UConn men: Waiting game

UConn coach Kevin Ollie has the Huskies ready for a game against DePaul on Tuesday/ Associated Press

UConn coach Kevin Ollie has the Huskies ready for a game against DePaul on Tuesday/ Associated Press

John F. Silver

You are going to have to excuse DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright if they act as if they are going stir crazy.

The two sophomores for UConn have spent an inordinate amount of team with each other.  it’s not just time spent practicing and workouts, Daniels and Boatright are roommates and best of friends.

There is only so much time you can spend with one person and with a week off after a New Year’s Day overtime loss to Marquette sticking firmly in their craw Daniels and Boatright had enough of each other. During a recent practice the 5-11 Boatright tried to box out the 6-8 Daniels. Daniels took issue with the technique and the two got into a little scuffle.

That’s what happens when there isn’t an opponent handy to take out your frustrations.

“We almost had a fight the other day, which is good,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said Monday.  “No one was going to fight, but it was good to see it. Being around each other you get testy for a week. You are living together and there are no classes.”

Boatright and Daniels are still friends and the mention of the scuffle brings a smile to each ones face. The plan is to channel that aggression on Tuesday when UConn hosts an improved DePaul team at Gampel Pavilion.

The scuffle is just an example of some leftover aggression after an 82-76 overtime loss. It’s been a week since that game which seems like an eternity after the loss.

“That’s UConn basketball. Everyone gets into scuffles,” Boatright said. “We rebound back from that tough loss and get ready to compete.”

The Huskies will play a DePaul team that is playing its best basketball in years. The Blue Demons shocked Providence 83-73 and are 4-0 on the road this year.

One-time UConn commitment Cleveland Melvin leads DePaul (10-5) in scoring at 16.7 ppg. while guard Brandon Young is averaging 16.1 points per game.

“They are playing good basketball, playing sound and playing defensive pressure very hard and are in the gaps,” Ollie said. “Brandon Young is playing at an exceptional pace and Melvin is doing what Melvin do, getting buckets. We have to come and play and they are feeling real good about themselves.”

Melvin in particular is a difficult cover with small forward athleticism playing at power forward.

“We have to make sure we don’t let (Melvin) get easy, clean catches and keep him out of transition,” Ollie said. “If we take ill-advised shots, he’s the first one out. He’s running. It’s hard for fours to get back in front of him.”

The Huskies will face a DePaul team that plays a style that is comforting for UConn. DePaul is a full-court pressing team and is turning teams over 18 times a game. DePaul likes to play an uptempo game and that’s something the Huskies, with a guard oriented team, will never turn down.

“When I see a press my eyes light up,” Boatright said. “As long as we break the press and do our job we will be all right.”

The Huskies are in a brutal stretch of games. After DePaul, the Huskies play in South Bend against Notre Dame on Saturday before  hosting Louisville on Monday.
No one said the Big East was going to be easy and the Huskies hope that their itch to get a conference win will be satisfied on Tuesday.