Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talkin' 'Bout Practice (Facility)

Some notes & quotes from UConn's media availability this afternoon:

***Jim Calhoun sat in on a meeting this morning regarding a potential new basketball practice facility, and he came out of it rather optimistic.

"We're looking at what it would look like, and where it may be," Calhoun said. "I think it's a positive step. The biggest step we'd have to take would be from a fiscal standpoint … how much money would we actually need, in-hand, to start something? It appears to me over the past two years, it looks like we've identified a site. I think we're going to start doing something over the next couple of weeks to look at that site."

Calhoun didn't indicate where the site is, only noting that it would be near Gampel Pavilion. He looked at images of what the facility might house -- from a 1,800-square foot study hall (which would be about six times the size of UConn's current one) to areas that can showcase the program's success over the years -- and was happy with what he saw.

"We need it desperately, for a whole bunch of reasons," he said. "We want to be able to tell our story as loudly and boldly, when you walk on this campus, about UConn basketball. I felt good coming out of the meeting. When I see the pictures and diagrams, at least I think we've identified where we want to be and what we want to do."

***Of course, a new facility would be an absolutely huge recruiting tool, one at which that schools like Duke and Louisville already boast a huge advantage over UConn.

On the recruiting end, Calhoun noted that assistants Patrick Sellers and Andre LaFleur are currently on the road -- in Las Vegas and Florida -- working hard on the recruiting trail. Normally, they might not be out on the road at this time of year, but the program is intent on restocking talent after the Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson -- and possibly Kemba Walker -- depart after this season.

***What's that about Kemba, you ask?

"I'm not planning on Kemba going or staying," Calhoun said. "If he has a great year, I think you know what my advice is going to be for him."

***Walker, incidentally, hyperextended his right knee during practice last week and missed four days of practice before returning on Tuesday.

Walker said he was trying to block Darius Smith's shot on a fast break, "and Jerome (Dyson) came out of nowhere, blocked his shot aggressively and just knocked everyone down. My knee kind of went back."

He said he's fine now, however.

"I don't usually miss sophomores," Calhoun quipped, "but I did miss him.

***There is no doubt in Calhoun's mind who UConn's best player has been in the early goings.

"Stanley's our best player right now, there's no question. The other day he had the third-most rebounds, most points, most blocked shots. He can guard the two, three or four, he's a jumping jack. It seems like, from somewhere in March, into April, he hasn't lost any of that enthusiasm and hard play. He gives effort and productivity, which is very, very nice."

Added Walker: "He's looking like he did in the NCAA tournament last season. He's doing everything for us – scoring, rebounding. Every day, he's playing well."

***Freshman Jamaal Trice has been an early-season eye-opener for Calhoun.

"The guy who jumped back into the scene from day one has been Trice. Jamaal's a much better all-around player. His biggest problem is, he's a right-wing conservative. (Not politically ... it's a pun, and a reference to former guard Craig Austrie's play). I called him Craig the other day, 'is Craig Trice here?' Craig Austrie didn't make a lot of mistakes, because he didn't take a lot of chances. He was a terrific player for us, but there were times when you wanted him to initiate a few more things."

Walker noted that Trice and fellow freshmen Alex Oriakhi "are probably the two most physical guys on the team. The aggression on the team, we didn't lose any of that, definitely."

***Calhoun did note that Oriakhi "has got to be better. I think Alex will be better. I think it's just a matter of time with him, because he's strong enough to play in this league."

The coach still isn't certain whether Oriakhi or junior Charles Okwandu will start at center for next week's exhibition game opener. Gavin Edwards will start at the four, Calhoun promised, but there's plenty of room for improvement there, too -- noting that he was seventh on the team in rebounding in scrimmages so far.

"He's running the floor very well, he's a guy who knows how to play, but he's got to get back into rebounding," Calhoun said.

