Let me be the first to predict it: The backboards (or stanchions or rims) around the Big East will not survive this season.
UConn freshman center Andre Drummond is too big, too strong and too often the recipient of a lane to the basket for there not to be at least one casualty this year.
And, he does more than dunk. Monday he had the best game of his young career (20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks) as the Huskies rallied from 10 points down to beat West Virginia 64-57.
“Awesome, man. The numbers he put up and the way he played was an NBA performance,” teammate Ryan Boatright said. “There’s nothing more you can say. He played awesome.”
UConn coach Jim Calhoun had similar sentiments.
“Andre Drummond was special tonight,” He hasn’t been special all season. He’s been good, as you would expect for a freshman. Tonight he was special. I thought he was the difference in the game.”
— Calhoun also had particular praise for the crowd, which was the loudest in Hartford in quite some time.
“We’re down eight, we get to six and I thought we went ahead by four (based on the crowd’s reaction),” Calhoun said. “That’s not waiting. In the past we’ve had crowds waiting for us to do things.”
— Calhoun got a technical foul from referee Pat Driscoll that was followed quickly by a 12-2 run (or 17-3, if you prefer).
“It was just a misunderstanding,” Calhoun deadpanned. “Those things happen.”
Later he gave more detail.
“When that happened I told them ‘If you aren’t going to fight, they may throw me out of here but I’m going to fight,’ ” Calhoun said. “It wasn’t planned but we couldn’t just go the way we were going.”
— Drummond said he enjoyed his matchup with West Virginia star Kevin Jones (22 points, 5 rebounds).
“I had fun,” Drummond said. “I was talking to him on the court. It was pretty cool. He was telling me all the high’s and low’s, how to be in the Big East, how to get better, and things like that. It was real good for me.”
— West Virginia coach Bob Huggins on the Huskies’ comeback/Mountaineers’ slid:
“We quit running offense. We tried to make 1-on-1 plays,” Huggins said. “They took some things away from us and we didn’t go to the second option.”
Huggins added that his team is seemingly afraid to pass. It’s all dribbles.
“I had an assistant that used to say ‘They kill ants,’ ” Huggins said. “There wouldn’t be a damn ant live if there were any in here. We would have killed them all. We just dribble it and dribble it and dribble it and dribble it and dribble it.”
— UConn was down five at the half but it could have been worse.
“I thought we could have been down big in the first half,” Calhoun said. “When you get out-shot, number of shots, 19-35, you can be in big, big trouble. But our defense kind of held us in there.”