Last night, Connecticut did not play the part of the number 2 team in the country, losing to unranked Marquette 94-79 in a game that was a bigger blowout than the final score would indicate.
"I want to congratulate Marquette on giving us a good old-fashioned butt-kicking," Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun stated in his post game press conference. "After taking an early 15-8 lead, we did not play an ounce of basketball."
Coming into the Marquette game 11-0, winning the Maui Invitational that had a loaded field with perennial heavyweights Arizona, Gonzaga, Kansas, Maryland and Michigan State, Connecticut looked to be on cruise control after a December full of tremendous blowouts that saw them score 110 or more points three teams.
However, facing a Marquette team debuting in the Big East in front a rabid crowd at Bradley Center shocked Huskies, resulting in their lackluster performance.
"We weren't well prepared, living on an 11-0 season that meant absolutely nothing," continued Calhoun.
Still, people absolutely cannot write off Connecticut as a top team after last night's performance.
"Their next opponent (LSU) will not sleep well tonight," stated Marquette head coach Tom Crean. "Connecticut has the whole package."
A key for Huskies to reach their potential is enigmatic sophomore Rudy Gay, one of the nation's most talented players, yet eerily quiet way too often on big stage for a player of his capability.
"Rudy Gay took himself out of the game tonight," Calhoun stated after last night's game.
Nevertheless, there's a reason why so many NBA scouts were in the building last night, primarily to look at the 6'9 wing who looks to be a top five selection in 2006 NBA Draft. Having the ability to slash to basket and post-up on offense, and averaging more than 2 blocks and steals on defense, Gay has all the potential to be best player in Big East.
Also, despite a performance last night that Jim Calhoun referred to as lousy, returning point guard Marcus Williams should give Huskies another dimension once he gets into the flow of things. Last season's Co-Big East most improved player did register 7 assists in his 2005-2006 season debut against Marquette.
Even in last night's forgettable performance, Rashad Anderson's excellent three point shooting continued to shine. A 51 percent three point shooter on season, Anderson hit six more threes last night on his way to a team leading 25 points.
While Josh Boone had a very quiet line of 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 blocks, his ability to alter the game with his shot blocking, as well as his effort on the boards along with teammate Hilton Armstrong should make Huskies a difficult team to stop inside.
With emerging freshman in Marcus Johnson and Jeff Adrien, Connecticut still has potential to cut down the nets in April, and it would be foolish to write off Huskies despite last night's performance. LSU and Cincinnati will definitely see a team who has been rudely introduced to the newer and tougher Big East, and ready to respond in kind.
The Sleeping giant has been woken up:
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