Guard suffered serious health issues

— -- Previous Words: Monday | Feb. 14-18

Connecticut junior guard Rashad Anderson and coach Jim Calhoun told Monday night that Anderson should be back on the court for the season finale against Syracuse on March 5. If he's not ready then, he should return for the Big East tournament. "Once I get my stitches out, then I should be fine," Anderson said. "I'd say I'm two weeks away. When I feel comfortable I'll be out there. I can run a bit now. I was on the treadmill at the hospital." Anderson was released from Hartford Hospital on Monday and went straight to the Huskies' shootaround prior to Monday's game against Notre Dame. "The best-case scenario is for the Syracuse game," Calhoun said. "Otherwise it will be for the Big East tournament." Anderson said he's lucky to be alive. The wound on his right groin started as an infected hair that looked like a pimple. Anderson said he picked at it and didn't treat it properly, allowing the infection to spread. Anderson, who spent nearly two weeks in the hospital after being admitted on Feb. 8, suffered kidney and breathing problems. "When they cut my leg open, all the tissue in my groin was dead, black, and they had to cut it out," Anderson said. "I'm grateful to be alive. If I'd waited another day, I could be dead. I probably shouldn't have played against Syracuse [Feb. 7], because I irritated it and it grew to the size of a grapefruit. "I've got to see the kidney doctors to make sure everything is fine before I can play," Anderson said. Velma Anderson, Rashad's mother, said at one point her son asked for a tracheotomy. "But he made the turn and I just told him to keep breathing," she said. "That Friday [Feb. 11] was the worst day of my life," Anderson said. "My kidneys shut down, my lungs filled up with fluid and I was in and out of consciousness. All I was thinking about was my daughter and my family. I didn't care if I could ever play basketball again." Anderson looked good but noticeably more slender Monday night.

Big East POY Should Be ...
The Big East player of the year should be ... Boston College sophomore Jared Dudley, according to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun. That's right, Dudley. Not his teammate, junior forward Craig Smith, or Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick. Coaches can't vote for their own players, but BC coach Al Skinner has already anointed Craig Smith as the candidate he's pushing. That's the politically correct thing to do, since Smith is one class ahead of Dudley. But Calhoun makes a strong case for Dudley. In 12 Big East conference games, Dudley is fourth in scoring (18.9 ppg in league games), third in rebounding (8.4 rpg), sixth in field-goal percentage (48.4), eighth in steals (1.67), 12th in free-throw percentage (75.6) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.81). "It's Dudley," Calhoun said after the Huskies' 88-74 win over Notre Dame on Monday night in Hartford. "Dudley is fourth in our league in scoring and third in rebounding. He's the Most Valuable Player on that team. If they win the Big East, then he should be the player of the year. If we win it, then I'll say who it should be."

Williams Thriving After Receiving Calhoun's Wrath
In Connecticut's win over Notre Dame, sophomore point guard Marcus Williams was one rebound shy of a triple-double: 17 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. Williams has been on a tear lately. He notched 26 points, 22 assists and only four turnovers in his previous two games (at Providence and at Rutgers) before Monday night's performance. Williams, who leads the Big East in conference games with 8.1 assists, attributes his resurgence to Calhoun. "He's been on me since the first day of practice," Williams said. "December was the low point after we lost to UMass. He was tough, always on my back about the turnovers, trying to make the home-run pass and the alley-oops." "I was killing him," Calhoun said. "He was getting 51 percent of the criticism in practice, the rest of the team was getting the other 49. I knew he's as good a passer as I've had here. I pushed and pushed him. Whatever he did wasn't good enough. I've been unmerciful on him." Williams didn't play in the second semester last season because he was academically ineligible. Yet Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Williams plays with such familiarity with this year's team that it seems like he was on the championship squad. "It's difficult to be a point guard for Jim because there is so much pressure on the point guard here," Connecticut assistant George Blaney said. "When he came here, he was a typical AAU player and [then he] missed all of those games." Williams said he has become much more assertive. "I've been on our players, on Charlie since day one to stay aggressive," Williams said. "What happened last year made me tougher and humbled me. I'm at the bottom trying to get to the top."

Notre Dame As The Hunted
The Irish are used to being the team that needs a big-time win to impress the NCAA selection committee. But that won't be the case when they host UCLA on Sunday. The Irish seem to be secure this season, although coach Mike Brey isn't ready to declare his club an NCAA team just yet for fear of complacency. Notre Dame has wins over Boston College, Connecticut, Villanova, Georgetown and at Indiana. But the Bruins — with an RPI of 38, a 14-9 overall record (8-7 in the Pac-10) and a 1-5 mark against the RPI Top 25 — desperately need a signature win. "I'm going to turn it around for our guys and say we still need it," Brey said of his approach. "This would be a huge one to get. I hope it snows. It will be refreshing to see someone out of the league with a different style of play. I know this would be another good one for our resumé." And even more so for the Bruins, who could use a marquee nonconference road win.

Big East Scheduling
The Big East expects to let the 16 teams for the 2005-06 season know who they will be playing in June after CBS and ESPN make their selections. Dates and times wouldn't be set until over the summer, but the matchups will be dictated by television. So if CBS requests Louisville-Connecticut, you can expect ESPN will want the same game. That means those two teams would be matched up in a home-and-home series. A number of these scenarios will occur. If both television partners want certain games, then those would likely be the home-and-home matchups. The Big East won't lock in primary-rival partners like the 12-team ACC does. The Big East will play 16 games in 2005-06 and go through a two-year cycle with the schedule. Teams will play 10 teams once, three teams twice and two teams not at all. Expect some games to happen naturally, like Louisville-Cincinnati and Marquette-DePaul. The ACC sent out its schedule for the next three seasons but then abruptly withdrew it after it was released. The league needs to address equity issues before agreeing to the schedule. senior writer Andy Katz brings the Daily Word five days a week to ESPN Insider.