UConn takes care of UMES


UConn players and cheerleaders line up for a ceremony honoring the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School before Monday’s game. (Neill Ostrout photo)


It was kind of a somber night at the old mall Monday. Not because of the basketball, though.

UConn beat Maryland-Eastern Shore 84-50. But the game will be remembered as the first one after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings.

There was a great (well, touching) ceremony before the game involving the UConn cheerleaders and the players.

“We’re going to continue to have, not just moments, but have a movement where we can stop this violence,” Kevin Ollie said. “I think a moment is not enough. We always have moments and then it goes away. Hopefully we have a movement.”

Shabazz Napier had “Sandy Hook 26” written on his warm-up T-shirt. Ryan Boatright had “SH” written on his cheek. Enosch Wolf wrote a message of support on his sneakers.

“That could have easily been my sister. It was a humbling experience,” said Boatright, who has 8- and 10-year-old sisters. “It was a humbling experience. My prayers go out to all the families.”

Ollie said he hopes to get his team down to Newtown after Christmas for some kind of event.

“Whatever they want us to do, we’re going to be available for them,” Ollie said. “And hopefully bring a smile or two to their faces.”

— UCONN HIT AN amazing 66 percent of its shots. That’s the fourth-best percentage in UConn history since records were kept (only back to 1980).

UConn hit 69.2 percent in the second half.

It was the Huskies’ defense that made the difference, though, Kevin Ollie said.

“In the first half they were getting in the paint, they were getting loose balls, just toughness things,” Ollie said. “I knew we were going to score. We were running our offense, we were making shots. On the defensive end it just comes down to toughness. I thought we did that better in the second half.”

— FOR A GUY who was scoreless in his last game and had made only 1 of his last 11 shots, Omar Calhoun busted out. He scored a career-high 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

Not to be outdone, Ryan Boatright scored a season-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

Boatright’s offense was sort of coming along, though. He’s had 19, 18, 16 and now 21 points over his last four games.

— ONE GAME AFTER dishing out nine assists, Shabazz Napier had eight. Not bad.

— UCONN MADE 10 treys on Monday, tying its season high.

Because it looked for a while like the Huskies would hit a lot more, I looked up some numbers.

The last time UConn had 11 was against Florida State last season (Nov. 26, 2011).

The last time it hit 12 was against UMBC on Dec. 3, 2010.

The last time it hit 13 was against Virginia Tech on Jan. 28, 2004 (Rashad Anderson had 6 and Ben Gordon 4, FYI).

The school-record, lest I forget to mention that one, is 15. That was set against Hartford on Dec. 28, 1997.

R.J. EVANS didn’t play but his injury hasn’t exactly flared up again. Ollie said he just wanted to rest the veteran guard.

“I just wanted to give him a rest, keep him out and hopefully have him 100 percent for Fordham (on Friday),” Ollie said. “But if we needed him, he was definitely available.”

Perhaps thanks to Evans’ absence, Windsor’s Brendan Allen made his season debut. He was scoreless in three minutes.

— IN CASE YOU were wondering, Jim Calhoun was in attendance again. I’m curious to see if he’ll keep making road trips now that the glamorous ones (Germany, Virgin Islands, New York) are over.



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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