Sleeping With The Enemy: The Huskies of Connecticut

Another road conference game?!?!  I feel like we play nine of these damn things a season.  The Marquette game wasn't pretty, but it proved that this team can win in a variety of ways.  Next up are the convicts of UConn.  As usual we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON are bringing you everything you need to know about Georgetown's next opponent.  Special thanks to The UConn Blog, the most creatively-named Connecticut blog on the web, for providing answers to our always intriguing questions. The UConn Blog, this jug of V8 is for you.

Our answers to The UConn Blog's questions can be found here.

I am having a really hard time figuring out this UConn team.  For most of the season, you guys have been one of the best teams in the country, yet in the last few weeks have looked very beatable.  Is this just a tough stretch due to the brutality of the Big East or are the last few weeks an indication of this team's actual ability?

The problem with this team is that while Kemba Walker is amazing, his support, especially in the post, has been inconsistent at best. Other teams have learned that if they sit in a zone, UConn doesn't have anyone besides Walker who can reliably beat them. So they'll sit back, throw two or three guys at Kemba and watch UConn's offense grind to a halt. That's a flaw, but it's been made a lot worse by the fact that our shooters (especially Walker) have hit a tremendous cold patch. We've had a debate on the site about if the problem is that the cold shooting makes the zone defenses look better or if the zone defenses are causing the cold shooting. Obviously we're hoping it is the former.

(More fun with fun people after the jump)

Right now, I'd say UConn's win at Texas was the most impressive win in all of college basketball.  Would you agree?

It's certainly up there. I have a hard time equating the word "impressive" with anything to do with Rick Barnes though.

Should Kemba Walker win Big East Player of the Year?

It really depends on how the next two or three weeks go. If UConn can work through their offensive woes, win some games and Kemba's shots start to fall consistently then he definitely deserves it. If the team keeps struggling like it has for the past two weeks though, I could see someone stealing it away.

Coming into the season, who did you expect to play better - Jeremy Lamb or Roscoe Smith?

I was more excited to see Lamb, if only because Calhoun spent more time talking about him. Both have impressed me though, and I think they'll both wind up being very valuable in the next few years. Lamb is the better scorer and he's taken off more in the past month or so, but Roscoe has made a lot of valuable contributions, especially on the boards where UConn has been weak at times.

How many more years do you see Jim Calhoun at the helm?  Who do you think succeeds him?  Do you think the recent NCAA allegations have impacted how much longer he stays as the head coach?

It's tough to say, especially since he seems reenergized this year. This is the first year of a five-year contract that everyone agrees will be his last. He's made it clear that what he wants more than anything is a third national title, and if he wins it, he'll retire immediately.. Projecting forward, UConn's best shot at that will come in 2013. Just about everyone not named Kemba on the current team will still be around, and the No. 1 player in the 2012 recruiting class is Andre Drummond, a big man from Hartford who UConn is working extremely hard to get. Barring a surprise title, I figure Calhoun will be around until at least 2013, then take stock on if he wants to finish out the last two years of his contract.

Complete this sentence - if UConn gets to the [Insert Round in NCAA Tournament], I will be happy.

Sweet 16. That answer might have been Elite 8 two weeks ago, but that seems very optimistic at the moment. However the thing I want most, even more than substantial NCAA success, is a legitimate run in the Big East tournament. UConn hasn't won the BET since 2004 and it hasn't won a single game in the tournament since 2005 (and a few of those losses were real heartbreakers -- *cough* 6OT *cough*). I would happily trade an NCAA win or two to see UConn in the BET semis or championship game.

If you were an NBA scout, what pick would be the highest you'd take Kemba Walker?

I don't know enough about the class to give a fair evaluation of exactly where I'd take Walker, but around No. 10 seems about right. He's super-fast and can distribute the ball for you, but he's undersized. He isn't a bad shooter, but he isn't a great one either. He'll be a valuable player for someone, but because of the physical limitations I can't imagine him as a 30 mpg and potential All-Star down the line type player.

When all is said and done, which four teams end up getting a bye in the Big East Tournament?

Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Georgetown seem like the three best bets for me. The fourth could go to a bunch of teams (obviously) but I'd say Louisville might have the best shot.

Who does UConn consider its biggest rival in basketball?

We're in a weird spot rivalry-wise. For the 20+ years we've been a power, Syracuse has been the only team that has consistently matched our success, but they're a little busy hating you to create a real rivalry with us. We don't really have a great geographic match either. Boston College could have been one before leaving, but we always killed them in basketball anyway. Pittsburgh has been a fun team to play against for the last decade or so, and you guys have become more and more annoying over the past five years as you keep stealing wins from us (Hibbert's 3, The flukey game in '09 to open the Big East season, Freeman's second half last year.)

Who is in the all time UConn starting five?  Would you say that'd be the best all time starting five of any Big East school?

The toughest spot by far here to pick is point guard. Marcus Williams could be a good choice (he was the best passer I've ever seen in a UConn jersey), and if you wanted the offensive you could conceivably force Ben Gordon to play the 1. However, I went with Khalid El-Amin for the leadership/attitude/clutch/will-to-win factor. He wasn't the best shooting point guard UConn ever had, but he could keep the team together and make sure the ball was in the right place. I'm not sure if they're the best Big East team, but I'd take them, especially if you gave me a team that would have Gordon, Kemba Walker, Rudy Gay and Caron Butler as the first four guys off the bench.
PG: Khalid El-Amin
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Rip Hamilton
PF: Donyell Marshall
C: Emeka Okafor

In your mind, which Big East fanbase is the most annoying?

Georgetown -- and that's mainly a product of how annoyed I've been with the way we've lost to you guys over the past five years. We owe you a regrettable loss on Wednesday.

Hypothetically, if Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun were to fight, who would win?

Calhoun, easily. The guy is a beast. Two summers ago he was hosting a 25-mile charity bike ride. Early on in the race he hit a pothole, flipped over the handle bars and broke a few ribs. He got up, got back on the bike and finished the race. He was 67.

Who is the one player in the Big East right now that would drastically improve UConn?

Probably Rick Jackson. More than anything else UConn needs a consistent presence in the paint.

What has been plaguing UConn during this recent slide?

It has been a combination of an inability to move the ball against the zone, complete lack of finishing ability inside and a nasty cold streak for our shooters. The cold streak seemed to be disappearing against Providence, but the first two are still real concerns.

Will Hasheem Thabeet ever become a serviceable NBA player?  Do you care?

I think he's got a shot. His game is limited so he'll never light the world on fire in the NBA -- and UConn fans were well aware of that in 2009 -- but he does have some very particular defensive skills that will always be valuable in some sense. Plus, he's a learner. He only started playing around age 15 and at UConn you could literally see him develop from game to game. The D-League demotion (which only lasted for about a week) instantly branded him as a bust, but it's exactly the type of thing he'd get a lot of benefit from. Give him a few years and I think he'll be okay.

How do you see this game playing out?  Final score prediction?    

I'd like to think that UConn found some answers against Providence, the shooters will be back on track and we can pay you back for the past couple of years. That just seems like a bit too much of a reach at the moment though. I'll say Georgetown 68 -- UConn 62.

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