***Dyson has missed a little of nearly every practice with nagging injuries. Ater Majok (stress fracture) is slated to return to the practice floor this afternoon. He'll run for about 45 minutes today and increase his workload a bit tomorrow.

***Calhoun watched six UConn alums play against each other the other night when Memphis (Hasheem Thabeet, Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams) faced Detroit (Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva).

"It's fun, but it's a little bit depressing," he joked, "because (we) don't have them anymore. I was wondering why I was such a good coach, and then I see Ben and Rip doing what they do, and realize that's the real reason."

***New Haven boxing native Chad Dawson, who will square off in a championship bout at the XL Center on Nov. 7, will be at UConn's practice on Tuesday in Hartford to talk with Calhoun and some of the players.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Poll Dance

Got the lone Connecticut vote for the AP Top 25 poll this year. There have been two votes from the state for at least the past few years, but it's down to just one this season.

Turned in my preseason Top 25 this morning, along with my picks for All-America (five players only). Here's how my ballot looks:

1. Kansas
2. Michigan State
3. Kentucky
4. Villanova
5. North Carolina
6. Texas
7. Tennessee
8. Purdue
9. West Virginia
10. Oklahoma
11. Mississippi State
12. Michigan
13. Connecticut
14. California
15. Duke
16. Washington
17. Butler
18. Georgetown
19. Maryland
20. Dayton
21. Georgia Tech
22. Louisville
23. Ohio State
24. Tulsa
25. Brigham Young


Kyle Singler, Duke
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Willie Warren, Oklahoma
Patrick Patterson, Kentucky
Sherron Collins, Kansas

Anyway, that's how I see it -- for now. Talk amongst yourselves. I believe the first official AP preseason poll comes out tomorrow.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Cory Joseph story

Interesting piece on Cory Joseph, who was making an official visit to UConn at the time of Jasper Howard's tragic murder. Joseph wasn't at the school-sponsored dance where the incident took place, but might have been had his meeting with Jim Calhoun not lasted well into Saturday night.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Curse of Donnie Baseball

Totally off-topic, I understand, but did you know that no team that's had Don Mattingly as a uniformed employee has ever gone to the World Series? Mattingly has come very, very close – a Dave Roberts stolen base close – but he's never been. And his near-misses have come in rather spectacular style.

Mattingly's playing career with the Yankees was perfectly sandwiched inside New York's 14 years without a trip to the Fall Classic. His career began in 1982, the year after the Yanks lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, and ended in 1995, the year before New York finally got back to the Series and beat the Atlanta Braves.

In Mattingly's 14-year career, he went to the postseason once – in 1995. The Yanks had a 2-0 lead over the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS but lost the final three games.

Following the 2003 season (the Yanks' last trip to the World Series to date), Mattingly was hired as the team's hitting instructor. New York came within an inning of advancing to the World Series in 2004 – twice. Alas, we know how that turned out: biggest choke in baseball history, etc., etc.

The Yanks failed to reach the Series the next three seasons, and Mattingly left for L.A. to serve as Joe Torre's bench coach. The Dodgers have reached the NLCS the past two seasons, but were swept by Philadelphia last year and knocked out in five games this season – despite the fact that they had the best record in the National League.

So, sorry Yankee fans. I know you love the guy, but he ain't exactly a rabbit's foot, is he? Oh well. Back to college hoops in a bit …

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Poll-ish Jokes

Here's the 2009-10 Big East Preseason Coaches' Poll. I'm pretty cool with this. UConn could be slotted anywhere from about 3-6, in my book, but I'd rate them slightly ahead of Louisville, Georgetown and Syracuse (assuming Ater Majok blossoms, the freshmen contribute, Stanley Robinson stays consistent, etc., etc. ...).

