Women’s Basketball Preview: Bring on the Owls

By: Matt Zampini, Sports Editor

When asked about the competition in the American Athletic Conference, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said there is not much he can do about the lack of contest the No. 2 Huskies has had against conference opponents.

UConn (19-1, 9-0), which has won 18 straight games since losing to Stanford Nov. 17, are winning its games by an average of 40.8 points, and the conference games have been worse than that.

“It is what it is,” Auriemma said after Wednesday’s 83-52 win over East Carolina. “There’s no point in going anywhere with it because there is nothing I can do about it. When March comes we’ll be ready. That’s the best thing that I can say about our team.”

March is still a few months away, and the Huskies still have nine conference games to go before the regular season closes. Next up on the list of conference foes to try to conquer UConn is the Temple Owls (10-11, 6-2). Led by a 24-point performance by redshirt sophomore Morgan Tuck, UConn defeated Temple 92-58 back on Jan. 14.

Based on numbers, Temple has played UConn the best this season in conference games. The Owls 34-point loss a few weeks back was the narrowest margin of victory for the Huskies against a conference opponent this season.

Temple was outscored by 30 points in the first half, but held the Huskies to just 37 points in the second half, compared to the Owls’ 33.

The Owls had four players score in double figures. Sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald led Temple with 16 points, and freshman Alliya Butts was not far behind with 14.

The task will be just as daunting for the Owls, if not greater than it was Jan. 14, as the Huskies are continuing to get better as a team with every game played. The chemistry that is developing between the starters is showing, and the bench has improved since the beginning of the year. As dominant as the Huskies have been, Auriemma said his team can always improve.

“There’s always something,” Auriemma said after Wednesday’s game. “We were watching film today and when you watch it with the team there is so many things that you see that you want to improve on. Some of it’s individuals and some of it’s team wide. And I think the minute you sit there and say, ‘We’ve got everything covered, we’re good,’ I think that’s when the problems arise.”

Junior Breanna Stewart leads the Huskies in scoring with 16.8 points per game, and every UConn starter is scoring in double digits.

The Huskies are leading the American in team scoring (89.9) points per game and rebounding margin (plus-12.2). Temple, who gives up 65.6 points per game this season, will have to do a better job against a taller UConn team.

With a win over Temple, Auriemma will notch his 899th career victory and he would have a chance to reach 900 wins when UConn takes on Cincinnati next Tuesday.

“He’s had a lot of success with his team through 30 seasons and it’s something you want to be a part of,” Stewart said after Wednesday’s game.

Sunday’s game against Temple will tip off at 2 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Men’s Basketball Drops Another Conference Game with Tournament Prospects in Peril

By: Tim Fontenault, Associate Sports Editor

After Thursday night, UConn’s best, and possibly only, hope of reaching the NCAA tournament to defend its title is to win the American Athletic Conference.

If that was not clear before Thursday, a 70-58 loss at Cincinnati, during which UConn (11-8, 4-3 American) never led, likely sealed the Huskies’ fate.

Playing against the best defense in the American, UConn shot itself in the foot offensively. The Huskies turned the ball over 17 times, resulting in 15 points for the Bearcats.

Senior captain Ryan Boatright did his best to will UConn back into the game late in the second half. UConn’s 18th-leading scorer of all time hit four 3-pointers in the final eight minutes to keep the Huskies close, but not close enough.

Boatright finished with 22 points to lead the Huskies.

Despite Boatright’s efforts to rally, nothing went UConn’s way on offense. Trailing by 10 with 1:19 to play, Omar Calhoun missed a three that was rebounded by Rodney Purvis. Both Purvis and Amida Brimah missed follow-up attempts that, at worst, would have cut the lead to eight.

UConn was sluggish offensively from start to finish Thursday night. Cincinnati jumped out to a 7-0 lead before a Brimah dunk put the Huskies on the board with 15:31 to play in the first half. UConn cut the lead to three 16 seconds later on a drive to the hoop by Terrence Samuel.

The Huskies never got within fewer than three points of the Bearcats.

The longer Cincinnati led, the more frustrated UConn became. Turnovers plagued the Huskies’ comeback bid throughout the game.

Things started to get heated with 13:29 to play, when Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain blocked a Purvis three, hit the layup at the other end and got fouled. Caupain got in Purvis’ face after making the bucket, and Purvis shoved him in frustration. Both players received technical fouls.

Caupain was ejected from the game for a second technical with 2:27 to play. After hitting a jumper to give the Bearcats’ a 14-point lead, Caupain was whistled for taunting and sent to the locker room.

