Holy Cross-UConn Preview

Connecticut has regrouped nicely from its first defeat to win

three straight. However, UConn players believe the mental part of

their collective game can use some fine-tuning.

The ninth-ranked Huskies look to improve in that area as they

face Holy Cross on Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford.

After being upset 68-63 by Central Florida in the semifinals of

the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas on Nov. 25, UConn

(8-1) recorded a two-point overtime win over then-No. 22 Florida

State in the third-place game. The Huskies followed with

double-digit victories over Arkansas and then-No. 25 Harvard.

In the 67-53 win against the Crimson on Dec. 8, the Huskies shot

47.3 percent, including 7 of 14 from 3-point range. They also held

Harvard to 36.0 percent shooting and owned a 35-28 rebounding


Yet UConn did not take control of the game until a 17-3 run in

the second half, a fact the players noted with disapproval after

letting a first-half lead get whittled to two by halftime.

“I think one thing that separates us from being a great team is

we don’t have the killer instinct,” sophomore guard Shabazz Napier

told Connecticut’s official website. “We’re up by 15 now let’s

punch it in and get home without having a tough game at the end.

Once we get that I think we’ll be a great team.”

That kind of attitude comes from coach Jim Calhoun, who expects

nothing but the best from the reigning national champions.

“It’s hard to play here because the expectations are very high,”

Calhoun said. “We haven’t quite connected yet. And when we get into

the meat of our schedule, we have to be connected.”

The Huskies certainly have the bodies to live up to those annual

lofty expectations.

Leading scorer Jeremy Lamb had 18 points with seven rebounds

against Harvard, while talented freshmen Andre Drummond and Ryan

Boatright combined for 23 points.

“They’re very talented, very big,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker

said. “We didn’t get much of anything easy around the basket which

is probably going to happen to a lot of teams when they face this

basketball team with their size and athleticism.”

Lamb averages 20.0 points, but has not scored more than 19 in

his last four contests. The sophomore swingman, however, has pulled

down 13 boards in his last two.

UConn hopes it has a chance to flaunt a newfound killer instinct

while trying for a 40th consecutive non-conference home victory.

It’s 3-0 at the off-campus home in Hartford this season and 116-4

against New England non-conference opponents at home under


The Huskies have won two straight and seven of the last 10

meetings against Holy Cross. The most recent, an 82-81 victory Feb.

4, 1988.

Holy Cross (4-6), loser of 14 straight games against Top 25

opponents dating to the start of the 1996-97 season, faces its

first ranked opponent since a 61-51 loss to then-No. 14 Southern

Illinois in the 2007 NCAA tournament.

Senior guard Devin Brown averages a team-leading 14.7 points. He

scored 22 in the Crusaders’ 71-60 home win over Sacred Heart on

Dec. 9.