Monday, November 28, 2011

Drummond is Big East Rookie of the Week

Andre Drummond has been named Big East Rookie of the Week, after averaging 11.3 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in UConn's three Battle 4 Atlantis games.

Drummon posted 12 points, 10 boards, seven blocks and three steals in the 78-76, overtime win over Florida State on Saturday.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

On UConn, Syracuse and My AP Top 25

Greetings ... how've you been? Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Yes, I've been away from the blog and Twitter lately. Sorry, not going to post about a tournament I wasn't covering. Certainly wasn't my choice not to be there, either. Moving forward, hopefully I'll be able to chronicle most if not all of UConn's remaining games.

As for the Huskies, I'll simply say this: the loss to UCF wasn't the worst thing in the world. In fact, it might be a good thing for UConn, for a variety of reasons: knocks them down a peg, makes them realize they're not invincible, cements the idea that Kemba's not around to bail them out anymore. I think the loss could serve as a motivating factor for the team. I think somewhere deep, deep in Jim Calhoun's mind -- despite his absolute hatred of losing of any kind -- Calhoun may even agree.

And that Ryan Boatright's got a little moxy, eh?

I'm not punishing the Huskies too much for the loss on my AP Top 25 ballot. Dropping them two spots to No. 6. Considered moving Baylor ahead of them, too, but stopped short.

Duke had a great week, beating Tennessee, Michigan and Kansas, so I'm moving them up from No. 3 to No. 6. Considered moving them to No. 2, but Ohio State did nothing to deserve being jumped over.

I drop North Carolina from No. 1 to No. 4 after its loss to UNLV. My big jumpers are Missouri (which beat California by 39 points), San Diego State (I was one of the few who had them ranked last week, before they won at Arizona) and, obviously, UNLV.

Oh, and you've read that correctly: Harvard, the Battle 4 Atlantis champion, checks in at No. 25. Crimson will be a good test for UConn in a little over a week.

1. Kentucky
2. Ohio State
3. Duke
4. North Carolina
5. Syracuse
6. UConn
7. Baylor
8. Louisville
9. Florida
10. Wisconsin
11. Xavier
12. Alabama (contingent on 'Bama beating VCU tonight)
13. Memphis
14. San Diego State
15. Missouri
16. Marquette
17. Pittsburgh
18. Kansas
19. Michigan
20. Vanderbilt
21. UNLV
22. Gonzaga
23. Mississippi State
24. Michigan State
25. Harvard

Oh, and here's my deal on Syracuse: I don't believe Jim Boeheim was as criminally negligent as Joe Paterno (as Jim will tell you himself). I don't know this to be true, of course, but I'd tend not to believe he was. But I believe Boeheim put his job on the line when he vehemently called Bobby Davis a liar and strongly insinuated he was making his accusations for the money. If it turns out that Davis was not lying, Boeheim should be fired or simply resign. You don't say such vicious things about an alleged victim and suffer no serious consequences. Defending your friend of 50 years is one thing; calling a child-rape victim a lying gold-digger is quite another.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dyson, Sticks, Okwandu on 'D' League Rosters

The NBA Developmental League has set its opening day rosters for all 16 of its teams. The season begins on Friday when defending champion Iowa Energy (including Stanley Robinson) face the Canton Charge at 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV.

Besides Robinson, ex-UConn guard Jerome Dyson is back on the Tulsa 66ers roster. And Charles Okwandu, who was drafted last month by the Maine Red Claws, winds up with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Here are the rosters, for those interested:

Solomon Bozeman
Justin Dentmon
Carldell Johnson
Myles McKay
Omar Reed
Lance Thomas
Tristan Thompson
Dan Vandervieren
Terrance Woodbury
Luke Zeller

Brian Butch
Osiris Eldridge
Mustapha Farrakhan
Justin Graham
Damian Johnson
Adam Koch
Renaldo Major
David Palmer
Juan Pattillo
Adrian Thomas

Tyrell Biggs
Jonathan Blake
TJ Campbell
Travis Franklin
Antonio Graves
Tyrone Kent
Keith McLeod
Anthony Newell
Jamine Peterson
Marcus Relphorde

Mike Anderson
Maurice Baker
Marcus Dove
Shy Ely
Mickell Gladness
Anthony Goods
Joe Harden
Edwin Ubiles
Travis Walton
Curtis Withers