The 12-point loss is the Huskies’ second-worst defeat of the season, behind a 13-point setback at Stanford.

Now 2-3 on the road (2-2 in the American), UConn will complete its two-game trip Sunday with a return to Houston. The Huskies visited the Cougars on New Years Eve in 2014 for their first game in the American, losing 75-71.

Women’s Hockey Takes on BU Terriers

By: Meghan Price, Staff Writer

Coming off a win over Providence last weekend, the UConn women’s ice hockey team will matchup against the Boston University Terriers at home in the Freitas Ice Forum. The Huskies (7-14-6, 3-8-3 Hockey East) had four skaters score in a 4-1 over Providence Sunday. Goaltender Annie Belanger made 36 in the win.

“We capitalized on our chances,” head coach Chris MacKenzie said. “We had timely goal scoring, and we cashed in.”

UConn faced the Terriers twice in November, losing both times. In the first game the Huskies managed to score two goals in the third period but were unable to complete a comeback in a 3-2 loss. The next day on the road, UConn could not hang with the Terriers, losing 4-2.

“After you lose to a team, it’s definitely something that lights a fire under you,” senior Emily Snodgrass said. “Hockey is always a battle, no matter what.”

Boston University is coming off a win and a loss against Vermont last weekend. Last season, the Huskies faced BU three times, losing all three games.

BU junior Sarah Levert has been a huge driving force for the Terriers since her arrival at the university. Starting all 17 games this season, Levert has played every game since her freshman year, Levert holds the school record for most goals scored with 67. This season alone she leads the team in goals, assists and points with 13, 12 and 25.

MacKenzie does not doubt his squad’s ability to overcome the Terriers. Snodgrass leads the team in season goals with 14, followed by Theresa Knutson, Kelly Harris and Sarah MacDonnell.

“I’m proud of the team and the way they’re working,” MacKenzie said. “We’ve had a little bit of a struggle, but to battle it out and grind against a tough team… it’s nice to get the win.”

The Decemberists lose indie appeal with new album

By Brendon Field, Associate News Editor

Allow me to establish some context. The Decemberists rank right up there with Arcade Fire, Radiohead and Modest Mouse as one of the ultimate hipster bands. They have long been a group that has embraced complexity, progression and eccentricity.

With each new album they swapped out their color palette and dug up new roots. The results are always better than the predecessor, while never making their previous works seem prototypical. Yet I have a hunch that across the country there sit many tear-stained flannel handkerchiefs next to record players; for alas, The Decemberists have gone mainstream.

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise after their last record “The King Is Dead” topped the Billboard 200, but it’s a bummer that the band’s ascension in popularity no longer parallels their rise in quality. Their seventh studio album, “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World,” is a noticeable step backward. Rather than embarking into uncharted waters, The Decemberists revisit familiar styles and offer a platter of assorted folk-pop songs that work more to please the ear than the mind.

The band addresses their change toward a more commercial direction in the opening track, “The Singer Addresses His Audience,” a light, swinging tune where Colin Meloy declare that the band has to change to belong. It honestly feels like a rude slap to the group’s original fanbase, because the truth of its declaration is highly questionable; and doesn’t get me too excited for what’s to come. From there on the album unfolds into a series of crisp, polished songs with decent hooks that get worn out with repetition.

Arrangements vary in quality, but as a whole sound too plain. The album features heavier use of background vocals than any of the bands prior works, and by the end feel overused. “Make You Better” and “Till The Water’s The Long Gone” sound pretty without leaving a lasting impression. “Philomena” comes off as a less interesting version of “We Both Go Down Together” and “The Calvary Captain” feels like a rejected song from “The Crane Wife.’

Typically, The Decemberists use their music to add dimension and atmosphere to the landscape and multicultural imagery of their lyrics. Their ability to enable visualization in the listener is almost unmatched.

“Dear Avery,” the concluding track from “The King Is Dead” instantly creates a mental picture of a ranch in the plains of the heartland, two parents on their back porch singing to the sunset, desperately missing their son. New layers are added to build emotion, as can be heard in “Sons and Daughters,” which conveys a true sense of freedom and hope. However, a solid chunk of “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World,” leaves little more than a dense fog in my head, with most songs ending in a too-similar fashion of how they begun.

