When the lettering on the front of your jersey reads Connecticut, you’re going to be ranked regardless of who you play. The Huskies entered Big East play ranked 12th in the country despite having posted its 11 wins against a schedule that ranked 320th out of 336 Division I schools.
Connecticut was finally exposed Saturday when it fell behind early and never caught up in a 81-71 loss to unranked West Virginia. It was Connecticut’s first road game and first game against a team ranked in the top 100 of Internet RPI projections.
“We just embarrassed ourselves on TV,” freshman Stanley Robinson said. “We’ve got to come out and play harder. Everybody else is looking at this in the Big East and they’re laughing right now.”
The Huskies gave up more than 60 points for only the third time this season and were held 12 points below their season average by the Mountaineers’ tricky 1-3-1 zone defense.
“The 1-3-1 looked like a Rubik’s cube to us,” Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. “We were impatient. We couldn’t make any 3-pointers. And when we got the ball in the paint, we didn’t finish plays.”
Calhoun’s team may have been better prepared for the 1-3-1 – and to play a legitimate Division I team – had he bothered to schedule some actual competition prior to heading into conference play.
CLAN OF HOOPSTERS
The Lisch family of Belleville, Ill., has been very kind to St. Louis University.
Leading the Billikens’ men’s basketball team in scoring and assists is 6-foot-2 sophomore Kevin Lisch. Leading the Billikens’ women’s team in scoring and assists is 5-9 freshman Theresa Lisch.
The children of former Notre Dame and NFL quarterback Rusty Lisch are combining to average more than 30 points and six assists per game for a pair of St. Louis teams that both own winning records thus far this season.
They’re not the only gifted ballplayers in the family. Older sister Stephanie started at Indiana State and younger brother Daniel plays in high school.
Theresa recalled some passionate past battles in the family’s driveway.
“It is not a good feeling to lose to any member of my family,” Theresa told USA Today. “That we are so close in age and we have the same interest definitely added to the competitive aspect.
“I remember games where we would have to stop because it got a little too heated on the court. I remember … when kids would go in crying. But I think that it’s all part of growing up and learning how to play the game, how to be competitive and, finally, how to harness your competitive nature.”
Some programs rebuild. Others reload.
Iona, 0-11 and off to the worst start in the program’s 62-year history, is in the former category this season. After Delaware won its first game on Thursday, Iona became the nation’s only remaining winless team.
It’s a rare step backward for a program that has advanced to the NCAA tournament three times in eight years under coach Jeff Ruland and pushed Louisiana State before bowing out in the first round last March.
“I’m embarrassed,” Ruland told The Journal News of Westchester County, N.Y. “The worst part is my coaching staff works hard on the scouting report, and then we forget the whole thing once the game starts.
“For years, we’ve been either No. 1 or 2 in our conference in field-goal defense. Now we can’t play defense and we can’t shoot, which is a bad combination.”
The last word
“The record is going to be short-lived with some of the young coaches coming up. Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski with his situation at Duke, he’s going to blow by those record-holders in a hurry.” - Lute Olson, Arizona coach, on pursuit of Texas Tech coach Bob Knight's recently set record of 880 Division-I coaching wins
No. 1 UCLA at No. 16 Oregon, noon Saturday, FSN Arizona. The Bruins and Ducks have bested all opposition this season and both should be 14-0 heading into this Pac-10 showdown. UCLA will have to contend with 5-foot-6 Tajuan Porter, who was leading the conference in scoring prior to last weekend. Arron Afflalo, averaging 16.6 points per game, should be up to the challenge.
To find the source of Wisconsin’s success this year, look no farther than Arlando Tucker, who scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a win over Pittsburgh last month. The 6-foot-6 senior leads the Big Ten in scoring with 20.6 points per game and may be one of the country’s most athletic offensive players. He’s not big enough to play small forward in the NBA, but if Tucker continues to put up points at this pace, some team is sure to give him a chance.
With four starters back from a team that broke an 18-year NCAA tournament drought and advanced to the Sweet 16, Wichita State looked like a lock to be playing in March. The last two weeks have not been kind to the Shockers though. Four straight losses to New Mexico, Southern California, Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois may not be forgiven by the selection committee come March. Our top seeds: UCLA (13-0), Arizona (11-1), Duke (13-1) and North Carolina (12-1)