1. Villanova (10) 218
2. West Virginia (5) 215
3. UConn (1) 185
4. Louisville 179
5. Georgetown 161
6. Syracuse 152
7. Cincinnati 135
8. Notre Dame 132
9. Pittsburgh 119
10. Seton Hall 110
11. St. John's 82
12. Marquette 78
13. Providence 52
14. South Florida 44
15. Rutgers 43
16. DePaul 15

First-place votes in parentheses

What's more intriguing is how all over the map the various national preseason polls rate the Huskies (and other Big East teams, for that matter).

Blue Ribbon Yearbook has Villanova No. 4, West Virginia No. 12, Syracuse No. 15, UConn No. 18 and Georgetown No. 24.

Athlon Sports: Villanova No. 7, WVU No. 10, UConn No. 11, Louisville No. 19 and Georgetown No. 21.

Sporting News: WVU No. 4, Villanova No. 9, Georgetown No. 11, UConn No. 15, LouisvilleNo. 16 and Notre Dame No. 22. Villanova No. 4, WVU No. 9, Georgetown No. 18 and UConn down at No. 25. has UConn ranked all the way at No. 7. Villanova's No. 6, WVU No. 9, Louisville No. 22 and Georgetown No. 24.

And Lindy's doesn't have UConn ranked at all! They've got 'Nova No. 4, 'Ville No. 15 and WVU No. 18.

None of this means a thing, of course, other than the fact that parity should be the name of the game both in the Big East and nationally this season.

The one constant: all six polls have Kansas ranked No. 1.

Lindy's: Villanova No. 4, Louisville No. 15, WU No. 18.

Big East Bouillabaise

Lots of stuff from today's Big East Media Day at Madison Square Garden. As you likely know by now, UConn has been picked to finish third in the Big East, being Villanova and West Virginia.

That comes as a surprise to Jim Calhoun.

"My fellow coaches have made a vow going back 12 years of making sure I never got coach of the year by making us third or better preseason," Calhoun said. "There seems to be a pact. New coaches come in and are told that, I think."

He was kidding. Pretty much. We think. (Calhoun has, incidentally, won the league's Coach of the Year award four times -- but not since 1997-98).

Calhoun was equally astonished that the Huskies even got a first-place vote from one coach.

"I couldn't believe that someone picked us first in the league, after losing the No. 2 guy in the draft and the most dominant defensive player in the league," he said, before adding, "I'm not saying we can't (be the best team)."

***Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker have been selected to the preseason All-Big East second team. Stanley Robinson made Honorable Mention.

Dyson said he knew Jasper Howard, largely through Dyson's cousin, Anthony Davis, who is on the UConn football team.

"He just went out to have a good time after winning a game, and to have that happen is just tragic. It leads you to question what can you do on your own campus? Do you have to watch your back at every moment?"

***Could UConn have gone to last year's national championship game if Dyson had been healthy? Dyson thinks so.

"I think we could have beat Michigan State. It would have been a great game between us and North Carolina. I really can't say who would win that game, because we both had great players."

***Most people probably know that Dyson was a standout football player at Proctor Academy, but did you know he also played baseball? Center field, to be exact.

"I was alright," Dyson reported. "I liked playing."

He's a Yankees fan, if you care to know.

***Robinson said he's had surgery on a deviated septum a short while ago. He's tried to keep it somewhat under wraps, however.

"I don't want anybody aiming for my nose," said Sticks.

And he doesn't want to play with the face mask, a la Richard Hamilton.

"I'm not coming out with a mask. Can't do the 'Rip'."

***Calhoun said that Tuesday was the first time so far that Dyson and Robinson have dominated in practice. The Portland Trailblazers and Charlotte Hornets were at practice, monitoring Robinson in particular.

"I guess they watched TV last spring," Calhoun said, referring to Robinson's superb run through the NCAA tournament.

*** Calhoun said he's quickly coming to the realization of "how much the big fella (Hasheem Thabeet) meant so us. Jeff (Adrien) was a good player, A.J. (Price) was a very good player, Craig (Austrie) was a solid veteran. But any game we went into, the other team's power forward or center, most times was negated, if not eliminated. So, that's a great concern of mine.

