Monday, August 30, 2010

Penalty Corner

A posting on a pro-Georgetown blog asked in its headline, "Is Connecticut About to Lose Scholarships?", and went on to speculate on the "impending doom" about to hit the program.

The answer to the headline: "Well, umm, Yeah." Or at least most likely.

It's pretty much been assumed all along that the Huskies will dock itself at least a scholarship or two, hasn't it? At least I've always heard it that way. I'm pretty sure the NCAA will agree that the program should lose scholarships. How many? Recruit Angelo Chol Tweeted that the Huskies "lost all their scholarships."

First of all, it's Twitter. Secondly, it's a high school senior, not the greatest source of breaking news. Thirdly, it's Twitter. And plus, we don't even know how many "all their scholarships" will be next year. Two, as it stands now. Or three if Kemba Walker goes pro. Or four if Ater Majok leaves, as has been reported. Or five or six if the two German recruits don't show up ...

According to Michael Buckner (popular guy these days), the NCAA's "rough formula" has been a 2-for-1 penalty: two lost scholarship for every one student-athlete involved in wrongdoing. That would mean two for Nate Miles. Of course, that doesn't explain how USC football was docked 30 scholarships over the next three seasons for the Reggie Bush mess.

“I could see them losing at least two (scholarships), but it wouldn’t surprise me if they lost more," Buckner said of UConn. "I don’t have a basis for it, but that’s up for the appeals committee to decide (if UConn appealed the decision).”

Now, throw all this out the window if Majok's potential departure has anything to do with recruiting violations involving him. A UConn source categorically denies that is the case. If it is, however, the Huskies are in some trouble: unlike Nate Miles, of course, Majok actually did play for the team. Honest.

We'll find out over the next few days (likely a Thursday presser) what UConn's self-imposed sanctions will be. We won't find out how the NCAA ultimately rules until November or December, at the earliest.

Losing scholarships isn't good, but it's hardly a death sentence. Keep in mind, the Huskies were one short last year, and had one scholarship player (Jamaal Trice) who never saw the light of day in Big East action. Oh, and Jon Mandeldove was on scholarship last year, too. OK, last year's a bad example, since the team wasn't so good. But the bottom line is, most fully-funded teams in college hoops have at least two or three skollies wasted at the end of the bench.

Really, there are only two words the Huskies don't want to hear from the NCAA committee on infractions: postseason ban.

Doesn't seem likely, but ...

“I think based on the allegations, there’s probably a remote possibility (of a postseason ban),” said Dan Fitzgerald, a New Haven attorney who specializes in sports law. “I would never say never when you’re dealing with the NCAA. But these are recruiting violations. To me, the most logical sanctions would be recruiting sanctions, punishment parallel to the act.”

Added Buckner: “Based upon what we know, I do not see (a postseason ban), unless there’s some other information that we haven’t seen. Normally, that occurs when you have an ineligible student-athlete that’s involved in some serious NCAA rules violations (and) plays in some kind of NCAA postseason contests.”

Miles, of course, didn't.

“The committee of infractions could still impose that,” Buckner said, “but it would have to explain a sound basis for it. The committee has been trying to implement more stringent penalties lately. Look at the USC case.”

Along with its hefty loss of scholarships (which it is appealing), the USC football program received a two-year postseason ban for what the NCAA deemed a “lack of institutional control” regarding Bush, who allegedly received gifts from sports agents while at the school. UConn has been admonished by the NCAA for “a failure … to adequately monitor the conduct and administration of the men’s basketball staff.” Likewise, Calhoun has failed to “promote an atmosphere of compliance in the men's basketball program,” according to the NCAA.

“The only way a postseason ban would come up,” Fitzgerald said, “is if the lack of compliance was so pronounced – the failure to monitor was more than just negligent, it was reckless. I certainly don’t think they would find that with a program like UConn, that for the most part has been very clean and on the up-and-up.”

