Feb. 16, 2012
By Erika Wentzell
The University of Connecticut men's basketball team defeated the DePaul 80-54 on Wednesday night in a game that kept Husky Nation's hope alive. UConn was hungry for a win after coming up short against Syracuse on Saturday despite the team's valiant efforts.
The Huskies have improved to 2-2 in the absence of head coach Jim Calhoun, who is suffering from spinal stenosis. Calhoun announced before that game that he would extend his medical leave for the next three contests.
One would be hard pressed to say UConn has been dealt a good hand this season; however, it is adversity itself that has propelled the Huskies to greatness in the past. The players and fans alike are keeping the faith that history can repeat itself.
The Huskies are now 16-9 on the season and 5-6 in the BIG EAST with a nationally-ranked Marquette team coming to the XL Center on Saturday for a noon matchup.
UConn maintained a lead through the entire first half and entered the second half with a 10-point lead at 34-24. Right out of the gate it was apparent that UConn's offensive switch was turned on -- they had eight unanswered points in just the first minute of the game, which forced a DePaul timeout.
The Huskies were meshing well and found their rhythm early on in the game. A great sight was an impressive Jeremy "Lamb-Slam", which propelled the sophomore guard to eight points in the half.
"I really got on them at half time and was all about just playing harder and harder and harder," said UConn associate head coach George Blaney. I kept pleading with them that I want to score 50 points this half and keep them under 50 and we came pretty close."
As the second half got started, freshman center Andre Drummond got things going with two dunks within the first two minutes. His presence on the court was a good sign, as he suffered an ankle injury during Saturday's game in Syracuse. His game looked as good as ever Wednesday and he provided UConn with 15 points.
Blaney said he looked good out there, especially his running game: "I thought he ran the court well. When you run the court the way he can run and then both Shabazz and Ryan can throw it up to him. He catches everything -- I mean he's like (New England Patriots tight end Rob) Gronkowski I guess."
Drummond has another thing in common with Gronk; they both played though the pain of an ankle injury to help their teams succeed. Here's to hoping Drummond's effort is even more fruitful than his were.
Lamb started to get back to his usual form with 18 points. He admitted that he's been going through a slump but there was an improvement. He explained that he has been trying to get his team back on track
"Alex (Oriakhi), Shabazz (Napier) and I have been trying to bring the team together so we can win some games," says Lamb.
Oriakhi believes in his teammates and he thinks they are still in this as long as they fight for it. "There's nothing to relax about, we definitely still have to fight."
While the future remains in question, Oriakhi makes it clear that nobody is ready to quit yet: "Anything can happen, we're in good shape and nobody's losing faith at all."