"It's a whole new group, a whole different kind of team. This is the first team in a long time where I don’t even know how many shots we're going to block. I used to book it with most of our teams, a lot (of blocked shots)."

Charles Okwandu? No-can-do. At least not yet.

"He hasn't put together a practice yet," Calhoun noted. "He hasn't even put in a solid hour together yet. He's got to be better. He's big, strong, he's in the best shape of his life. He should be getting more done than what he is. Some of that's confidence."

Is it unfair to expect Okwandu to step in and be that 7-foot, shot-blocking presence in the middle the Huskies have had for much of the past decade?

"It is (unfair). He should be close to it. I don't think he'll be a double-figure scorer, but he should be that guy who plays 15, 18 minutes a game, along with Alex (Oriakhi). Alex has looked more ready than he has, and Alex is a freshman."

***Calhoun said Oriakhi has been the team's best newcomer so far. He.was asked if Oriakhi compares to Jeff Adrien.

"No. He's more of a post player. I think he'll be a better shooter than Jeff. And … I don't remember anybody coming in with as good post moves. He's got to be more assertive. He's a really nice kid, which really doesn't count much in the Big East. "

***Over the first four days of practice, freshman Jamaal Trice has been the biggest surprise so far.

"Of our six perimeter players, he might be the best defensive player," said Calhoun.

***Naturally, Rick Pitino drew a huge crowd of reporters. His offseason travails – a revealed extramarital affair, which resulted in an alleged extortion attempt – were, of course, brought up.

"You all have tough periods in your life, as I do in my life," Pitino said. "We all know how to get through tough periods the right way. The best part about basketball is, we're so tuned into our goals right now, these players – Sosa, Smith, Reggie Delk – it's their last opportunity. Six months from now, they'll never put on another college basketball uniform in their life again."

Addressing the media, Pitino insisted "I like and respect all of you, and I really do. That's not patronizing in any way. You have a job to do."

However …

"In case you all misread my press conference, that's the only mistake you've made, because I wasn't chastising you at all, in the slightest way. I had just had enough, my family had had enough, and I needed to step up for my family and for myself, get something off my chest. It's your job to evaluate me, it's not my job to evaluate you."

Pitino was asked if his situation will result in distractions for the team.

"It won't be. There'll be no more distractions. I owe it to my team. There may be, for a few hours one day, a personal distraction on my part. But there won't be any team distractions.

"In recruiting, it hasn't come up one time, in one phone call. You're interested in it, because it's your job … the players and the recruits, all they're interested in is their future and making their lives better for their families someday, becoming the best player they can possibly be, and winning games. That's really what they're tuned into."

Noting that he's coached in New York and Boston, Pitino quipped: "I'll hit the Triple Crown someday if I ever decide to take a job in Philadelphia … if I ever take the Drexel job, I'll have the Triple Crown."

***Madison Square Garden has agreed to continue hosting the Big East men's tourney through 2016.

***Jim Boeheim was informed that Calhoun said he missed the old days, when every team played each other twice per season.

"Well, Jim says a lot of things," Boeheim said, rolling his eyes. "I mean, I miss high school."

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Austrie in Armor?

Craig Austrie has been invited back to Sunday's tryouts for the Springfield Armor, a new NBA Development League team, on Sunday.

Austrie and 61 other athletes -- many with local ties -- went through seven hours (!) of drills and scrimmages over the weekend under the watch of head coach Dee Brown and assistant Kevin Whitted. Ex-Celtics coach K.C. Jones addressed the players, as well.

Just 32 players made the cut to Sunday's tryouts. Joining Austrie were former UMass forward Dante Milligan, Hartford Pro-Am MVP Charles "The Beast" Easterling, and ex-Georgia State University guard Julian Allen.

