Monday, January 16, 2017

A look at UConn incoming recruit Tyler Polley

Spoke with one incoming UConn recruit, Makai Ashton-Langford, at the Hoophall Classic on Sunday in Springfield. Here's the story I wrote.

For Tuesday's paper, wrote a story on another incoming Husky, 6-foot-8 forward Tyler Polley. Nice kid, comes from good stock (his dad was an NFL linebacker), and he has apparently mastered the lost are of the mid-range jumper.

Here's my story on Polley for the New Haven Register.

Tyler Polley puts up a shot for Sagemont School
Tyler Polley (different haircut) in action for Sagemont.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Makai Ashton-Langford, Sidney Wilson, Simi Shittu talk UConn

We've had issues with the blog for a while, hence the lack of posts over the past month or so. But we're back, and we've got some recruiting info from the Hoophall Classic.

Spoke with Makai Ashton-Langford, who went for nine points, nine boards and 10 assists in Brewster's win over Monteverde Academy. Here's my story for the New Haven Register.

Here's what Ashton-Langford had to say:

Ashton-Langford showed some nice athleticism on Sunday, as well:

Also spoke with two other UConn targets: Brewster's Sidney Wilson and Vermont Academy's Simi Shittu:

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Friday, December 9, 2016

AAC tourney tickets are on sale now

Will winning the American Athletic Conference championship tournament be UConn's only way to an NCAA tourney bid this season? Too early to tell, but that chance certainly exists.

Helping the Huskies' cause will be the fact that the AAC tourney will be held at the XL Center in Hartford for the second time in three years. Tickets for the event are now available to the general public.

Here's the press release sent out by the league:

Tickets to the 2017 American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship are now available to the general public, the conference announced on Friday.

The championship will return to the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., March 9-12, 2017. All 11 American Athletic Conference teams will compete for the league title. The teams that comprise the American Athletic Conference have a combined six NCAA titles, made 22 Final Four appearances, 67 Sweet Sixteen appearances and 179 NCAA tournament appearances.

The 2017 championship will begin with three first-round games Thursday, March 9. Four quarterfinal doubleheaders will be played Friday, March 10, followed by a semifinal doubleheader Saturday, March 11. The championship will take place Sunday, March 12, just prior to the announcement of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament field. The ESPN Networks will provide television and digital coverage of the tournament. 

Ticket packages made available to the general public on Dec. 9 include lower-level and premium seats. Packages cover all 10 games of the championship, and are priced as low as $199. Tickets are available online at, in person at the XL Center box office, or by telephone at 877-522-8499. Tickets are also available from The American’s member institutions through the schools’ athletics ticket offices.

Fans may visit for the latest information on the 2017 championship.

The XL Center is Connecticut’s premier destination for sports & entertainment. The 16,000-plus seat downtown arena entertains millions of visitors annually with a variety of concerts, family shows, ice-skating spectaculars, consumer events and trade shows throughout the season. The venue has played host to an extraordinary roster of world-renowned artists, including Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Pearl Jam, Black Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, Drake, and many others.

The XL Center hosted the 2015 American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship, which culminated in SMU capturing the tournament crown to go along with its regular-season title. 

2017 American Athletic Conference Championship ∙ XL Center ∙ Hartford, Conn.
Thursday, March 9 - First Round (all times Eastern)
Game 1 – #9 seed vs. #8 seed, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 2 – #10 seed vs. #7 seed, 6 p.m. (ESPNews)
Game 3 – #6 seed vs. #11 seed, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)

Friday, March 10 - Quarterfinals
Game 4 – Game 1 winner vs. #1 seed, Noon (ESPN2)
Game 5 – #5 seed vs. #4 seed, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 6 – Game 2 winner vs. #2 seed, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 7 – #6 seed vs. #3 seed, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Saturday, March 11 – Semifinals
Game 8 – Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 9 – Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)

Sunday, March 12 – Championship
Game 10 – Semifinal winners, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Jim Boeheim's final visit to Hartford a few years ago

It's not a battle of Big East blood rival titans anymore. It's just a couple of struggling teams still trying to find themselves.

But it's still UConn-Syracuse, Monday night, Madison Square Garden. And that's still special.

Had a good (if brief) phone chat with Jim Boeheim today. He didn't want to get too much into UConn, since Syracuse plays North Florida (common opponent!) on Saturday. But here's what he did share:

Boeheim's last (and final?) visit to the XL Center came on Feb. 13, 2013 - a 66-58 loss to UConn. It was the last time the teams would ever meet as Big East rivals.

Boeheim was asked about the end of the rivalry and gave some interesting insight. But not before calling ESPN reporter Andy Katz an "idiot" and a "disloyal person" for reasons, at the time, that were unknown.

The two have apparently cleared the air since then. Still, it was a classic case of Boeheim bullying a reporter.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chronic shoulder dislocation, and how to remedy it

This from the Baylor College of Medicine, regarding shoulder dislocation injuries. Though it talks about football injuries, this is largely germaine to Alterique Gilbert's issues:

For high school football players who suffer from chronic shoulder dislocation, the end of the football season is the best time to treat the condition with arthroscopic surgery, according to a sports medicine expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

The first time that a shoulder dislocation occurs, it is usually due to a collision where the arm is forced backward, which makes the shoulder pop out of the joint. This is usually very painful and needs to be addressed by someone who is trained in popping the shoulder back into place.

