HARTFORD, Conn. - There is an old saying that goes "home is where the heart is." Home is a place for family and friends to get together and it is also the place where someone feels most comfortable.
As Connecticut prepares to face Big East opponent DePaul (11-15, 2-11 Big East) on Saturday, the game will be a homecoming for one UConn (18-7, 8-5) player. For another Husky, it’s an opponent who made him feel comfortable in his game the teams played.
Ryan Boatright, who grew up in Aurora, Ill., will be playing less than an hour away from his hometown as the Huskies travel to Rosemont to play DePaul (8 p.m., SNY). It will be the closest to home that Boatright will play in this Big East schedule, much closer than when the Huskies played at Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind.
"I can't wait to get home," Boatright said. "It's going to be great to see a lot of people that I haven't seen in a while that can't afford to get up here and see me, so it's gonna be fun. It's gonna be a good game. It's gonna be a good environment for both teams."
Being so close to home allows a lot of Boatright's family and friends to attend the game. When asked if he could fill the arena, Boatright said, "it's gonna be a lot of people in there. A lot of UConn fans."
Playing so close to home means different things to different players. For some it could be the most exciting game of the year, giving them a chance to show off for their crowd. Boatright said it won’t change a thing.
"I'm just going in to it like its a normal game and if it's my day, it's going to be my day," Boatright said. "I'm going to approach it like I do every other game."
In Thursday’s 73-66 overtime victory over Cincinnati, Boatright finished with nine points on 3-of-12 shooting and five assists. Although it was not a statistically thrilling night for Boatright, he was able to shut down Cashmere Wright, who did not score in either the second half or in overtime. Wright finished with 10 points.
Unlike Boatright, DeAndre Daniels grew up in Los Angeles. But hitting the road to play DePaul for a second time this season, Daniels should be filled with confidence. In a Jan. 8 meeting between DePaul and UConn at Gampel Pavilion, Daniels scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds, his best performance to date for the Huskies.
"Hopefully, we'll see," Daniels said when he was asked if he could duplicate his performance against DePaul on Saturday. "We’ve just gotta go out there and execute the game plan and hopefully get the win."
Daniels was given the task of guarding Cleveland Melvin, one of the best scorers in the Big East, in the first game. Melvin averages just over 16 points per game.
"Just play defense," Daniels said of guarding Melvin. "All five guys have to play defense together."
DePaul is coming off of 90-66 loss to No. 11 Georgetown on Wednesday. The Hoyas held Melvin to eight points.