Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Calhoun's Contract

We're hearing the report that Jim Calhoun and UConn are negotiating a new deal that could range in length from four to six years is accurate -- though not necessarily imminent. Expect something to get done over the next month or so.

It probably won't happen before the Huskies begin practice in a little over two weeks. How about before UConn begins playing exhibition games in early November? There's a good chance of that.

Calhoun is in the final year of a current six-year pact that pays him $1.6 million a year and expires on June 30, 2010.

I was told back in early August that something was likely to get done over the ensuing several weeks. But when I talked to Calhoun about a week or so later, he was a bit miffed at the lack of progress that had been made.

Now, it appears progress has been made, and Calhoun should have a new long-term deal once the games start to count.

***Anybody else remember Don Calhoun (no relation, obviously)? Not sure what made me think of him this morning, but I think I used to have this football card.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Knight, Bradley On Campus

Brandon Knight and Michael Bradley are on campus this weekend for official visits. Spoke to both of them today at Gampel while the rest of the team played pick-up games. Here's a little of what each had to say:

***Knight hasn't whittled his list down to five schools yet, but insists that the six or so schools that are at the top of the list (UConn, Kansas, Kentucky, Florida, Miami and UCLA) are all on equal footing right now. His only official visits so far have been to Kentucky (last week) and UConn. Knight isn't sure when or where his next official might come. He's not sure if he'll attend anyone's Late Night Madness festivities, since they all fall on Pine Crest School's Homecoming Weekend.

***Knight, the No. 1 recruit in the nation per and the reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year, re-iterated what his Pine Crest coach, Guilford's Dave Beckerman, told me earlier in the week: he'll likely make his commitment in the spring. Knight is a 6-foot-3 point guard, but he's very versatile – averaging 31.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists last season at Pine Crest.

"I can play the two and the one," Knight said. "I don't want to limit myself to say I’m a point guard. I think I'd be a bigger point guard."

***So, the $64,000 question is: Could Knight play together with Kemba Walker next year, assuming Walker doesn't decide to go pro. Knight didn't answer that exact question, but insisted he's not worried about who's still on whatever team he commits to.

"I'm not really concerned about who's going to be there," he said. "I'm more concerned about who I'm going to be playing with, not competing for a spot (with). I don’t really care about players that might be there at my position, because I'm just coming to compete for a spot and get better. I feel if I'm good enough, I'm going to play."

***What does Knight like about UConn, which he's visited twice before on unofficials?

"Great place, great history. I like Coach Calhoun. He gets his point (across). He doesn't tell you what you want to hear. I like that, because my dad's like that a lot. I respect that kind of person that doesn't feed you B.S. I respect that about Coach Calhoun."

***Knight is here with his parents, Efrem and Tonya. They have always stressed academics, and Knight has responded, boasting a 4.2 GPA at challenging Pine Crest.

"I try my best," said Knight, "That's what my parents pride me on first: academics first. If you don't have your academics, you can't get on the court."

***Knight, who suffered a stress fracture in his right foot a short while ago and just got out of a boot cast about a week ago, didn't take part in today's pick-up games. He may do so tomorrow.

So who is Michael Bradley, anyway?

Nope, though I always thought this ex-Villanova star would have a better pro career.


Yup, that's him, a 6-10 power forward out of Chatanooga, Tenn. Not as polished or as talkative as Knight, Bradley is, nonetheless, another top-notch student. He's taking some AP courses at Tyner High, and will likely start off his college career with plenty of course credits right off the bat. He'd like to major in pharmacy.

***Bradley is simply looking for "somewhere I'm comfortable." He's made official visits to Georgia and Drake, and has others lined up with Virginia Commonwealth and (possibly) Boston College.

***Bradley envisions himself at the four – a position at which the Huskies could need some depth next season. He played a bit in today's pick-up games but didn't do a whole lot.

