PRE-GAME PRIMER: Harkless the Heralded Recruit Sings
"I love the campus, love the way (Jim Calhoun) coaches, he's a Hall of Fame coach, the fans are great, it's a great school."
Harkless visited St. John's and Seton Hall, and also had Kentucky – ironically enough – on his final list, though he didn’t' visit Lexington.
"I just do whatever it takes to win, really. I'll play all positions, whatever is needed at the moment. I can shoot the ball, I like to rebound, block shots, play defense."
"They expect me to come in and play the wing, maybe sometimes go down low, but it doesn't matter to me."
"I just like to play my own game, I try not to be like anyone else."
Ben Chobhaphand, Harkless's coach at Forest Hills High in Queens, believes Harkless is a "prototype UConn player."
"He's a 6-7 guy with a 7-2 wingspan, he can play more than one position," Chobhaphand said. "I think that definitely fits in at UConn. UConn leads the country in blocked shots every year, and he's a wing guard who can block shots – guards or bigs."
He believes Harkless has plenty of room to grow, physically. Harkless weighed 170 pounds last year but is up to 187 right now.
Harkless was in a cast at UConn's First Night in mid-October, a result of a minor fracture of his left foot. He got the cast off 3 ½ weeks ago and missed Forest Hills' first 2-3 weeks of practice and its first two games, returned to action on Sunday and went for 21 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. On Tuesday, Harkless went for 16, 14 and seven.
Harkless is a soft-spoken kid, but his coach believes he'll do just fine with "The Horde."
"I know he'll get a lot of love from you guys at Connecticut. We talk about it all the time, UConn is like the pro team up there, because UConn doesn't really have a pro team, on the men's side."
***Madison Square Garden officially unveiled the top 10 moments in college basketball history at the world's most famous arena Wednesday night. They are:
10. Long Island University's winning streak snapped at 43 – Dec. 30, 1936
9. "The Sweater Game" (John Thompson wearing an ugly, Lou Carnesecca-like sweater) – Feb. 27, 1985
8. St. John's defeats No. 1 Michigan – Jan. 2, 1965
7. Joe Lapchick wins his final game, in the NIT title game – March 20, 1965
6. Oscar Robertson scores 56 points vs. Seton Hall – Jan. 9, 1958
5. Walter Berry blocks Pearl Washington's shot at the buzzer – March 8, 1986
4. Gerry McNamara's heroics in Big East tournament – March, 2006
3. Bill Bradley scores 41 vs. Michigan – Dec. 30, 1964
2. Syracuse's 6-overtime win over UConn – March 12, 2009 (this one predictably drew lots of boos from the many UConn fans when it was revealed on the big screen at halftime)
1. CCNY wins NCAA and NIT titles – March, 1950
***Jim Calhoun, his family, coaches and players will join a team of Stop & Shop employees, the Hartford law firm of RisCassi and Davis, Omar Coffee and Hartford Food Systems to provide holiday meals for 1,000 needy Hartford families tonight.
Calhoun and his team will be at the Pope Park Recreation Center on 30 Pope Park Dr. from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and at the North End Senior Center, 80 Coventry St., from 6:45-8 p.m. They will distribute turkeys and holiday meal fixings to needy families.