Huskies to face St. John’s in last trip to MSG
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08
The UConn men’s basketball will travel to Madison Square Garden for the last time of the season on Wednesday night to take on St. John’s. The game will tip off at 7:00 p.m.
Due to the postseason ban, UConn is not able to play in the Big East tournament held annually at the Garden, which adds an extra storyline to Wednesday night’s conference game for the Huskies.
“It is going to be a special game,” said head coach Kevin Ollie, who referenced the postseason ban. “Not to put any added pressure on it, but it is a great place to play. I wish we were able to play in the Big East tournament, but we are going to relish in this opportunity and it is a tremendous honor that we will take with respect.”
St. John’s is having an impressive season and is currently right in the mix of the Big East regular season standings, as are the Huskies. The Red Storm enter the game at 14-8 overall and are ninth in the conference at 6-4. UConn is two spots ahead of them at 5-3 (15-5 overall). Neither team is far off the pace set by conference leading Syracuse, who is 7-2 in Big East play.
“We have a good record in the Big East and we still have an opportunity to win a (regular season) conference championship, which is very elusive,” said Ollie. “We always have that goal in mind. It is the first and foremost goal for any season.”
For freshman Omar Calhoun, the pressure of playing at Madison Square Garden is heightened. The Brooklyn native was recruited by St. Johns and is “close friends” with many players on the Red Storm squad.
“I’m not really nervous but it is a bit different from a regular game,” said Calhoun, who is averaging 10.7 points per game in his rookie campaign. “Every little kid dreams of playing at Madison Square Garden.”
St. John’s, who had a five game conference winning streak broken in their last game against Georgetown, is led by D’Angelo Harrison’s 18.9 points per game. They also have one of the conference’s elite shot blockers in Chris Obekpa, who is averaging 4.5 blocks per game.
The Huskies are coming off back-to-back overtime victories against Providence and USF, respectively. Against USF, UConn survived after scoring only 15 points in the first half. The victory swung them back in the Big East mix, and despite the postseason ban Ollie reiterated that this team still has much to play for.
“We still have an opportunity to win the conference championship, we still have this great university that you represent, and you still have your team, and you still have yourself that you are representing and we are making sure that we emphasize that,” said Ollie.