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No. 7 ‘Nova, No. 10 UConn in Big East showdown
Question of the Day
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jay Wright can fast-forward the video and put the scouting report in his junk mail pile.
For a few weeks last summer, Kemba Walker was his guy.
Wright had a daily inside look at the UConn guard who is dominating his way toward player of the year honors. Wright’s summer break from coaching Villanova included a stint as co-coach of the USA Select team _ college stars picked to scrimmage against the USA National team before their trip to Turkey for the World Championships.
No player wowed Wright last summer quite like Walker.
No player concerns Wright this week quite like Walker.
Walker stands in the way of No. 7 Villanova escaping Storrs, Conn., with its biggest road win of the season. The Wildcats (16-1, 4-0 Big East) have won 11 straight games entering Monday’s matchup at No. 10 Connecticut (14-2, 3-2).
“I know what he did for us against Kevin Durant, so now we have to go against him,” Wright said. “It’s scary.”
Walker’s 31 points in Saturday’s win against DePaul means he has led the Huskies, who vaulted into prominence with a Maui Invitational championship, in scoring in every game this season. He leads them in scoring (25.6 ppg), assists (3.8) and is even third in rebounds (5.4).
He’s aggressive, can change speeds and blow by defenders, and has carried the Huskies even as he’s been badgered and bullied and absorbed his lumps on the court as teams try all kinds of tactics to slow him down.
Wright saw Walker’s excellence during practices and scrimmages in Las Vegas and New York.
After the initial training session in Las Vegas, the team was scaled back to 10 players for the New York slate. Wright picked two point guards to head east: Butler’s Shelvin Mack and Walker.
“Offensively, they couldn’t press us,” Wright said. “He had a day there where he went for 26 against those guys. On the offensive end, he’s not just a shooter. He’ll come off screens, he’ll play off the ball and he’ll find teammates.”
Walker’s helped UConn develop into one the surprise teams in the Big East a year after Jim Calhoun’s health issues and an NCAA investigation stained a season that finished in the NIT.
He also wants to keep the Huskies’ dominance over the Wildcats going _ UConn has won 16 of the last 24 meetings dating back to 1996. Wright is 4-10 vs. UConn.
“I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to it,” Walker said. “I think we’re going to come with a lot of effort and intensity.”
By Steve King
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