Friday, September 19, 2014

Shabazz Napier's impressive trick shot

Been on vacation this week, but thought I'd post this impressive Shabazz Napier trick shot, for those that haven't seen it already.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Steve Enoch commits to UConn

As expected, Steve Enoch has committed to UConn. The 6-foot-10 power forward from Norwalk announced his commitment on Twitter on Saturday night.


Enoch, who starred at Norwalk High the past few years but will be playing this season at St. Thomas More, grew up a UConn fan. 

“Growing up in Connecticut I was surrounded by a major amount of Huskies fans, including my parents, so the team has always been in the atmosphere,” Enoch told the Register back in July. “Yes, I’ve been a fan of UConn and glad for the entire organization’s success.”

He really burst on the scene back in early June at the Pangos Camp out in Long Beach, California, where Enoch more than held his own against one of the top Class of 2015 big men in the country, Stephen Zimmerman. While out on that visit, Enoch stayed with Drummond, who had been coached by Enoch’s AAU coach, George Matthews, since he was 9 years old. 

“He’s someone I look up to,” Enoch said of Drummond, back in July. “I don’t get to see him often because he’s always on the grind but every time I see him it’s like family. I make the most of every time we hang out, whether it’s him giving me good tips and mentoring on and off the court, or getting scraped in a 1-on-1.”

Enoch made an unofficial visit to UConn in late June. He battled a thigh injury later in the summer after taking a knee to the thigh during a game, causing a contusion that kept him from playing in some of other top camps.

Enoch had been coveted by programs like Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia, Providence, UCLA, Seton Hall and URI, but it seemed a near-lock all along that he would eventually take his talents to Storrs.

Enoch joins Roxbury, Massachusetts point guard Jalen Adams as the Huskies’ two Class of 2015 commits so far. UConn will have at least one more scholarship to fill for next season.

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Rakim Lubin here for rebounds (and assists?); Steve Enoch here, too; Ryan Boatright gives history lesson



UConn's players were at the football game on Saturday morning, signing autographs prior to the game during FanFest festivities (yeah, those are my kids getting autographs and posing for a picture with Ryan Boatright above). Here's some of what we got.

*** Had a chance to speak with Rakim Lubin for the first time today. Impressive young man, and certainly an impressive physical specimen.

"I'm here to grab at least double-digit rebounds -- at least," he said. "If I don't do anything else, I've got to grab double-digit rebounds. That's all that matters right now, doing what the team needs."

"That's what I'm looking to bring, as far as my whole package right now. As of right now, I'm not looking to score the basketball or do anything else, but get rebounds and assists. That's all."

Assists?

"Yeah, I gotta get assists to my big men down low. But right now, just straight rebounding."

Lubin says he checks in at 6-foot-8, 265 pounds, which is where he's trying to stay for the season.

*** Steve Enoch was at the game and is in the midst of his official visit to UConn. He didn't want to speak with reporters, saying good-naturedly, "I'm just here to enjoy the game."

*** Wrote a Sunday feature on Daniel Hamilton, who had a tumultuous (and ultimately triumphant) senior season at St. John Bosco High in California that went through mass player and coach exodus and lots of controversy, but ended with a Division II state championship.

Asked Ryan Boatright how much of an impact Hamilton can have this season.

"Huge. Like I said, he's a natural-born scorer. He can score in all aspects of the game -- mid-range, he's tall, he can finish at the rim, he has a great 3-point shot. He's got to stay confident. He has some off days where he puts his head down. I just told him to stay confident, and we need him to be that scorer."

Boatright also talked about the basic tenor of practices and pick-up games so far.

"Extremely, extremely, extremely competitive," he said. "We probably fight almost every day. It's just real competitive, man. Everybody wants to win, everybody wants to get better, we're pushing each other."

"I tell them all the time, everybody's chasing us, we have a target on our backs. But we're chasing something bigger than us. We're chasing history. To win back-to-back, it's only been done one time, and that was Florida."

(OK, so his history lesson doesn't extend past the late 2000's and forgets UCLA. But you get the point)

Asked Boatright if he's ready to be our go-to guy this season -- meaning the media's go-to guys for quotes.

"You know I'm ready, I've been waiting on it for three years."

He may have thought I meant go-to guy, as in the guy to get the ball to in crunch time on the court. Either way, hope he remembers all that when we're still asking him questions come February.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Steve Enoch visiting UConn this weekend, expected to commit

UConn lost out on a highly-touted big man Djery Baptiste, a 7-footer who pledged to Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

But the Huskies are likely to get much better news this weekend when Norwalk's Steve Enoch makes his official visit to Storrs.

