No. 11 Cincinnati is the kind of team that should, theoretically, give UConn problems.
They are good as anyone in the country defensively, and UConn is not a difficult team to develop a game-plan for. Slow down Shabazz Napier, makes life difficult for Ryan Boatright and Deandre Daniels, and win. The Bearcats attack the offensive glass as well as any team in the country, and UConn is not even in the top 250 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage. Think about it like this: Napier had 11 rebounds for the Huskies on Saturday. No one else had more than four boards on a night the two teams combined to shoot 29.5% from the floor.
Cincinnati is bigger, more physical and older than UConn.
Yet it was the Huskies that left the XL Center on Sunday with a 51-45 win over the Bearcats despite Napier, Boatright and Daniels combined to shoot 9-for-30 from the field. That’s a great sign for the Huskies, who haven’t exactly been playing their best basketball of late. They struggled to win at Temple and USF and got worked over by SMU team at home, a team that plays an awful lot like the Bearcats.
The best news for UConn is that this win should help them climb above a seven-seed. Napier, who finished with 18 points and 11 boards, is talented enough that he can lead UConn to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, but I’m not sure this UConn team can beat elite teams when they’re at full strength on a neutral court.
The Huskies are a No. 7 seed in the latest bracket posted by our Dave Ommen.
When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.
LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.
Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).
All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.
The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.
Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.