UConn is no longer part of the Big East and the rivalries that came with it, but they may have a new adversary in their new conference. On Thursday night, the Huskies face 17th-ranked Memphis in an American Athletic Conference matchup that could eventually rank up there with those old-school Syracuse, Georgetown and St. John's get-togethers.
"Memphis is going to stay in the league, Louisville is leaving [for the ACC]," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said, via the Hartford Courant. "Memphis is going to be here, Cincinnati is going to be a rival of ours. But I don't see Memphis, with Josh Pastner there, going down any time soon and I don't see UConn going down any time. Hopefully, we'll be battling for some championships and that will lead to a rivalry."
The last -- and only -- time these two teams met was in 2007 when Memphis, coached by John Calipari and then part of Conference USA, defeated UConn at Madison Square Garden.
The 2013-14 version of the Tigers, now coached by Pastner, plays a lot like Ollie's squad.
"They want to get up and down the court, and that's our style of play," junior guard Ryan Boatright said. "That's to our benefit."
The Tigers lost to AAC member Cincinnati, but have since beaten Louisville and Temple. The Huskies, meanwhile, dropped their first two conference games to Houston and SMU before taking care of UCF in a game in which freshman Amida Brimah scored 20 points, pulled 8 rebounds and blocked 5 shots.
But Ollie knows that Memphis' athleticism coupled with their ability to create turnovers are issues the Huskies must overcome if they're to get their second conference win.
"I don't think we're going to face a team with the athletes they have at every position," the coach said. "These are different kinds of athletes and they're going to push the ball at every opportunity. They're an unselfish team, averaging 16 assists a game, and they feed off turnovers. We're going to have to take UConn shots, not let their pressure bother us into taking quick shots."