Something in the Air at Gampel

By David Scott - February 06, 2007

STORRS, Conn. – Both of the Jims smelled something in the cold, crisp air outside of Gampel Pavilion on Monday evening.

From a corridor outside the media interview room, the winning Jim – Calhoun got a whiff of what good defense and passable offense can create.

“I can sniff something,” said Happy Jim. “We have optimism. There’s no fun being one of those teams that doesn’t have a chance to play after the last (regular season) horn goes off.”

A few moments earlier, Pouty Jim (Boeheim) had briefly gone into that very media interview room and indicated that he had whiffed some home-cooking in the air during his team's 67-60 loss.

“We didn't shoot the ball well, we didn't execute well, and we're not going to win any games when the fouls are 25-14 and we're playing zone and they're playing man-to-man," said Boeheim, before adding a, “Thank you,” and exited stage right. He played the post-game the way his team played during the game: selfishly and without consideration of others (the Orange had a season-low five assists on its 22 field goals).

What he lacked in quantity and TV-friendly soundbytes, Boeheim made up for with his angry eight-second synopsis of just about the same thing it took Calhoun 11 minutes to gloat about.

Plain and simple, the Huskies shot 37 free throws (hitting only a putrid 19) and the Orange shot 14 (making 12). And, oh yeah, the Huskies out-rebounded its opponent 49-32, with a 28-12 edge in the second half alone. Two of the Orange’s big men (Darryl Watkins and Demetris Nichols) both fouled out in a late-game span that saw UConn close out its coach’s 500th win at UConn, with a 10-3 run.

“There’s nothing missing in our tick-tock, nothing missing in our character, nothing missing in anything, except experience,” said Calhoun, whose club now sits at 15-8 overall and 4-6 in league. “If you have character, if you have a champion’s heart, you have an opportunity to win games. So, I’m really happy with this team. We aren’t developing offensively like I would like, but their character and competitiveness is developing.”

Just listen to the Husky Puppies:

“I feel like it’s a beginning,” said emerging sophomore Craig Austrie (14 points, seven rebounds and five assists). “We’re beginning to show everyone what we can do.”

“We were losing games we weren’t supposed to lose,” said sophomore AJ Price (12 points, including two key 3-pointers in the first half. “We won that one against Rutgers (in overtime on Saturday). We wont (Monday night). We’re just trying to put a streak together.”

“It feels great. It picks everyone’s enthusiasm up,” said freshman Jerome Dyson (10 points and 7 of 8 form the line). It seems that we’re playing a lot better as a team. This is the time we have to go on a streak and get some big wins. We’re trying to get into the post season and that’s the how we’ve got to do it.”

One sniff and one whiff at a time.

Posted by David Scott at 01:20 AM on February 06, 2007

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