Slumping Huskies begin key stretch

Associated Press
Jim Calhoun's Huskies are in danger of not going to the NIT or NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years.

STORRS, Conn. - Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun doesn't want his young team to think about its five-game losing streak, the conference standings, or the school's 19 consecutive trips to the NCAA or NIT tournaments when it faces Rutgers on today.


After all, it's still early in February. But UConn, winners of two national titles since 1999, is in danger of spending most of March watching the postseason from home.

Unless the Huskies (13-8 2-6 Big East) turn things around soon, they might not even qualify for the conference tournament. UConn is tied with South Florida for 13th, with only the top 12 teams earning spots as Madison Square Garden.

"I'm not mentioning to them New York, NCAA, any other thing," Calhoun said after practice Friday. "The only thing I've mentioned to them very simply is that we need to get a win and play a game."

The Huskies host the Scarlet Knights (9-13, 2-7) today, then play Syracuse (15-7, 4-4) on Monday night - a three-day stretch that could go a long way toward determining their fate.

"It does motivate us," sophomore forward Jeff Adrien said. "But I'm trying not to look at the standings right now until we finally get a win and get on a winning streak."

UConn started the season 11-0, rising to No. 12 in the nation by playing 11 consecutive home games against overmatched opponents including Central Arkansas, Texas Southern and Coppin State. But since starting the Big East season with an 81-71 loss at West Virginia on Dec. 30, Connecticut has lost eight of 10, and is on its first five-game losing streak since the 2000-01 season.