What has consistently made The Decemberists a remarkable band is Meloy’s songwriting ability. His literary lyrics, stringing together rhymes with the unlikeliest of threads and laboriously laden with metaphor give the music profound depth and longevity. It’s this ability that salvages much of the album’s weaker songs, lifting them from mediocre to acceptable, or better. “Lake Song” is the best example, exquisitely detailed, capturing feelings of nostalgia and the longing that comes with unwilling separation. It’s hard not to melt for a sequences like, “All sibylline, reclining in your pew, you tattered me, you tethered me to you.” While the songwriting is the albums strong point, something feels lacking. Verses repeat themselves a little too often; and there doesn’t seem to be as much storytelling as mere story presenting, with tracks like “Carolina Low” and “Mistral” leaving me wanting more.

A positive that can be said is that the album improves gradually as it goes along. The songs develop more personality, and with it, more fervor. “Better Not Wake The Baby” is a dark, yet humorous track about a domestic tantrum, with the possibility of becoming something more sinister, which packs a lot into less than two minutes. The banjo sounds like a breath of fresh mountain air. “Anti-Summersong” and “Easy Come, Easy Go,” are two jovial tunes with enticing rhythms that I can imagine being played in a rural dance hall.

The album’s biggest standout track, one that destined to be so before a single note was recorded, is “12/17/12.” It’s remembered as the date that President Obama delivered his address in response to the Sandy Hook massacre. Now the mere idea of a song about Sandy Hook instantly raises a red flag, and seems like a topic out of the domain of every songwriter except Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and perhaps a few others. But Meloy approaches the song in the perfect way. Rather than a graphic recount of the tragedy or a politically charged statement on gun control, “12/17/12” is a sweet lament about the joy that children bring us, and the brutal agony of losing them as they were. The song is easily the record’s best offering, and the only one that I would say ranks among The Decemberists’ best.

I have to admit that once I got over my initial disappointment with “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World,” I quite enjoyed it on repeated listens. Of course then I would put on “Picaresque” or “The Hazards of Love” and be immediately reminded of its inferiority. It’s not lacking in effort, but certainly in ambition. The record serves as great introduction to The Decemberists, but as a veteran listener, it feels the like the musical equivalent of diet cola.

Column: I Need a Break From the NFL

By: Spencer Mayfield, Staff Writer

Like most sports fans, I am anxiously anticipating the Super Bowl on Sunday. The matchup between the defending champion Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots should be one for the ages.

However, you wouldn’t know that by the way most major media outlets are covering the game. Instead, the emphasis has been put on the fact that it is a matchup between two teams everybody loves to hate for one reason or another. In the past two weeks, stories about “Deflate-Gate” or Marshawn Lynch’s interactions with the media have stolen the headlines.

For starters, Lynch choosing to not answer questions during his media sessions should be a non-story by now. This is a guy that feels like he has been burned by the media in the past and has elected to no longer speak beyond what is required. His teammates are okay with it, his Head Coach Pete Carroll is as well, but for some reason others cannot grasp the idea.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson described the situation best on Wednesday.

“I just think that sometimes we focus on things that don’t matter and don’t make any difference,” Wilson said to reporters. “Marshawn is a great football player and a guy that puts his work in every day and is dedicated to the game of football and dedicated to his teammates. There are times I don’t think he should be fined, especially to extent that people try to fine him. That’s just my honest opinion.”

Instead of focusing on the upcoming game, we are focusing on something that is not going to change.

By all means, I understand the attempts to speak with Lynch, especially after a game like the NFC Championship when he was clearly the best player on the field. But to act shocked and appalled when this man has made it clear that all he cares about is playing football, regardless of what else you think is in his job description. That seems a little unnecessary.

Speaking of things that do not matter, complaining about deflated footballs during a game that was a 45-7 blowout. Like it or not the Colts were demolished beyond a reasonable doubt for the second time this season by the Patriots. They were clearly the better team on the field.

Look, we may never know what the Patriots did or did not do to those footballs but that does not mean we ignore common sense. Anytime you allow another man to run for 148 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, you deserve to lose. Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount had a field day regardless of how much air was in the football. New England may have outsmarted the officials behind the scenes to gain an advantage, but they also out-toughed Indianapolis for 60 minutes in plain sight.

There is also no denying that the Patriot’s have not exactly been model citizens when it comes to following the rules under Bill Belichick. They cannot act like victims and think everyone does not like you only because you are good. If you have been caught cheating before, you lose the benefit of the doubt.

When the actual game is played and comes to an end on Sunday and a champion is crowned, I need a break from the endless coverage of NFL stories that do not matter.

The NFL is a great game. Do not get me wrong, I love watching it. But sometimes I wonder if it is worth all the extra stuff that comes along with it.

I know NFL coverage will not come to an end. It never does. The endless cycle of covering the NFL Draft will just begin instead.

I will just shift all of my focus to basketball while I count down the days until baseball season.

