Former Norcross Player Leads UConn to Sweet 16

A road trip, yes, but it's no vacation for University of Connecticut player Jeremy Lamb during the NCAA tournament.

The road trip, especially during spring break, is a time-honored tradition for college students. University of Connecticut freshman Jeremy Lamb, a former Norcross High basketball player, is no exception.

Yet unlike his fellow undergraduates, who in many cases are looking to trade the cold and gray of the Storrs campus for fun in the sun, the local's cross-country adventure is more business trip than spring fling.

The form of March Madness Lamb is experiencing as a member of the UConn Huskies men's basketball team will not come on some beach, even with his first trip to California on the approaching horizon. In fact, forget outdoors altogether. It’s all about being inside, on the hardwood. 

That doesn't mean Lamb and his teammates aren't having their share of jocular moments. Winning the Big East Tournament, then advancing deep into the ongoing NCAA tournament is worthy of an exuberant, prideful belly laugh or two.

"We're still having fun," Lamb assured on Saturday following the Huskies’ win over Cincinnati, advancing Connecticut onto the Sweet16 against San Diego State on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Anaheim.

The freshman is indeed getting his travel on, with stops in New York City and Washington, D.C. having already been crossed off the itinerary.

From the outside, it might be hard to gauge whether the mild-mannered and stone-faced Lamb, the Huskies second-leading scorer, fully grasps the magnitude of the accomplishment, both for his team and personally.

"He's really laid back. It seems like nothing really gets to him," said starting center Alex Oriakhi about Lamb, who started all but one of the Huskies 37 games this season. "He's just been playing great for us."

The youthful squad endured a late season swoon, but they rebounded with five wins in five days at Madison Square Garden for the conference tournament title. The Norcross-native scored 13 points in the trophy-deciding game.

The good times rolled in the nation's Capitol with wins over Bucknell and Cincinnati. As his mother looked on from the stands, Lamb was at his sweet-shooting best, draining 6 of 8 three-pointers and scoring 30 points total. 

"It's a huge accomplishment, but I haven't even thought about it," said Lamb, his relaxed gaze masking any sense of the big stage on which he and the Huskies currently sit. "I'm just happy I'm able to do it in my first year." 

Unfazed by the mounting pressure, the 10-point-a-game scorer has increased his production to 14 per contest during the Huskies seven-game winning streak.

Considering Lamb was not even a starter on the Norcross High School team until his senior year makes his quick adjustment to the highest level even more remarkable, though some had advanced warning.

"Before the season started, I knew he was going to be great for us," Huskies star Kemba Walker said. "[Connecticut] Coach [Jim] Calhoun had already told me he was going to be a big-time scorer."

Beyond the numbers and accuracy, Lamb's patience for a quality attempt instead of forcing the action has stood out.

"The main thing about Jeremy is I think he does a great job at getting his shot," Walker said.

And this is just year one for Lamb at Connecticut. Walker is likely headed to the NBA next season and if Lamb continues to improve while staying calm in the face of high expectations, he could be joining him down the line.

"I don't think he's even scratched his potential," Oriakhi said. "He doesn't know how good he can be." 

But first, Lamb has a road trip to finish.

Hope Barrett March 23, 2011 at 11:32 PM
As a Connecticut native - Go UCONN! And nice job Jeremy!


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