Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
UConn Knocks Off Johnnies; Seton Hall, Rutgers Next
UConn had a relatively easy time with St. John’s on Saturday in the first of three straight games against New York-area Big East teams.
After beating the Johnnies 83-69, the No. 9 Huskies will visit Seton Hall Tuesday before traveling to Rutgers Saturday, when head coach Jim Calhoun will return from his three-game suspension for NCAA violations.
“We’re ready for any game,” said UConn point guard Shabazz Napier, who had 17 points, 9 assists and 4 turnovers. “We just have to fix some edges up. We have to understand how to play the score. ..We have to stay in our stuff. We have to be fundamentally sound.”
Seton Hall is 12-2 following Friday’s 67-48 win over West Virginia and appears to be thriving behind seniors Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore.
Pope is among the Big East leaders in scoring and rebounding, while Theodore leads the league in assists.
Yet the PIrates are 14-36 all-time against UConn (12-2, 2-0 Big East) and 9-16 at home.
St. John’s had little answer inside for 6-foot-11 freshman Andre Drummond, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 11 rebounds.
Both Seton Hall and Rutgers will have their hands full with the future NBA lottery pick.
“I would like to see Andre get in position to [get the ball] 15 more times,” said UConn acting coach George Blaney, a former Seton Hall head man.
“He’s still learning how to get position. We’re trying to teach about how to offensive box-out. And that’s what he needs to do a little bit more, because he is so effortless with how he can rise up and catch it. And he catches everything. He doesn’t miss anything when he hands are around it. So the more times we can do it, we put a bunch of plays in to get that particular situation, and we’re just trying to get to it more and more.”
Defending national champion UConn figures to be a great test for Seton Hall, whose fan base is fired up about the way its team is playing right now.
Rutgers, meantime, must visit South Florida Sunday before hosting West Virginia Wednesday and then UConn in Calhoun’s return.
“It’s a good conference,” said UConn sophomore Jeremy Lamb, “so you have to be ready to play every night.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.