The team's roster will take shape over the next few weeks. Some of the tryout attendees will be invited to training camp, which starts Nov. 15, ten days after the NBDL draft.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hello, Cleveland!

Greetings from the Bronx, where it's cold but not raining … yet. Looking like the rain is going to hold off and we'll get in Game 2 of the ALCS tonight.

I didn't make practice today because I was driving down to the Bronx to cover tonight's game, but check out colleague Chris Hunn's story on UConn's first official practice in tomorrow's Register. I did learn that the Huskies are hosting Cory Joseph on an official visit this weekend. He was at First Night last night.

Joseph is a 6-foot-3 guard out of Findlay Prep in Henderson, NV, who is ranked as the No. 6 point guard in the Class of 2010 by

Also at First Night last night was frequent UConn visitor Andre Drummond and a new name – Cleveland Melvin, who plays at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. Melvin is a 6-7, Class of 2010 forward.

As mentioned last night, Maurice Harkless, a 6-6 junior forward from Forest Hills (N.Y.) High, was in the house, as well. And, of course, Roscoe Smith, who we talked to last night.

(Quiz question: What all-time comedy classic features the line, "Hello, Cleveland!"

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Dunk You Very Much

Good crowd tonight, a little under 10,000, we're estimating. Definitely bigger than last year. R&B stars Lloyd and Amerie performed, and also served as judges to the dunk contest, along with Donyell Marshall and Shea Ralph.

The team of Stanley Robinson and Maya Moore defeated Jerome Dyson and Tina Charles in the dunk contest.

Here's some dunk contest footage. First, Jerome Dyson's windmill:

And here's Sticks doing his thing and getting a perfect score from the judges -- including Lloyd, a very tough grader:

Here, Dyson tries (unsuccessfully) to get a little help from his friend, Kemba Walker:

And here, Robinson gets a lift from Gavin Edwards in what can't be considered one of his better dunks:

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Dyson Taking it Slow

Jerome Dyson, who didn't participate in Wednesday's Husky Run, hasn't been working out with the team lately. He will, however, participate in tonight's festivities.

"He wouldn't miss the chance to show off," said Jim Calhoun. "Jerome has instant recuperative powers when there are 2,000-3,000 co-eds looking at him."

Calhoun added that Dyson will practice with the team tomorrow morning – as long as he feels well.

"He pushed himself very hard to get back in terrific shape. Why would we, for a Husky Run or for something extra … if he got sore early tomorrow, we'd pull him out."

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Roscoe Smith: 'I Can Do it All'

Roscoe Smith is in the house here at First Night, on an official visit to UConn. Nice kid, and certainly not lacking in confidence.

At 6-foot-8, Smith is the No. 6-rated small forward in the nation by But he's not about to pigeon-hole himself as just a small forward.

"I'm a versatile-type player. I can do it all," he said. "Anything the coach needs of me, I can do."

Smith has narrowed his college choices down to three: Georgetown, UConn and Duke. He visited Georgetown two weeks ago, and plans to make a visit to Durham, N.C. in another couple of weeks.

What will his final decision come down to?

"It depends on which one wants me the most," said Smith, who added that he plans to take his time with his decision after the Duke visit.

So far, he's impressed with what he sees in Storrs.

"The main thing about UConn is coach Jim Calhoun. And also, the legacy of the players that played here, like Rudy Gay, Ben Gordon, etc."

(Incidentally, Donyell Marshall is in the house tonight, as well).

Smith added that the Husky coaching staff has told him, "If I come to UConn, the world is mine."

***We got to thinking: How many famous Roscoes are there? I can think of two: Roscoe Tanner, the former tennis player, and Roscoe P. Coltrane, the "famous" Dukes of Hazard cop. Anyone we're forgetting?

***Also due to be here tonight: Khem Burch, a freshman at the South Kent School who's on crutches (not sure why). Also here is Maurice Harkless. Cory Joseph and Angel Nunez are slated to be here, too, but I haven't seen them yet. Doesn't mean they're not here.

