Detroit Mercy Titans
KenPom Ranking: Overall- 196 Offense- 218 Defense- 171
Television: SNY/ESPN 3
The 2k classic kicked off yesterday in Bloomington, Indiana with LIU-Brooklyn giving Indiana everything they could handle only to fall short 72-73. UConn's first game is today at 7pm against a 1-1 Detroit team that was soundly beaten by South Alabama in their season opener 74-58 before notching their first win against University of Michigan... Dearborn Campus, an NAIA school. I'm not going to sugarcoat this one, Detroit is one of the worst teams that UConn will be facing this year.
The most interesting thing about our opponent tomorrow is that Juwan Howard Jr. plays for them. Yes, the son of the Fab Fiver and current NBA Assistant Coach will be playing against the Huskies tonight in Storrs. Howard Jr. is Detroit's best player following the departure of Ray McCallum Jr. to the NBA Draft.
Howard Sr. coaches on the Heat, who have a home game tomorrow, so there's an outside shot Howard flies in and out to watch his son play (I'm pretty sure he isn't strapped for cash). Also, his mother and aunt are apparently very vocal in the stands, so there's definitely some entertainment value to be had for fans attending the first Men's game at Gampel this season.
UConn sits at 2-0 after a win against Yale. In that game, Wooden Award watch-list candidate Shabazz Napier recorded only the tenth triple double in UConn history and became the first Husky to record two triple doubles in his career. He and Niels Giffey (again) were the bright spots in a game that left a lot to be desired despite the lopsided score. Yale out-rebounded us, 43-31. Read that again. To be fair, the big men as a group didn't get many minutes against a lineup that had nobody over 6-foot-8 but nevertheless, our bigs need to be rebounding more than our point guard. Kevin Ollie's postgame comments lead me to believe that they've had a pretty rough couple of days in practice and that our men up front will have something to prove going into this one.
The last meeting between these two teams was in the second round of the 2001 NIT Tournament, where Detroit actually beat us 67-61. I have been able to completely block that out from my memory, but that was clearly a rebuilding year for us as we made the Elite Eight the next year. I have no doubt that today the Huskies will take the court with vengeance on their mind.
UConn follows this game with Boston University on Sunday and one week from today, the one we've all been waiting for, Boston College for the semi-finals of the 2k Classic.
LET'S GO HUSKIES.