Added Buckner: “The only reason I could think of (for the NCAA to hand UConn a postseason ban) is that they’re trying to punish or sanction UConn and its men’s basketball program for not doing the job it should have been doing, in terms of ensuring impermissible contact between agents and boosters is not occurring with prospects. The NCAA is taking a very harsh, stringent approach against not just UConn but USC, (several) SEC, ACC schools, for their dealings with prospects or enrolled student-athletes. They could come up with some reason for a harsh approach, (saying) that you’ve got to be proactive and ensure that your program isn’t doing these things.”

It’s virtually impossible to believe that UConn will self-impose some sort of postseason ban. USC, in its combined investigation of its football and basketball programs, self-imposed a postseason ban for its basketball team the past season, stemming from improper benefits received by O.J. Mayo. Of course, Mayo played a season with the Trojans.

***Oh, had a brief e-mail exchange with Patrick Sellers earlier today. He's coaching the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons, the team Stephon Marbury played for last year in China. The team is 15-2, and he's happy with the way the players and organization have treated him.

Predictably, he couldn't comment on any NCAA stuff, but ended the e-mail by saying "I guess I will probably see you guys in Indy."

I guess that means Sellers intends on appearing before the NCAA committee on infractions Oct. 15-16 in Indianapolis.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Texas, Tennessee on TV

UConn will play a pair of nationally-televised, non-conference games this upcoming season. The Huskies will face Texas on Saturday, Jan. 8, at 3:30 p.m. (EST) in Austin, TX on ESPN.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, Jan. 22, UConn and Tennessee begin a home-and-home series with a 2 p.m. contest in either Storrs or Hartford that will be broadcast on CBS.

The complete UConn schedule for 2010-11 will be announced in conjunction with the Big East conference schedule in early September.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tennis, Anyone?

For those heading to the Pilot Pen tennis tournament this week – and thus far, that's not many of you – be on the lookout for Ray Allen.

Allen was sitting behind the near baseline on Monday watching his friend, James Blake, romp through a 36-minute, 6-0, 6-1 victory over Spain's Pere Riba. Though Allen was bundled up in a blue-hooded sweatshirt, Blake was happy to see Allen in attendance.

"He's a friend of mine," Blake said. "I know the whole family, they are great people. He is a tremendous athlete and I am impressed every time I see him play, especially is dedication."

Blake and Allen were introduced by a mutual friend – Kevin Garnett.

"I became friends of (Garnett's) because he is friends of Serena (Williams)," Blake said. "He actually said that me and Ray are very similar, we should hang out together. I have been friends with him since that amazing run to the championship."

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Friday, August 20, 2010

May the Schwartz Be With You

We're always looking for local angles these days, so a story on Jeff Schwartz, the New Haven native and 1982 Cheshire High grad who is the agent to numerous NBA stars -- not to mention Jim Calhoun -- was a natural.

Jeff's an interesting guy. He focuses on taking clients who are good people, and in return really tries to foster a family-type atmosphere with them. Guys like Emeka Okafor, Jason Kidd, Lamar Odom, even Calhoun, look at Schwartz as more than just an agent. He's been to Calhoun family weddings, once lived for a short time at Kidd's California home, and, yes, he was in the wedding party at the famous Odom-Kardashian nuptials last September (no comment on whether Lamar signed a pre-nup!).

And while Schwartz represents Calhoun, it's important to note that the coach doesn't steer his ex-players to him. Yes, Okafor, Hilton Armstrong, Charlie Villanueva and A.J. Price are Schwartz clients. But the dozen or so other ex-UConn players playing professionally right now chose other routes.

"Sometimes it works against me," Scwartz admitted. "Coach is tough on those guys, and at the end of year, when they're all done, sometimes they want to run as far from him as possible. The shackles are off."