Tirrell Baines
Chris Daniels
Kyle Goldcamp
Jeff Graves
Cory Higgins
Jamael Lynch
Chaz McCrommon
Donald Sloan
Kyle Spain
Mychel Thompson

Corey Allmond
Ron Howard
Tory Jackson
Cameron Jones
Darnell Lazare
Justin Neuhaus
Marvin Phillips
Sadiel Rojas
Walker Russell
Antonio Smith

Mildon Ambres
Tony Bobbitt
Eric Devendorf
Jason Ellis
Will Foster
Cheyne Gadson
Kevin Galloway
Willie Jenkins
Reginald Larry
Seth Tarver

Jake Anderson
Thomas Baudinet
Andrew Drevo
Moses Ehambe
Brandon Ewing
Jarrid Famous
Nick Murphy
Stanley Robinson
Ben Strong
Michael Tveidt

Zach Andrews
Jordan Brady
Brandon Costner
Courtney Fortson
Otis George
Brian Hamilton
Eniel Polynice
Terrence Roberts
Franklin Session
Jamaal Tinsley

Jamar Abrams
Justin Brownlee
Darren Cooper
Kenny Hayes
Anthony Kent
J.R. Reynolds
Tyc Snow
Durrell Summers
Mike Tisdale
Chris Wright

Blake Ahearn
Chris Ayer
Cedric Bozeman
Reuben Clayton
Nick Fazekas
Zach Graham
Chris Matthews
Taj McCullough
Donald Sims
Doug Thomas

Stanley Asumnu
Marshall Brown
Sam Coleman
Terrel Harris
Lee Humphrey
Tyren Johnson
Kelvin Lewis
Charles Okwandu
Jay-R Strowbridge
Josh Tarver

Dominique Coleman
Brian Evans
Charles Garcia
Anthony Mason Jr.
Casey Mitchell
Anthony Moody
Will Pratt
Gabe Pruitt
Dominique Scales
Greg Stiemsma

David Akinyooye
Jamar Brown
Travis Cohn
JamesOn Curry
Dennis Horner
Lance Hurdle
Jerry Smith
Eugene Spates
Jonathan Thomas
L.D. Williams

Ron Allen
Vance Cooksey
Ramon Dyer
Lawrence Hill
Dominique Johnson
Matt Rogers
Jamal Sampson
Anthony Vereen
Derek Williams
Booker Woodfox

Xavier Alexander
Brian Barkdoll
Dwight Buycks
Benjamin Colon
Jerome Dyson
Marcus Lewis
Brady Morningstar
Ryan Reid
Billy Rush
Curtis Sumpter

NBA TV is scheduled to air 34 regular-season games during the 2011-12,
including four live telecasts featuring Iowa at Canton (Friday, Nov. 25),
the Los Angeles D-Fenders at the Sioux Falls Skyforce (Friday, Dec. 2),
Sioux Falls at Iowa (Friday, Dec. 9), and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers at
the Austin Toros (Friday, Dec. 16). Additionally, more than 80 NBA D-League
games will air across seven Comcast regional sports networks. Any games not
available on NBA TV will stream on NBA FUTURECAST at

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Monday, November 21, 2011

UConn Game on HDNet

UConn's opening Battle 4 Atlantis game against UNC-Asheville on Thursday at 7 p.m. will be broadcast exclusively by HDNet.

This live national telecast is available in high definition only on HDNet. Fans who wish to see the game live should contact their cable or satellite provider to sign up for HDNet.

HDNet can be found at the following channels in Connecticut:

AT&T U-verse Channel 1105
Charter Channel 764
DIRECTV Channel 306
Dish Network Channel 362

HDNet is also working with Comcast to secure coverage of the game, as well.

UConn's Friday and Saturday games on HDNet or Versus, depending on results.

The game Thursday has always been scheduled for HDNet since any TV info was announced, but HDNet has only in the last day or two secured coverage on many additional cable systems in Connecticut.

That coverage is as follows:

HDNet on Comcast in Connecticut on the following channels :

System Channel
Hartford, Middletown, Clinton 901
Branford 62
Danbury / Carmel 102
New Haven 102
Lakeville 98
Waterbury/Seymour 77

HDNet can also be found on the following systems in Connecticut:

AT&T U-verse Channel 1105
Charter Channel 764
DIRECTV Channel 306
Dish Network Channel 362
Two other notes:
No info regarding other systems (i.e. Cox, Cablevision) at this point.