“Once the shoulder has dislocated the first time, it’s very prone to come out again, and it’s easier each successive time,” said Dr. Bruce Moseley, an orthopedic surgeon at Baylor. “The first time it comes out, it takes a pretty violent trauma. The second time, not as much. The third time, even less.”

Moseley said that with rare exception, the issue does not turn into anything worse. The biggest downside is that dislocation becomes easier.

“For some people, they can roll over in bed and their shoulder will pop out,” he said.

However, through an arthroscopic surgery that involves three small incisions, surgeons are able to fix the ligament that stabilizes the shoulder. The procedure has a 90 percent success rate in preventing the shoulder from dislocating again.

Recovery involves keeping the arm in a sling for three weeks, after which patients are able to return to day-to-day activities. Then, it is recommended that they wait three months before returning to the weight room. At three months, athletes can return to all athletic activities other than contact and collision sports, for which it is recommended they wait until the six month mark.

The best time for a high school football player with shoulder instability to have surgery is at the end of football season, because this allows for the six-month recovery period without contact before next year’s football season starts.

“When the season is over and the shoulder doesn’t come out anymore, many players think the problem is gone, but it has not gone away, they’re just not playing football. The next time they play football again it’s going to come out,” said Moseley.

Moseley notes that surgery is the only truly effective treatment for athletes with recurrent shoulder dislocation. For contact sports, there is a harness that athletes can wear that keeps the arm from being put in the position that puts it most at risk, but it limits what they can do with their arm and is not 100 percent effective in preventing dislocation.

While rehab is an option, it only strengthens the muscles around the shoulder. Since the injury is in the ligament as opposed to the muscles, making the muscles stronger will not prevent re-dislocation.

However, there is luck for older adults who may dislocate their shoulder for the first time – statistics show that the older you are at the time of your first dislocation, the less likely it is for the shoulder to pop out again. So for those above the age of 40, Moseley suggests non-surgical management, including rehab to get strength and movement back in the shoulder. This can help patients get back to normal in one month to six weeks. If it pops out again, then the orthopedic surgeon will work with them to see if surgery is needed.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rodney Purvis reflects on loss of his "brother"; takes full accountability for his poor start

As we chronicled back in July, Rodney Purvis lost his longtime friend - the closest he ever had to a real brother - over the summer. Tyrek Coger, who had an enlarged heart, collapsed during the sweltering heat of offseason workouts and died at age 22.

Purvis had been relishing the chance to play against his "brother" at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, when UConn faces Oklahoma State on Monday night. Now, he can only wonder what would have been, as Coger never even got the chance to don the Cowboys' uniform.

"I'm just gonna go out and have fun, and just play like he was on the court," Purvis said on Saturday.

(Purvis also lost his foster brother, LaQuan Anderson, in August. Anderson was found murdered behind a Raleigh, North Carolina home).

Purvis wouldn't blame his slow start this season on the loss of Coger, though he admits he wishes he would have handled the situation differently.

In fact, he addressed his poor start to his teammates in a players-only meeting in Los Angeles the other day, assuming full responsibility.

"I told them myself, I have to play better, and they know that," he said. "I'm taking it like a man. People can say what they want to say, but I'm gonna play better. Trust me, I'm gonna play better."

We'll have a preview of the Oklahoma State game on Sunday.

Meanwhile, while the Huskies were out in Los Angeles for Thursday's bout with Loyola Marymount, assistant coaches Ricky Moore and Dwayne Killings took a look at some local players, including Class of 2018 shooting guard David Singleton, point guard Brandon Williams and 6-11 Fred Odhiambo.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Alterique Gilbert feeling better, doubtful for Maui tournament

Alterique Gilbert suffered a left shoulder dislocation Thursday night at Loyola Marymount, and his left arm is in a sling. Gilbert reported feeling much better today, however. He'll do light rehab for a few days with trainer James Doran in Maui, then see the orthopedic doctor who helped him rehab his shoulder over the summer when the doctor arrives in Hawaii on Sunday.

Doran is also hopeful of getting an X-Ray and MRI.

Apparently, Gilbert's injury had nothing to do with the surgery he underwent back in May. It was simply the way he got hit in Thursday's win over LMU that did the damage. Could've happened to anybody.

Gilbert is doubtful for any of the Maui games, but UConn will wait and see what the doctor's evaluation is.

Speaking of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, the Huskies have had great success in this tourney over the years, winning the last two times they entered and eight games in a row overall.

In fact, the Huskies' Hawaiian history overall is a pretty good one - though it didn't start that way. They're first visit saw an upset loss to Ohio that had Jim Calhoun walking back to the team hotel afterwards.

Finally, having landed in Hawaii earlier today - at almost the exact same time as UConn, though on a different flight - we present to you this old video from our "Yo! MTV Raps" days. (Can anyone name the now-famous rapper who is but a sidekick in this video?):

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