Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jeremy Spoke Tonight

Jeremy Lamb had 32 points and 10 boards and Ater Majok added 25 points and 11 rebounds in Club Palace Slamm's 107-100 loss to the Simoniz All-Stars tonight in Greater Hartford Pro-Am action.

I wasn't at the game, but it seems reports that Lamb could be a force this season may be spot-on.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Some Class of 2011 Prospects

Never too early to start thinking about next year's recruits. Here's a few Class of 2011 kids who are on UConn's radar:

Chane Behanan of Bowling Green (KY) High, who plays for the Ohio Basketball Club AAU squad. Behanan is 6-6 and about 250, and is said to be "explosive ... sort of a Caron Butler clone." He was the MVP of the recent NBA Players Association camp, and is one of the biggest stock-risers of the summer. He's the No. 7-rated power forward in the Class of 2011, according to

Josiah Turner, a 6-3 shooting guard out of Sacremento who plays for the Oakland Soldiers.'s No. 12-rated shooting guard for Class of 2011.

Nick Johnson, a 6-3 combo guard out of Findlay Prep in Las Vegas.

Jabari Brown, a 6-5 shooting guard out of Oakland who has also seen his stock skyrocket this summer. He was the MVP of the Fab 48 in Las Vegas.

The Huskies are also working on an official visit from Enosch Wolf, the 7-foot-1 German product who committed earlier this month. Wolf has yet to visit UConn.

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Mr. Smith

It wasn't as impressive as Alex Oriakhi's monster jam last night, but here's Roscoe Smith on a breakaway dunk in Greater Hartford Pro-Am action on Wednesday:

In fact, Smith wasn't that impressive overall. He and Oriakhi arrived about midway through the first quarter of the Doc Hurley All-Atars game with Fairview Capital. Once he got in the game, it took a while for Smith to get on track. He missed nearly every field goal and free throw attempt he tried, made some embarassing turnovers and had just three points at the break. He regrouped a bit in the latter half, however, as things got a little more wide-open and showed some open-floor skills (including the above dunk). Also made a couple of tough jumpers.

And here's an interview I did afterwards with Roscoe, as he talks about his expectations for the upcoming season:

In other news, here's a story in today's Register catching up with Jeff Adrien, who had a harrowing first pro season in Spain and is determined to latch on with an NBA team this upcoming season.

And finally, here's a podcast with Dave Solomon and me, as we discuss baseball, Red Sox, Yankees and, of course, UConn hoops.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Big O

I'm not sure this video does justice to Alex Oriakhi's powerful slam dunk Wednesday night at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am. Still, as you can tell by the crowd's reaction, it was VERY impressive:

In fact, Oriakhi was very impressive tonight, notching 25 points and 14 rebounds and showing off a bevy of moves around the hoop, including a nifty spin move and lefty hook shot:

And this was a nice pass from his new UConn teammate, Roscoe Smith, for a dunk:

Both Oriakhi and Smith showed up late for the game, about midway through the first quarter. While Oriakhi quickly got into a groove, Smith struggled mightily. He missed nearly every shot he put up in the first half, from both the floor and the foul line, and had just three points at the break.

As the play got more wide-open in the latter half (as it often does), Smith got into the flow a bit more. He finished with 14 points. More on him tomorrow.

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Catching up with Jeff Adrien

Earlier today I caught up with Jeff Adrien, who is back home in the Hyde Park section of Boston after a difficult first professional season in Spain.

Adrien will be playing in his first-ever Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star game on Aug. 7.

"It’s a game that, before I stepped on campus, I wanted to be a part of," Adrien said. "I’m very excited to be on the same court with basically every (major) player in Connecticut history."

Adrien had a tough rookie season with Leche Rio Breogan, which competes in Spain's second division. He averaged about 12.5 points and 7.5 boards a game ("some people might be pleased with that," he said), and enjoyed the people and the food. The basketball? Not so much.

"It's a completely different style of play, a different way of callilng the game," Adrien said. "Normal plays here are a travel out there. It was frustrating at times."

With that in mind, Adrien has informed his agent he has no plans on returning to Spain. He's going to do whatever he can to get to the NBA. Adrien played in the Orlando summer league (with the Magic) and the Las Vegas summer league (with Memphis), and believes he's opened some eyes.

