Between the women losing last night and the football team playing in the Fiesta Bowl tomorrow, you can be forgiven for forgetting that the UConn men even have a game tonight. Yes folks, thanks to the the Big East schedule makers, UConn will be playing a New Year's Eve game against USF in Hartford with a 6 p.m. tip. Don't try too hard to hide your excitement.
Anyway, we've hooked up with our USF frenemy Ken from over at Voodoo Five to bring you another installment of our tragically underused feature Friends with Bennies. His answers to my questions are below, and I've answered a few from him as well. When they're posted over at V5, I'll be back here with the link.
TheUConnBlog: You guys are still up and running in the winter? Really? What's it like to be the USF basketball fan?
Voodoo Five: It's not that great. Each year you think this is the team that gets USF back on track, and then the screaming starts. After our non-conference schedule, we slowly admit that we aren't good and that's the first step. After that, we make fun of everyone digging themselves out of the snow while its 70 degrees in Tampa. We also have great ideas like USF Basketball Theater 3000 to make the season go by quicker.
TUB: USF had a brief shot at NCAA glory last year, but their bubble burst and they've since return to their natural resting place at the bottom of the conference, what are the odds the Bulls climb out of the basement any time soon?
V5: The Athletic Department is doing their part. USF is building the Muma Basketball Center, which will give USF basketball their own 50,000 square foot facility. Before that, both basketball teams as well as the volleyball team shared one practice court. If the court was taken by someone else, the basketball team would move their practices to the Rec Center, and bums like me and my friends could play at the next court over while they practiced.
Second, they gave Coach Heath a 5 year extension after last year's 20 win campaign. People have been complaining about this year's team being awful, and I agree that we aren't good. But we lost our entire backcourt, including a 4 year starter at PG, a 3 year starter at SG, and a 1.5 year starter at the 3. That's a lot of production gone from a year ago, and even I could see we were going to take a step back this season.
Finally, they are renovating the Sun Dome over the offseason and it will be a much needed facelift. If you've been to the Dome, you know that its not the greatest venue to play at, and other than a couple of screens installed at each of the corners it's exactly the same as it was 20 years ago.
TUB: Who, if anyone, should UConn be looking out for in the game?
V5: Our posts have been well, with Jarrid Famous, Ron Anderson Jr., and Augustus Gilchrist leading the way. If we have any chance of winning Friday, all three of these guys need to have monster games.
Jawanza Poland looked has had his moments earlier in the year, but he's taken a step back the last couple of games. Hugh Robertson doesn't to a lot that grabs your attention, but somehow he gets 10 points a game, which is always nice to have.
TUB: We have this Kemba Walker guy who you may have heard of. Is there any chance USF finds a way to contain him?
V5: Unless Stan Heath sends his son Jordan out there with a tire iron, we won't. I'm concerned that Kemba will outscore USF by himself Friday.
TUB: Do you expect 10,000 USF fans to make the trip to beautiful Hartford for a new year's eve basketball game?
V5: About as much as 18,000 UConn fans making the trip to Tempe for the Fiesta Bowl.
TUB: Uh, I'm out, so.... Anything good on TV lately?
V5: Not really. The English Premier League has been fun to watch the last couple of weeks, but that's all I got.