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Connecticut is a dangerous opponent for Maryland basketball

A Q+A with someone who knows the Huskies best.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Roles were reversed in the last meeting between these teams in New York, as Connecticut was the ranked team, and the Terps were the underdog. The No. 18 Huskies narrowly took care of business at the other New York arena, the Barclays Center, with a 1-point win. UConn would go on to win a national title later that year.

To preview this year's matchup we got in touch with Tim Fontenault of The UConn Blog, SB Nation's Connecticut outlet.

You can check out the answers on our end here.

Testudo Times: The Huskies were ranked as high as No. 18 this season, but dropped out of the top 25 following two close losses to Syracuse and Gonzaga. What were the glaring flaws in the team's losses?

Tim Fontenault: Against Syracuse, UConn looked like it was overthinking against Syracuse's zone defense. The Huskies did a good job of getting into the lane, but they rushed their shots. It often looked like Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis were throwing the ball at the rim and hoping for divine intervention. UConn also left a lot of points at the foul line and on the glass, as made foul shots and rebounds were hard to come by.

UConn then started slow against Gonzaga. The Huskies looked disinterested for stretches of the first half. Shots refused to fall, and UConn's bigs were out worked by the stars underneath for the Bulldogs. There was some positivity in the end, as UConn came from 21 points down to have four chances to tie or take the lead in the final minutes.

Amida Brimah is projected to go 55th overall in next year's NBA draft according to DraftExpress. How big has he been so far?

In truth, I'm not big on Amida Brimah this year. He's been a liability at times. His hands are like stones, incapable of gripping a basketball, so he has let several rebounds and passes slip through his hands. He missed several easy shots in the Bahamas that could have seen the Huskies edge out Syracuse and Gonzaga. When he is focused, he is the nation's best shot blocker, but that beast needs to be unleashed against more than Northeastern Conference opponents.

Who will be the toughest Husky for the Terrapins to guard?

It should be Daniel Hamilton, UConn's star sophomore from Los Angeles. Hamilton is UConn's best player this season, because he's the most complete player on the floor. He's averaging 12.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. He's already had several games when he's fallen just shy of a triple double, but he is such a complete player with good size, speed and vision that it is always something to watch for.

Toughest Terrapin for the Huskies to guard?

UConn could have the most trouble with Diamond Stone. As I said, Amida Brimah has been the problem child this year. He was bullied by the talented bigs of Gonzaga, and now he gets to defend one of the most talented freshmen in the nation. Stone is stronger than Brimah, so the UConn captain will have to try to contain him while staying out of foul trouble. It could fall to backups Kentan Facey and Phil Nolan to step up at times. Facey has played well this season, getting to the boards defensively and looking more like the top-100 recruit he was. Nolan started on UConn's last national championship team. The pieces are there. The execution is missing sometimes.

You're given the choice to bring back Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier or Ryan Boatright to play against Melo Trimble on Tuesday. Who are you taking and why?

Give me Kemba Walker over Napier and Boatright any day. I think back to that swagger, that defensive prowess that made opponents want to quit the game forever. UConn has been blessed with great guard play over the years, but there is only one Kemba. He made the best guards shiver. I'd expect Melo Trimble to be no different. Trimble is one of the best, and one of my favorites in college today, but Kemba was something else.

UConn beat Maryland by a point at the Barclays Center two years ago. Will New York be as kind this year? What are you game predictions (assuming your choice in the prior question is ineligible to play)?

UConn fans always love going back to MSG, because it serves as a reminder that Jim Delany misinterpreted the New York market. Rodney Purvis recalled playing UConn at MSG when he was at North Carolina State (a rare Garden loss for UConn). He said despite the win, that was clearly a UConn home game. The Huskies and their fans get up for these games, and I think we're in for a great one. I have a gut feeling UConn will squeak one out. It has to. This is the Huskies' last foreseeable chance at a marquee win. But it will be a narrow win for either team. These are two really good basketball teams. It is a matchup worthy of the late-night spotlight in the Big Apple.

With the final question, we'll go off-topic. Are you surprised former Husky and now former Terrapin football coach Randy Edsall was let go? What were your expectations when Edsall took the Maryland job, and what was your opinion of him when he was at UConn?

I can't say I was surprised Edsall was let go, but I didn't think it would happen in the middle of the season. When he took the job, I wanted to see him succeed from the start, mainly because if you're going to slip away without saying goodbye to your team and take a new job the day after playing in the Fiesta Bowl, you better make sure you succeed. I loved him at UConn. He oversaw the jump from I-AA and made UConn a noisemaker in no time. Those early years have hope for a quick rise up the Big East ranks, and that happened. The timing of his departure and the manner in which he left hurt, but I can't blame him for pursuing the Maryland job.