Monday, September 26, 2016

UConn to check out Class of 2018 guard Luguentz Dort

There's a new Class of 2018 guard for UConn fans to keep an eye on: Luguentz Dort, a 6-foot-3 1/2 combo guard from the Conrad Academy in Orlando.

UConn assistant Ricky Moore will head down to Orlando and see Dort on Thursday morning, according to Conrad coach Shaun Wiseman. Moore and Wiseman are good friends, dating back to when the two were assistant coaches for the Charlotte Royals AAU team about six years ago.

Dort, who hails from Montreal, has already received offers from Florida, Arizona State, Baylor, Virginia, Oregon and Louisville. Rick Pitino saw him at an open gym a few weeks ago and offered him a scholarship on the spot. Florida is showing the most interest right now - head coach Mike White apparently loves him, and assistant Dusty May is at the nearby Conrad campus often.

Conrad has some other prospects, including 7-foot-2 Aristide Boya from Cameroon, who Moore will take a look at, as well.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Upcoming UConn dates

It may be football season, but basketball season isn't all that far away, either. Here are some upcoming dates for UConn men's basketball fans to keep in mind:

  • The UConn men's hoops team will be signing autographs prior to Saturday's UConn-Syracuse football game at Rentschler from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at the Fan Fest area. The football game starts at 1 p.m. At the conclusion of the first quarter, UConn players will be presented with a hand-crafted surfboard, recognizing their participation in this year's Maui Invitational in November.
  • The annual Husky Run will be held on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. This will be toned down from recent years, with just UConn players participating.
(Oh, and did you see what Donyell Marshall's doing in his first year as CCSU's head coach on Wednesday? Looks familiar!)


  • UConn's first official practice is on Saturday, Oct. 1.

  • UConn's First Night festivities will be held on Friday, Oct. 14. Bit of a different wrinkle this year, 
Here's the schedule of  First Night events:

3 p.m.: Doors open for First night/UConn women's volleyball (4 p.m. match)

First 50 students in line will be granted premium courtside seating. Also, the first 300 fans to sign up at the marketing table inside the South entrance will be granted entrance into a "Selfie Session" with the teams. 

4 p.m. UConn volleyball vs. UCF

5:30 p.m. Selfie session begins in the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center

7 p.m. Fan promotions and on-court entertainment begins

7:30 p.m. Showtime

The highlight of the festivities will be the Blue vs. White scrimmage, which will consist of four, five-minute segments - two featuring men vs. men, two featuring women vs. women. 

The teams will be chosen beforehand, but fans will be able to vote for which team they would like to see coached by Geno Auriemma and which they would like to see coached by Kevin Ollie. Voting will take place on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram starting on Sept. 29 and ending on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

  • Finally, the AAC's Media Day will be held Monday, Oct. 24 in Philadelphia. 


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

UConn players will be presented with surfboard at Saturday's football game vs. Syracuse

The UConn men's basketball team will be presented with a custom-made, eight-foot, hand-crafted surfboard to celebrate its participation in the 2016 Maui Jim Maui Invitational. 

The presentation will take place during UConn's football game against Syracuse on Saturday at Rentschler Field. It will take place following the first quarter at the 20-yard line of the UConn side of the field, opposite the scoreboard. And if it feels like this already happened during the basketball season, well, it did ... sorta. 

During halftime of a game this past season, UConn cheerleaders and other representatives of the athletics program were presented with a surfboard by the Maui Invitational folks. Of course, players were not involved in that exchange, as they will be at Saturday's football game.

The game begins at 1 p.m.

UConn will be making its fourth appearance in Maui on Nov. 21-23. The Huskies have won the title their last two trips to the tourney and are 8-1 all-time.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

UConn to play in inaugural PK80 - Phil Knight Invitational next year in Portland, Oregon

UConn will participate in the inaugural PK80 - Phil Knight Invitational next year over Thanksgiving week. Here's the press release:


PK80: 16-Team College Hoops Event in 2017 from ESPNFrontRow on Vimeo.

The creation of PK80 – Phil Knight Invitational, a 16-team, early-season men’s college basketball tournament honoring Nike co-founder and 2012 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Phil Knight in advance of his 80th birthday, will take place over Thanksgiving week in 2017 from Portland, Ore. One of the largest regular-season tournaments in college basketball history, sporting a field featuring some of the top schools in the nation, will be played Thursday, Nov. 23, Friday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 26, from the Rose Quarter’s Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Participating schools include Arkansas, Butler, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Portland, Portland State, Stanford and Texas.