In other news …

***Stanley Robinson recently had deviated septum surgery and won't participate in contact drills/pick-up games for another few weeks. He continues to work out and should be fine for the start of practice on Oct. 17.

***I just know there's a bunch of UConn fans out there who are upset that Jim Calhoun wasn't one of the answers in this Sporcle quiz.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Knight In-Home; Bradley to Visit

Here's a piece from today's Register on New Haven's own Dave Beckerman, who coaches the reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year, Brandon Knight, down at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale.

UConn will have an in-home visit with Knight tomorrow, prior to an open gym workout at Pine Crest, where the biggest names in college basketball coaching (Jim Calhoun, John Calipari, Billy Donovan, Bill Self, etc.) are expected to attend. Only problem is, turns out Knight may not be able to showcase all his talents. Knight had suffered a stress fracture in his foot a short while ago, and while he just got out of a cast, he's not quite ready to go at full-throttle yet. Rather than play, he'll likely run a few drills and also (as team captain) instruct his teammates during the open gym. The coaches are still likely to be there.

It also means that Knight isn't likely to play much (if at all) with current UConn players during his official visit to Storrs this upcoming weekend. Recruits usually try to get some run in with their potential future teammates during such visits, but Knight probably won't.

Knight won't be alone at this weekend's visit, either. Michael Bradley, a 6-10 senior center at Tyner High in Chattanooga, TN, will be on an official visit, as well. Bradley is the 15th-ranked center in the Class of 2010, according to

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Who Writes This Stuff?

Here's the UConn season preview I wrote for Lindy's magazine, which I believe has hit news stands this week. (Click on the image to get a rather large but more readable version of the story):

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Knight Watchers

Next Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the Pine Crest School's gymnasium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a veritable who's who of college basketball coaches will gather to watch Brandon Knight, the nation's top recruit in the Class of 2010, play in an open gym format.

Jim Calhoun will be there. So will John Calipari, Coach K, Jim Boeheim, Bill Self, Rick Barnes, Billy Donovan, Stan Heath and many others -- including, most likely, coaches from Yale and Harvard (Knight, after all, boasts a 4.2 grade-point average).

Pine Crest coach Dave Beckerman, a Guilford resident and former Hamden Hall coach, held a similar open gym last year. Calhoun, Boeheim, Bobby Gonzalez and others were in attendance. But this year's roster is even more impressive.

Knight will make an official visit to Kentucky this weekend, and after next week's open gym, he'll travel to Connecticut, stay at Beckerman's house for a night or two, then make an official visit to UConn. He's already made two unofficials to the school.

Knight has already made an official to Florida, and his others will be Kentucky, UConn, Kansas and Duke. Beckerman doesn't believe that Knight, a 6-3 point guard who averaged 31.8 points per game last season for Pine Crest, will make a commitment this fall. He's likely to wait until the spring.

"There are a lot of variables," Beckerman noted. "He wants to look at who else commits to the schools, how the team does, what's coming back. He wants to see where he fits in."

Suffice to say, Knight should fit in quite well, wherever he chooses. In fact, academically, according to Beckerman, if he went to UConn he'd have 18 credits right off the bat, thanks to all of the AP courses he's taken at Pine Crest (one of the top academic schools in Florida).

Incidentally, Knight will be ESPN on Feb. 15, when Pine Crest takes on Winter Park (which features Doc Rivers' son, another top recruit).

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lamb Lies Down in Storrs

Jeremy Lamb, the 6-foot-4 combo guard out of Norcross, Ga., got to make his commitment to UConn face-to-face with Jim Calhoun late this morning.

Calhoun and UConn assistant Patrick Sellers were at Norcross High to watch Lamb work out, and apparently Lamb figured that while they’re here, he might as well commit to the Huskies’ program. He's UConn's first Class of 2010 commitment.

“UConn made Jeremy a top priority,” said Rolando Lamb, Jeremy’s father. “They consistently went after him, showed him a plan on how he could make a contribution immediately at UConn.”

