Holy Cross (4-6) at No. 9 UConn (8-1)
Date: Dec. 18, 2011
Time: 1 p.m.
Site: XL Center, Hartford, Conn.
TV: SNY (Eamon McAnaney, Kara Lawson)
Radio: UConn Radio Network/WTIC-AM 1080 (Joe D'Ambrosio, Wayne Norman)
Series: Holy Cross leads, 42-21
Last meeting: UConn 82, Holy Cross 81 (Feb. 4, 1988)
The last time UConn and Holy Cross played, the Huskies were still almost two months away from their first national championship – the 1988 NIT national title. Phil Gamble (23 point) and Cliff Robinson (21) led the way at the Hart Center in Worcester. The rest of the starting lineup for the Huskies included Lyman DePriest, Willie McCloud and Tate George. But it was Steve Pikiell's 10-footer with 13 seconds remaining that won the game. UConn led 80-68 with 6:38 left before the Crusaders scored 13 consecutive points to take the lead.
By the way, the series between the two New England schools began Feb. 5, 1908 with Holy Cross winning 38-5 in Worcester. One of the great wins in UConn history came Feb. 27, 1954 in Worcester. Worthy Patterson's driving layup with two seconds remaining gave UConn a 78-77 victory. The Huskies, a 15-point underdog, ended a 47-game home winning streak for the Crusaders that day.
HOLY CROSS PROBABLE STARTERS
G 2 Devin Brown Sr. 6-1 190 14.7 ppg
G 3 Justin Burrell Fr. 5-9 165 7.8 ppg
C 44 Phil Beans Jr. 6-9 233 7.1 ppg
F 10 R.J. Evans Jr. 6-3 200 12.4 ppg
F 50 Dave Dudzinski So. 6-9 227 10.0 ppg
UCONN PROBABLE STARTERS
G 13 Shabazz Napier So. 6-1 171 15.9 ppg
G 3 Jeremy Lamb So. 6-5 180 20.0 ppg
C 34 Andre Drummond Fr. 6-10 270 7.8 ppg
F 22 DeAndre Daniels Fr. 6-8 195 5.7 ppg
F 34 Alex Oriakhi Jr. 6-9 240 6.7 ppg
BREAK FROM BOOKS: The first semester is officially over. The Huskies have been focused on final exams since playing their last game against Harvard on Dec. 8. UConn has won three straight since losing their only game, 68-63 to Central Florida in the Bahamas. UConn plays Thursday against Fairfield before a brief Christmas break, then begins Big East play Dec. 28 at South Florida, without Jim Calhoun, who will begin a three-game NCAA suspension. But this isn't a long academic break for the Huskies. Many will be taking intersession classes between semesters.
SCOUTING HOLY CROSS: The Crusaders have won two of their last three, including a 71-60 victory over Sacred Heart on Dec. 9, their last outing. The other victories have come against Boston College, Hartford, and New Hampshire. UConn coach Jim Calhoun commented on the athletic ability of R.J. Evans (from Salem, Conn., and Norwich Free Academy) when asked for his impressions. "The kid is a very good player. They're certainly improved over what they have been," Calhoun said. "I saw tape of the Boston College game and watched their Harvard game [73-64 loss] and they played well. They play zone and a lot of matchup. They're a pretty good basketball team."
UNLOCKING COMBINATIONS: With the long break between games, Calhoun has had a chance to experiment with lineups in practice. The emergence of Ryan Boatright has given the Huskies a quick and effective look with a three-guard lineup, but UConn will need size and different looks and various times. Calhoun has looked at Boatright and Napier playing together without Lamb, something the Huskies haven't really tried to this point. And the forwards will be important too. Roscoe Smith has been given a long look at the power forward spot. Smith brings his quickness to that positon and, obviously, can still play small forward. "We're trying to get DeAndre [Daniels] back into the mix," Calhoun said. "Roscoe has made himself back in the mix this week."
NEW ROLE FOR CHARDIS: Phil Chardis, long-time reporter on the UConn beat for the Journal Inquirer of Manchester, has been hired as the new men's basketball sports information director at UConn and will begin in January. Chardis will replace Kyle Muncy, who is moving to another role within the UConn athletic department. Congrats and good luck to both.
QUOTE: "My mom always told me if you didn't have your academics [in proper order], you couldn't play basketball. I always took my academics really seriously before I came on the basketball court." – UConn freshman Andre Drummond, who said he received a 104 on his Geography. He went over the 100 mark by answering bonus questions.