STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut heads into its season finale against Providence on Saturday facing a postseason ban, the breakup of the Big East conference, and injuries that could keep four key players on the bench.
UConn wasn’t expected to come close to 20 wins after losing five underclassmen to transfer and the NBA and seeing Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun retire in the offseason.
They were picked to finish ninth in the conference, and were banned from the NCAA and Big East tournaments based on a low academic performance rate, scores that involved no player on the current team.
But despite having no postseason to play for, this year’s squad shocked then-No. 14 Michigan State in the season opener and were 19-7 going into the last game of February.
Finally, things started to fall apart.
The Huskies lost to No. 7 Georgetown in two overtimes, and also lost leading scorer Shabazz Napier, who aggravated a right-foot injury. The team’s star junior guard hasn’t played since, and the Huskies are 0-3 since the injury.
Niels Giffey, the team’s top player off the bench, broke a finger in the next game, a 61-56 loss at Cincinnati, and is out for the season. Center Tyler Olander followed him to the training room on Wednesday, breaking his left foot in the 65-51 loss at South Florida.
The Huskies will host a Providence team (17-12, 9-8) that has won three in a row and seven of its last eight,
UConn beat the Friars, 82-79, in overtime on January 31