Tough Road Has UConn PreparedWeekend Spotlight
There’s a different, more confident, feeling around the Connecticut program as it prepares for a pair of important home series against Houston and East Carolina to conclude American Athletic Conference regular season play.
This time last season, the Huskies were one of several teams needing to assemble marquee wins just to try to make the NCAA tournament. They earned an RPI in the mid-30s and compiled a 33-25 overall record. However, as with many bubble teams, their hopes of making the tourney faded throughout the final weekend during conference tournaments as there were several upsets in mid-major tournaments, meaning you had a hefty crop of stolen bids.
So, as Selection Monday arrived, UConn head coach Jim Penders kind of knew what to expect. But he held out hope. His hunch proved right as the bracket was announced and names scrolled across the screen on ESPNU. Another name, then another name. In the end, no UConn.
He wanted his team to use that snub as a rallying cry entering the 2018 campaign. He didn’t want to experience that feeling again. The 2018 UConn Huskies have heeded that call, and have unofficially clinched a spot in the postseason. Now, they want to host a regional and are in good shape to do so, granted the final two weekends go well.
“We’re not focused on hosting right now, and that needs to be our mentality these final few weeks,” Penders said. “It’s nice to control our own destiny to an extent, but we didn’t control it last year and we were hoping and praying on Selection Monday. We kind of had that sinking feeling with all the upsets coming in during conference tourneys on Sunday.