UConn-Iowa State At Madison Square Garden: The Talking Is Done, It’s Time For The Main Event

by Categorized: Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, NCAA, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball

NEW YORK – It’s chilly outside and, for some reason, shivery inside here in the basement of Madison Square Garden, but there will be plenty of heat and electricity in the building 24 hours from now.

The Huskies and Cyclones wrapped up their day of practice and press conferences. All that’s left is a good night’s sleep, and the game at 7:27 p.m. on Friday. UConn tries to avenge its loss to ISU two years ago in Jim Calhoun’s last game.

Spent some time with the TBS broadcast crew when I got to the Garden, here’s a post on that.

The Huskies, who practiced elsewhere earlier, just did a shoot around for the public at the Garden at noon. Ollie was exhorting “game speed, game speed.” UConn will need to be up to speed; Iowa State plays fast, likes to score within 10 seconds. Transition defense will be a key for the Huskies.

Both coaches are relatively young, 41, and spent 13-14 years in the NBA, so it’s inevitable that some pro style is intertwined in their approaches. That’s the focus of the main advance for the Friday Courant. Bill Raftery thinks all four coaches in this regional could coach in the NBA, if they aspired to.

Shabazz Napier was asked if he watched the NCAA Tournanent last year. “To be honest, I didn’t watch one game. I was more into River Monsters. … I love to fish.” (Who knew?)

Another one of those one-on-one duels Napier hates to talk about, this time with DeAndre Kane, is the subject of the UConn notebook for tomorrow. We also have our capsule look at the matchup, photos from Brad Horrigan, video. Jeff Jacobs is writing about the ticket frenzy, the importance of playing at Garden and all of that. Paul Doyle is writing on UConn’s history of great point guards. … There’s an avalanche of content going up on our main website as the night progresses.

Got a nice e-mail from Maureen Bialosuknia, whose husband, UConn legend Wes “The Poughkeepsie Popper” Bialosuknia passed away a few months ago. She gave me permission to share. Wes told her The Garden “was sacred ground,” she said, “the best court on earth.” Maureen expects Wes “will  have the best seat in the Cathedral” on Friday night, watching the Huskies play from heaven.

Hoiberg and Ollie have been close friends for a long time, but, Ollie said, “once you get between the lines, you pretty much have no friends.”

That’s about the size of it right there. Bright lights, big city, big stage, history, rivalry, revenge, this game should have it all. It’s the Main Event at the Garden, and we’ll be bringing it to  you start to finish on Courant.com and on twitter (@AmoreCourant @JacobsCourant @PaulDoyle1). Stay with us.


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