"Right now, I’m really trying to focus on making the NBA," he said. "I think I have a good chance of making it, either through (training) camp or through the ‘D’ league. If I have to go through the ‘D’ league route, I’ll go through the ‘D’ league route. I’m just going to stay focused on making the NBA."

Here's a few other interesting tidbits from my conversation with Adrien:

***Jeff's mother, Linotte, hails from Haiti, and she was vacationing there when the catastrophic earthquake hit the island nation in January. For about 12 hours, Jeff wasn't able to get in touch with his mom and had no idea how she was doing.

“I couldn’t sleep that night, really,” Adrien recalled. “I didn’t go to practice the next morning, I just waited to hear from her.”

Finally, after about 12 hours, Adrien finally heard from his mom. She was fine, never really in harm’s way. So was her family, most of whom Jeff has never met. They were extremely lucky, avoiding damage from an earthquake estimated to have killed 230,000 people and left 1 million homeless.

***Adrien teamed with Stanley Robinson on the Magic's summer team.

"Everything's new for Stanley. It's an adjustment," Adrien said. "He did fine."

***Which ex-UConn player influenced Adrien the most before and during his Husky career?

"You know what, I can say almost all of them, really. It’s my dream school. To go to Connecticut was great, a dream come true."

***Adrien on the NCAA's investigation into UConn's alleged recruiting violations: "I haven’t kept track of it as much. I can’t really speak on it because I don’t know too much about it. It's very unfortunate to see two good coaches (Patrick Sellers and Beau Archibald) go, though. Those guys were great, very helpful, great coaches. It’s very sad to see them go like that."

***Adrien is producing a documentary on the "journey of my basketball career, starting in Brookline ... it's a work in progress. Hopefully, it has a good ending. It mght not come out for a while, when I'm in the NBA, or in five years if things didn’t work out."

***Adrien remembers fellow Boston native Shabazz Napier, an incoming UConn freshman, when he was "very small."

"He used to come to our AAU games, hang out with us. I'm excited for him to be out there, another guy from Boston representing Boston in the family of UConn."

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Hey Now, You're An All-Star

Most of the same players who attended the event two years ago are expected to play in the 2010 Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game on Saturday, Aug. 7, at Mohegan Sun.

That is to say Rip, Ray and Emeka, two Browns (Taliek and Denham), two Williams (Marcus and Murray), two Marshalls (Donyell and Donny), a Butler (Caron), a King (Kirk), a Knight (Travis) and appropriately, considering the venue, a Gamble (Phil) are expected to be in the house. New UConn assistant Kevin Ollie and Ricky Moore, who was recently named an assistant at Dartmouth, will also play.

And a few newcomers to the game are expected, as well: Jerome Dyson, Jeff Adrien, Craig Austrie and Stanley Robinson.

About the only big-name player who participated two years ago who won't likely be there next week is Rudy Gay, who seems on the verge of earning a spot on the Team USA roster.

The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22 and $29 and are available by calling 800-745-3000, or visiting the Mohegan Sun box office.Ticket revenues go to the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the UConn Health Center.

After the game there will be an autograph sesson on the floor of the arena.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Nifty Fifty

Is 50 the coolest number in sports? Think about it: 50 home runs in a season, 50 goals in a season, 50 touchdown passes in a season (Tom Brady), 50 points in a game. It's definitely one of those milestone numbers in sports statistics.

Anyway, Keith Cothran of New Haven/URI became the first Greater Hartford Pro-Am player to notch 50 in a game Sunday night, hitting that number in Harte Nissan's 118-117 loss to the Doc Hurley All-Stars. Leading the way for Doc Hurley: Jerome Dyson (33 points) and Shabazz Napier (23).

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

School Daze

The good news for UConn basketball fans is that Roscoe Smith, Tyler Olander, Alex Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier and others are hitting the books at study hall this evening.

The bad new for UConn basketball fans (and reporters) who wanted to see some of the new kids play tonight at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am is that … well, those players are hitting the books at study hall this evening.

Oh well.

We’ll wait around for the second game, in which Vin Baker is supposed to be playing for Simoniz All-Stars.