Lamb is most suited as a shooting guard, but he can play the point guard and (with a 6-11 wingspan) the small forward positions, as well.

“I think the thing that’s made Jeremy very unique and attractive to colleges is the facts that he can play multiple positions,” said Norcross High coach Jesse McMillan. “He jumps well, moves well and is able to create with the ball.”

Lamb checks in at just 160 pounds, so there no doubt he needs to get stronger. But McMillan isn’t worried about that. In fact, Lamb was taking part in a weight-lifting class for basketball players and other Norcross athletes this morning when Calhoun and Sellers came to see him.

“He’s still growing,” said McMillan. “We’ve charted him, and he’s grown about two inches since the beginning of last year. He’s going to put those pounds of muscle on, especially once he gets into a college weight-training program.”

Lamb is a bit of a late-bloomer who really blew up on the summer circuit. He was a sixth man at Norcross last year, playing behind his brother, Zach, as well as Taariq Muhammed and Denzel Jones. Zach Lamb and Muhammed are now at Miami-Dade C.C., while Jones is at Division II Clark-Atlanta.

Jeremy averaged under 14 minutes per game last year, but still scored at a 12.5-ppg clip.

“He scored the ball at a very high rate in limited minutes,” said McMillan. “That was his job, to put the ball in the hole.”

Indeed, Lamb figures to be the type of long-range shooter the Huskies have lacked in recent years.

"Probably one of the better parts of his game is his ability to shoot the mid-range jumper," McMillan added. "He's got an exceptional shooting touch, and he's able to step back and hit the 3-pointer, too."

At a team camp in June, McMillan could tell right away that Lamb was primed for a big run through the summer. Sure enough, he opened a lot of eyes at the Peach Jam Festival in Augusta, Ga. in early July, then again in Orlando in late July.

Lamb made official visits to UConn and Texas, as well as unofficials to Marquette, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Auburn. His final three, according to his dad, were UConn, Texas and Georgia.

Though Jeremy was born in Richmond, Va., and has lived in Georgia since he was about four, his dad doesn’t think there will be any culture shock up in the cold Northeast.

“He feels good about it,” said Rolando (himself a very interesting guy). “He loves the coaching staff, they made him feel like family. Jeremy’s a pretty perceptive kid. Being around quality people, that was the most important thing to him.”

McMillan said that Lamb’s academics are in order.

***Who sang "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"? And who was that band's lead singer. (Too easy?)


A Lamb in the Fold

Jeremy Lamb, a 6-4 combo guard out of Norcross (Ga.) High, has committed to UConn. He is the Huskies' first Class of 2010 player to commit. More to come ...


Monday, September 14, 2009

Those Are People Who Died, Died

Jim Carroll, author of "The Basketball Diaries" and frontman for The Jim Carroll Band, died over the weekend. More so than "The Basketball Diaries," I'll remember Carroll for the punk rock classic "People Who Died" ... though it appears we may have to add a new line: "Jimmy was a rock star and not a hack/Died at 60 of a heart attack ..." or something like that.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's Up with MJ?

I know Adrian Wojnarowski isn't too popular in UConn territory these days, but he nails it on this one: What was the deal with Michael Jordan at his Hall of Fame speech Friday night? Targeting just about everyone who's ever dealt him even the slightest of slights, perceived or not, MJ came across as bitter and petty. How 'bout celebrating the greatest career in hoops history, Mike, and acknowledging some of the little people who helped you get there.

Wojnarowski hits on most of the examples in this story, but I'll add another: MJ blasting the media for its coverage of him over the years.

The media was hard on Michael Jordan? Really?

