The Huskies head to beautiful
"I think this is a unique opportunity that you could actually play
Calhoun views these types of games as an opportunity to change your grade at the end of the season. Two or three impressive wins against a field like this could be the difference between a one-seed or a two-seed come March. But it's a very early test for a team with two freshmen splitting the point guard duties.
"It's awfully early to be doing it, but we'll all come out of there
"Hopefully it's going to keep their confidence up. This will be a test. I don't have any question that Craig Austrie and Rob Garrison are going to find out exactly what college basketball is all about," Calhoun confirmed. "They're going to have to deliver the ball to a couple of 6-10 kids, and they're going to have to hold up under pressure."
So then with youth at such a key position does a coach like Calhoun need to consider the timing of test of this magnitude or is it too good to pass up?
"Well it was a better idea back in May," Calhoun said as he chuckled.
"But I agree with you, it's a no-brainer. I don't know why you wouldn't want to
go play three great teams."
The Huskies will face a tough regular season schedule in the newly-formed Big East Conference including double-dips against
"If we aren't going to be prepared coming out of this tournament to play the best teams in the country, then I'm missing something," Calhoun said.
It has been 50 years since UConn has won an in-season tournament they did not host. Their quest to break that drought begins with an interesting match up against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
"As athletic as we are – they
The Razorbacks like to get the ball up-and-down the court much-like UConn, and are led by All-SEC guard Ronnie Brewer. But Head Coach Stan Heath knows his unranked team has a tough, but necessary, test in front of it.
"We know we still have a lot of work to do. Facing a team like UConn that has great experience on its front line – they're awesome. And the wing players are terrific as well," Heath continued. "We just feel for us to figure out where we are and get a gauge on our team and how much we've progressed – we need to play against this kind of field."
The Razorbacks are dealing with a drought of their own. Heath's team hasn't made the Big Dance since 2001 and is hoping for a breakthrough year.
"We hope so. We've made steady
progress every year. We feel now that we've got some guys with experience and
we've got a good amount of talent. This should be a great experience for us to
play against this elite field we have here in
For UConn the expectations are high. Calhoun did not shy away from making a strong statement when asked how capable the Huskies would be in February and March once Marcus Williams returns.
"Good enough to win," Calhoun
quickly answered. "If Denham Brown continues to play like he has, if Craig
Austrie can help Marcus at the two-guard and the one, if Rudy Gay becomes what
he can…My point simply being that I think we have a chance because of our
frontcourt and our experience. We have six kids who wear National Championship
rings. If we develop –without Marcus and then with Marcus – I think clearly we
have a chance to make a run for it in