HARTFORD – Okay, who saw this coming? Raise your hand.
I didn’t either. Even with Enosch Wolf, I felt UConn would have a rough time with Syracuse. The Orange would be too long, too fast, too athletic. The Huskies would be forced to take a lot of desperate threes.
UConn, with their lack of an inside game, exacerbated by Wolf’s absence, has to be hot from the perimeter to win against a good team, and 8 for 14 on threes was hot enough.
But it’s a bit more than that. It’s the defense, which has been steady most of the year. Syracuse shot 35 percent, Michael Carter-Williams had one assist. UConn took them out of their game.
This team is a lot of fun, and this game should be remembered as a defining moment of the season. Live chat Thursday, right here. Let’s talk about it starting at 10:45 a.m.
Here is the main game story in The Courant.
And Kevin Ollie showed that knack he has for capturing a bench player’s flashes. Throwing Phil Nolan to the wolves here, he got 14 productive minutes out of him, exactly what Wolf was averaging. I’m planning to write more about Phil Nolan tomorrow – have to save something.
Here is our latest Enosch Wolf story.
Jim Boeheim was right – playing UConn, or anyone else as a nonconference opponent is not going to be the same. When ESPN’s Andy Katz asked him a harmless question about the rivalry, Boeheim said, “I’ll answer anyone’s question but yours, because you’re an idiot. And a disloyal person. And I can add a few more things in there.”
FoxCT’s Bob Rumbold followed with the same question and Boeheim answered. It was just an unnecessarily awkward moment. Who looks bad there?
Here is the UConn notebook in the Thursday Courant.
That crazy looking Omar Calhoun three-pointer goes in a lot in big spots, doesn’t it. “That’s what I stay in the gym for,” Calhoun said.
Here are some great pics from the game.
Syracuse is 39-33 against UConn in the Big East. Jim Calhoun said on TV that he was 28-29 vs. Boeheim, so this win evened things up. But it looks like Calhoun was actually 27-27 vs. Boeheim.
Anyway, if you forget conference realignment and live in the moment, it has been a heck of a season for UConn. That’s Jeff Jacobs’ take.
Some player reaction:
I felt like early on I passed up a couple and penetrated. Coach told me that I had space and I could knock them down. I was able to get my feet ready quick and shoot t quick because they’re a long team and you have to be able to get your shot off quick against them.
The big games that we face, we call them our championship games because we can’t go to the post-season. When we played them we were turned-up. The energy was there. I felt the intensity the practice before the game and the shoot-around. I knew were going to come out and have a great game. … It feels great because they came in with their swag, their attitude, and they thought they were going to blow us out of the gym. We hit them first. In the second half they thought they were going to make a run and we responded. It was a team effort. It was a great win.
“I work hard in practice no matter what happens but I felt pretty sure that my chance was going to come, and it came tonight.
It was our energy level and our passion. Our fans definitely helped us the whole way. I think we overcame a bunch of challenges and changed our game a little bit.
“It’s going to be difficult [winning the Big East]. That loss to St. John’s might’ve killed us. Losing to Marquette in overtime was m ind-boggling. … I think we’re a great team – 17-6, that’s a great team, right there.”
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