Another afternoon in Storrs with the UConn basketball team. Associate head coach George Blaney and the Huskies spent a few minutes with us after Friday’s practice.
— The Huskies take on No. 12 Marquette Saturday afternoon in Hartford. The Golden Eagles (21-5, 10-3) have experienced plenty of injuries and don’t have too many (any?) big men, but it hasn’t bothered them much.
“All I know is (Darius) Johnson-Odom and (Jae) Crowder are two pretty good players. And Junior Cadougan’s a pretty good player,” Blaney said. “It’s not like they don’t have good players.
“I never think size is all that necessary,” Blaney continued. “I think good players are necessary. They have athletes, they have strength, they have quickness. And they play full-out.”
— Everyone is relatively healthy, it seems. C Andre Drummond (ankle), SG Jeremy Lamb (toe) and PF Roscoe Smith (Achilles) all practiced Friday and seemed fine.
“Both Jeremy and Andre practiced yesterday (Thursday) and were fine, then again today (Friday) and were pretty good,” Blaney said. “Shabazz (Napier) is going to be sore after every game and most practices. His knees and ankles are still a little shaky.”
DeAndre Daniels has a back issue but it doesn’t seem to bad.
“DeAndre stiffened his back up a little bit today but he worked it out and looked pretty good,” Blaney continued.
As for Smith, he probably could have played against DePaul.
“Roscoe didn’t practice for two days (before the DePaul game) and that’s why I didn’t play him in the game the other night. I would have played him if I needed him, but I told him also that if I didn’t need him I wasn’t going to play him,” Blaney said. “But he’s looked pretty good in the last two practices and should be ready for duty.”
— Blaney is looking for the energy the Huskies showed against DePaul and even Syracuse to continue.
“Of all the things that we need, it’s the effort for the entire possession and the entire game,” Blaney said. “When we get that, we’re pretty hard to play.”
— It’s all about winning, now, even though the Huskies are in pretty good shape as far as the NCAA tourney goes.
“We’re 21 in the RPI so I don’t know that we need any padding,” Blaney said. “We need wins. We’ve got five games and we need as many of those as we can get. Obviously beating Marquette would be a really, really good win and somewhat of a signature win.
“We have the resume, we just need more wins,” Blaney said.
— Few people were as happy to see the Huskies beat DePaul Wednesday than UConn guard Ryan Boatright. The Chicago native didn’t want to return home with a loss to the Windy City’s Blue Demons on his resume.
“If we’d have taken a loss to DePaul and I went back home, I’d hear a lot about it,” Boatright said.
So what did the Huskies do well to beat DePaul?
“We executed well, we played good defense and we just had fun,” said Boatright, who had a rather poor game himself but wasn’t too upset. “We looked like a team again. There was no selfishness out there. Everybody was looking out for everybody.”
— Marquette’s only loss in its last 10 games was to an equally hot Notre Dame squad in South Bend, Ind.
— UConn hasn’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 9 and 14.
— The visiting team has won the last four games in this series.
Marquette won in overtime in Hartford last season as Johnson-Odom hit a late shot to send the game into OT.
“I know it’s in the back of guys’ minds, we want to get back at them,” Alex Oriakhi said.