And here’s an interesting tidbit: also on the Simoniz All-Stars roster is Jimmer Fredette, the high-scoring guard from BYU. Fredette is out in Vegas with Kemba Walker and others, playing against the U.S. national team. But supposedly, he intends on showing up at some point this summer to play in the GHPA. Apparently, it’s the closest NCAA-sanctioned league for the Glens Falls, N.Y. native.

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I'm hesitant to write this, given the nature of the league and its rather fluid roster situation, but UConn fans might want to head to the Greater Hartford Pro-Am tonight for a chance to see UConn's most highly-touted incoming freshman, Roscoe Smith, play. Maybe.

Smith is on the Doc Hurley All-Stars (along with Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier, Alex Oriakhi and Tyler Olander) who play Sparks Motor All-Stars tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Sports & Medicine Sciences Academy on Huyshope Avenue in Hartford.

I was told last week by a couple of players that they didn't think Smith would be playing in the GHPA this summer due to classes, and he didn't play with the team last week when I was there. But he apparently did make his league debut on Saturday night with the team, so perhaps he's only playing weekends.

Either way, tonight's a good chance to see several players who'll be integral parts of this year's Husky team. And if Smith is there, it's a chance to see perhaps their most impactful newcomer.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Agent Zero

This article in today's New York Daily News regarding how pro sports leagues must monitor the interactions of agents with college athletes doesn't mention the UConn/Josh Nochimson fiasco, but it certainly could have. I agree with the column's premise: pro sports leagues should take steps to de-certify agents if they are found to have had improper contact with amateur athletes.


Majok Man

Ater Majok had nine points, nine boards and six blocks in Club Palace's 90-69 win over Little Caesar's on Monday night in Greater Hartford Pro-Am action.

No games on Tuesday night, but some good action on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Huskies By Numbers

I've never been big on knowing uniform numbers on athletes (I can tell you who wore No. 23 for the Bulls, but not a whole lot beyond that). Still, I suppose there may be some people interested in what numbers the new Huskies will be wearing this season:

3 -- Jeremy Lamb
10 -- Tyler Olander
13 -- Shabazz Napier
22 -- Roscoe Smith
25 -- Michael Bradley

Nothing yet for Niels Giffey or Enosch Wolf, neither of whom have arrived on campus. All the Husky vets will wear their previous numbers.

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Chairman Hathaway

UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway will chair the 2011-12 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament selection committee. He'll begin in September, 2011, succeeding Ohio State's Gene Smith, who'll chair the committee this academic year.

Will Hathaway still be UConn's AD at the time, however. That's the question.


Friday, July 16, 2010


Here's a little piece from today's Register on Alex Oriakhi, who is intent on making amends for last season's disappointment, both personally and team-wise. And let's be honest, although Oriakhi made the Big East All-Rookie Team, it was somewhat of a disappointing season for the big fella.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Edmund Saunders Has New Post Position

A press release from Post University, announcing ex-Husky Edmund Saunders as a new assistant men's basketball coach:

Former UConn Husky Edmund Saunders has joined the Men’s Basketball coaching staff at Post University as an assistant coach. Saunders was a member of the 1999 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship winning team.

“Edmund brings a wealth of experience to the Post University basketball program,” said Al Sokaitis, Eagles Head Coach. “He played for Ed Generali at Holy Cross High School and Jim Calhoun at UConn before beginning his professional career. Those are two great mentors and he knows his roots. One of the things that impressed me in our initial meeting was how Edmund spoke about his youth and AAU coaches. Because of his experience, he understands the role and responsibility of working with aspiring players.”

During his collegiate playing career under Jim Calhoun at UConn, which spanned from 1998-2001, Saunders scored 778 points, averaged 7.8 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, and totaled 55 blocks in 100 games as a forward.

“Post University has provided me with a great opportunity to get into coaching,” said Saunders. “I have played under Hall of Fame coaches such as Jim Calhoun and professionally overseas for the past eight years against good talent, which has allowed me to study the game. My goal will be to coach through the mental aspects of the game and make sure Post University's athletes have a mental state of mind making them ready to compete.”

After college, Saunders began his professional playing career by competing in Iceland, Mexico, Uruguay, and Finland as well as playing in the American Basketball Association and the United States Basketball League. He also participated in NBA summer leagues with the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Bobcats.

