Monday, February 2, 2009

Thoughts on UCONN

Since the Cards joined the BIG EAST, the game against UCONN was the one you circle on your calendar whenever the schedule comes out. This year's version might be the best so far. Big Monday doesn't ever get as large as it will tonight.

- We got our wish. UCONN is #1 in the new coach's poll, giving the Cards an opportunity to beat the top ranked team for the second time in 15 days. Louisville somehow stayed the same (7th) as last week even though they didn't lose and 3 teams still ahead of them (Duke, PITT, Wake) all suffered defeats. This just enhances my argument that the ESPN/USA Today poll is a complete joke in both football and basketball. The man that should have his finger on the pulse of college hoops - Dick Vitale - voted the Cards 9th last week in a poll after they had just beaten 3 top 10 teams. 9th? Can he see past his Coach K briefs and Hansbrough underoos? Guess he can just blame it on the eye or the old age or the fascination he has with the ACC. Please boo him if you see him tonight. Like Jim Burr, Tim Higgins, Digger Phelps and countless others - Dicky V should hang-em up. Can't wait to hear his suck-up tonight when he's sees the defense in person. The AP (aka "guys that actually watch multiple games a week") did the right thing and moved the Cards up to 5th.

- The thing that worries me the most is our ability to make shots in the halfcourt setting. UCONN's guards will be able to withstand the pressure of the Cardinal guards better than any opposing team all year. Kemba Walker, AJ Price, Jerome Dyson, and Craig Austrie size up well with what the Cards bring on the perimeter. Separation will be made by whoever can hit shots in the halfcourt setting. If Louisville can at least play even, the Cardinal front-court should take care of the rest.

- Hasheem Thabeet is going to get his blocks - that's basically a given. The Cards need to worry about securing the ball after those blocks. If they panic, the Huskies could get a run-out. If they stay poised, they could get an easy lay-up or at least another opportunity. Samardo, in particular, needs to keep his wheels turning even if he gets a couple shoved back in his face. UCONN is great at securing the loose balls Thabeet creates, but if the Cards could steal a couple it could be give them a few extra buckets.

- The crowd is most definitely the x-factor tonight. The Cards can overcome a bad start (PITT) or a rough patch (WVU) due to the Freedom Hall faithful helping them overcome obstacles. The Cards are 2.5 point favorites, so Vegas knows that the Hall crowd is a huge factor. Rarely do you see a #1 team as an underdog. The boys in Sin City don't pay attention to that kind of stuff though. They look at the product on the court. According to them, the Cards are an equal or better team. We'll see at 7 PM.

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