NCAA Tournament for UConn at the Garden and nothing different from the past

By Rich Mancuso

What can be expected after a 53-year hiatus of an NCAA Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden is UConn doing what they always do on the Garden floor, and that is winning a big game. The Huskies had their fans and DeAndre Daniels made sure that his team would head to the Eastern Regional final Sunday.

Daniels scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half. That was a typical UConn ending on the Garden court as he led the seventh ranked Huskies to an 81-76 victory over third seed Iowa State University.

He would hit his first six points at halftime. That was so familiar to typical Big East wins for the Huskies at the Garden. Now in the ACC, playing at the Garden is not a regular stint on the schedule. Though the Huskies took two games at the Garden in late November defeating Boston College and # 22 Indiana in the 2K Sports Classic.

As it always was in the past, Daniels sounded like all the others who had an impact on the Garden floor.

“Well, I just wanted to stay aggressive and just start of the second half just keep staying aggressive,” he said  “My teammates were talking to me, and it would never have been possible if it wasn't for my teammates looking for me, and coaching staff getting me the ball in the right positions.”

He added, “And I was able to knock down my shots tonight.”

The star of the NCAA Tournament run for the Huskies, Shabazz Napier with 19 points, four of six from three-point range, concurred.”He wanted to make a big impact and I just told him like, ‘Just calm down.’  The game’s going to come to you.”

The 15,000 plus at the Garden knew who the star would be Friday night. Napier, the senior guard has led the Huskies in scoring all season, but Daniels is a good compliment.

“DeAndre’s a scorer and once you feel that you have that confidence the next shot’s going to go in,” added Napier. “We kept feeding him and he got super hot. We had to cool his hand down and we just kept going. But he’s a great scorer for us.”

Napier hopes to return to the Final Four next weekend in Arlington Texas. As a freshman he helped lead the Huskies to their last national title, a win over Butler in Houston Texas.

Now UConn looks to win their tenth championship at the Garden Sunday and advance to another Final Four if they beat fourth seed Michigan State Sunday afternoon. If that happens, it will be another reason why the Garden is so much their home court.

What makes this one sweeter, UConn is making a run at the National championship in New York, a year after sitting out the big dance because of NCAA academic sanctions.

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