HDNet has clarified that Comcast customers without HD will still be able to see the game. Normally HDNet is an HD only channel, but, for this game, it will be available to standard def customers.

My Top 25

Here's my AP Top 25 ballot for this week:

1. North Carolina
2. Kentucky
3. Ohio State
4. UConn
5. Syracuse
6. Duke
7. Baylor
8. Memphis
9. Louisville
10. Florida
11. Wisconsin
12. Xavier
13. Alabama
14. Kansas
15. Arizona
16. Marquette
17. Pittsburgh
18. Cleveland State
19. Michigan
20. Vanderbilt
21. California
22. Missouri
23. Florida State
24. San Diego State
25. Temple

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Likely Story: Why Shabazz Wears the Rat Tail

It's the burgeoning topic of the young season for UConn. Ryan Boatright's eligibility? No. Alex Oriakhi's slow start? Uh-uh. Andre Drummond's foul shooting? Nope.

Shabazz Napier's "rat tail" that he's growing on the back of his head. A lot of people have been wondering about it, and some opponents have even been making fun of him about it.

The reason for the tail?

“One of my closest friends had passed away. He had braids, so it’s kind of a tribute to him. Not a lot of people know that," Napier said after Sunday's triple-double.

His friend's name was Ernest Likely, who died "a while back," according to Napier. "It was a homicide."

So there ya have it. You heard it here first. No need to make fun of it anymore, if you're an opposing fan or player. (Oh, and I have no idea why the blog suddenly looks like this. Hopefully it's something someone fixes ... soon).

“I might cut it soon, because a lot of teams say something funny about it," Napier said. "It irritates me, because they don’t understand where I’m coming from. The (Coppin State) fan base today was talking about it so much. I’m doing it out of someone who I love so much and died."

Napier continued:

“When he died, it took a lot out of me. It was one of the hardest things of my life. I’ve just been contemplating whether or not I should cut it. Teams try to make fun of it. Knowing myself, I might get ticked off one day and get in someone’s face about it. It’s something real deep, and I don’t appreciate a lot of people talking bad about it. Not a lot of people understand where I come from, so you can’t really blame them.”

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Daniels Overshadowed; Lamb Hurt

Here's my advance and gameday on UConn's bout with Coppin State on Sunday. It focuses on DeAndre Daniels' strong start to his Husky career, despite still being in the shadow of Andre Drummond.

As you likely know by now, Jeremy Lamb will be a game-time decision on Sunday after spraining his ankle in practice on Saturday.

Also, Coppin State could be a bit weary after playing an 8 p.m. game at Oklahoma on Friday night. Not that it was likely to give UConn much of a battle anyway.

Speaking of travel plans, the Huskies will bus up to Boston following Sunday's game and stay overnight before flying out to the Bahamas the next morning.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Boatright Suspended 6 Games; Can Play in Bahamas

UConn learned this evening that freshman guard Ryan Boatright has been suspended six games for receiving improper benefits.

Boatright has been withheld from the first three regular season games by the school and will also miss the next three games, against Coppin State on Sunday and the first two games of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 24 and 25. He will be permitted to travel with the team and see action for UConn beginning with the final game of the tournament on Nov. 26.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jeremy Lamb Goes to Timeout

Nowhere in the UConn men's basketball record book is there a mention of "Longest Time it Took to Dribble the Ball Through the Husky at Midcourt." Jim Calhoun believes the old record may have been about three seconds, until Thursday night.

"It took us five seconds to get the ball across, through the Husky," Calhoun exclaimed.

So, he called a timeout -- five seconds into the half. Apparently, that's not a record either, according to Maine coach Ted Woodward (a former UConn assistant).

"I do believe I've seen that once before, a long time ago," Woodward said with a smile. "I wasn't surprised."

During the TO, Calhoun really laid into Jeremy Lamb, the ballhandler who didn't push the ball fast enough.

“He was just trying to push me,” Lamb explained. “He didn’t think I was playing as hard as I could, so he just basically told me to pick it up.”

Apparently, Calhoun’s trigger-finger timeout and tirade sunk in, as UConn responded with a 23-2 run to open the latter half en route to an 80-60 win over Maine Thursday night before 10,726 at the XL Center.

“I hate taking timeouts, I hate yanking them in an out,” Calhoun, who's been doing such for years, insisted. “But we seem to make a lot of the same mistakes.”

