Dear Diary, What A Game
On Wednesday night, the 12-5 UConn men's team took a trip to Cincinnati. If you didn't see the game, fear not. In order to better serve you, our readers, I've decided to generously borrow Bill Simmons' best concept and write a running diary of the game. Here now is my collection of thoughts written in real time during the Huskies' 84-83 win against the Bearcats.
7:01 p.m. - And we are live on MyTV9 from Queens, N.Y., where Doug (Kevin James) tells it like it is, but his sassy wife Kari (Leah Remini) won't let him get away with anything! It's a madcap romp, on the next "King of Queens!" We're off to a great start tonight, as someone didn't check the TV listings.
That someone was me. Sorry. Tonight's game starts at 7:30 p.m.
7:24 p.m. - We're back after a successful round of "Jeopardy!" Tonight's a perfect night for basketball - a crisp 68 degrees underneath a roof, with a box of wings (with nature's perfect flavor: Cruisin' Altitude) and a Coke by my side. Let the best UC win.
7:30 p.m. - And now we are really live on MyTV9 from Cincinnati, Ohio at beautiful Fifth Third Arena (nickname: the Big Fraction) for tonight's Big East game between UConn and Cincinnati. The arena's name comes, of course, from a survey which showed that five out of every three people think that "Fifth Third Arena" would be a stupid name for a gym.
Tonight's game is a bit of a must-win for UConn. At 3-3 in the league, a win could be the difference between making a run towards the NCAA Tournament or an ignominious end in the NIT.
Cincinnati is inexplicably tied for second in the Big East, despite losing to Belmont, Bowling Green and St. John's. They're led by someone named Deonta Vaughn, who will probably score a career-high 46 tonight.
7:36 p.m. - A.J. Price knocks down a long 3-pointer to open the scoring. It's all over! (clap, clap, clapclapclap) It's all over! (clap, clap, clapclapclap)
7:38 p.m. - Interesting Cincinnati tradition on their first made basket: their student section tears up paper and throws it in the air as confetti. It's a cool effect on TV, and it beats the Gampel Pavilion first-basket tradition of old people sitting down to talk about Matlock for the rest of the first half.
7:46 p.m. - With UConn up 15-9, Thabeet misses an alley-oop dunk that he didn't have to jump for. Thabeet occasionally has a way of making basketball look like a combination of rocket science and fighting several rabid wolves at the same time.
7:49 p.m. - Jonathan Mandeldove enters the game for UConn, and an audible scream of excitement emerges from every female's dorm room on campus. It is a scientific fact that chicks dig the 'Dove.
7:51 p.m. - It's time for my favorite running subplot of the season thus far: the "How quickly can you tell if Stanley Robinson decided to play basketball tonight?" game. Eight minutes in, he's looked pretty good with a couple points and rebounds. Immediately after I wrote this, he went to shoot a lay-up underneath three players and was blocked by all three. Mixed results so far.
7:54 p.m. - I'm freezing at pee-wee hockey, yet there are no commercials which serve my needs. Life is unfair.
7:58 p.m. - Apparently, Cincinnati is just going to shoot 3s all night. This plays right into UConn's strategy of having three guys help out the enormous, 7-foot-3 center down low and leaving the entire perimeter wide open. I like our chances. Cincinnati's up 24-21 at the 8:00 mark. Great.
8:05 p.m. - Cincinnati is thus far playing a perfect game, committing zero turnovers and making four 3-pointers in 14 minutes. They are up three points. If UConn loses, I will be happy to sell my Gampel ticket to the Georgia Tech game Feb. 9.
As if on cue, Cincinnati just scored two straight baskets. I need more wings.
8:07 p.m. - The Bearcats steal another inbounds pass, jack up another wide open 3 (it's good) and go up 10. Jim Calhoun is rolling over in his grave.
8:19 p.m. - Thabeet makes an unbelievable play on a fast break, making a lay-up while being fouled, plus the free throw to make it 36-34. Now just imagine if he could make an uncontested lay-up.
