Let’s get ready to wrestle! (not really)

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UConn guard Ryan Boatright talks with reporters after practice Tuesday in Gampel Pavilion.

Greetings from snowy Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies worked out this morning in advance of Wednesday’s game against Stanford in Hartford.

Here’s a few quick notes/quotes:

— STANFORD MAY PRESENT UConn with a number of challenges, chief among them might be 6-foot-10 senior forward Dwight Powell.

UConn coach Kevin Ollie admits he hasn’t seen many players like Powell.

“No, not at 6-10 who is mobile, who can shoot, who can take it off the bounce and also take it off the bounce and finish,” Ollie said. “And then he’s leading them in assists, also. You don’t face many guys like that.”

It’s a bit of a speed vs. size game.

“We’re going to hopefully use our speed. It’s going to be our speed against their size,” Ollie said. “If we get in a wrestling match with them, we’ll lose that one.”

— THE GAME WEDNESDAY matches the co-winners of the 2011 Illinois Mr. Basketball award: UConn’s (Aurora East) Ryan Boatright and Stanford’s (Rock Island) Chasson Randle.

“I can see that Powell’s a good player. But Chasson really makes the team go. He’s the engine,” Boatright said. “He likes to get out in transition and get his buckets early, get the team going. It’s my job to stop him, to slow down the tempo.”

Despite being rivals of a sort in high school, Boatright and Chasson have never played in a significant game.

“We didn’t really play each other. I think we played each other one time in summer basketball, going into my sophomore year (of high school),” Boatright said. “His school, he was in a different class. I think he was in 3A or something like that so we never got to play against each other.

“I knew of him,” Boatright said. “I think when I was committed to SC (Southern Cal) he was supposed to be going to Illinois.”

Boatright still marvels at the “tie” for the award.

“That was unheard of,” Boatright said. “It was a blessing to be named Mr. Basketball, even though it was co, but I had never heard of a co-Mr. Basketball.”

So is Wednesday’s game a tiebreaker?

“No,” Boatright said. “I think that’s what everybody wants the game to be about but with me, I’m passed that. I’m more mature. It’s about getting this win and doing my job. I’m not trying to go out there and prove anything.”

— STANFORD MAY play a 2-3 zone for much of the game. The Huskies are preparing for it, anyway.

“They play a lot of zone,” Ollie said. “I don’t know if they’ll change it up during their little break. We’re preparing for zone, we’re preparing for man-to-man.”

UConn has been much better against zones this season than it has in previous years. Why is that?

“Penetration, coming to a good jump stop, taking care of the basketball, and of course hitting shots,” Ollie said.

— SOPHOMORE GUARD Omar Calhoun sprained his ankle during Tuesday’s practice and sat out some of the final action. It doesn’t appear to serious, however.

“He’s from Brooklyn,” Ollie said with a smile, apparently implying Calhoun’s toughness won’t let him miss the Stanford game.

— THE HUSKIES, one of 14 unbeaten teams left in the nation, are 9-0 for the 11th time in school history.

The best start in team history came in 1998-99 when they started 19-0.

— IT’S THE FIRST of two-straight games against Pac-12 competition for UConn. The team will fly out to Seattle Thursday morning in advance of Sunday’s game against Washington.

UConn is 17-2 against Pac-12 teams and has won 13 straight such games. Its last loss came in the 1995 NCAA Tournament to UCLA.

Since that UCLA game UConn is 5-0 against Arizona, 1-0 against Arizona State, 4-0 against Washington and 3-0 against Stanford.

Its only other loss to a Pac-12 team (former Pac-10) was a loss to Arizona State in December 1982.

— UCONN HAS WON 54 straight at home against non-conference foes, dating back to a 2007 loss to Indiana.

— THE GAME FEATURES two of the nation’s top 3-point threats. Stanford’s Anthony Brown is 21-of-35 (.600) and UConn’s Niels Giffey is 18-of-27 (.667).

— THE CARDINAL IS making regular trips to the East Coast this season.

Stanford played two games in Brooklyn in November (beating Houston and losing to Pittsburgh). And after Wednesday’s game they’re heading back to Brooklyn for a game against Michigan Saturday.

— UCONN LEADS THE all-time series 4-0, last winning in the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash.

— THE GAME IS something of a homecoming for Tim O’Toole.

O’Toole is a Fairfield U grad and former head coach there. He also was an assistant at Duke in the early 1990’s. He’s got plenty of experience against the Huskies, obviously.

— HE ISN’T PLAYING in games for the Huskies this year but G Rodney Purvis is still a big part of the team.

He’ll be out of practice for the rest of the year, though, after having surgery Tuesday morning to repair the labrum in his left shoulder.

“It’s just been popping in and out. He’ll get an episode and it’ll pop out and he’ll be in pain. He’ll get right back in it but we just don’t want it to continue to tear, that labrum. I imagine it’s small, minute now but if you let it continue to tear each and every time it comes out of place, that’s when you get in trouble,” Ollie said.

Purvis, a transfer from N.C. State, should be fine by next season. It’s his non-shooting shoulder, Ollie points out.

“He’s going to have to have it stabilized for four weeks,” Ollie said. “After that he won’t be good to go, but he’ll be able to move it around and maneuver it a little bit more.”

The typical recovery time is 4-5 months.

“I wouldn’t want it next year when we’re going down to Gainesville and he has an episode,” Ollie said. “If you look at it that way, it’s a good time for him to do it.

“Hopefully it’s four months and not five months with the small tear that he had, and hopefully he can get back for our spring session and start working out with the coaches in the summer time,” Ollie said.

Neill

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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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