Here's Schwartz's take on a couple of other subjects that didn't make the story:

(On the proliferation of street runners and dirty agents who have had too much influence on some amateur players in recent years)

"I wish that there was tighter scrutiny with it. You’ve got some really good agents out there who do things right way, but then you've got a lot of people who put kids in harm’s way. We talk to our union a lot about it, trying to keep things at a professional level and allow college kids to enljoy college experience. I think it’s an issue across sports. I don’t know how it gets solved."

(On the rule that a player must be at least one year out of high school to be drafted by the NBA)

"I think the more mature someone is, in general, the better chance they have at success at anything. However, I represented Martina Hingis when she was 16 years old and No. 1 in the world, so I've seen it from all sides. I really think it’s on a case-by-case basis. Do I think, overall, it’s helpful to have a year or two of college? It never hurt anybody. I think it’s good thing."

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wish List

With the contact period for recruits still a few weeks away (Sept. 9-Oct. 5), UConn is still mapping out which players may make visits to campus, and which players might be getting home visits.

Nothing's official yet -- not even close, in some instances -- but here's what players the UConn coaching staff might be getting closers looks at next month:

***Josiah Turner, as previously reported, is expected to visit Storrs the weekend of Sept. 10. There's an outside chance that Jabari Brown, the talented 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of Oakland, could visit that weekend, as well.

***Rashad "Ky" Madden, a 6-5 combo guard out of Arkansas, could make a visit to Storrs some time in late-September, early-October.

***The Huskies are in the process of scheduling in-home visits with a few different recruits. One could be Norvel Pelle, a 6-8 shotblocker out of Los Angeles who, for various reasons, has yet to play any high school basketball. Pelle hails from Antigua.

UConn may also try a home visit with Adonis Thomas, a 6-6 small forward out of Memphis who was on the Team USA Under-17 team with Andre Drummond.

***The Huskies could be getting an unofficial visit over the next couple of weeks from Myles Mack, a 5-9 point guard who plays for recently-minted Hall-of-Famer Bob Hurley at St. Antony's in Jersey City, N.J.

***A few other Class of 2011 names to keep in mind: Ryan Boatright, a 5-10 point guard out of Chicago; Michael Chandler, a 7-footer out of Indianapolis; Chane Behanan out of Bowling Green, KY; Desmond Hubert, a 6-9 center out of New Egypt, N.J.; Angelo Chol, a highly-touted 6-8 center out of San Diego; Trey McDonald, a 6-8 center out of Detroit; and Malcolm Gilbert, a 6-10 center out of Philly.

Oh, and of course Drummond, who may or not be a Class of 2011 player. Drummond has reportedly considered re-classifying from 2012 to '11, but nothing's certain yet.

Elsewhere: recent commit Enosch Wolf of Germany is still waiting to be cleared by the NCAA. It seems likely to happen, as there are no academic issues, just the fact that he's a foreign student who committed rather late in the game.

Oh, and though he'd like to pay his own way on the UConn team this year, I wouldn't hold your breath on the return of Jonathan Mandeldove.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Kemba Goes for 46

Kemba Walker poured in 46 points tonight, to go with eight rebounds, leading the Doc Hurley All-Stars to a 148-130 win over the Simoniz All-Stars in Game One of the best-of-three Greater Hartford Pro-Am's championship series.

Guess that jump shot really is improved.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Two Extra Weeks to Respond

UConn has been granted an extension to submit its response to recruiting allegations by the NCAA Committee on Infractions. The original due date was Aug. 20, and that has now been extended two weeks to Sept. 3.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Josiah Turner to Visit Sept. 10

Josiah Turner, a highly-touted Class of 2011 shooting guard out of Sacramento, will make an official visit to UConn on the weekend of Sept. 10.

Turner, at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, is the 12th-rated player in his class, per


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gay Can Play

Rudy Gay indicated prior to the Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game that he hadn't been cleared to play (by the Memphis Grizzlies, we're assuming). But after sitting out the first half, Gay played in the latter. Boy, did he ever.

