Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

Double Basketball Date: Huskies vs. Louisville

After upsetting No. 17 Notre Dame (14-2, 2-1 Big East) in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday, the Huskies (12-3, 2-1) men’s basketball team faces another top-ranked Big East team when they host Louisville, which today moved to No. 1 in the Associated Press polls,  tonight at 7 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford in a nationally televised game (ESPN, UConn IMG Sports Network/WTIC 1080).

Head coach Kevin Ollie ’95 (CLAS) will want junior center Tyler Olander ’14 (CLAS), who had 16 points and 7 rebounds and helped to limit the effectiveness of Fighting Irish center Jack Cooley, to continue his inspired play against Louisville’s 6-11 center Gorgui Dieng, who is averaging 9.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

The Huskies’ backcourt tandem of Shabazz Napier ’14 (CLAS) and Ryan Boatright ’15 (CLAS), which is usually the focus of opposing teams, will have their own challenge against Louisville’s experienced guards, junior Russ Smith, averaging 18.7 points, and senior Peyton Siva, averaging 11.9 points.

For the second consecutive game, UConn pulled down more rebounds than its opposition, 34 to 28, against Notre Dame in a game that was tied five times and had just three lead changes.  The Huskies took the lead for good with just over nine minutes left in the game and held Notre Dame scoreless over the 1:14 of the contest.

“Guys played hard. Three or four times we could have given in and they faced adversity like true champions,” Ollie told reports after the game. “They played together tonight. I can’t overuse that word; I can’t overemphasize it, but they stayed together.”

Louisville’s move to No. 1 followed the first losses of the season by Michigan and Duke.

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The No. 3 women’s basketball team (14-1, 2-1), coming off its 85-51 win at Marquette (8-7, 0-2) on Saturday, will also host No. 15/13 Louisville  (14-3, 2-1) this week at the XL Center, in a nationally televised game (CBS Sport Network, UConn IMG Sports Network) on Tuesday starting at 9 p.m.

The injury bug bit again over the weekend. Freshman Breanna Stewart ’16 (CLAS) sprained an ankle in practice on Friday and did not play at Marquette and during the game, All-American Bria Hartley ’14 (CLAS), re-injured the same ankle that kept her on the sidelines early in the season and did not return.

“There’s not much you can do about those things,” head coach Geno Auriemma said after the game. “I’m hopeful both of them will be back on Tuesday.”

Following today’s practice, Stewart was listed as doubtful for tomorrow and Hartley as probable, Auriemma.

The injury situation did provide opportunities for extra time on the floor for freshmen Morgan Tuck ’16 (CLAS), who returned from her own nagging injuries, and Moriah Jefferson ’16 (CLAS), who ran the offense for much of the game.  Tuck led the team in rebounds with 9, and also dished 5 assists and scored 7 points. Brianna Banks ’15 (CLAS) also saw more action and responded with 12 points and 4 rebounds.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis ’15 (CLAS) led scoring with 24 points, followed by Stefanie Dolson ’14 (CLAS) with 20 points and Kelly Faris ’13 (CLAS), who had another all-around game with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists. Faris was named to this week’s Big East Honor Roll for her play against Georgetown and Marquette.

“The points were coming with every spot on the floor. When that happens, we’re a difficult team to play,” Auriemma said.

Louisville will arrive in Hartford following a 70-62 win over Providence on Saturday. The Cardinals are led by junior guard Shoni Schimmel (12.7 points), senior forward Monique Reid (11.1), and freshman forward Sara Hammond (11.0, 6.5 rebounds).

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The women’s track and field team opened the 2013 indoor campaign on Saturday by dominating the Armory Invite in New York City. The Huskies compiled a total of 204 points, while second place Penn notched 105.5 points.

UConn had a strong showing from its underclassmen with many Huskies competing in their opening collegiate meet and posting top-five finishes, while the squad had four first place finishes from its veteran All-Americans:  Celina Emerson ’14 (CLAS) won the 400m, Madalayne Smith ’14 (CLAS) won the 60m hurdles, Ilva Bikanova ’13 (CLAS) took the high jump and Victoria Flowers ’13 (CLAS) won both the shot put and weight throw.

The Huskies resume competition on Friday at the Great Dane Classic in New York.

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The men’s track and field team also opened its indoor season successfully on Saturday at the Yale Invite, where the Huskies registered six first place finishes in the non-scoring meet.

Selwyn Maxwell ’15 (CLAS) won the 60m hurdles, Noel James ’13 (CANR) took the high jump, Cory Duggan ’14 (CLAS) won the pole vault and the relay teams won the 4×400, 4×800 and 4,000 distance medley races.

The Huskies return to competition this Wednesday and Thursday at the Rhode Island Decathlon followed by the Great Dane Classic on Friday.