“Edmund has a strong desire to get into coaching and to do that in his home area, which made an impression on me,” added Sokaitis. “There are several programs Edmund could benefit; instead he chose to come back to his home area to make a difference while developing his coaching skills.”

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Video Evidence

Just got back from the Greater Hartford Pro-Am, where numerous UConn players were in the house at the Sports & Medicine Sciences Academy in Hartford.

In the opener, Ater Majok and Charles Okwandu helped lead Club Palace Slamm to a double-digit win over the Attorney Deron Freeman All-Stars (which included soon-to-be ex-Husky Jamaal Trice). Only caught bits and pieces of the game while interviewing other players, so it's hard to give a review of how Majok and Okwandu looked. Saw Majok make a few nice, athletic moves and, as always, play hard. Also saw him make a few of the mistakes he made too often last season, as well as hoist up an air-ball 3-point attempt that drew a "terrible shot!" commentary from MC Anthony "Chewy" Avent.

(P.S.: Michael Bradley and Jeremy Lamb are also on the Club Palace roster, but they weren't there Wednesday due to study hall).

The nightcap was the feature attraction, with Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander and Alex Oriakhi leading the Doc Hurley All-Stars against Cambyland, which features URI-bound Anthony Jernigan, among others.

Didn't stay to the end, but saw enough of Walker to say he's playing as well as ever. Major grain of salt needed, as it's a rather free-form summer league, but Kemba was hitting one acrobatic driving layup after another and finding open teammates all night.

Here's a particularly impressive sequence, in which Walker hits Napier with a pass and Napier finds Olander for a 3-pointer on the wing. Olander misses the trey, but Walker corrals the loose ball and makes a nifty, baseline reverse layup.:

It's a nice sequence that features three players who could be key factors for the Huskies going forward.

Napier looked pretty good, with some nice drives to the hoop, though he wasn't able to finish too well. Also missed the two or three jumpers I saw him take. Here's a breakaway layup by Napier off a pass from Walker. Watching these two impressive guards share the floor is something that UConn fans might see a lot of this winter (though that would be a rather small backcourt):

And here's Napier driving to the hole and getting fouled while attempting a windmill, reverse layup. A little out of control, but quick. Real quick:

Olander also looks like a keeper. A 6-9 lefty who can shoot and finish inside, he made a nifty 3-point play in the time I was there and took the ball strong to the hole a few times, getting fouled and making most of his free throws. Here he is hitting a 16-footer for what would be a conventional 3-point play:

Lastly, if you want to watch the individual videos without hearing the echo of the other three at the same time, just let it run one time through and then play each one individually. Or pause the other three while you watch one. Enjoy. Hope to frequently update the blog with more (and, hopefully, better) video of UConn players in action at the league throughout the summer.

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Huskies in the House at GHPA Tonight

If you're interested in seeing how UConn newcomers Jeremy Lamb, Michael Bradley and Shabazz Napier look, how much guys like Kemba Walker and Ater Majok have improved since we last saw them in March, or how Taliek Brown is playing since his UConn days, swing by the Sports & Medicine Sciences Academy in Hartford for some Greater Hartford Pro-Am action tonight.

At 6:30 p.m. (or thereabouts), Club Palace Slamm takes on the Attorney Deron Freeman All-Stars. Lamb, Bradley, Majok and Napier all should be playing for Club Palace, along with a few other local college standouts. The Freeman All-Stars is also populated by some lesser-known local college talent.

Then at 8:15(ish), the Doc Hurley All-Stars, featuring Walker and Brown, among others, face Cambyland, which features older former stars like Charles "The Beast" Easterling, Ben Grate and Roosevelt Lee, along with Hartford prep star Anthony Jernigan. That should be an up-and-down, entertaining contest, to say the least.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Bradley Beats the Odds

It always amazes me the paths that some kids take before getting to UConn -- or any college basketball program, for that matter.

Whether it's surviving refugee camps in Egypt, like Ater Majok, or simply getting through the perils of inner-city life, the stories behind man top college athletes is often pretty incredible.

