NEW YORK – We are looking live at the Mecca of Basketball, the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden. NCAA Sweet 16.
It has been home of some of the greatest events of the 20th and 21st Centuries, and tonight it is home for UConn men’s basketball. The Huskies and Iowa State are about 45 minutes away, and we set the scene. The players had a shoot-around here earlier today, and were just on the floor warming up. They’re back in the locker room now.
The UConn Pep Band is making its way into the arena and to their seats, to a round of applause
I was in the city today, but I’m told trains from New Haven on into Grand Central were packed and loud. The arena is teeming with New York media big wigs – or, to quote Mel Brook’s line from The Producers, “the toast of society is burning tonight.” I passed Jim Calhoun and John Thompson on the way to my courtside seat.
Thanks to Joe D. for having me on the WTIC-AMm 1080 pregame show, always a pleasure.
The Huskies will stay with the lineup they’ve used since March 13: Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey and Phil Nolan.
You know Amida Brimah and Lasan Kromah will be in there early off the bench, probably Terrence Samuel will get some minutes in hopes of disrupting Iowa State’s fast-paced offense.
Usually, UConn wasn’t to run, tonight they’ll probably try to slow the pace down. If they do, they can win.
Iowa State starts start Daniel Edozie, Dustin Hogue, Monte Morris, DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim. Edozie starts in place of Georges Niang, who was lost for the season with a broken foot.
Naz Long and Matt Thomas are usually first off the bench for the Cyclones, who are trying to get to the Final Four for the first time since 1944.
Your refs tonight: Verne Harris, Michael Reed and Tony Padilla are your referees for the evening.
As my colleague John Altavilla reports from Lincoln, Neb., the UConn athletic dept. is proposing a men’s-women’s doubleheader next year, to be played at Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center and is waiting to hear back regarding their interest. It’s no secret that the Huskies want to stay relevant in New York in the post-Big East era and will have to be proactive, creative in doing it.
Paul Doyle, Jeff Jacobs, Sara Grant, Rich Messina, Brad Horrigan, Rich Coppola and Freddie Mathis from The Courant and FoxCT are all here tonight along with me. Follow us on twitter, and stay with courant.com throughout the night for details and reaction.
Lot of hype and excitement, but, in Kevin Ollie’s words, “at the end of the day, it’s a basketball game.”
Historic night. Sit back and enjoy the game.