8:24 p.m. - Cincinnati is up by three at halftime, despite committing about two turnovers, shooting the lights out from 3 and their coach throwing a tantrum because the officiating has been only evenly awful. I like UConn's chances.
8:30 p.m. - It's nice of Jim Calhoun to do a commercial promoting children's issues. Although they omitted the part of the fake press conference where he screams at a reporter for asking if Ryan Gomes has adequate healthcare.
8:34 p.m. - Hey, West Virginia just scored again. That'd be West Virginia's basketball team, of course, against Marshall. I bet the basketball team scores less than 66, though. That joke will never get old.
8:39 p.m. - This second half will clearly determine whether UConn makes the Final Four or will lose in the first round of the third-tier tournament to some unknown mid-major like Sam Houston State or Boston College. Here we go.
8:44 p.m. - Jerome Dyson manages to actually make an impact, stealing the ball for a dunk to give UConn a lead. He then hangs onto the rim and gets a technical foul. If there were a way to combine the words "fun" and "frustrating" into one word (funstrating?), it would describe this team.
8:50 p.m. - Thabeet actually went up and under for a lay-up in an incredible play. To his credit, Thabeet is having an absolutely tremendous game, which is great for the team. On the other hand, Thabeet will be declaring his NBA draft eligibility in about 25 minutes.
9:03 p.m. - Cincinnati's Kenny Belton takes a free throw in which the ball leaves his palms, goes in the air about a foot and drops back into his hand. Somehow, that's considered not a shot and he's allowed another free throw, which he makes. These sorts of things never seem to happen to other teams.
9:06 p.m. - Two uncontested 3-pointers on defense? Offensive droughts? You're watching UConn basketball on MyTV9! Cincinnati leads 60-56 with 10:00 left.
9:20 p.m. - Calhoun gets a technical, and Cincinnati stretches their lead to 8. Thanks, Jim. It wasn't even a "fire the team up" technical. Calhoun has been a habitual line-stepper all year.
Cincinnati hits yet another 3, Jeff Adrien commits another turnover by stupidly dribbling into a double-team. Vaughn hits another 3 to give him 31 points and Cincinnati at 12-point lead. The Big Fraction crowd is collectively on its feet. That was a funstrating sequence.
Remember when UConn was one of the best defensive teams in the country? Me neither.
9:26 p.m. - Hey, the Huskies finally decide to use their overwhelming athleticism to trap Cincinnati and - surprise - it works, forcing back-to-back turnovers to cut the lead to 74-68 with 5:00 left.
9:34 p.m. - Dyson gets the and-one on a brilliant fast break and it's a two-point game with 1:45 left. Dyson's probably the difference between the Sweet 16 and the NIT. He then gets hurt on a hard, intentional foul that isn't called an intentional foul. There is no end to UConn's luck.
9:40 p.m. - Cincinnati is doing everything it can to give this away, missing three of four free throws, but leading by one with a minute left. Smartly, they foul Adrien, to whom free throws are as indecipherable as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Sorry, I just flipped to the Discovery Channel.
9:42 p.m. - Adrien has ice in his veins and hits both shots. The running bet here in the office is whether Vaughn will hit a 3 at the buzzer, or whether he will make it with enough time for Dyson or Price to dribble the ball out of bounds as time expires.
9:45 p.m. - Some guy who isn't Vaughn gets a lucky lay-up with 9 seconds left. Of course.
9:46 p.m. - An incredibly smart play by Cincinnati, fouling Price up by a point before the inbounds pass, allowing Vaughn to make the real game-winning shot after Price hits both shots.
9:49:08 p.m. - Oh no! He's open!
9:49:11 p.m. - Yes! He missed!
9:50 p.m. - I'm not sure how UConn won that one, but it's a funstrating road win in the Big East. Huzzah. All jokes about the men's basketball team must now cease until Indiana's Eric Gordon drops 47 on UConn Saturday. Good night.
Kevin Meacham's column runs periodically. He can be reached at Kevin.Meacham@UConn.edu.
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