STORRS – They opened the doors about 7:05 p.m. and let the dogs in. The students rushed in to fill the baseline seats after hours waiting outside in the cold, drizzly weather.
It’s Game Day, prime time, and we set the scene, about 90 minutes before the Huskies and national champion Cardinals get under way.
The ESPN Game Day desk is set up at half court, and Dick Vitale, who was enthusiastically greeted as he walked in – would you expect anything else? – is in his seat.
Ryan Boatright remained on campus and was in the UConn starting lineup. He said he wishes to keep private any plans regarding returning home for services for his cousin, Arin Williams, who was victim of a shooting in Aurora, Ill.
With Boatright here, the Huskies willstart the same five that won in Memphis – Boatright, Shabazz Napier, DeAndre Daniels, Lasan Kromah and Amidah Brimah.
Your officials tonight: Tom O’Neill, Ted Valentine, Mike Stuart.
Louisville will be playing without one of their main guards, Chris Jones, who has an oblique strain. At least he is not expected to play. Rick Pitino noted after the win over Houston that he had a lot of confidence in Tim Henderson, who played 17 minutes in that game.
With fans lined up hours before the game in the cold, drizzly weather, coach Ollie and the players came out, distributing pizza and soft drinks at about 3 p.m.
Ten NBA teams reserved seats for scouts, including the Nets, Celtics, Blazers, Mavericks, Clippers, Jazz, Wizards, Pacers, Spurs and Timberwolves.Lot to look at with Russ Smith, Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels.
Had a chance to talk to Daniel Hamilton up in Springfield this morning, where he said he was “rock solid, 100 percent” coming to UConn. Here’s more on that. Hamilton, teammate Vance Jackson and coach Derrick Taylor are all expected to head over to Gampel once their game ends in Springfield.
Want to pass along … Dickie V, working the game for ESPN, will be honoring Mike Brey, Nick Saban and Tom Crean at his 2014 Gala to benefit The V Foundation in Sarasota, Fla., May 16. You can get info on that here.
I’m solo tonight, with Jeff Jacobs in Denver for the AFC Championship. Follow along on twitter @AmoreCourant for details of an exciting night as it unfolds here in Storrs.