Enoch, a 6-foot-10 Class of 2015 center, is expected to commit to UConn during the visit, according to a source. And it's very possible he may not even wait around until Monday to make his pledge.

UConn has long been Enoch's "dream school." His family is UConn fans. He was slated to make some trips out West and to some other major programs, but put them off. He was slated to visit URI, but that's been cancelled, as well. The Rams, apparently, don't want to waste an official visit on a kid who almost certainly is heading to UConn.

So, UConn fans can expect some good news by Monday. Or even Sunday. Or Saturday.

Elsewhere, it appears Kevin Ollie had a good in-home visit with Derrick Jones on Thursday. And UConn is apparently back in the Isaiah Briscoe sweepstakes now. Briscoe, who broke his foot out in Las Vegas in July and missed the rest of the summer AAU season, is expected to make an official visit to Storrs on Sept. 26, per Adam Zagoria.


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

UConn announces sites for home games; will play in Bridgeport for second straight year

UConn has announced the sites of its 15 home games this season.

The Huskies will host Texas and Memphis, as well as Bryant, Yale, UCF, East Carolina and Tulane in Storrs. In Hartford, UConn will host Cincinnati and SMU, as well as Coppin State, Central Connecticut, Temple (New Year's Eve, at a time to be determined), USF and Tulsa. 

UConn will play Columbia at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena on Dec. 22.

Here's the press release:

The UConn men's basketball team will play 15 home games during the 2014-15 regular season, bringing national powers Texas and Memphis to Gampel Pavilion in Storrs and Cincinnati and SMU to the XL Center in Hartford.


The 2014 National Champion Huskies will play seven home games on campus at Gampel Pavilion and seven home games at the XL Center, as well as an exhibition game at each venue. In addition, UConn will return to Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport for the second straight season to play one home game.

The home schedule will begin at Gampel with an exhibition game against Southern Connecticut on Nov. 4, followed by a second exhibition game on Nov. 9 against Assumption College at the XL Center. The first regular-season game is slated for Gampel Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 14, against Bryant University.

Texas will visit Gampel Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 30, marking the Longhorns' first trip to Storrs since Jan. 23, 2010, when they were ranked No. 1 in the country, only to be upset by the Huskies, 88-74. Memphis comes to Gampel for an American Athletic Conference faceoff on March 5, UConn's final home game of the regular season.

American power Cincinnati will be at the XL Center to face the Huskies on Saturday, Jan. 10, while SMU makes its first-ever appearance in the XL Center on Sunday, March 1. UConn will also have a New Year's Eve game at the XL Center, facing AAC opponent Temple at a time to be determined.

UConn, which defeated Eastern Washington at Webster Bank Arena last year, will play host to Columbia this season in Bridgeport on Dec. 22.

The American Athletic Conference Championship will be held at the XL Center from March 12-15
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Remembering Ater Majok, bracing for Jim Calhoun on TV, and a little on Derrick Jones

Remember Ater Majok, the kid from Sudan via Australia who was supposed to be the next big star at UConn, wasn't, eventually was drafted by the Lakers and has since more or less fallen into oblivion?

Remember his guardian/handler named Ed Smith, who seemed to be trouble? Well, he's certainly proven to be just that, and now it's Thon Maker, some say the most talented 16-year-old out there right now, that seems to be getting some less-than-stellar advice from Smith. Here's a story from the Sydney Morning-Herald in Australia that talks about the negative effects Smith seems to have on young, African basketball prospects. Majok and UConn are featured prominently.

*** Meanwhile, as we had reported back on Aug. 8, it appears Jim Calhoun will be doing studio work for ESPN this college basketball season.




Now, it's The Big Lead that's reporting Calhoun will be joining ESPN. If this happens, it sure will be entertaining television.

*** Lastly, had a brief conversation with Terrell Myers, the New Haven product who coached Derrick Jones's AAU team this past summer. Myers said Jones, who will be getting an in-home visit from UConn next week, had a "great summer. His outside shot was a bit more consistent, he had confidence in handling the ball. He was maturing as the summer went on, learning how to be a leader."

Myers, who knows Kevin Ollie very well, said that he might be at the in-home visit on Tuesday.



