There are bigger names, better players on Jim Calhoun's first-time Final Four Huskies. But no one has been more steady for UConn than the team's defensive-minded co-captain and only senior starter, Ricky Moore.
Moore averaged 6.6 points and 3.8 rebounds this season, playing almost 29 minutes a game. His defense, though, is what has made Moore so valuable to the Huskies, as he showed in the Elite Eight showdown with Gonzaga. In that 67-62 win, Moore held Gonzaga guard Matt Santangelo to two points on 1-of-9 shooting, including an oh-for-four game from behind the 3-point arc. Just for good measure, Moore chipped in 12 points
Moore will have his defensive hands full with Ohio State's backcourt of Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd, maybe the most explosive guard tandem in the country. UConn point guard Khalid El-Amin may handle Penn, while Huskies swingman Richard Hamilton may get the job of stopping Redd. But Moore, the team's best defender, will figure into Calhoun's gameplan somewhere.
"Ricky Moore clearly factors into this thing, the way he can guard people,'' Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien has said. "I think the matchups will be pretty even and in the long run cancel themselves out."
If Moore and the Huskies can get past Ohio State, the Huskies could next face top-ranked Duke. Then Moore would have a chance to guard his high school friend and teammate from Augusta, Ga., Duke point guard William Avery.
"We're real good friends, but we've never competed against each other -- not even on the playground have we been on opposite teams," Avery said. "It would be different. We know each other so well, each of us would probably be able to stop each other right away because we know what the other one is going to do."