Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

Men’s Basketball Battles NC State in 69-65 Loss

The men’s basketball team took an early lead over No. 25 North Carolina State and battled through most of the game before the Wolfpack broke open the game with a 6-0  run late in the second half to defeat the Huskies 69-65 in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York on Tuesday.

NC State was led by C.J. Leslie’s double-double, 16 points and 13 rebounds, and three other double-digit scorers. The Wolfpack out-rebounded the Huskies 35-27.

Shabazz Napier ’14 (CLAS) led the Huskies in scoring with 19 points, but only managed 4 points in the second half. Ryan Boatright ’15 (CLAS) had 18 points and Enosch Wolf had 10 points and 7 rebounds.

“We are going to go with what we have and our guards are definitely the leads for that. We are going to get through this tough time, I like the way the guys battled, ” said head coach Kevin Ollie ’95 (CLAS). “I cannot say enough about these guys in the locker room. Yes, we have some faults like every other team. I have faith in the guys in the UConn jersey, they are going to keep playing hard.”

The Huskies drop to  6-2 overall and NC State improves to 5-2. The team’s last game before final exams is against Harvard on Friday in Gampel Pavilion at 7 p.m.

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The focus on the all-round contributions of Kelly Faris ’13 (ED) after the No. 2 women’s basketball team defeated No. 11 Maryland  63-48 in Hartford on Monday night was not the first time the senior guard from Indiana has left opposing coaches shaking their head. Having once again all but shut down one of another team’s top scorers, All-American Alyssa Thomas, and filling most of the statistical categories in the box score, Faris played all but six minutes of the nationally televised game and seemed a part of every key play.

“She doesn’t take a play off,” said Brenda Frese, Maryland’s head coach. “She continues to work defensively. Offensively, she runs you around in circles. She cuts hard. She never takes a possession off. You try to defend her, you try to find her; she makes play after play.”

As only he can, head coach Geno Auriemma summed up his thoughts about Faris, who he feels does not get the recognition she deserves for the way she plays the game:  “I’m always amazed at the Big East coaches that they never vote her for anything. So, they are stuck with the guys they have and they have the record they have, and we have the record we have because we have her. It’s a great example of how somebody can dominate a game and take six shots. I thought Kelly completely dominated the game, she dominated the entire game and she defended Alyssa Thomas as well as anybody can be defended. She has an impact that goes beyond the stat sheet. When you look at the stat sheet there is a whole bunch of stuff in there, but her impact is greater than that, it’s just amazing. If you watch her closely on film watch for how many things she does to impact the game, some never show up on the stat sheet, she’s just an incredible athlete and an amazing player.”

Against Maryland, Faris had 6 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 8 steals in 34 minutes, second in playing time only to junior center Stefanie Dolson ’14 (CLAS), who led the Huskies with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Faris most often is asked to defend a team’s best scorer, which usually means sacrificing the kind of energy most other players use to score.

Following a similar across-the-board performance against Prairie View A&M during last year’s first round NCAA tournament game in Bridgeport, Conn., — when she had 6 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals —  I asked Faris if her play was simply a matter of being someone who is from Indiana, the state that worships basketball above all else.

“I think we’re the fundamental sate; we do all those little things,” she said at the time. “That’s how I was coached. Everybody wants to score. But if I have somebody on my team hitting lights out, I want to get [her] the ball. I want to win. I want our team to win. I’m going to do anything possible to get that done. Whether that means I score, I pass, or I rebound, I’m going to do it.”

The Huskies (6-0) will play No. 10 Penn State (6-1) on Thursday at Gampel Pavilion at 7 p.m.

BIG EAST HONOR:  Brianna Banks ’15 (CLAS), who Auriemma feels has improved dramatically since her freshman year last season, was named to the conference’s weekly Honor Roll  for her performance against Colgate last week. She had 20 points on 6 of 10 shooting, with 4 steals, 5 assists and had no turnovers.