Moving along through the Big East schedule, the next school in my Five Questions series is Notre Dame's next Big East Conference opponent, the University of Connecticut. My UConn, "Biggest Fan of the Big East" fellow contestant, blogger Chris Hall from Thoughts From a Fat White Guy, has agreed to stop by and answer my five questions!
What team are you most looking forward to playing in Big East play?
That's a tough question. As we can already see, on any given night, any team can win. You can't look at any one team in the Big East and feel 100% confident you're going to walk away with an easy win as you could in years past. If I had to pick just one team, I'd have to go with playing Syracuse twice in 2 weeks. First game is at the Carrier Dome on February 11. They meet shortly thereafter in Storrs, CT for ESPN's College Game day on February 25. We've had some intense battles over the past decade against the Orange and each time we play them, it usually comes down to the final minutes (or 6 overtimes as we saw in 2009). I expect the more or less the same come February.
What is the biggest improvement UConn has made this year from last year?
It's hard to be picky and choose an improvement for the reigning national champions but if I had to pick out one thing, it'd be the improved size we now have with the addition of Center Andre Drummond. A projected 2012 NBA lottery draft this spring, Drummond is an absolute force down low. The scary part is, he hasn't really shown what he can do. He still needs to become comfortable in his body and really start adjusting to the brutal grind of Big East play before I can say he's ELITE, but the pieces are sure there to be special.
Who is your favorite player on the team?
Jeremy Lamb. He was such an instrumental piece to UConn's magical post-season run last year as a freshman that UConn fans throughout fell in love with the sophomore guard from Georgia. He's a shy kid, never showing much emotion, which I think people appreciate. He's got NBA talent and has been pegged as the leader of the team, alongside Junior Forward Alex Oriakhi.
What quiet player will become a standout player before the year is over?
I think rookie Ryan Boatright can be very special. He was co-player of the year in his home state of Illinois and actually changed his commitment to the Huskies after being committed to West Virginia for positioning reasons. He's a small, speedy scorer (better as a freshman than Kemba Walker was as a sophomore), and has already made an impact leading in scoring and assists for a few games. He's got a lot to learn as most freshman do, but once he develops and understands UConn's style more, he can become a standout player not only in the Big East conference, but throughout the entire landscape of college basketball. Remember the name Ryan Boatright. (Watch him have his worst game vs. the Irish knowing my luck!)
What is the best part about playing in the Big East?
The best part of playing hoops in the Big East would be the toughness. As previously mentioned, on any given night, anything can happen. Team's like South Florida, Rutgers and Seton Hall are really starting to impress while former powerhouse team's like Villanova and Pittsburgh have come down to Earth a little bit. Very rarely do you see a blowout in the Big East and that's what makes it so exciting to watch. The other great part about playing in the Big East is the respect you get from opponents. When people hear of Big East basketball they think of bruising, physical match ups. It really prepares your team for the tournaments in March which is always a positive.
[Bonus] What is your prediction for the score of the Notre Dame - UConn game?
UConn usually struggles to win in South Bend so either way it should be a good one. I think it will be close throughout with Huskies winning by 5. Let's say, 63-58.
Hey, stop by Chris's blog, Thoughts From a Fat White Guy, and show him a little Big East Conference love!
But don't forget to stop by my "Biggest Fan of the Big East" profile and (please) cast a vote my way!
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