Here's one particularly impressive sequence, in which Gay fiddles, diddles, steps back and hits a 3-pointer. After a defensive stop, Khalid El-Amin lofts up an alley-oop pass and Gay glides in for the jam, bringing the crowd of about 6,500 to its feet.

Update: White Team pulls off a 126-118 victory over the Blue Team. Ray Allen was named game MVP with 20 points, though is teammate, Ed Nelson, might have been robbed. Nelson poured in 22 and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds!

Charlie Villanueva led all scorers with 26. El-Amin had 16 points and five assists, Rashad Anderson netted 13, Stanley Robinson 14 and Jeff Adrien 10. Jerome Dyson had 18, Butler 14 and Kevin Ollie 13 for the White Team.

Off to hit the blackjack tables. See ya ...

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All Tied Up at Halftime

Here's how the rosters are split up:

Blue Team: Jeff Adrien, Stanley Robinson, Oliver Macklin, Boo Willingham, Kirk King, Charlie Villanueva, Rudy Gay (who said prior to the game that he wasn't cleared to play, but now apparently is -- and is putting on a show. We'll have one particularly impressive sequence on video in a little while), Khalid El-Amin, Craig Austrie, Dan Cyrulik, Rashad Anderson.

White Team: Emeka Okafor, Taliek Brown, Rod Sellers, Travis Knight, Kevin Ollie, Jerome Dyson, Lyman DePriest, Ed Nelson, Kevin Freeman, Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Murray Williams.

Game was tied, 58-58, at the break. Crowd is about 6,500 -- probably about 1,500 less than the last game two years ago.

Back with more later ...

Casino Boogie

Some quick notes from the Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game:

***Just about everyone advertised is here. Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon showed up just in time for the team picture. Noteable no-shows: Hilton Armstrong, Richard Hamilton, Donny Marshall. Rudy Gay says he hasn't been cleared to play by the Grizzlies.

***Ricky Moore, newly-minted assistant coach at Dartmouth, showed up wearing a Dartmouth shirt. Is that legal?

***The entire UConn roster is here, including incoming freshmen Roscoe Smith, Jeremy Lamb, Tyler Olander, Shabazz Napier and Michael Bradley. (German imports Niels Giffey and Enosch Wolf have yet to arrive on campus).

***Sticks Robinson hasn't signed a contract yet with Orlando and feels he'll probably have to prove himself in training camp, which starts on Sept. 22. Robinson had a somewhat subpar summer league performance, with one highlight: "I got my windmill in," he said of the highlight-reel dunk he had in one game.

Very telling, unfortunately.

***Khalid El-Amin was MVP of his league this past season in the Ukraine. He says he'll keep keepin' on overseas until it's not fun anymore.

"Making money, taking care of the family: I can't afford not to play," El-Amin said.

***Donyell Marshall on recently taking an assistant coaching job under Karl Hobbs at George Washington University: "Being with somebody that I know, it felt more comfortable. I'd rather break into a college (situation) with somebody that I know. That way, if I had questions, I'd felt comfortable asking him stuff."

***Calhoun made it a point to bring Roscoe Smith over to introduce him to Caron Butler.

"I just tried to let him know that he's the next in line, the torch has been passed. Obviously, he's coming into a great tradition. Just keep it up. I'll keep in contact with him and let him know my eyes will be watching."

Butler said he always keeps in contact with new UConn players.

"Everybody here has some kind of connection. You want to stay in contact with the young guys to help them develop, on and off the court."

***Smith also met fellow Baltimorean Rudy Gay.

"I told him my shoes are big," Gay said, with a laugh, "and you can't fill them too easily."

"It's good they come back to support Jim Calhoun, and come back to the community," Smith said. "(Butler) was just giving me a couple of pointers for next year, keep my head up and just have fun out there."

***Rudy Gay seems on the verge of earning a spot on Team USA.

"It's a blessing to have 'USA' on your chest. I talked to Ray a lot, he said he was happy he did it. I'm just trying to follow in his footsteps."

