilion.
“I love Gampel. If I could pick our home games, I’d play all ‘em at Gampel,” said Shabazz Napier, before the Huskies practiced on Tuesday. “The crowd is so right on you, it can be devastating for the other team.”
Said Ryan Boatright, “This is really our first big Gampel game of the year. We’re all excited about playing there. All the students will be out.”
Omar Calhoun: “There’s going to be a lot of emotion.”
The Huskies, contracted to play 10 games at the XL Center, naturally play games there that are likely to sell more than 10,000 tickets, so among Big East opponents, Syracuse, Louisville, Villanova and Cincinnati have played in Hartford. DePaul and South Florida have played at Gampel.
But Georgetown this year, like Syracuse last season, is the marquee opponent saved for the campus and it figures to be crazy. As of late Tuesday afternoon, there were only about 300 tickets left, so look for them to be gobbled up.
The Hoyas have only played three previous games at Gampel, UConn beating them here in 1999, 2004 and 2005.
Georgetown likes to stage long possessions, wear the defense out. That will be a test for UConn in this game. “They’re the most disciplined team we’ll face,” coach Kevin Ollie said.
Here is our advance story for the Wednesday Courant.
Otto Porter, Georgetown’s leading scorer and rebounder, and the Big East Player of the Week the last two weeks, will be the focal point for UConn. Porter, who had 33 points and eight rebounds in G’town’s huge win at Syracuse, has entered the national player of the year conversation.
Look for the Huskies to start out with DeAndre Daniels on Porter. Daniels has often drawn the assignment against these versatile wing players, such as Cleveland Melvin.
“If we play DeAndre on him, I think DeAndre will play good defense,” Napier said. “DeAndre has come up big for us when we’ve needed him to come up big, especially when he’s had to play a great player. ”
Ollie wouldn’t give away his plans, of course. Niels Giffey will probably play some on Porter, but the Huskies will need a team approach.
“Nobody shuts down Shabazz or Boat with one player,” Ollie said. “When they’ve shut down Boat, it took three or four guys. When they’ve shut down ‘Bazz, it’s taken three guys. We’re going to have to load the paint, make sure we keep [Porter] off his sweet spots, and make sure that when he gets the ball he sees a lot of UConn players.”
UConn is dealing with bumps and bruises, typical for this grueling time of year. The most serious is still Omar Calhoun’s sprained wrist, though he has been productive the last three games despite it.
“The wrist is still bothering me,” Calhoun said, “it still hurts, but I’ll fight through it like I’ve been doing.”
Here is our capsule look at the game, for Wednesday’s Courant.
Bring your old sneakers to the game – The UConn Division of Athletics and the UConn Office of Environmental Policy are running one of their Green Game Days for this game. Fans are encouraged to bring any lightly used sneakers to donate for reuse – especially children’s sizes. These shoes will go to “Kicks for Africa,” a UConn student organization which donates lightly used shoes to less fortunate children in Africa. The shoes will be collected at all entrances as fans enter the game.