“On behalf of the 16 schools participating in PK80, we are honored to be highlighting Mr. Knight’s contributions to college basketball,” said Clint Overby, vice president, ESPN Events. “The strength of the field coupled with the two venues in Portland set the stage for what should be an exciting weekend.”

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to host 16 of the country’s best college basketball teams while honoring a man whose influence on the game and our region is immeasurable,” said Chris Oxley, senior vice president of venue operations, Rose Quarter. “PK80 will be an incredible showcase of basketball for fans in our arenas and watching on ESPN.”

Two eight-team events – consisting of three games per team – will run simultaneously in the two buildings with the crowning of two bracket champions. All games from Portland will be televised on ESPN networks.

Field Highlights

· The schools have combined for 23 National Championships, more than 85 Final Fours, more than 380 NCAA Championship appearances and more than 680 NCAA Championship wins

· Ten of the 16 schools have won a NCAA title

· Nine of the past 13 National Champions are in the field

· Thirteen of the 16 schools have made at least one Final Four appearance

Ticket information and tournament bracket will be announced at a later date. PK80 was created on behalf of the schools and is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, in conjunction with the Rose Quarter.

Participating Coach’s Quotes


“It’s an honor to be included in this prestigious group of college basketball programs and to get the chance to participate in an event as exciting as the PK80. The level of competition, as well as the college basketball atmosphere, will make it a tremendous experience for everyone involved, especially the student-athletes. After all he’s done for college basketball, there is no more appropriate way to help Phil Knight celebrate such a special birthday.” – UConn head coach Kevin Ollie

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Commitments keep coming as UConn keeps killing it on recruiting trail

UConn has been killing it on the recruiting trail lately. Pun intended.

Over the last couple of weeks, the Huskies have received pledges from a trio of Class of 2017 recruits: Makai Ashton-Langford, who chose UConn over Providence in a down-to-the-wire battle; Josh Carlton, a 6-10 center from DeMatha High (originally from North Carolina) and, on Tuesday, Tyler Polley, a 6-8 1/2 forward from the Sagemont School in Florida. If that school sounds familiar, it's because former UConn commit Prince Ali played there, too, and was a teammate of Polley's. Ali wound up de-committing, of course, and heading to UCLA, but there were no hard feelings, and he spoke well of UConn to Polley.

Polley's recruitment is also interesting because he had started being recruited by Dwayne Killings about a year ago when Killings was an assistant coach at Temple. Killings, of course, joined UConn's staff this past spring, continued Polley's recruitment and got Kevin Ollie interested in him. And, voila, another Husky commitment.




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UConn ranked No. 16 by Lindy's

The annual Lindy's college basketball season preview issue is out, with Rodney Purvis gracing the regional cover.

UConn is picked No. 16 in the magazine's preseason poll, tops among AAC teams. In fact, the only conference mate also in the Top 25 is Cincinnati, which is right behind the Huskies at No. 17. And I agree - flip a coin between these two teams as AAC regular-season champs. (I can also tell you that SMU was going to be a Top 25 team before Larry Brown up and Larry Browned. I still think the Mustangs will be strong - Tim Jankovich can coach).

The Huskies don't get as much respect in the player ratings. No UConn player appears among the nation's Top 25 point guards (Jaylen Adams of St. Bonny's is No. 5, but Jalen Adams is nowhere to be found), shooting guards, small forwards or power forwards. Only Amida Brimah checks in at No. 13 among centers.

UConn is picked to win the league (I should know, I picked them). Purvis is a preseason first-team all-league selection, Adams is second team and Brimah and Terry Larrier each third team. Alterique Gilbert is the preseason Newcomer of the Year.

Anyway, the issue is on news stands now. Pick up a copy (couple of stories in there penned by yours truly).


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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Breaking down UConn's 2016-17 schedule

UConn’s complete 2016-17 schedule was released on Thursday afternoon. Here’s a breakdown of each game:
Amida Brimah

Sun., Oct. 30       New Haven (exhib.)       XL Center   TBA                          
Second straight year Huskies will face in-state foes in exhibition game

Sat., Nov. 5         So. Connecticut St. (exhib.)       Gampel Pavilion     TBA      
Ex-Husky great Scott Burrell goes up against UConn for first time as head coach

Fri., Nov. 11        Wagner         Gampel Pavilion              7 p.m.    SNY                                          
Seahawks are defending Northeast Conference regular-season champs, went to NIT 2nd round

Mon., Nov. 14       Northeastern                                                
UConn is 35-4 all-time vs. Jim Calhoun’s former school

Thurs., Nov. 17     at Loyola Marymount                                  
Stopover game en route to Hawaii; Lions went 14-17 last season