Much more to come ...

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

'It's Not My Favorite Night"

We all know that Jim Calhoun pitches Comcast (among other things), but he'll never be a pitch man for First Night.

"It's not my favorite night. Never has been, probably never will be," said Calhoun, who no doubt holds his breath every time Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson & Co. go up for a highlight-reel jam during the obligatory dunk competition.

Calhoun's not-so ringing endorsement aside, Friday night's First Night festivities should be a fun way to kick off the 2009-10 season.

Doors open for the event, which is free to the public, at 6 p.m. Players on both the men's and women's teams as well as coaches Calhoun and Geno Auriemma will sign autographs from 6-6:45 p.m.

The show starts at 7 p.m., with the first-ever combined men's and women's introductions, augmented by a laser light show. Shooting and dunk contests by both the men and women (gee, that oughta be exciting) will follow. Unlike in years past, there will be no intrasquad scrimmages.

Popular R&B artist Lloyd will provide entertainment.

All fans have a chance to win prizes from UConn athletics, Big Y and CBS Radio. UConn students will have opportunities to win free food, free t-shirts and other prizes.

As usual, several top-notch recruits are expected to be in attendance. Angel Nunez, a 6-foot-7 forward from New York; Roscoe Smith, a 6-7 forward out of Oak Hill Academy in Virginia; and Cory Joseph, a point guard out of Findlay (NV) Prep have said they will be in the house.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Church Chat in Chattanooga

Any questions on whether Michael Bradley is a good, clean-cut kid may have been answered right away when I called him this evening.

“Can I call you back?” he asked. “I’m in church right now.”

No problem.

When reached later, Bradley revealed why he decided to commit to UConn late Tuesday night.

“The opportunity to play at a high level and compete,” he said. “It gives me the opportunity to experience basketball at a high level.”

Bradley, a 6-foot-9 (by his own admission), lanky center out of Tyner High in Chattanooga, TN, is a bit of a project. Currently ranked as the No. 15 center in the Class of 2010 by, Bradley didn’t even start playing basketball until the ninth grade. Why so late to the game?

“At the beginning of the eighth grade I was 5-10, and at the end of ninth grade, I was 6-8,” he said. “I came into ninth grade at 6-4, and throughout the season, I was 6-6, 6-8 ...”

Bradley, listed at 210 pounds, realizes he needs to get stronger to play in the Big East. He visited four schools -- UConn, Drake, Virginia Commonwealth and Georgia -- and whittled his final choice down to UConn and Drake.

An official visit to Storrs back on Sept. 25, during which he played in scrimmages with current UConn players, helped seal the deal.

“It felt good to be around good players, but also good teammates with each other, too,” Bradley said.

An excellent student (he was recruited by Harvard, as well), Bradley would like to be a pharmacy major at UConn. Born and raised in Chattanooga, he has no problem heading up to the colder Northeast -- and, in fact, “didn’t even want to stay in Tennessee.”

Bradley is just happy the recruiting process is over.

“It’s been crazy,” he said. “My recruiting lasted about four months, from Harvard to UConn, knocking on my door.”

And it’s UConn’s knock that Bradley winds up answering.


Husky Run, Pt. Deux

A couple more notes & quotes from today's Husky Run:

***UConn changed up its preseason conditioning routine this year, with 7 a.m. weight-training followed by 8 a.m. breakfast, then on to practice. Conditioning is a big focus for this year's team, which figures to run more so than last year.

"We have to be faster," said Jim Calhoun. "Last year, we'd be foolish to be too, too fast, when you had a 7-3 guy … it only made sense for us to wait for the two guys who scored a lot of points. This year, I think our scoring will come off the fast break. Last year it was 62 percent, we'd like to be up to 66."