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

UConn's 2009-10 Schedule

Wed. 4 American International (exhibition) XL Center 7 p.m.
Sun. 8 UMass-Lowell (exhibition) Gampel 1 p.m.
Fri. 13 William & Mary Gampel
Mon.. 16 Colgate Gampel
Tue. 16 Hofstra or Yale Gampel
Wed. 25 NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals Madison Square Garden *
Fri. 27 NIT Season Tip-Off championship Madison Square Garden


Wed. 2 Boston University XL Center
Sun. 6 Harvard Gampel
Wed. 9 Kentucky Madison Square Garden 9:30 p.m.
Sun. 20 Central Florida XL Center
Tues. 22 Maine XL Center
Sun. 27 Iona XL Center
Wed. 30 at Cincinnati Fifth Third Arena 7 p.m.


Sat. 2 Notre Dame XL Center
Wed. 6 Seton Hall Gampel
Sat. 9 at Georgetown Verizon Center Noon
Wed. 13 Pittsburgh XL Center 7 p.m.
Sun. 17 Michigan Crisler Arena 4:30 p.m.
Wed. 20 St. John's XL Center
Sat. 23 Texas Gampel 4 p.m.
Wed. 27 at Providence Dunkin' Donuts Ctr.
Sat. 30 Marquette XL Center


Mon. 1 at Louisville Freedom Hall 7 p.m.
Sat. 6 DePaul Gampel
Wed. 10 at Syracuse Carrier Dome 7 p.m.
Sat. 13 Cincinnati XL Center
Mon. 15 at Villanova Wachovia Center 7 p.m.
Sat. 20 at Rutgers Louis Brown Athl. Ctr.
Mon. 22 West Virginia XL Center 7 p.m.
Sun. 28 Louisville Gampel 2 p.m.


Wed. 3 at Notre Dame Joyce Center 7 p.m.
Sat. 6 at South Florida Sun Dome

* -- Yeah, I'm going out on a limb and saying UConn gets to MSG by beating Colgate, then either Yale or Hofstra

No Grand Illlusion for Sticks

Here's an article on Stanley Robinson from today's Register. Speaking with Sticks yesterday, he seems a more mature and confident young man. Always affable and friendly, he's even more so now, to the point where he walked halfway across the court to say hello, shake my hand, tell me about his daughters and ask me about my own 3-year-old daughter.

And UConn fans should feel good about the fact that, during our interview, he kept going back to the fact that he knows he needs to be consistent this season. We all know the otherwordly athleticism he possesses, but he's got to be able to put that together for a full season, rather than just a good stretch of games here and there. Sounds to me like that's his goal this season.

***Looks like UConn's 2009-10 schedule will probably be released tomorrow (Friday), not today.

***Oh, and on a completely unrelated topic: Anyone out there buy any of the newly remastered Beatles CD's? And if you have, and if you've downloaded them on iTunes and your iPod, can you really hear the difference? The most frustrating thing about my iPod is that newer songs are so much louder and crisper-sounding than certain older ones. Just want to know if the remastered Beatles songs sound louder and crisper on an iPod than the old CD's that were released more than 20 years ago. Any input would be appreciated.

(And did anyone catch the reference to the world's worst rock band in the title of this post?).

***One other thing: Who are your top 10 Yankees of all-time? Here's mine off the top of my head: 1. Babe Ruth, 2. Lou Gehrig, 3. Mickey Mantle, 4. Joe DiMaggio, 5. Derek Jeter, 6. Yogi Berra, 7. Mariano Rivera, 8. Whitey Ford, 9. Reggie Jackson, 10. Don Mattingly. Am I forgetting anyone?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pick-Up Lines

Checked out some pick-up games at Gampel today. Everyone was accounted for, as the players had their media guide pictures taken beforehand. Here are some observations:

***Ater Majok, now sporting corn rows, looked real good around the rim with some nifty putbacks, a few nice moves and some alley-oop jams. He could be the wild card for the Huskies this season once he's eligible in mid-December. But then, that's not exactly a news flash.

***Jerome Dyson looked good, knocking down some long-range jumpers. Didn't take it to the hole too much. He hurt his ankle early on and got some medical attention, but continued playing after that and seemed fine (though he did seem to be limping a bit when he was all done).

