The Dogs Are Biting Back

By Richard Kent
Updated: February 20, 2008

Hasheem Thabeet

Hasheem Thabeet

CONNECTICUT — Sure, Jim Calhoun is a great basketball coach. He is a Hall of Fame coach and deservedly so. But the job he is doing this season is probably his best ever and that includes two National Championships.

Last year, Connecticut was not a tournament team. This year, they suffered an 11-point loss to Memphis, a three point loss to Gonzaga, a six point loss at Notre Dame and the disappointing 12-point loss to Providence at the XL Center.

They’ve had two player suspensions, which combined with the loss against Providence was probably the low point of the season.

Since then, UConn has gone on a run since then and has won 10 straight games including victories at Indiana, at Syracuse and at home against Georgia Tech.

Many said before the season that they might be a bubble team this year. Instead they are vying for a possible No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament in March.

Right now, UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville and Georgetown are the cream of the crop in the Big East. They are likely one of the semifinal matchups in the Big East Tournament in March in New York.

How has Connecticut done it? Well, first you have to take into account Calhoun’s great coaching, especially on defense. Then there has been the vast improvement in the play of center Hasheem Thabeet.

He led the team in scoring with 24 points against Georgia Tech and pulled down on rebounds against Notre Dame. He has a much more polished offensive game this year than last year and continues in the process to lead the nation in blocked shots.

A.J. Price is probably one of the top three players in the Big East. He had 26 points and the win against Notre Dame. Stanley Robinson has broken out of his funk and has been rebounding and scoring like one would have expected from this great athlete.

UConn has games remaining with Villanova, Rutgers and Providence on the road and West Virginia and Cincinnati at home. They should all be wins and the Huskies should enter the Big East Tournament as a Top Ten team nationally.

UConn presents difficult match-up problems. Their offensive rebounding is without parallel and they can play big or small depending on the situation.

No one expected UConn to make a run in the NCAA Tournament before the season started and they were picked number seven in the preseason Big East rankings.

Right now, UConn has to be considered among the nation’s elite and certainly has an outside chance of winning a National Championship.

Credit that to Calhoun.