***UConn has been ranked all over the place by preseason prognosticators, from top 5 to out of the top 25.

Calhoun: "I have a handle (on how good we are), but apparently other people don't, which is probably why we're all over the map, and probably rightfully so … I think we have more kids who can do things with the basketball. I have no idea how that translates. To have a better record would be really a stretch, but to have a really good record and be really good by February, that would not be a stretch."

***Calhoun on newcomers Alex Oriakhi, Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Ater Majok, as well as Charles Okwandu:

"Alex is better than I thought he'd be at this stage, he just has to be more aggressive. He's a terrific kid, we've just got to get him to be a little less terrific on the court, as a person – a little meaner. Jamal Coombs is multi-dimensional, he'll give us a lot of different things. Ater has shown more ability to start moving his game inside, which he needs to do with a 7-foor-6 reach. Charles is going to become, I think, a major component of what happens."

***Without 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet in the middle, UConn's defensive approach will have to be different.

"Now, everybody has to play real defense," said Gavin Edwards. "Everybody has to stay in front of their man now.

***Kemba Walker, on a number of different subjects:

***Calhoun said that little-used 7-foot senior center Jonathan Mandeldove "tentatively" will not play the first semester. Mandeldove has had some academic issues.

***Asked to put a number on what he'd like to average scoring and rebounding, Stanley Robinson said: "16 or above, along with at least 7, 8 rebounds."

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You Better Run

As seen in this video, Gavin Edwards and walk-on Kyle Bailey were the top two men's basketball finishers for the second year in a row at the annual Husky Run today. (Along with another non-scholarship player, whose name is unknown)

Edwards and Bailey finished with times of 20:25, topping last year's time of 21:21. Here's how the rest of UConn's players finished:

Alex Hornat, 20:45
Kemba Walker, 22:45
Jamaal Trice, 23:03
Darius Smith, 23:05
Jonathan Mandeldove, 25:25
Donnel Beverly, 31:12
Stanley Robinson, 31:13
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, 31:14
Alex Oriakhi, 33:00
Charles Okwandu, 33:10

***Ater Majok and Jerome Dyson didn't participate. Majok has a stress fracture in his left tibia and is wearing a protective boot, but should be ready to practice in another 1 1/2-2 weeks. Dyson, who didn't appear for post-race interviews, either, was held out by trainer James Doran as a precaution. Nothing serious.

More to come ...

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Chattanooga Choo-Choo

Michael Bradley, the 6-foot-10 Class of 2010 center out of Tyner High in Chattanooga, TN, has committed to UConn, according to Dave Telep of

Bradley, who visited UConn a few weeks ago, had narrowed his final choice down to UConn, Drake and Virginia Commonwealth. He had also made visits to Georgia and Drake.

A strong student, Bradley has said he'd like to major in pharmacology. The No. 15-ranked center in his class according to, Bradley is said to be talented if a bit unpolished. He didn't do a whole lot in a scrimmage with his now future UConn teammates during his visit, but that's to be somewhat expected.

More to come ...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Louisville Sluggers

Police have added charges against two University of Louisville basketball players arrested following a fight at a southern Indiana restaurant.

Louisville senior guard Jerry Smith and sophomore forward Terrence Jennings were arrested early Sunday morning and charged with resisting arrest when off-duty police tried to break up a fight at an alumni homecoming party.

Jeffersonville Police Detective Todd Hollis says charges of battery and disorderly conduct against the two players were added on Sunday evening by the arresting officer.

Police struck Jennings twice with a Taser while he struggled with officers, and Smith refused a request to back away while checking on his teammate. The two were released Sunday morning. No court date has been set.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino says the matter will be handled internally.

The last line raises the issue of what a precarious position (no pun intended) Pitino finds himself in after his romps with Karen Sypher were revealed. Exactly how does he administer punishment to his players when he has shown remarkably poor judgment and behavior in the past?

Interesting to see how this works out.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Watch Out Where Those Huskies Go ...

