|It's hard to figure that UConn could be this flat and uninspiring. (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Jeff Goodman
UConn looks like a dead team -- and I know dead teams when I see them.
I swear I saw one last March 5. That was Senior Night in Storrs, when Kemba Walker went through the festivities despite being a junior, when the Huskies couldn't beat a Notre Dame team without its best player on the floor for the final 8 minutes, 29 seconds.
The Irish led, 60-52, when Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough went to the sidelines with his fifth foul. UConn regained the lead less than three minutes later, but the Huskies couldn't hold on for the win. The loss dropped Jim Calhoun's team to 9-9 in Big East play.
That sure looked like a dead team. Dead and buried. At least that's what everyone thought.
It was like a morgue in that locker room after the game. That was UConn's fourth loss in the past five games and every head on that team was down. No one had any answers, least of all Walker.
"No clue," Walker said as he shook his head on that day when I asked him what was wrong. "I have no idea."
Then came the magical, the unlikeliest of runs that started with five wins in five consecutive days to win the Big East tournament and concluded with six more to claim the national title.
Do I think it will happen again with this team, which was obliterated in the Yum! Center last night by Louisville? No. But I've also learned never to count anyone out after what happened a year ago.
My colleague Gary Parrish made plenty of valid points in his column last night. This team doesn't have Kemba Walker. Right now, it also doesn't even have its Hall of Fame coach -- who is out with what appears to be a serious back injury.
But many of these guys have dug out of the deepest possible hole.
The Huskies are now 15-8 overall and 5-6 in Big East play with a road game against 23-1 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome up next. Freshman Andre Drummond was abysmal last night, Jeremy Lamb hasn't lived up to expectations some put on him prior to the season and Shabazz Napier has been an enigma. Alex Oriakhi was relegated to bench duty for much of the season, a move I still feel has hurt this team in a variety of ways.
It certainly doesn't appear promising for this group of Huskies, but if there's one thing I learned last year is that some teams can come back from the dead.