Mon., Nov. 21       Oklahoma State   Lahaina C.C., Maui, Hawaii        9 p.m.     ESPNU                       Cowboys were 12-20 last year but will be better under ex-Stephen F. Austin coach Brad Underwood

Tue., Nov. 22       North Carolina/Chaminade       Lahaina C.C., Maui, Hawaii       TBA           TBA
Huskies are 1-5 all-time vs. defending national champion runner-up Tar Heels

Wed., Nov. 23       TBD                   Lahaina C.C., Maui, Hawaii
Huskies will face either Tennessee, Wisconsin, Georgetown or Oregon in this one

Wed., Nov. 30       Boston University    XL Center                 7 p.m.          SNY          
Terriers are coached by Joe Jones, brother of longtime Yale head man James Jones

Mon., Dec. 5        Syracuse                  Madison Square Garden             7 p.m.           ESPN2
Orange boast 55-37 all-time advantage over former Big East brethren

Sat., Dec. 10       at Ohio State        Value City Arena, Columbus           6 p.m.         Big Ten Network Huskies make first trip to Columbus, Ohio in 33 years to complete home-and-home series

Sun., Dec. 18       North Florida               Gampel Pavilion                      TBA               SNY
Ospreys were Atlantic Sun regular-season champs last year, earned NIT berth

Fri., Dec. 23       Auburn                  XL Center                        2:30 p.m.                      SNY
A homecoming for Waterbury’s Mustapha Heron, a highly-touted Tiger freshman

Wed., Dec. 28  Houston XL Center TBA ESPN2
Damyean Dotson (13.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg last year) is one of AAC’s top all-around players

Sat., Dec. 31  at Tulsa Reynolds Center 2 p.m. CBSSN
Golden Hurricane lost seven of top eight scorers from last year’s First Four team

Thur., Jan. 5  at Memphis FedExForum 7 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2
New coach Tubby Smith gives AAC two national championship-winning coaches (with Kevin Ollie)

Sun., Jan. 8   UCF XL Center 5 p.m. CBSSN
Former Duke star, Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins takes over as Knight’s head man

Wed., Jan. 11  Temple Gampel Pavilion 9 p.m. CBSSN
If Fran Dunphy can get Owls to NCAA tourney, he’ll deserve third straight AAC coach of year award

Sat., Jan. 14       at Georgetown   Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. TBA                                   Hoyas boast 35-30 all-time mark over ex-Big East rivals after last year’s loss in Hartford

UConn's "Top Five" freshman class
Thur., Jan. 19      at SMU Moody Coliseum, Dallas 7 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2
Larry Brown pulled a Larry Brown, quit over summer during contract negotiations

Sun., Jan. 22       East Carolina XL Center 6 p.m. CBSSN
Head coach Jeff Lebo could be on the hot seat if Pirates don’t start winning

Wed., Jan. 25  at South Florida Sun Dome, Tampa 7p.m. ESPNU                                 Bulls could be hindered all season by academic fraud scandal

Sat., Jan. 28  Tulane   Gampel Pavilion 8 p.m. ESPNU                                         Green Wave now coached by Mike Dunleavy, Sr., 17-year NBA coaching vet with no college coaching experience

Sat., Feb. 4        at Cincinnati Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati TBA ESPN/ESPN2
East Hartford’s Caine Broome sitting out this season for Cincy as Sacred Heart transfer

Wed., Feb. 8        South Florida   Gampel Pavilion 7 p.m. CBSSN                          
Jahmal McMurray averaged 15.6 ppg as a frosh last season

Sat., Feb. 11       at UCF   CFE Arena, Orlando 6 p.m. CBSSN                                 Giant (7-foot-6) center Tacko Fall established himself as league’s top big man last year

Thur., Feb. 16      Memphis XL Center 9 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2
Versatile, 6-9 forward Dedric Lawson is league’s player of the year frontrunner

Sun., Feb. 19       at Temple Liacouras Center, Philadelphia 4 p.m. ESPN
Owls lost top scorer (Quenton DeCosey), rebounder (Jaylen Bond) to graduation

Wed., Feb. 22       at Houston Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston 9 p.m. CBSSN
Huskies finally (barely) snapped two-game losing streak at Hofheinz Pavilion last year

Sat., Feb. 25  SMU XL Center Noon CBS
There’ll be a new AAC player of the year, as two-time winner Nic Moore has graduated

Wed., March 1  at East Carolina Minges Coliseum, Greenville, N.C. 7 p.m. ESPNU
After not playing ECU on road last year, Huskies return to Greenville

Sun. March 5   Cincinnati Gampel Pavilion Noon CBS
AAC regular-season title could very well come down to this game