UConn men's basketball heads to Madison Square Garden to compete in the Jimmy V Invitational
The UConn men's basketball team will head to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night to play No. 25 North Carolina State at 9 p.m., in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic, an annual showcase that honors the late head coach Jim Valvano. The first game features Georgetown and Texas.
The Huskies will enter the game with a 6-1 record but have plenty of room for improvement, especially after a frustrating shooting effort in their last game, a 61-53 victory over UNH. Against the 2-4 Wildcats, UConn shot only 36.8 percent from the field, including 1-14 from three-point range. Ryan Boatright scored 19 points as the Huskies were ultimately able to pull away and avoid the upset.
"We have to be a lot better," said Ollie after the UNH game. "We are not good enough to keep playing this way and expect to keep winning games."
The competition will become much steeper for UConn on Tuesday night. NC State is off to a 4-2 start, with their two losses coming against two elite programs. They lost the title game of the Puerto Rico Tipoff on Nov. 18th to No. 23 Oklahoma State by a score of 76-56 and suffered their second loss in the last game out at No. 3 Michigan, 79-72, on Nov. 27th. They are led by freshman forward TJ Warren, who is averaging 15.3 points per game.
UConn hopes that Shabazz Napier, their leading scorer, will get back on track in the nationally televised game on Tuesday. "The kid is such a talent," said Ollie. "Oh, he's so good. And he can do so many things on the basketball court and I just don't have the answer for why he goes for 5 points. We're going to keep coaching him and keep believing in him and hope that he has a better game in Madison Square Garden."
UConn also loks to improve its rebounding, which has plagued them throughout the early stages of the season. They have only outrebounded one opponent so far (UNH) and will have their hands full with NC State's talented rebounded tandem of Richard Howell (7.8 per game) and C.J. Leslie (7.5).
The Jimmy V classic was founded in 1995 as a way to honor the late Jimmy Valvano and raise money for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Before he lost his own battle with cancer in 1993, he has inspired millions of people through his positive outlook on life and his emotional ESPY speech given only two months before his death that saw him implore the audience to "don't give up, don't ever give up" is one of the most enduring messages in sports history.
Valvano received his first Division 1 coaching position at UConn, where he served as an assistant from 1970-72.
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