Liveblog! Tonight! At! 7! Here!
Any time I have an excuse to post that video, I'll take it.
That particular video may well be the best representation of the recent history in the UConn-Providence series. For almost seven years, UConn has inexplicably been owned by the team whose mascot endorses a product so goofy that not even Billy Mays would endorse it.
For one glorious game, though, UConn took out all of its frustrations on a hapless Providence team. In front of a crowd whose mood could be described as "bloodthirsty" and "KILL KILL KILL RHODE ISLAND KILL," the Huskies did just that. The final was 94-61, and it wasn't that close. As a prize, UConn should move up to the No. 1 ranking in the polls by the time you read this.
As a housewarming gift, the Huskies will travel to Freedom Hall tonight to take on Louisville, who happens to be the hottest team in the country and, quite possibly, the most talented starting five anywhere. Thanks, schedule makers!
This was a satisfying win on every level.
On one hand, it erases two years of complete futility against the Friars, and six years of implausible losses to Providence at home. Bet you didn't see that coming after Providence tied it up at 34-34 with two minutes to play in the first half.
On the other, UConn's offense ran roughshod over Providence, breaking down the will and turning UConn tormentor Geoff McDermott (4 points, 5 rebounds, 2-for-6 shooting) into a crying shell of a player.
On the third, genetically-disordered hand, it looked like Jim Calhoun was taking out some frustrations on his old nemesis. The starters were left in past the final media timeout with a 35-point lead. Every made field goal of the Huskies' backbreaking 26-2 run (over a five-minute period late in the second half) was like an unnecessary gunshot in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Hasheem Thabeet had one of his best all-around games in a UConn uniform, managing a triple-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) and tying the school record with 10 blocks.
A.J. Price joined Jerome Dyson in the exclusive "UConn players who reached 1,000 career points during the week of Feb. 2", with the former leading all scorers with 19.
Plus, Stanley's back! And by back, I mean that he's back to being his maddeningly inconsistent self. Robinson's 18 points (on 7-11 shooting) and seven rebounds are a sure sign that he'll throw up five or six bricks in tonight's game at the Cardinals, followed shortly by an upcoming game where he scores 25 on 10 shots. But seriously, it's nice to have Sticks back.
All in all, just a thrilling, cathartic, UConn-women-like performance over a team that has an outside shot at two byes in the Big East tournament.
In addition, the win has sent the fans of the tiny, irrelevant program in Rhode Island into something of a tizzy. Which gives me a chance to point out yet another in the ever-expanding toolbag fauna that inhabits much of New England. (Which yes, does include some UConn fans. Sorry in advance. But if you don't like sweeping generalizations, you're all stupid.)
Over at the Providence forum, amidst the various whining about physical play (there's reasons UConn fouls less than any other team in the country, and none of them have to do with the refs), snide "safety school" remarks (from the, what, third-best school in that city?) and the silly bashing of Thabeet comes a particularly ignorant thread that makes me wonder what's in the water in New England.
Titled Are UConn students serious with the how's your father chant?, the folks over there seem to believe UConn students were chanting about Weyinmi Efejuku's recently-deceased father, despite the fact that I'm guessing 95% of the students had no idea his father passed. With all due respect and condolences to Efejuku, I actually follow Big East basketball and I wasn't aware.
It takes the troglodytes a page and a half to determine definitively that we were chanting about the fair game that is Jeff Xavier's brother for the entire game, most notably in the cringe-producing "YOUR BROTHER'S IN JAIL!" scream during a pause in the national anthem.
Still, they're just fans of a bubble team. Back to what matters: UConn played its most complete game (well, half, anyway) on Saturday, and looked every bit a nat---l t-tle (can't say the words yet) contender. Hopefully, we're not looking back in three weeks saying, "hey, that Providence game was totally the peak. This season sucks."
Step one to moving on to the final nine games of the season begins with the showdown with No. 5 Louisville on ESPN. The liveblog will be here at 7 p.m., so hopefully you can join us/will read us over breakfast Tuesday.
I don't know exactly how to preview a game this big. Louisville's fantastic, they're really tough to beat at home, and the Hall should be rocking tonight. The Cardinals have already beaten then-No. 1 Pittsburgh there earlier this season. Terrence Williams and Earl Clark are matchup problems no matter who they play.
Essentially, if you take the retrospectively-hyperbolic words at the end of my Notre Dame preview and multiply them by 10, that's what we're talking about.
It would take a very special team to go into Freedom Hall, on this night, and beat Louisville. I'm not going to dismiss the possibility just yet, but then I probably wouldn't bet money on the Huskies either.
So enjoy the game, as well as these links from around the Internets, as a way of getting all of the knowledge you need before 7:00:
The Courant's all over Louisville's dangerous full-court press defense, which will be a great test for Price and Dyson.
The Day points out that Rick Pitino is an oracle. Either that or a witch. I'm going with witch.
Our buddies over at Card Chronicle point out Louisville's better-than-average results against No. 1 teams.
The Courier-Journal says that Andre McGee doesn't treat this game as bigger than any other game. Dubious.
Finally, the Worldwide Leader has a cool feature up on Jeff Adrien, complete with muscle-pose main photo. Apparently, the guy who gets a double-double every game and played on the last really good UConn team is the Huskies' leader or something. Wouldn't have guessed.
My pick: Louisville 85, UConn 79
And again, remember to join the liveblog just prior to 7!