John F. Silver
A year ago Boatright was slated to play in South bend against the Irish with a large contingent of family making its way from the Chicago area to watch him play. Then, prior to the game, the NCAA stepped in and declared it was investigating Boatright, keeping him out of the game.
Boatright won’t have that happen to him today when the Huskies play against No. 17 Irish in a Big East game.
Boatirght, second on the Huskies in scoring 16.2 points per game, has now worries about NCAA sanctions now.
“I’m real nervous. Real nervous,” Boatright told the Journal Inquirer on Friday in South Bend while staying at the same hotel. “I was sitting right there in that chair behind y’all.”
Boatright’s debut in South Bend comes at a time he’s playing the best ball of the season. Boatright is shooting nearly 58 percent over his last six games and the Huskies’ backcourt of Boatright and Napier have been devastatingly effective. Boatright is coming off a 22-point game against DePaul on Tuesday.
“I’m in a rhythm. I’ve got a flow going,” said Boatright. “Last year I was pulled in and out. Now I’ve been playing all year and I’m comfortable.”
Boatright and Napier remain two of the top guards in the Big East and will face another terrific backcourt in Jerrian Grant and Eric Atkins from Notre Dame.
Grant is a averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 assists per game while Atkins is averaging 11.7 and 7.3 assists and shooting 47 percent from 3-point range.
That should be an interesting matchup, but the key to today’s game at the Purcell Center is the rebounding battle. UConn destroyed DePaul on the boards 49-29 and grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in a 99-78 rout. UConn, which isn’t a good rebounding team, will try and repeat the effort against Notre Dame and double-double machine Jack Cooley.
Cooley is averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds a game for the Irish. Notre Dame is also 12-0 when it outrebounds opponents this season and is +7.1 in rebound margin. If the Huskies are going to pull off the upset it has to start there.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Huskies on Monday when they host No. 3 Louisville at the XL Center in Hartford.