Monday, September 15, 2008

Road Warriors

While there is an excitement over the upcoming UConn season, it must be met with trepidation. They’re not going to be handed The Big East, nor a trip to the Final Four. Teams like Louisville, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Villanova will be nipping at their heels. Not to mention the up and coming teams like Cincinnati, Syracuse, and Rutgers that might surprise some people. This league could possibly put nine teams into The Big Dance. So while on paper, UConn has a dominate team, they are far from being a lock.

The schedule doesn’t give UConn a break. They’ll have their usual 11 game preseason, where Calhoun will yank any player that makes a mistake. Then they’ll have their first road test at Gonzaga, which will be a true barometer on where this team is. Pargo is a player. UConn will dive right into league play against Georgetown, at West Virginia, at Cincinnati, and at St. John’s. And that’s the soft part of the schedule. They must be a team that can win on the road against teams they are superior against or it will be a disappointing year.

They’ll then make a home stand against Seton Hall and Villanova, before setting out again and playing an important and hyped Notre Dame game. UConn will try to get revenge against Providence at Gampel before heading back on the road to play another important road game against Louisville. If UConn can steal the Notre Dame and Louisville away games, they should put themselves in contention for the title.

But the schedule doesn’t lax. They must have a Gampel home stand against a hungry and talented Michigan team and a super athletic Syracuse team. UConn won’t be able to end the season playing poor ball, because they’ll play Pittsburgh and South Florida at home, head to Marquette, come to Gampel to play Notre Dame, and end the season at Pittsburgh.

They’ll have to be road warriors to be able to remain the last one standing in this slugfest of a league. And it will be an endurance test, and that was something the pups couldn’t maintain last season. So while UConn will have a solid squad of seniors and freshmen, a talented backcourt and frontcourt, and a hall of fame coach, nothing will be handed to them. They’ll have to pack their A-game in their Samsonite every game.

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