New UConn big man Michael Bradley is no exception. As you'll read in this story from today's Register, Bradley has lived in a children's home -- some would call it an orphanage -- for most of the past eight years. Things weren't great at home -- his mom unable to hold a steady job and provide for him, his father never a part of his life and now decesed -- so both him and his mother, Jacqueline Phinazee, thought it best he move into the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home in Chattanooga.

While the home provided somewhat strict rules to live by, Bradley adhered to them and has emerged as a top-notch student who, if basketball doesn't work out, would someday like to be a pharmacist. He'll start in UConn's pharmacy program in two years.

Bradley has grown as a basketball player, too, though he's only really played the sport seriously for three or four years now. With that in mind, he understands this season will be a learning process and doesn't expect much playing time.

“My offensive game is really kind of non-existent right now,” Bradley said, matter-of-factly. “My role probably won’t be as big this year, because I’m just trying to get my basketball IQ up. I haven’t been playing that long, so the whole thing with this year is just getting better.”

He knew that coming into UConn, however, and it says a lot that he's willing to be patient and get better. Bradley, after all, could have gone to a smaller program and played right away. But he embraced the challenge of learning under Jim Calhoun's tutelage and becoming the best player he could be at UConn. That says a lot about the kid.

Oh, and here's some video of Bradley hauling in a rebound during a recent late-night scrimmage at Gampel. Later in the short clip, we see Tyler Olander going in for a two-handed slam.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Of Dove, Wolf and Huskies

Went to Gampel tonight to watch UConn players run at the conclusion of the school's hoops camp, which is running this week and next.

Jerome Dyson and Taliek Brown were in the house, and Tony Robertson has been here the previous few nights. Kemba Walker was back from LeBron James camp (he said he had no idea which way LeBron would go in his decision). Jamaal Trice and Darius Smith are still here, taking summer courses to try to boost their GPA's in order to transfer. Trice confirmed that he is, indeed, transferring -- he just has no idea where yet.

Jon Mandeldove is here, too. Big Dove said he'll be pulling a Stanley Robinson next year -- in other words, paying his own way while taking classes and holding down a job. Mandeldove has an apartment off-campus so he said he'll be paying in-state tuition. He also said he's nearly done with classes, and hopes to be completely done after the first semester so that he can concentrate solely on hoops for the second.

A few other nuggets:

***Walker will play for the USA Select Team against the NBA-stocked U.S. national team from July 18-25 in Vegas. He's already earned rave reviews at both the Deron Williams and LeBron James camps this summer, and feels he's really emerged as a true leader.

“I was talking a lot (on the floor),” he said. “I think I showed I’m a leader. And my shooting, I think I’ve improved a lot in that aspect.”

Walker will be one of just three scholarship upperclassmen on this year’s UConn team and is a co-captain with senior guard Donnell Beverly. The Huskies have seven incoming freshmen this season, the most since the early 1990’s. I asked him if he feels this year’s team is his team.

“I don’t feel it, I know it is,” he responded. “I’m just looking forward to being a leader.”

***Dyson, who went unselected in last month’s NBA Draft, will head to Vegas next week to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers summer league team.

***Ater Majok looks pretty good. Yes, it's just summertime pick-up games, but he made some moves and finishes that I haven't seen him make before. Jeremy Lamb can play a little bit, too.

***New commit Enosch Wolf's father apparently played basketball at Ohio State and was a teammate of Detlef Schrempf's on the German national squad.

***The Huskies will have a slightly different ... um ... complexion this season. Walker has already noticed it. We're told that a few weeks ago, while German Niels Giffey was making an official visit, Walker dribbled up the court and saw Tyler Olander, Giffey, as well as African natives Majok and Charles Okwandu ahead of him. He stopped his dribble.

"Man," Walker said, "we've got some di-versity this year!"

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Beverly Not Down and Out

Recently caught up with Donnell Beverly, who had surgery on torn labrums in both of his hips over the past few months. Beverly had surgery on his right hip 12 weeks ago, then his left hip about six weeks ago. He just started running on a treadmill yesterday, and hopes to be rehabbing soon. Beverly hopes to be doing basketball-related activities by the end of this month, and feels he’ll definitely be good to go once practice starts in mid-October.

