A few words from UConn associate head coach George Blaney’s chat with reporters after Monday’s practice as the Huskies get ready for Tuesday’s game in Providence:
— Blaney talked to Pat Calhoun, Jim’s wife, this morning following the coach’s back procedure.
“Pat called and said the doctors were really pleased with what went on in the procedure,” Blaney said. “At the time she called he was still in recovery.”
The plan is for Calhoun to leave the hospital Tuesday.
“Everything looks encouraging and I think he will be home some time tomorrow,” Blaney said. “And then we’ll take it day by day from there.”
— If it wasn’t already, apparently now is the time when UConn MUST win.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that doesn’t know that we need to win games,” Blaney said. “Coach was saying that before we left. I’ve been saying that since I’ve had the team. We keep talking about it.
“You have to win games at this level. You can’t just play well. We need these two games coming up.”
— The plays the Huskies made for long stretches in the Syracuse game are the ones Blaney believes can be made regularly.
“I’ve told them that if we can play for 20 minutes with the No. 1 or 2 team in the country as well as we did and have the ball with 13 seconds to go to tie it or win it, we should be good enough to play anybody at any time,” Blaney said.
— Blaney is wary of PC’s ability to fast break and score in general.
“They’ve proven they can score against anybody, particularly score at home,” Blaney said. “So for us it’s going to be a defensive game, a game we need to make stops.”
— Blaney says the Huskies actually handle adversity well.
“They handle adversity pretty well,” Blaney said. “But they sometimes just let it go and don’t play together for periods of time. That’s been a problem most of the year.”
Is that due to the team’s youth?
“More than anything that’s probably what it is. A little bit of strength, too,” Blaney said. “Or play with a little more strength, might be a better answer. First half (against Syracuse), we didn’t play with any strength. They kind of did what they wanted. In the second half we kind of got up in them.”
— Blaney didn’t say who would start against the Friars but expect Roscoe Smith to keep his spot as the starting SF, and probably watch for Shabazz Napier to re-enter the starting lineup, perhaps in place of Ryan Boatright.
Blaney did have plenty of positive things to say about Smith.
“I love what he’s bringing to the table right now,” Blaney said. “I love his physical aspect of what he is. I love his passion. He made some big-time plays in the game the other day.”
— Blaney will be coaching against some friends and family Tuesday. Not only is former UConn assistant Andre LaFleur now with the Friars, his son Brian Blaney is on head coach Ed Cooley’s staff, too.
“It’s not going to be any fun for me,” Blaney said.