Blog Entry

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:36 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:47 am
The Huskies need to win three in a row for the first time in 2012 to have a good chance at an at-large. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander

STORRS, Conn. — Well, the objective seems pretty clear now. The defending champions, who haven’t won three games in a row in 2012 will certainly have to do that to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. If that doesn't seem too grim, consider UConn has only gone home winners in back-to-back games once since we turned to January.

At Providence and then home vs. Pittsburgh closes out the regular season for the nation's most underachieving team. Then it's a first-round game in the Big East tournament against a fellow conference doormat. Realistically, that won't be enough. Another win, a fourth in a row, will likely be required for some semblance of comfort. Getting to three wins in MSG would definitely get UConn into the tournament. That's the big-picture goal now.

Three straight wins. Somehow. Can this team do it? Evidence is lacking.

A 17-11 (7-9) Huskies team filled with NBA talent once again fell short in a big moment. To be frank, it’s completely baffling that this team will end its season without an above-.500 Big East record. The Huskies erased a 17-point second-half deficit but still couldn’t usurp Syracuse, losing 71-69 Saturday night, beaten by the Orange for the first time in program history at Gampel Pavilion. Syracuse (29-1, 16-1) clinched the Big East regular season title. SU’s Kris Joseph had a game-high 21. 

Afterward in the Orange locker room, the bulky, heavy regular-season trophy was passed around and posed with. Triumph. A huge win and plenty of private gloating from the team after it officially achieved something that wasn't expected. The Orange are rolling and a lock for a No. 1 seed.

Syracuse won its ninth straight because the game's ending was marred by a foul call that never was; UConn’s Roscoe Smith was aggressively covered by C.J. Fair as he went up for a bunny. The whistle didn’t come until zeroes were left on the clock, and that signaled the end of the game, not a late foul call. It was a break that didn’t go UConn’s way, and so it was not afforded overtime and a chance to vault ahead of many teams in the at-large field.

"He definitely got fouled," Huskies forward Jeremy Lamb said. "He (Fair) purposely grabbed his arm but didn't get the call."

"I think I made a good play," Fair said with a smile in the locker room afterward.

Don’t fall behind by 17 and that isn’t an issue, though. Connecticut can't get out of its own way, once again. Remember, it was bailed out by an incredible, too-soon 3-point shot by Napier that won the game for them against Villanova Monday. It trailed big early in that game, too. The Huskies had a chance to get one of the best wins any team in college basketball could own.

“The middle was open, I made a strong move and I got fouled, but I think the officials did a good job,” Smith said. “You really can’t call a foul in that type of situation, so yeah, you’ve gotta live with it. ... They (the officials) probably really didn't want to have the game decided on it. I got fouled and everybody seen it. If you didn't see it, it'll be on tonight.”

Lamenting a foul call that you didn't get is probably not the best way to go for a Huskies team that's talked a bit too much this year, anyway. But to be fair, the players were asked questions and they were honest. I can't fault them much for that. Still, let's step back here and examine. This team has no business booking travel plans to be in the first round, again, of the Big East Tournament. Now it’s finding itself in need of a 2011 New York City repeat. They need a run like the one they had last year. That run isn’t coming. UConn's squandered too much, and now we’re looking at a possibility that for only the seventh time in tournament history the defending champion won’t be making an appearance the following season.

“The message continues to be: full possessions, full games,” associated head coach George Blaney said. “For some reason we continue to not be able to do that. It’s not a question of confidence it’s a question of full possessions.”

If you're curious about the team's attitude, it appears to be positive. Quite positive in fact, and that's significant. Napier and Alex Oriakhi have voiced frustrations throughout the season, but no one was glum or looking to vent Saturday night. Losing a game that was so close to a win is probably reason to punch a locker or rip a pillow in half, but the team seems together and optimistic.

"We can definitely build off this," Lamb said. Smith echoed those sentiments and you're likely going to see a UConn team that won't lack of effort, even if execution continues to be a hurdle.

The elephant-sized acknowledgement of Jim Calhoun's absence should soon no longer be a distraction or side story. Calhoun has been out in recent weeks due to back pain. He’ll have surgery on his back Monday, and the hope is that he can come back March 3 for the team’s regular-season finale, a home game against Pittsburgh.

Calhoun’s return might be a jolt, but it won’t be enough. The team’s got to start winning now without him (it hasn't beaten an above-.500 Big East team since he's been away), then hope it can experience some déjà vu at Madison Square Garden. It doesn’t have to win five games in five days again, but if it doesn’t at least flirt with that story line, uncertainty will loom until Selection Sunday.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Feb 6, 2012
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:45 pm

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

UConn needs 1 more Big East win to be in. It's easy to say they don't deserve it, but the people saying that haven't seriously looked at the bubble. Right now, UConn one of only two teams in the nation that is not projected to be a top-4 seed by most bracketologists with 6 top-50 wins. They only have one sub-100 loss. The RPI is still in the top-25, their SOS is the toughest in the country. Go seriously look at the resumes of teams like Texas, Colorado State, St. Joe's, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, USF, and the other teams that are actually on the bubble and then get back to me.

UConn has underperformed. UConn is a shadow of what was expected. UConn is not one of the best teams in the Big East. But UConn is still in the tournament. No question about it.

Since: Mar 17, 2008
Posted on: February 26, 2012 4:54 pm

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

I am no UConn fan, but they are in.  I can't see the committee leaving them out.  Tough tough schedule, tough conference, history of success in the tourney.   Win another game or two and they are going to the dance and a very dangerous Husky team they will be.

Since: Oct 28, 2007
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:20 pm

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

Uconn is definitely on the bubble, but they have something big going for them.  They finished the 2011 regular season in Big East play at .500 and then went on ot win the Big East and the NCAA.  So if they win out, they will again finsih at .500 in the Big East.  I don't see them winning the Big East this year, but I can see how last year's run makes the NCAA committee consider them and realize that it's anybody's tourney to win.

Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:07 pm

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

UConn is fine. There aren't 37 more deserving teams. I just feel sorry for the 2 seed that has to see them as a 10 in the second round.

Since: Dec 4, 2010
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:57 am

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

Hmmm.  UConn needs THREE in a row? Three? Try FIVE on for size boys and girls.  A fifth win in a row (in BE tourney) would actually be vs a BE team w/ a winning record.  Three in a row would be 1. @ Prov (3 - 13) 2. Pitt (4 -11, as of noon today) and probably DePaul (2 - 14), in the tourney.  Three in this ' not what I call a tourney resume builder.  And as for's home to the NIT also.

Since: Feb 21, 2008
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:04 am

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

Obviously as a UConn fan, this has been disappointing at best.  The talent they have is amazing.  I hoped that Villanova win was a turning point.  I don't think Syracuse was a bad loss.  Now, if they have a bad beat by either Pittsburgh or Providence, I probably wouldn't vote them in.  I would agree they need 3 or 4 in a row to solidfy an at large.

Since: Feb 26, 2012
Posted on: February 26, 2012 8:56 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: February 26, 2012 5:21 am

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

Who cares that they are the defending champs.  This team is not worthy of an at-large bid.  UConn is barely .500 on the year and below .500 in a league with only a few good teams.

Since: Mar 16, 2009
Posted on: February 26, 2012 4:46 am

UConn, you now need at least three wins in a row

marq. warriors are to much for them, if they meet in the fourth round. they did it last year so i know they have in them too do it again, we will see what they are made of again this year... good luck!

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