Beverly’s a good, bright kid (maybe a future coach, who knows?) with a good head on his shoulders. Figured I’d ask him for some updates on how some of his new (and old) UConn teammates have looked so far. As we all know, UConn coaches can be awful, shall we say, exaggeratory about their players over the summer. I suppose players can, too, but here’s Beverly’s honest assessment:

Shabazz Napier, whom he dubbed the best-looking newcomer thus far: “He can shoot it real well. He’s looking pretty good.”

Tyler Olander: “I really like Tyler. He can play the three or the four, he’s versatile, he can finish.”

Jeremy Lamb: “He looks pretty good. He’s long, he gets to the rim, he’s athletic.”

Michael Bradley: “He’s athletic, but he needs a lot of work offensively. Defense is the one thing about him that’s really complete. He goes after every rebound. He’s a real good kid, off the court and on the court. He’s doing at least two or three tip drills every day. He’s only going to get better battling with Alex (Oriakhi) every day.”

Beverly noted that numerous times in recent weeks, he, Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Alex Oriakhi would get together to watch video of certain UConn games from the past season. Not games in which any of the players played well; games in which they struggled, in order to learn from their mistakes.

“It helped a lot,” Beverly said. “It helped Alex, seeing he got caught under the basket a lot. Last year, he could have dunked (at times) and got an ‘and-one,’ but instead he’d try to lay it in.”

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wolf at the Door

UConn has received an oral commitment from Enosch Wolf, a 7-foot-1 center from Germany. Wolf will join 6-7 swingman Niels Giffey as a pair of German products on this year's Husky team.

Andre LaFleur and Jim Calhoun were both out in Germany the past few days to watch Wolf. The big man recently visited Georgetown and had offers from Georgia Tech, Boston College and Oklahoma, but in the end, wanted to join his countryman, Giffey, in Storrs.

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Greater Hartford Pro-Am Kicks Off Saturday

The Greater Hartford Pro-Am basketball league will kick off its 14th season on Saturday at the Sports & Medicine Sc iences Academy in Hartford (yes, it’s air-conditioned). Games will run throughout the summer on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Wednesday and (occasionally) Fridays. Schedules should be available on within the next few days.

The league annually features some of the best past and present high school, college and even pro players of Connecticut, and this year is no different. While rosters are still in a state of flux (league CEO Peter Higgins is still putting it all together as we speak), numerous UConn players are expected to play.

The Springfield Slamm team, sponsored by the Palace nightclub, should feature newcomers Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb and Michael Bradley along with Ater Majok. Kemba Walker and Alex Oriakhi may also play, and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel told me a few weeks ago he was thinking about participating.

Another entertaining team to watch should be Fairview Capital, which should have Andre Drummond, Doug Wiggins and Maryland-via-Torrington’s Jordan Williams on its roster.

Other intriguing names who will play when their AAU, national and/or summer pro schedules will allow them to will be Ryan Gomes, Jerome Dyson, Allen Chaney (Virginia Tech via New London), Keith Cothran and Lamonte Ulmer (the latter two URI-via-New Haven), not to mention stars from U-Hart, Quinnipiac, CCSU, UNH and other local schools.

The Sports & Medicine Sciences Academy is a sparkling, two-year-old facility that (as previously mentioned) is air-conditioned, giving fans a comfortable (and free) setting to watch some good hoops – and other entertainment. Higgins hopes to have halftime singing and rap acts, in a “Connecticut’s Got Talent” type of forum.

In another nice touch, there will be a heart defibrillator on-site, donated by Gomes’ Hoops For Heart Health program. Gomes’ program distributes defibrillators to college, high school, boys & girls clubs, YMCA’s and other gyms across the country.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

UConn's New 'Utility Man'

So what exactly will Glen Miller's responsibilities be as director of basketball administration at UConn? Well, it seems it hasn't been 100-percent defined just yet.

He’ll be a liaison between the program and the athletics department’s compliance and business offices. He'll be involved in staff meetings, drawing up game plans, X’s and O’s, that sort of stuff.

In short, he'll be "kind of like a utility guy. I can cover a lot of areas."

Two areas he won't be able to cover, however, are on-floor coaching (in games or practices) and recruiting -- things Miller has been doing for over 20 years as an assistant (UConn) or head coach (Connecticut College, Brown and Penn).