*** Calhoun wasn't happy overall after the game. He says the team still lacks an identity and isn't playing with enthusiasm. He acted like the team had just lost by 20, not won by 20. To me, he's trying to energize and motivate this team. They're not playing that poorly, though there's certainly a lot of room for improvement.

The only player he thought played well on Thursday was Andre Drummond, who finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds (11 of them offensive) and four blocks.

The downside: Drummond was a grisly 1-for-8 from the foul line (and the misses weren't even close) and is now shooting 23 percent (3-for-13) from the stripe this season.

“Andre’s already asked about coming back and shooting foul shots,” Calhoun said. “I’m not going to worry about it … He’s going to work at it. I’ll take the package he is right now.”

“I was like, yeah, I’m going back as soon as I get back to the gym," Drummond admitted. "I’m going to change in my practice gear and going to shoot. I’m not going to make any excuses. That’s just me, right now. I’ve just got to go out and work harder, and make sure I get my free throws down.”

Drummond didn't start, but that could change soon.

“I’m not going to keep a guy with 11 offensive rebounds on the bench, that’s for sure," Calhoun said.

*** Personally, I thought DeAndre Daniels (in the first half) and Shabazz Napier also played pretty well. Daniels, in his first start, scored 11 of his 15 points in the opening half, canning a pair of 3-pointers, though he cooled off in the latter. He wound up with seven rebounds.

Napier, still playing very much under control with the knowledge that Ryan Boatright isn't there to back him up, picked and chose his spots nicely and finished with eight points, five rebounds and three assists. He twisted his ankle with about eight minutes left and never returned, but it doesn't appear to be serious.

*** Boatright continues to sit out as the NCAA explores his eligibility. According to Calhoun, it appears college sports’ governing body is now determining the enforcement process. If UConn receives no word by Friday at 5 p.m., it likely won’t hear anything until Monday at the earliest, meaning Boatright’s trip with the team to the Bahamas could be in jeopardy.

*** Calhoun was asked about the molestation charges levied Thursday against longtime Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine.

“I know nothing about it,” he said. “I’d be shocked, just like I was about Penn State … anybody in America, I’d be shocked by it … (Sexual abuse of children) is just a horrific thing for America.”

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Woodward Homeward Bound (Sort Of)

Maine, UConn's opponent tomorrow night, is coached by Ted Woodward, an assistant at UConn for Calhoun's first three seasons (1986-89).

Here's what Calhoun had to say about Woodward on Wednesday:

"Ted Woodward was a great guy to have on staff and was a part of things here when we started it going in the right direction. He has done a really good job at a very tough place and I know his team will come down here and give us a handful. It is not at all the same UConn that it was when Ted was here, but it is because of the hard work by guys like him and Glen Miller in those days that helped to lay the groundwork for the type of program we are today."

Of course, that differs a bit from this funny story Calhoun told us four years ago, prior to UConn's Dec. 22, 2007 bout with Maine. Surely, that's not something he'd be repeating in these days of heightened NCAA compliance.

Anyway, worth noting that Calhoun is 14-0 all-time against his former assistants, including 2-0 vs. Woodward.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Hone Us, Wagner: UConn Shows Improvement

Jim Calhoun's not having fun yet. At least not too much.

"Last year's team was fun to coach," he said Monday night after UConn's 78-66 win over Wagner. "Thus far, (this team is) somewhat fun to coach."

Calhoun was happy enough as the Huskies, after giving up 44 offensive rebounds in their prior two games to a Division II team and an Ivy League foe, dominated Wagner on the boards, 42-24.

But there's still plenty of room for improvement. UConn let an 18-point lead whittle away to eight late in the second half. The Huskies turned the ball over 19 times against just seven assists. They're still not getting terribly good play inside, even though Alex Oriakhi and (particularly) Andre Drummond bounced back big on Monday.

"We didn't play bad," Calhoun summed up. "We rebounded better. We're just not invested into the whole process of 40 minutes of basketball."

*** Wagner is pesky, as you'd expect a Dan and Bobby Hurley-coached team to be. Dan said his father, legendary New Jersey high school coach Bob Hurley, Sr., has always admired Calhoun from afar.

"My dad respects him as a coach," Dan Hurley said. "My dad doesn't respect everyone as a coach -- trust me."

Calhoun has plenty of respect for Wagner and the entire Northeast Conference, pointing out teams like Central, Quinnipiac and Long Island.

