Let the Fun Begin

The Connecticut men open Big East Conference play against Marquette Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

It's a time-honored tradition in the Big East that veterans talk to rookies in order to prepare them for the change that takes place when conference play begins. But let the record show that there's nothing like the personal experience.

In other words, no one can really understand it without the personal experience.

The 2012-13 Connecticut Huskies get their first taste Tuesday night in Milwaukee (8 p.m., ESPNU) against Marquette (9-3).

"You can tell them bits and pieces but you can't really explain the Big East," sophomore Ryan Boatright said. "You've got to get your own taste of it. With the new guys, we just try to let them know what we can in order to get them as well prepared as we can.

"We just tell them it's extremely physical and there ain't going to be that many fouls called. Every game is tough, from the top of the Big East to the bottom of the Big East. You've got to be prepared. . . You can go from 9-2 overall to 9-9 real fast. Real fast."

Of course, Boatright said, that's not the plan.

Marquette, led by guard Vander Blue (13.4 ppg) will be without coach Buzz Williams Tuesday at the Bradley Center. Williams is serving a university ordered 48-hour suspension that began New Year's Eve. He is allowed no contact with his team during this period.

Marquette is punishing Williams for recruiting violations that were self-reported to the NCAA before the season. According to the Milwaukee Journal, athletic director Larry Williams said there was "no indication the coach was aware of the violations, which included giving a recruit rides and team apparel.

Assistant Scott Monarch was fired after the school's investigation, part of the tighter rein administration is holding on the athletic department and men's basketball after earlier problems led to changes at the top."

Williams hasn't said who will coach in his absence. Marquette assistants Jerry Wainwright and Jeff Reynolds are former Division I head coaches.

Williams did tell reporters over the weekend that he is concerned with UConn's quickness, which he termed "racetrack" style.

"They pressure you defensively, put pressure on you offensively because of their speed," he said. "We'll have our hands full, but we cant make it into a track meet because we'll lose. We have to handle their speed. We have to make them guard us inside, have a presence in the paint."

Let the Big East fun and games begin.

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