“No doubt, I’m going to miss those things,” Miller confessed. “But a lot of duties that I have are things I’ve been involved with as an assistant coach or a head coach. I have a lot of experience in those areas, and those areas are vital to a program’s success. I can have an impact, even not being on the floor and out on the road recruiting.”

“On top of that,” he added, “I still have the experience and qualifications to recruit and coach on the floor if, down the road, a situation presents itself."

Indeed, this is Miller's chance to get back into the college basketball coaching world after being unceremoniously bounced from it last December, when Penn fired him in the midst of its season (and an 0-7 start).

“It is what it is,” Miller said on Friday. “It’s a step backwards, the first time I’ve had to experience a step back like this, but I’m just very excited to get this opportunity. I’m looking at it as I’m not on the floor coaching this year, but I’ll have a chance to help in a lot of other areas, and it will enhance me as a coach.”

It's hardly an unprecedented "step backwards," if you will. Several other coaches at successful (albeit low-major) Division 1 programs have resurfaced in similar positions at bigger programs. Dennis Wolff, the longtime head coach at Boston University, is now director of basketball operations at Virginia Tech. And Barry Hinson, who had a long stint as head man at Missouri State, hooked up with Kansas two seasons ago as director of external relations before being promoted to director of basketball ops recently.

“It’s a profession that is very rewarding, a lot of fun, but it’s very difficult to get jobs,” Miller noted. “If you stub your toe once, you have to have the opportunity to get back into it. Right now, I’m in a great situation.”


It's Official: Ollie, Miller are in

Here's the press release sent out by UConn:

Storrs, Conn. (July 2, 2010)- The University of Connecticut announced Friday the hiring of Kevin Ollie to the position of Assistant Men's Basketball Coach and Glen Miller to the position of Director of Men's Basketball Administration.

“I am thrilled to be able to welcome Kevin and Glen back to UConn,” said head coach Jim Calhoun. “They both bring incredible experience to our staff and tremendous values that our players will benefit from. Kevin’s years in the NBA have clearly prepared him for this. He has been a coach on the floor and has served as a mentor to many, many young NBA players. Glen brings over 20 years of coaching expertise to the staff and with his 17 years as a head coach he brings familiarity with budgeting, compliance, student-athlete welfare and many other administrative areas that he will deal with on a day-to-day basis here for us.”

Ollie is a graduate of UConn who played 13 seasons in the National Basketball Association, completing his career this season as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He played for 11 different franchises in his NBA career, playing in 662 career contests. He was a two-time team captain at UConn and helped lead the Huskies to the BIG EAST Regular Season Championship in 1993-94 and 1994-95, advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in those respective seasons. Ollie was an All-BIG EAST Third Team selection as a senior in 1994-95 and was named to the UConn Basketball All-Century Team in 2001. He stands No. 3 all-time at UConn in assists and No. 1 at UConn in assists in BIG EAST contests.

Kevin and his wife, Stephanie, have a son, Jalen, and daughter, Cheyenne. Born December 27, 1972, Ollie is a native of Los Angeles where he attended Crenshaw High School.

Miller is a graduate of UConn, former basketball letterwinner (at UConn and Northeastern) and former assistant coach under Jim Calhoun at UConn and has spent the past 17 seasons as a collegiate head coach, 11 years in the Ivy League at the Division I level.

He played two seasons at UConn and then two seasons for Jim Calhoun at Northeastern. He joined the coaching staff at Connecticut under Calhoun in 1986 and spent seven seasons on the Husky staff. He was named the head coach at Connecticut College in 1993 and spent six seasons in New London. He led Connecticut College to unprecedented success, culminating in a 28-1 campaign in 1998-99, advancing to the NCAA Division III Final Four and No. 3 final national ranking. He left to become the head coach at Brown University in the Ivy League, spending seven seasons in Providence (1999-2006). He was named the head coach at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, leading the Quakers to the Ivy League Championship and the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07 and spent three full seasons and part of a fourth at Penn (2006-2009). Miller compiled a record of 233-209 in his 17 seasons as a head coach.

Glen and his wife Yvonne have four children: Tony, Genelle, Jillian and Emma. Born August 20, 1961, Miller is a native of Groton, Conn., where he attended Fitch High School.

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