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Last Chance: Huskies Limp into MSG with Small NCAA Tournament Chances

By Dan Dinunzio

The Big East Tournament is arguably the most competitive and intriguing conference tournament played out over a span of five days. It takes place on the biggest stage that is Madison Square Garden and is the last chance for teams to make a run at earning a postseason berth.

This year's UConn Huskies team is walking in wounded after losing three straight games to end the regular season. It got to the point where coach Jim Calhoun sat his three seniors Edwards, Dyson, and Robinson for the last 16 minutes at South Florida. Although UConn lost on Saturday, the reserves cut a 13 point deficit to 2 and played their tails off.

That's all Calhoun ever asks out of his players. He wants them to leave all of their energy and hustle out on the floor. It was clear with repeating turnovers and defensive lapses that something drastic had to be done. UConn stands at a pitiful 17-14, 7-11 in the Big East. It's the identical record these seniors had as freshman in 2006-2007. The only difference was that team didn't have a scholarship senior or junior on the team.

UConn started to gather some momentum and were looking pretty secure for a NCAA Tournament bid after beating Villanova, Rutger, and West Virginia. This team was really starting to come together and play as a team. Then Louisville came into Storrs on senior day, and clawed it's way back from an early double digit deficit. Even when UConn regained the lead with under four minutes to play it faltered down the stretch. The main culprits again were leaders Stanley Robinson and Jerome Dyson.

Yes, Jerome has established himself as one of the top 15 scorers in Connecticut basketball history, but as a team player has done nothing. From nearly being kicked off the team has a sophomore, to injuring his knee last season, Rome has had a rough ride at UConn. If UConn fails to beat St. Johns on tomorrow, Mr. Dyson will have went four years at UConn without playing in a big east tournament or ncaa tournament victory.

That's mind blowing to think of when you take into consideration that this is under the tenure of Coach Calhoun. Everyone says UConn would have won the national championship with Dyson last year, forget about it they wouldn't have made it that far.

Then there is Stanley Robinson. An amazing player who can take over a game with his athleticism one minute and the next be as useful as a cheering fan in the student section. For every muscle milk play of the game Sticks make, there's atleast two or three ugly turnovers that makes you shake your head.

This team has showed glimpses of being able to compete with the best teams in America. Kemba Walker has been brilliant in his last six games. The problem remains is the inefficiency in the half court offense has led to a poor performance on defense.

As far as making the NCAA tournament is concerned, UConn is going to need to go into New York City and do something memorable. It's going to have to be deja vu Gerry McNamara 2006 Syracuse Orangemen style. The Huskies have to make it to the finals to even gain consideration about a possible at large, and still would need the bubble to blow its way. There are so many variables and equations that can determine the outcome of who the best 65 teams are in America.

The problem with the Huskies is they have lost 14 games this year that include teams such Michigan and Providence. All to often they turnover the ball on multiple possessions and give their opponents easy second chance opportunities.

The Huskies have squandered every chance they have had of improving their resume for making the NCAA Tournament. They have plenty of questionable calls and losses at Cincinnati, at Syracuse, Marquette, and Louisville to name a few. Looking in the rear view mirror all those games are what could have been now.

That doesn't matter anymore. A new season starts tomorrow for this UConn team and they better plan on going 5-0 and being crowned big east champions or else their bus waiting for them to make the two and half hour track back to UConn country.

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