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JOE D’S NOTEBOOK 12/31/2013

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Kevin Ollie (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Kevin Ollie (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

joe d'ambrosio Joe D'Ambrosio
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DEC 31,2013- HOUSTON- And so it begins. Not another new year, not for 13 hours at least. But the UConn men’s basketball teams journey into the unknown, that being the American Athletic Conference. It is hardly the same sense of anticipation back on December 22 of 1979, when the Huskies beat Seton Hall in their first ever game in the Big East. But, this is the hand that UConn has been dealt and to be honest with you, it is their home. And no matter if its the Big East, the Mountain West, the Southeastern Conference or any other league, the goal is to win it. And make no mistake, that is what this edition of the Huskies is all about.

Saturdays win over Eastern Washington wasn’t artistically pleasing from start to finish. But a 52 point second half,the Huskies third highest scoring half of the season, made up for a lackluster opening 20 minutes. Once again, Kevin Ollie fiddled with his lineup and once again, it payed off. For the second straight game, Phillip Nolan played with energy and efficiency with 11 points and 6 rebounds. The numbers are indicative of how well the sophomore from Milwaukee played. It doesn’t appear that anyone is claiming the 5 spot in the lineup but center by committee might not be such a bad thing after all. And Omar Calhoun snapped out of an eight game slump with 12 points and a season high 6 rebounds. His energy level was much higher than in recent games Omar has to realize that with Niels Giffey playing the best basketball of his four years and Lasan Kromah making a huge impact, minutes must be earned. Now, the challenge for “O” is to do it on a nightly basis.

Challenge #1 in the AAC is a Houston team that is 8-5 and in 6’8 Tyshawn Thomas has the best player you haven’t heard of. Thomas is versatile and aggressive and it is imperative that UConn keep him in check. 6’10 Danrad Knowles is also a player who must be contained.

It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd turns out at Hofheinz Pavillion. The Cougars are averaging a pathetic 2,904 fans a game at home. Granted, the schedule hasn’t had a marquee name on it but still, even DePaul drew better than that. And with it being New Years Eve, I’m skeptical there will be more than 3,500 on hand tonight. C’est la vie in the AAC.

Our broadcast begins at 8:30, I hope you make us part of your New Years Eve festivities. Happy New Year Husky Nation.

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