Super Bowl: Top five things that could go wrong

By Anokh Palakurthi, Campus Correspondent

The Super Bowl might be the biggest mass media event of the year, but that only creates a greater spotlight on disasters. From ‘wardrobe malfunctions,’ like Janet Jackson’s in 2004, to the lights going off two years ago, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Hopefully nothing actually ruins what should be an entertaining game. Nonetheless, here are a few predictions as to what may go wrong during this year’s game.

  1. A significant player gets hurt

The first thing on this list is the most likely. We might look at the NFL athletes as indestructible machines, but they are in every way as human as anyone else. Football is a dangerous sport, as evidenced by several reports of concussions, broken bones and ligament tears throughout the season. It’s not completely out of the question that a pivotal player, like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady or Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, gets hurt in the middle of the game. While the effects of injury can be beneficial to another team, players are still real people that have to deal with very painful consequences. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen to anyone.

  1. The Patriots overinflate every football before the game.

Think you’re safe from all the Deflategate coverage? Prepare for Inflategate. Spurred by the media’s vicious coverage of deflated ball use in the AFC championship game, the Patriots turn the other end of the spectrum and inflate their balls to workout-weight size. Just think about Brady trying to throw downfield, only to have the ball drop after three yards. It would be a captivating form of surreal performance art, illustrating a perfect end to a season marred by elevator footage, deflated balls and media perniciousness.

  1. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman interrupts Katy Perry’s halftime performance

Can a professional football player really enjoy a Katy Perry song enough to sing one? Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe depicts Sherman as singing a Katy Perry song for an Xbox One. Imagine Perry walking around stage and Sherman runs up to join her. The band continues playing, unaffected by the spectacle that has just happened, while Perry stands in complete shock. Sherman then grabs the mic, proclaiming, “I’m the best cornerback in the league!” before singing his own rendition of “I Kissed a Girl.” Add in Sherman bringing his teammate Marshawn Lynch onstage for a few “yeah’s” and boom – we already have the best halftime show in 10 years.

  1. Lenny Kravitz performs with Katy Perry.

Wait a minute…this is happening, isn’t it? Even if Sherman actually does interrupt the show? Oh God; what could be any worse? Well…

  1. The President interrupts the Super Bowl broadcast with a breaking announcement

It’s not so much the frustration many might feel being interrupted, but what that frustration says about us as people. Think about it: there are people out there who would rather pay attention to grown men playing a game than seeing what the most powerful man on the planet has to say to the world. Don’t believe me? Over the last two weeks, the biggest story in America was about the possible deflation of footballs.

Then again, if our president’s announcement was that poverty was officially over, maybe it’s something we should be putting on a list for “What will go right.”

 

Super Bowl: Must-have foods for any Super Bowl party

ByAnokh Palakurthi, Campus Correspondent

With Super Bowl XLIX coming up this weekend, there’s a lot of talk about deflated footballs, deflated footballs and deflated footballs. But the real question is: what food is best for a Super Bowl party?

At least for UConn students, most people seem to agree that chicken wings are the way to go.  Michael Jefferson, a 6th-semester English major, said wings are the perfect meal to have watching a football game.

“It’s America, you know,” Jefferson joked. “We’re watching two of football’s greatest teams go head to head. What better to eat than something simple like chicken wings?”

Shane Wickham, a 4th-semester mechanical engineering major, said he thought the best Super Bowl food was a tie between wings and chili.

“It’s just so convenient,” Wickham said. “It’s a staple to eat when watching sports – especially if it’s a championship game like the Super Bowl.”

Jose Suriel, a 6th-semester psychology major, wondered if there was any more fitting of a meal for the Super Bowl.

“Think about the hundreds, if not thousands of Super Bowl themed commercials and jokes in a show,” Suriel said. “The number one food present is the chicken wings.”

From what it seems, Wings over Storrs is sure to have an incredibly busy night of delivering food for UConn students. But what are options for vegetarian Super Bowl watchers?

Avery Kamila, of Press Herald, writes that vegan chili is a great way to even get non-vegetarians to eat something different on “the most meat-centric party of the year.” Kamila even mentions a “Super Cheese Cream Ball,” as well as cornbread as great Super Bowl meals for everyone.
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said, “being from the south, I kick it up a notch for the big game with BBQ Nachos!” Meanwhile, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban unconventionally said, “cranberry marshmallow salad.”

Cheese, crackers, olives and grapes are also great warm-up snacks for anyone getting ready to watch the game. One thing for sure though: when it comes to food, Super Bowl parties can’t just wing it.