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What's Up, Doc?

Kemba Walker had 39 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds (!) in the Doc Hurley All-Stars' 121-112 win over Little Caesar's Friday night in Greater Hartford Pro-Am action. Roscoe Smith added 30 points and 12 boards for the Doc Hurleys, and Alex Oriakhi chipped in with 18.

Diedrick King led Little Caesar's with 36 and Jerome Dyson warmed up for tonight's Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game with 23 points and 13 boards.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Calhoun All-Star Game Roster

Here's who's expected to play in Saturday night's Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game (in alphabetical order): Jeff Adrien, Ray Allen, Rashad Anderson, Hilton Armstrong, Craig Austrie, Taliek Brown, Scott Burrell (may not be able to play), Caron Butler, Dan Cyrulik, Lyman DePriest, Jerome Dyson, Khalid El-Amin, Kevin Freeman, Rudy Gay, Ben Gordon, John Gwynn, Richard Hamilton (maybe), Rudi Johnson, Kirk King, Travis Knight, Oliver Macklin, Donyell Marshall, Donny Marshall, Ricky Moore, Ed Nelson, Emeka Okafor, Kevin Ollie, Stanley Robinson, Rod Sellers, Charlie Villanueva, Souleymane Wane, Murray Williams and Boo Willingham.

Not sure how the team's will be divided quite yet. Last time it was sort of a pre-1999, post-1999 battle, if I remember correctly.

Tickets are still available to the event at the Mohegan Sun Casino by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. You could probably walk up to the ticket window at Mohegan Sun and buy them then, too. Doors open for the public at 6:30 p.m.

Also, there will be a lengthy autograph session with the players and coaches directly after the game.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

They're Playin' Wichita ...

... Seven Nation Army couldn't hold them back.

UConn will face Wichita State in the opening round of the Maui Classic on Monday, Nov. 22. The winner will face the winner of Michigan State-Chaminade (the host school).

The bottom half of the bracket starts with Oklahoma facing Kentucky, followed by Virginia against Washington. The eight-team competition, which features three teams with a combined 11 national titles, runs from Nov. 22-24.

The ESPN networks will combine once again to offer live television coverage of all 12 tournament games. For the second straight year, every game will be produced in high definition on ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD and ESPNU HD, with the ESPN and ESPN2 games also streaming live on

Remaining game tickets for the 2010 tournament, including school specific booster tickets will be on sale for the general public on Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (9 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time) via Travel packages with game tickets and hotel accommodations are currently available through Oahu Travel, the tournament’s official travel agency, by calling 800.826.3822. In addition, tickets are still available for Sunday’s (Nov. 21) “An Evening with the Coaches: Tip-Off Banquet,” a special dinner and entertainment event with the 2010 head coaches and teams. Visit the website’s “Tickets & Travel” section for details.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Texas Game Jan. 8

If you're wondering when UConn will travel to Austin, Tx. to face Rick Barnes and the Longhorns, it's Jan. 8, per Texas's 2010-11 schedule on its website.

Monday, August 2, 2010

GPA Over GHPA Tonight for Lamb

Was looking forward to seeing UConn incoming freshman Jeremy Lamb, who’s scored 76 points in his last two games, play in the Greater Hartford Pro-Am tonight. Naturally, Lamb’s not here, but there’s a good reason: study hall and night classes back in Storrs.

Here’s what Dr. Steve Sobel, who coaches Lamb’s Club Palace Slamm GHPA team, says about the 6-foot-5, long-armed guard:

“Jeremy Lamb is one of the most talented players I’ve ever had in 20 years of coaching at the pro-am level. Not only physically gifted, in terms of shooting ability, creating his own shot, (but) I told him was pleasantly surprised how he can take people off the dribble, long arms, he can rebound. I see him as a 2 or 3, potentially, and on the press I think he can even bring the ball up, if he doesn’t overdo it.

