UConn: The team that refuses to lose...
TORRINGTON: You simply cannot kill them. You can get them down, you can start digging the hole, planning the ceremony and getting the final speech ready.
But if you’re not careful or take that five minute break to grab a drink or a smoke before you finish the job, they will have turned the table on you and left you totally unprepared for what was about to happen.
Just ask the Gators from Florida to explain what I am talking about.
After having the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team sputtering and slipped as they surged out to a 16-4 lead midway through the first half of the opening game of this year’s Final Four matchup, played in the cavernous home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Ten plus minutes, but four points. Things did not look good for the Huskies, no matter how many times we have seen them come back during this magical season that refuses to end just yet.
The seventh seeded Huskies turned the tables on the number one team in the nation, disposing of them by outscoring them by a 59-39 margin the rest of the way to an eventual 63-53 win and a trip to the Finals on Monday night.
This UConn team doing something unexpected should not be a surprise to anyone and certainly was not to head Coach Kevin Ollie and his team.
DeAndre Daniels, who disappeared on far too many occasions this season, may have taken another step towards becoming the player he has shown flashes of being at times this year.
The junior forward led the effort with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double and started the first half comeback with a pair of three pointers when it seemed the Huskies were going to become the 31st victim of the Gators this year.
But for the second straight game, UConn outrebounded (28-27) a team though to be much tougher than it inside and forced another opponent into a seriously uncomfortable existence on the hardwood.
Ollie again showed an ability to find the right combination on the fly. By going small midway through the opening half when he inserted freshman Terrence Samuel, Ollie found the right combination to battle the Gators full court, smothering defense.
That opening 16-4 run by the top seed was replaced by a 16-4 run by the seventh and the boys from the south were essentially done.
UConn didn’t need superstar Shabazz Napier (12, 3 reb, 6 assists) to throw up any last minute heroic shots this night, the lower seed built a double-digit lead in the second half and held off any Florida comeback effort.
This team’s ability to emulate their coaches’ tough as nails and patient approach has been evident this entire post season.
A team that looked about as out of sync as they could be just a month ago has turned into a team that just does not think they can lose.
Be it Wisconsin or Kentucky on Monday night, count on the team from Storrs to be the on paper underdog but don’t buy it.
This team has proven it’s as tough mentally and physically as any team in the country, they just took out two giants over the last seven days.