Streaking Bearcats headed to Storrs

Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates, shown here in action against Notre Dame Jan. 4 in Cincinnati, was one of the key figures in his team's brawl with Xavier. The Bearcats played well without Gates in the lineup and are still relatively hot.. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

A few notes from UConn Tuesday as the Huskies get ready to take on Cincinnati Wednesday night (7 p.m., ESPN2) in Storrs:

— There seems to be no easy answers to the Ryan Boatright situation. The “review” by the NCAA and UConn is ongoing and there’s no official timetable for when it might be resolved.

The Huskies are preparing to play without him Wednesday. We’ll see about the weekend but it doesn’t look likely.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun was asked if he’s frustrated by the situation.

“I’m not frustrated by anything except trying to get ready for Cincinnati,” Calhoun said. “That’s the only thing we can do; that’s the only thing we can control right now.”

Boatright’s perceived slight from the NCAA has fired up his teammates a bit.

“We just have to win every single game for him until he comes back,” C Andre Drummond said.

“It makes you want to play harder when my teammates aren’t on the court with us. It’s tough seeing him on the bench with regular clothes on, not a uniform,” Drummond added. “It makes you want to play that much harder and take all the frustrations you have out there on the court.”

— Without Boatright, PG Shabazz Napier played 40 minutes against Notre Dame.

“The minutes itself I don’t worry about,” Calhoun said. “What I worry about, very simply, is them getting in foul trouble and us having to re-invent the wheel a little bit.”

Walk-on Brendan Allen, a freshman from Windsor, could even see the court in a pinch Wednesday.

“I do have faith in him but he hasn’t had the experience yet so it’s hard to throw him in during the midst of a game,” Calhoun said. “But if need be, we certainly will.”

— The Huskies beat the Bearcats twice last season, once at Fifth-Third Arena in Cincinnati and once in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.

— Cincinnati (14-4, 4-1) is off to its best start in league play since joining the Big East for the 2005-06 season. The Bearcats have also won nine of their last 10 overall, or 90 percent of their games since that infamous brawl with Xavier.

As he did at the time, Calhoun praised the response Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin had to the fight.

“I thought Mick Cronin did a great job handling that situation afterward,” Calhoun said.

— UConn and Cincinnati could be the best teams in the Big East not named Syracuse. Then again, they might be fighting it out for 10th place. Who knows?

“We have a league that makes no sense from two to 16,” Calhoun said. “There is no two or 16, actually.”

“There’s a one, far and away, but no real two as I see it,” Calhoun said, obviously referring to the Orange. “Cincinnati is there and we’re supposedly three or four.”

— The Huskies worked on some (gasp!) zone defenses Wednesday, including a 1-3-1 that saw Drummond briefly on the wing.

— PF Tyler Olander (heel) practiced Tuesday and appears ready to go.

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent but he’s certainly better,” Calhoun said. “I expect him to play.”

FYI, Roscoe Smith is sticking at the four (PF), it seems. We’ll see how the playing time shakes out.

— SF DeAndre Daniels turned his right ankle in the middle of practice and limped off. He returned later, however, and should play against the Bearcats.

— UConn is 7-2 against Cincinnati.

— C Andre Drummond is the first UConn freshman to record three-straight double-doubles since Corny Thompson had five in a row in the 1978-79 season.

Also he’s the first Husky in any class to turn the trick in three straight Big East games since Hasheem Thabeet in 2008-09.

— UConn G Jeremy Lamb made the Wooden Award’s midseason Top 25 list that was released Tuesday.

— Cincinnati has won six straight Big East road games, dating back to last season.

— UConn is 10-0 at home this season

— Cincinnati has forced 177 turnovers over its last 10 games (17.7). That’s not a positive number if you’re UConn.

The Bearcats also don’t turn the ball over much themselves, committing a school-record low 3 in their last game, a win over Villanova.

It’s kind of a change of style that came from the suspensions (C Yancy Gates’ 6 games in particular).

“Out of that…they became a whole different team,” Calhoun said. “Twenty-four 3’s (attempted) per game, a lot of pressing, just a whole different thing.”

— As they prepared to face Oscar Robertson’s alma mater, the Huskies welcomed back Tony Robertson to practice.

The former Husky guard practiced with the Green (scout) team Tuesday. He’s back on campus taking some classes to finish up his degree.

Always one of the more likable players during his tenure in Storrs, we wish Robertson the best.



About Neill

Neill Ostrout covers the UConn men's basketball team for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. He has been a member of the "Horde" for more than 16 years.
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