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UConn Kevin Ollie Says Maryland A Top 10 Opportunity for Huskies

The last time UConn coach Kevin Ollie was in Madison Square Garden he helped cut the net down after a win over Michigan State to advance to the Final Four in 2014. The Huskies are back tonight vs. Marlyand.

The last time UConn coach Kevin Ollie was in Madison Square Garden he helped cut the net down after a win over Michigan State to advance to the Final Four in 2014. The Huskies are back tonight vs. Marlyand.

(Richard Messina / Hartford Courant)

STORRS This is not a make or break game for UConn; it is far too early for that.

But it is not too early for a defining game, and the matchup of the Huskies and No. 6 Maryland in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night offers the chance for UConn, which remained just outside the top 25 in the major polls on Monday, to leave a calling card with a national clientele.

“We don’t go into this game thinking, ‘This is our NCAA, this is our chance to make it.’ ” said Rodney Purvis, the Huskies’ leading scorer who averages 14.1. “We just go play the game, and the main thing is getting better game in and game out. Cheap Jerseys free shipping But we do have to seize these opportunities, because we’re not going to get these back. The nonconference games are really important for us.”

Said coach Kevin Ollie: “We’ve got to win some of these games. We can’t keep losing them. They’re a top 10 team. It would be a great win for us. If don’t win, it’s not the end of the season, but we’ve got to start taking care of these opportunities. We’re not going to get too many opportunities like this.”

A win over Maryland (7 1), which has been as high as No. 2 in the AP men’s basketball poll before losing to North Carolina last week, could define this season the way the wins in the Maui Classic defined the Huskies in 2010 11, the way early season wins over Maryland, Indiana and Florida marked them as dangerous early in the 2013 14 season. Both those seasons ended with parades. Or, with losses to Syracuse and Gonzaga in the Bahamas last month, another loss here could indicate this UConn team is more like 2014 15 capable of hanging with the best teams, but has much more work to do to get over the top.

Ollie Says Huskies Took Care Of Business Against Sacred Heart DOM AMORE

Jim Calhoun once said he “loved the big games, and hated the small ones.” The scheduling of a half dozen or so mid majors, whether in state or out, is a necessary part of the UConn season.

But they can be hard to watch, and hard to judge. There was no doubt the Huskies would beat Sacred Heart, even.

Jim Calhoun once said he “loved the big games, and hated the small ones.” The scheduling of a half dozen or so mid majors, whether in state or out, is a necessary part of the UConn season.

But they can be hard to watch, and hard to judge. There was no doubt the Huskies would beat Sacred Heart, even.

(DOM AMORE)

“We basically lost two games by one possession,” said Daniel Hamilton, who will be setting foot inside Madison Square Garden for the first time, “so every possession counts. We can’t take any possession for granted.”

The Huskies will have notable games remaining, but none with the spotlight of The Garden nor the gravitas of Maryland, which revolves around floor general Melo Trimble, averaging 14.4 points and 5.8 assists, and big men Robert Carter, Jake Layman, freshman phenom Diamond Stone, and Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon, who is 18 for 34 on three point shots. Maryland is shooting 54.5 percent from the floor, and though they, too, have stumbled against the only ranked team they’ve played, they have notable wins over Georgetown and Rhode Island.

UConn Men’s Insider: Huskies, Already With Garden Memories, Out To Make More Vs. Maryland DOM AMORE

Though it will be only a span of 617 days, it seems like a lot longer, doesn’t it? That’s too many days for UConn to be absent from Madison Square Garden.

“If you don’t get fired up for that game, you might as well not put on a jersey,” Kevin Ollie said, referring to UConn’s return to The Garden.

Though it will be only a span of 617 days, it seems like a lot longer, doesn’t it? That’s too many days for UConn to be absent from Madison Square Garden.

“If you don’t get fired up for that game, you might as well not put on a jersey,” Kevin Ollie said, referring to UConn’s return to The Garden.

(DOM AMORE)

“I’m happy with our progress, we’ve learned a lot over the last few games, which you usually do early in the season,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We’ve played good competition, which exposes your weaknesses. http://www.cheapnfljerseysonlineg.top We’re headed in the right direction. Defensively is where we’ve had to go the furthest, and obviously we’re going to have to be great Tuesday night to have a chance.

” They have a very good, explosive offensive team. Great length. Their guard play is terrific.”

The Huskies, who like to consider Madison Square Garden a second home, return there for the first time since winning the NCAA East Regional in March 2014. Among their transfers, Sterling Gibbs played there during his time with Seton Hall, and Purvis played there against UConn while at North Carolina State in 2012. It will be a first trip for Hamilton, who is averaging 12.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists; and freshman Jalen Adams.

As with all UConn opponents, Hamilton’s unique set of skills is a major concern for Turgeon.

“He’s unique,” Turgeon said. “He’s special and he makes everybody around him better. He’s just so good on the break, and there’s really no answer for it because his vision is so good. When you sit there and think ‘how are we going to guard UConn?’ you think of Hamilton on the break, and it’s very difficult. I’ve watched his growth from the beginning of last year to now it’s tremendous.”

Trimble, 6 foot 3, is a scoring point guard in the mold of many great UConn players, and presents the main matchup concern on the other side.