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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Breaking down UConn's 2014-15 schedule

The release of UConn's 2014-15 schedule means -- never mind football -- college basketball is just around the corner. Sort of.

The Huskies can actually start practicing on Oct. 3, per NCAA rules, though they likely will start after that. Teams can get in 30 practices in the 42 days prior to their first game (in UConn's case, on Friday, Nov. 14 against Bryant).

Anyway, here's a breakdown of UConn's 2014-15 schedule, with a look at some of the Huskies' opponents:

Tuesday, Nov. 4, vs. Southern Connecticut State University (exhibition): Huskies play Owls in an exhibition for second straight season. Won 93-65 last season at Gampel.

Sunday, Nov. 9 vs. Assumption College (exhibition): Greyhounds, Huskies have never met in an official game.

Friday, Nov. 14 vs. Bryant: Just second time programs have met. UConn demolished Bulldogs 88-58 in 2008 in Hartford.

Thursday, Nov. 20 at Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 12:30 p.m.: Huskies open up against College of Charleston. Will UConn be going against current assistant Karl Hobbs, who is reportedly a candidate for the (amazingly) still vacant head coaching job?

Friday, Nov. 21 at Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico: UConn will face either Texas A&M or Dayton. Flyers beat Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford last year en route to Elite Eight, where they finally fell to Florida.

Sunday, Nov. 23 at Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico: Huskies could face Boston College for second time in as many seasons after not playing former Big East rivals for nearly 10 years. Steve Alford's New Mexico, which beat UConn in Paradise Jam finals in 2012, and George Mason (need we remind you) are other possible foes.

Sunday, Nov. 30 vs. Texas: Longhorns return all five starters and should be a preseason Top 15 pick – until Rick Barnes finds a way to mess it all up.

Friday, Dec. 5 vs. Yale: Huskies tamed Bulldogs 80-62 last year in the teams’ first meeting in 10 years.
UConn holds a 44-22 all-time advantage. Yale won't have Stratford's Brandon Sherrod, who'll be singing somewhere across the globe with the Whiffenpoofs.

Sunday, Dec. 14 vs. Coppin State: UConn is 5-0 all-time against Eagles, who will also play at Michigan this season.

Thursday, Dec. 18 vs. Duke at IZOD Center, East Rutherford, N.J., 8 p.m.: Despite losing Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood to the NBA draft, Blue Devils will be a preseason Top 5, maybe even No. 1. Duke boasts the top-rated recruiting class in the land, led by 6-foot-10 center Jahlil Okafor. This should be a fun one, as great rivalry is renewed. Two of Huskies’ biggest wins in program history (the 1999 national championship game and the 2004 Final Four) came against Duke. The Blue Devils, of course, handed UConn a crushing, overtime loss in the 1990 Elite Eight, ending the Huskies’ “Dream Season” on a Christian Laettner buzzer-beater. Duke holds the overall series edge, 5-4, including the most recent meeting, a 68-59 win on Nov. 27, 2009 in the NIT Season Tip-Off championships at Madison Square Garden.

Monday, Dec. 22 vs. Columbia: UConn is 7-2 all-time against the Lions, most recently with a 70-57 win on Nov. 11, 2011 at Gampel.

Sunday, Dec. 28 vs. Central Connecticut: Huskies face former longtime UConn assistant Howie Dickenman’s crew for first time in nine years. UConn has never lost in 12 meeting with these Blue Devils.

Wednesday, Dec. 31 vs. Temple: For first time in three years, UConn isn’t on the road for New Year’s Eve. Huskies open up AAC play against Owls, who finished ninth in the 10-team league a year ago at 4-14.

Saturday, Jan. 3 at Florida, O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida, 2 p.m.: Gators went 36-3 last season – 36-1 against teams not named UConn. The Huskies edged Florida on Dec. 2 at Gampel, 65-64, on Shabazz Napier’s 15-foot jumper at the buzzer. Gator coach Billy Donovan called the play “luck,” and Florida had the chance to avenge the loss in the Final Four. But the Huskies’ clamped down defensively, frustrating SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin all night, and needed no “luck” to score a 63-53 win. This game finishes the teams’ home-and-home series.

Tuesday, Jan. 6 at South Florida, Sun Dome, Tampa, 7 p.m.: Huskies stay in the Sunshine State for an AAC bout with USF and its new head coach Orlando Antigua, the former John Calipari assistant at Kentucky. Antigua should help Bulls on recruiting trail, but that won't do them much good this season.

