JOE D’S NOTEBOOK 12/22/2013
DEC 22- BELLEVUE,WASHINGTON- Be honest Husky Nation, 13 minutes into the game today at Alaska Airlines Arena, you were ready to sweat. The UConn Huskies were down 14 to Washington, on the road, and looking awful.
But in the space of 16 minutes (game time), UConn had put on an astonishing 45-17 run to take a 14 point lead en route to an 82-70 win over the West Coast Huskies. It wasn’t magic, it wasn’t a fluke, it wasn’t some big strategic change. No, it was hard work, it was determination and it was a collective effort to turn things around the earned UConn it’s 10th win in 11 games.
As usual, Shabazz Napier was leading the band. 20 points and 6 rebounds don’t tell the entire story, it doesn’t even come close. Bazz may have made the play of the year with 7:13 to play. He blocked Andrew Andrews layup attempt, raced down floor and scored on a layup. They don’t hand out hardware after two months but it’s hasrd to imagine anyone in the American Athletic Conference has been more valuable to his team than Napier.
After struggling in the second half of the Stanford game and early today, Ryan Boatright showed his many, many skills. When playing well, Boatright is dynamic. Harnessing his multi talents can sometimes be difficult but Boatright’s desire to win can never be questioned. Phil Nolan reacted positively to coming off the bench for the first time this season. He equaled season highs with 8 points and 5 rebounds (the 8 points equaling a career high), but more importantly Nolan played with an aggression that he has to bring each and every game.
But the player of the game for me and Wayne was Lasan Kromah. A season high 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting. And he came in and cooled down Washington star C.J.Wilcox at a point when Wilcox was threatening to shoot UConn out of the game. If you’re a regular listener, you know I don’t like the rule where grad students can play their final year at a different school. Having said that, it is the rule and Kromah has been a key to the 10-1 start. He plays with poise and a quiet intensity and his value is critical.
Today was a case of surviving and recovery and that’s why UConn goes into the Christmas break feeling much better about themselves than they did after 13 minutes today. The Huskies play their first game ever in Bridgeport on Saturday afternoon against an Eastern Washington team that lost by 22 today at Seton Hall and will spend Christmas in New England before playing on Saturday. I would hope that Webster Bank Arena is sold out for the game.
A couple of other notes. The UConn women played two top 25 opponents this week and won by a total of 55 points. 55 Is it a statement on the strength of Geno Auriemma’s team or an indictment on the quality of women’s basketball. You make the call?
And congrats to Rob Ambrose, the former UConn offensive coordinator who has led Towson to the FCS Championshiop game against perennial powerhouse and defending national champ North Dakota State. Towson started the year with a win at the Rent. While it was a sign of things to come for the Huskies, it was a bigger sign of what the future held for the Tigers.
And to say Seattle is Seahawks crazy would be an understatement. On the local Fox affiliate, they had a Seahawks post game show. On the NBC affiliate after Sunday Night Football, 3 hours after the Seahawks game ended, they do a Seahawks post game show. They love their football in the Pacific Northwest.
Have a wonderful Christmas from all of us who work the games and love what we do, Wayne, Bob, Deb, Ryan ,Kevin and Anthony.