IT WAS KIND of an odd scene Friday night.
There was UConn guard Ryan Boatright, about to enter a meeting room at the DoubleTree hotel in South Bend, Ind. (the former Marriott, if anyone cares) and have dinner with his teammates.
But Boatright didn’t seem to anxious to walk down the hall and eat. He was gracious enough to stop and talk to the media, and admitted as much.
“I’m real nervous. Real nervous,” Boatright said with only a faint smile. “I was sitting right there in that chair behind y’all, madder than a (M F’er).”
Boatright was referring to what happened 363 days earlier in the same hallway in the same hotel. Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun had walked into the team meal and pulled Boatright aside to tell him that the NCAA investigation into his eligibility was back on and that he wouldn’t be playing the next day against Notre Dame.
For get that hundreds of his family and friends had made the drive from nearby Aurora, Ill. to watch him play. Boatright was out.
This year, Boatright is playing against the Irish. And as tough a game as it could be for the Huskies, he couldn’t be happier.
“I’m in a rhythm. I’ve got a flow going,” said Boatright, who is shooting 57.9 percent from the floor over the last six games. “Last year I was pulled in and out. Now I’ve been playing all year and I’m comfortable.”
Boatright said the team chemistry is much better this year and he’s having more fun.
“He’s been in a good state for a while now,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said of Boatright. “His body language is getting much better. I think today (Friday) was one of his best practices ever. It wasn’t just that he was scoring, it was his attention to detail, encouraging his teammates. He looks like he’s in a good place.”
— THE GUARDS ON both sides of today’s matchup are very good. But ND center Jack Cooley is a house, too. It’s the first of two good big men UConn will face this weekend (Well, Monday vs. Louisville)
“Yeah but I’m excited,” UConn center Enosch Wolf said. “Probably the two best big men in the Big East coming up. I’m excited for Cooley and then (Louisville’s Gorgui) Dieng two days after.”
Wolf was studying Cooley on the flight from Hartford to South Bend Friday afternoon.
“I just watched tape of him on the plane with coach (Glen) Miller,” Wolf said. “What I saw was that he was really strong and bulky, and he gets good position. So I have hit him early, try to get him out of his position.”
Ollie on Cooley: “He’s a double-double machine. … And he don’t mind hitting you. It seems like he embraces it. It’s going to be a challenge for our big guys.”
— A BLOG POST by former Boston Globe writer Mark Blaudschun said that UConn and Cincinnati were considering joining the Catholic 7 for all sports except football.
That would leave UConn’s football team as an independent or perhaps joining the Mountain West.
But a UConn official said later Friday the school has had “no contact” with either the Catholic 7 or the Mountain West, and that splitting the conference affiliation of its football team from the rest of the school’s sports “is not something we would consider.”