“And when I say talented, he’s also a kid who listens. He’s very gracious, you talk to him about where to play, he’s got a very bright mind for where you play your position. He can play the game from the neck up, as well as the physical (game). I think he’s going to be very special at UConn, to be honest with you. He’s going to have to wait his turn, he’s going to have to play within the system. But once he starts to make a contribution, I think it’s going to put them back in the race of the Big East. He’s that type of player.”

High praise, indeed. Maybe even a tinge of hyperbole. But in my book, anyone who can score 44 points (as Lamb did Sunday night) at virtually any level definitely has some game.

“I think he’s wiry strong. What he’s got to do is get some upper-body strength, but I don’t think he needs to overdo it. He’s kind of got a George Gervin body … he’s got that fluidity, he’s got that mentality, and he can jump over people.

“When Jim recruits a kid, I say, ‘Why should he wear a UConn uniform.’ I think I’ve gotten the answer the last two games.”

Here’s what Sobel has to say about another Club Palace Slamm player, Ater Majok,

Ater is probably the most loyal player I’ve had in two years in the pro-am. He hasn’t missed a game. Ater will do anything to compete. What Ater needs to know is that he does not have to do it alone. He’s got to be selective with his jump shots, he’s got to be 13 feet and in, and he’s got to be vicious on the boards. He’s not as vicious as he needs to be. If he does that, I think Coach has got to look at him for contributions in the Big East. I think he’s got an idea of what the Big East is really all about now. He’s got to do certain things, maybe 20-percent better, to get the minutes that are going to help UConn. He’s hanging in mentally, he’s working physically. He’s got to continue to run the court. He’s got what I call a ‘pro jump shot’ – it’s almost like a Garnett shot, it’s way up there. He’s got to work on his ballhandling, and his hands. His hands are not where I want them to be. He’s got so much raw potential, that a coach will lose sleep overnight. Because you can’t teach the body he’s got.”

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Walker is Select Again

Kemba Walker is one of 10 members of the USA Basketball Select Team that has accepted an invitation to participate on another men's select team that will train against the 2010 USA men's world championship team in New York from Aug. 9-13.

Walker joins Purdue's JaJuan Johnson, Wisconsin's Jon Leuer, Butler's Shelvin Mack, Duke's Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, Florida State's Chris Singleton, Georgia's Howard Thompkins, Illinois' Mike Tisdale and Dayton's Chris Wright. They will be coached by Jay Wright, who also coached the select team that recently trained against Team USA out in Las Vegas.

The 10 returning members of the USA Select Team will gather in New York on Aug. 9, and train against the USA World Championship Team finalists on Aug. 10 (1-3 p.m. at John Jay College); Aug. 11 (1-3 p.m. at John Jay College); Aug. 12 (time and site TBD); and Aug. 13 (11 a.m-12:30 p.m. at the New York Knicks practice facility, Tarrytown, N.Y.).

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Out Like a Lamb

This is getting ridiculous: incoming UConn freshman Jeremy Lamb poured in 44 points, to go with 13 boards, in Club Palace Slamm's 124-123 loss to Sparks Motor All-Stars in Greater Hartford Pro-Am action Sunday night.

Randy Hite led the winners with 39 points, 10 assists and eight boards.

Now, some of these stats have to be taken with a grain of salt, given the wide-open nature of the league. Still, anyone who can score 44 points in ANY league has got some game. Looking forward to see Lamb play.

Also, Ater Majok had 25 points, eight boards and six blocks for Club Palace in the loss.

Moving from UConn's future to its past, Jerome Dyson trumped Lamb with a 48-point performance on Sunday for Little Caesar's. It came in a 128-125 loss, however, to Harte Nissan, which was led by T.J. Mathis (25 points), Ryan Gomes (22) and Keith Cothran (18). Ex-PC Friar Kyle Wright had 22 points for Little Caesar's and Danny Lawhorn (no, he's not going to UConn) added 21.

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