The UConn men’s basketball team will participate in the Husky Run on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

The event is open to the public and gives Husky fans the opportunity to run the 3-plus mile course around the UConn campus with the members of the basketball team.

Registration takes place at the East Entrance to Gampel Pavilion and all participants will receive a t-shirt and snacks at the conclusion of the race.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

UConn By Numbers

Don't know about you, but this is a baseball Sunday for me. Red Sox-Angels now, Yankees-Twins later, Phillies-Rockies even later. That beats the NFL any day, in my book -- especially this week, when there are so many bad games. But I'm probably in the minority on that one.

Anyway, had some free time and got to thinking what we can expect from this year's UConn team in terms of individual statistics. I've always loved projecting this kind of stuff, so much that I'm even breaking down their scoring, rebounding, etc. averages by the decimal point. Makes it more interesting than just saying "16 ppg, 8 rpg," and wouldn't it be wild if I actually nailed any of the numbers right on the money?

So, here's what I project from this year's group in terms of scoring, rebounding and assists, taking into account playing time and things like that (and obviously barring any injuries):

Jerome Dyson 17.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.4 apg
Stanley Robinson 13.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg
Kemba Walker 12.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 6.3 apg
Gavin Edwards 8.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.7 apg
Ater Majok 8.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, .8 apg
Alex Oriakhi 4.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, .3 apg
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel 4.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.5 apg
Darius Smith 2.1 ppg, .5 rpg, 2.1 apg
Donnell Beverly 2.0 ppg, .8 rpg, 2.0 apg
Charles Okwandu 1.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, .2 apg
Jamaal Trice 1.4 ppg, .7 rpg, .8 apg
Jonathan Mandeldove .5 ppg, 1.2 rpg, .1 apg

I don't think there's any question that Dyson's the leading scorer. I see him with some big scoring nights this season, with a few of those 3-for-13 clunkers thrown in. I doubt Robinson gets into the 15-20 ppg range, simply because of his inconsistency. While I think Stanley will be more consistent this season, for every 33-point outburst he's bound for this winter, there's likely to be an 8-point clunker to balance it out.

Gavin Edwards is offensively skilled, but I wonder how much playing time he gets as the season progresses and Ater Majok joins the lineup and Alex Oriakhi (presumably) gets better. If Edwards can be a fourth double-figure scorer for UConn, that's big. Then again, maybe Majok is that guy once the Big East season starts.

Rebounding will be an issue, too. As big and strong as Oriakhi is, he won't be able to duplicate Jeff Adrien's nightly double-double potential. I almost see a "rebounding-by-committee" approach for UConn, if that makes any sense. Guys like Oriakhi, Majok, Edwards, Robinson, even Dyson can all attack the boards. I don't see Charles Okwandu as being a big factor this season, though I think the coaching staff is holding out hope. Jonathan Mandeldove? Nope.

Jamal Coombs-McDaniel is another wild card. Haven't seen him play much yet, but the reports have been pretty positive. If he can come in and be a strong all-around contributor -- scoring, rebounding, distributing, playing solid 'D' -- that will be huge for the Huskies.

Anyway, there you have it. One man's opinion, anyway. Back to baseball Sunday. Play ball!!!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bradley's Choice

Despite a report to contrary, Michael Bradley may not make his commitment to a program today.

But then again, he might.

Confused? Well, it appears that while the 6-foot-10 power forward was ready to announce his decision today, he's had a change of heart.

"I was going to, but I don't know anymore," he said by phone this evening. "I might wait about a week."

Bradley, who has whittled down his choices to UConn, Drake and Virginia Commonwealth (with the first two seemingly in the lead), said he simply "wasn't 100-percent" with his decision quite yet.

Bradley, an excellent student who'd like to major in pharmacy, said that all three schools have pharmacy programs. His decision will simply come down to which school feels right.

And apparently, that decision may not come until tomorrow. Or next week. Or tonight.

Stay tuned.