***Alex Oriakhi is a Man. Capital "M."

***I've been singing the praises all summer in this space of Darius Smith, and I'll continue to do so. He looked good, particularly defensively, made some nifty passes (and a few freshman mistakes). One thing is beyond doubt, however: Smith has got to put on some muscle. If he's more than 160 pounds right now, I'd be shocked.

***Kemba Walker knocked down a few outside jumpers, but missed badly on a few, too. If he can improve his outside shooting this season, that's a big plus.

***The games were pretty intense, particularly for pick-up games in early September. Lots of disputed foul calls, and some hard-nosed defense.

***Smith, Oriakhi and Jamaal Trice are rockin' the Mohawk look. Is it a freshman thing?

***Doug Wiggins played in the games. Looked good, for what that's worth.

***I'm not sold on Charles Okwandu as the starting center yet, but it was just a small sample. And no miracle improvement from Jonathan Mandeldove, either. Gavin Edwards didn't do much today. Again, a small sample.

***The Huskies' 2009-10 schedule will likely be released tomorrow (Thursday).

***Some interesting words from Stanley Robinson, on whether he ever intended on going to the NBA after last season: "I always wanted to come back, because I felt like I owed something to the program that I haven't shown them yet. I'm not in a rush, the NBA's going to be there. But Coach Calhoun, at the banquet (in May), he was saying, 'The scouts keep calling me, it's crazy, (saying) you're a top-15 prospect.' He was like, 'I'm glad I told you now, so you won't put your name in the NBA draft,' because the deadline had passed … But I was going to come back anyway."

Check out tomorrow's Register for a mini-feature on Stanley.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yo (se) Adrien!

I don't speak Spanish. Took French in high school, not exactly sure why. Spanish probably would have helped me a lot more in life. Certainly would have helped me understand this video of Jeff Adrien, being introduced as the newest member of the Leche Rio Breogan team in Spain.


Freshman 15 (As in 15 PPG)?

While word out of Storrs at this time of year should always be taken with a grain of salt, the UConn coaching staff is really liking what it sees from some of its incoming players. In fact, it appears the Huskies could get significant contributions from all four freshmen – Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Alex Oriakhi, Darius Smith and, if he can shoot a little better, Jamaal Trice – this winter.

It's Coombs that could be the pick of the litter. A good – though not great – athlete, he's shooting the ball well and establishing himself as a natural leader.

"He's like a 6-foot-7 ½ A.J. (Price)," said UConn assistant Patrick Sellers. "He can almost run a team. He knows how to play, he talks to everybody."

While Coombs will be listed as a small forward, he can play the two and even the point, and can guard any position on the floor but center. (And there are no academic issues with Coombs, who had to take a couple of courses this summer at the Tilton (N.H.) School before enrolling at UConn).

The staff also is really high on Smith, the tough little Chicago guard – particularly on the defensive end of the floor.

"He's a defensive menace," said Sellers. "Guys can never be comfortable with the ball in their hands when he's around."

Smith needs to put on some weight. He's at 170 right now, and the Huskies would love for him to put on even just five pounds of muscle as weight-lifting sessions get underway. But there's no doubting his athleticism – Smith apparently dunked over 7-foot Charles Okwandu in a scrimmage the other day.

***Rod Odom, the 6-8 Class of 2010 forward out of Middlesex School in Concord, Mass., did not visit UConn on Thursday, as originally intended. Odom will likely visit the school on an upcoming weekend, however, when he can take in a UConn football game and get in some run with some current Huskies players.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Here's A.J.'s Price

Here's how A.J. Price will be paid over his three-year, $2 million contract:

First year: $400,000

Second year: $700,000

Third year: $900,000

All guaranteed, no options. Not bad for the 52nd pick in the draft, if you ask me.

For those interested: the Pacers come to New York on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and are in New Jersey on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Oh, and they're at Boston on Dec. 22.