Saturday, Jan. 10 vs. Cincinnati, 11 a.m.: Sean Kilpatrick (the guy who was peeved he lost out to Napier for AAC player of the year honors) and Justin Jackson are both gone, but Bearcats should play their usual tough defense and be solid once again.

Tuesday, Jan. 13 at Tulsa, Reynolds Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma: Huskies’ first-ever trip to Tulsa would’ve been more fun if Danny Manning were still head coach. But he bolted for Wake Forest, and instead former Missouri, Miami head man Frank Haith is at the helm. This could be a tough game for Huskies.

Saturday, Jan. 17 at Stanford, Maples Pavilion, Palo Alto, Calif.: Cardinal handed UConn its first loss of the season last year, 53-51 on Dec. 18 in Hartford, and wound up advancing to the Sweet 16.

Thursday, Jan. 22 vs. Central Florida, 7 p.m.: Knights have lost virtually everyone from last year’s team that went 4-14 in AAC, including all-league pick Isaiah Sykes. Could be a long season in Orlando. Incidentally, this will be only time the teams play this season.

Sunday, Jan. 25 vs. South Florida, noon: Anthony Collins, a preseason all-AAC pick who missed almost all of last year due to injury, should be back at the point for Bulls. Corey Allen, Jr. and Chris Perry are also decent returnees.

Thursday, Jan. 29 at Cincinnati, Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, 8 p.m.: Are the Bearcats UConn’s biggest rival in the AAC?

Sunday, Feb. 1 at Houston, Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston, 3 p.m.: Huskies return to site of their awful New Year’s Eve loss last season. Kelvin Sampson has taken over as head coach, but Ta’Shawn Thomas  (Oklahoma) and Danuel House (Texas A&M) have both transferred, leaving cupboard bare. Had those two stayed, Cougars may have been an NCAA tourney team. Now, they'll rely primarily on a bunch of JUCO's.

Wednesday, Feb. 4 vs. East Carolina, 7 p.m.: First meeting as league rivals between Huskies and Pirates. UConn actually holds a 3-1 all-time series lead, but haven’t played each other since 1978.

Saturday, Feb. 7 at Tulane, Devlin Fieldhouse, New Orleans, 6 p.m.: Green Wave will play most home games at 3,500-seat on-campus arena, but it’s possible this one could be switched to downtown arena where New Orleans Pelicans play.

Thursday, Feb. 12  vs. Tulsa, 7 p.m.: Don’t sleep on Tulsa, which went on a late-season surge and won the Conference USA tournament last season. Golden Hurricane is led by James Woodard, a do-everything guard who could warrant preseason all-AAC honors.

Saturday, Feb. 14 at SMU, Moody Coliseum, Dallas, 9 p.m.: An ESPN College GameDay presentation, should be a rowdy night. Mustangs could’ve been preseason top 15 if No. 1 national recruit Emmanuel Mudiay hadn’t bolted to play professionally in China, but they still might be the AAC favorites. After all, SMU did beat UConn both times they met last season.

Thursday, Feb. 19 at Memphis, FedExForum, Memphis, 9 p.m.: Huskies went a perfect 3-0 last year against Tigers, including twice at FedExForum – the latter game a 72-53 dismantling in an AAC tournament bout.

Sunday, Feb. 22 vs. Tulane, 4 p.m.: Green Wave return 90 percent of its offense from team that went .500 overall (17-17) and in C-USA (8-8).

Wednesday, Feb. 25 at East Carolina, Williams Arena, Greenville, North Carolina, 7 p.m.:  Four of five top scorers are back from team that went 17-17 overall.  However, top scorer Akeem Richmond is gone.

Sunday, March 1 vs. SMU, 2 p.m.: A CBS-televised affair, could be marquee game of AAC schedule. Despite no Mudiay, Mustangs have all-AAC standouts Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy back, along with talented Keith Frazier and Xavier transfer Justin Martin.

Thursday, March 5 vs. Memphis, 9 p.m.: Tigers lost Joe Jackson and other top guards to graduation, but may have league’s best frontcourt, led by all-AAC pick Shaq Goodwin and AAC rookie of the year Austin Nichols.


Saturday, March 7 at Temple, Liacouras Center, Philadelphia: Owls lost top scorer Dalton Pepper to graduation, top rebounder Anthony Lee to transfer (Ohio State). Could be another tough one for coach Fran Dunphy, who'll rely on whole slew of newcomers.

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