Mutual admiration society tonight at Gampel.

*** Oriakhi wasn't particularly good but he was certainly better than on Friday, with eight points and a team-high nine boards.

"We need to get Alex back," Calhoun said. "He was somewhat back tonight."

Oriakhi isn't getting the rock a whole lot. It seemed early in the second half, the Huskies made a better effort of getting him the ball (and Oriakhi made a better effort of wanting the ball)and he scored six of his points in the first 4 1/2 minutes. Not much after that, however.

"I've just got to get it off the backboard," Oriakhi said. "I've already been told, 'Nobody's going to get you the ball, so you've got to go get it.' But, I would like more touches down there."

*** Drummond had "killed everybody" in practice over the weekend and responded with a nice, eight-point, five-rebound, three-block effort.

"I loved the way he responded," Calhoun said. "I didn't expect any different. He's a wonderful kid."

Drummond’s best sequence came with about 8 minutes left in the first half, when he swatted away consecutive shots, then slammed home a Lamb miss (it didn’t count, however, since Lamb had been fouled on the play) to energize the crowd of 9,217.

“I think I’m getting more of a rhythm right now,” the Middletown resident said. “I think we’re all coming together as a team, collectively.”

The foul shooting could be an issue going forward, however. Drummond made 2 of 5 from the charity stripe, with one of his makes coming on a bank. And a couple of those misses weren't pretty. Something to keep an eye on.

*** Real nice effort from DeAndre Daniels. Fella can fill up a box score: 11 points, five boards, three blocks and a steal. He hit both his 3-pointers and five of his six free throws.

"I like the way he just plays," said Calhoun. "He plays hard."

Said Daniels: "I just go out there and do whatever Coach tells me. When I make a mistake, I just put it in my head to try not to make that mistake (again) and play even harder."

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My Top 25

Here's my Top 25 ballot sent to the AP last night:

1. North Carolina
2. Kentucky
3. Ohio State
4. UConn
5. Syracuse
6. Duke
7. Florida
8. Pittsburgh
9. Memphis
10. Louisville
11. Baylor
12. Wisconsin
13. Kansas
14. Xavier
15. Arizona
16. Alabama
17. Marquette
18. Cleveland State
19. Michigan
20. Vanderbilt
21. Cincinnati
22. California
23. Texas A&M
24. Missouri
25. Michigan State

Happy to give some love to Cleveland State, which knocked off Vanderbilt on Sunday in Nashville. Maybe Vandy isn't as good as a lot of people -- myself included -- thought it was. Still, the Vikings -- who have four seniors back from last year's Horizon League championship team -- appear to be the real deal. Harkens back to the days of Kenny "The Mouse" McFadden!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Duke Fame

What do you want to know about Wagner, UConn's opponent tomorrow night? Here's all you probably need to know: the Seahawks are coached by the Brothers Hurley: Dan, the former Seton Hall guard, and Bobby -- yes, that Bobby, of Duke fame. Not to be confused with Duke Fame from a little thing I like to call the greatest movie ever made, 'This Is Spinal Tap' ("Duke Fame has this much talent!")

(By the way, I'm still not 100-percent sure why UConn fans hate Duke so much. Please feel free to explain, if you'd like).

Anyway, Wagner returns all five starters from last year's 13-17, 9-9 (Northeast Conference) team. The Seahawks had a nice win in their opener on Saturday, popping Princeton on the road behind 15 points from Tyler Murray, a 6-5 senior guard, and 14 points and nine rebounds off the bench from Josh Thompson, a 6-5 junior forward.

UConn should get a boost from the return of Niels Giffey, who fully participated in both practices this weekend and has been cleared to play tomorrow night. Tyler Olander aside, the Huskies will need to improve their frontcourt play, however.

And the Huskies also have this on their side: they haven't lost a regular season, November or December game in Storrs since Dec. 5, 1973 – a streak that spans 100 games. UConn has never lost at Gampel Pavilion in November or December. That’s 55-0, people.

Who says there's no such thing as a little home cookin'?

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Calhoun Not Impressed With UConn's Win

It's going to sound like Andre Drummond was making excuses about his UConn debut Friday night, in which he went scoreless in 12 minutes of action.

“That never happened to me before," he said. "Ever."

Drummond said playing with a facemask on bothered him a bit, as did the tendonitis that had him icing his left knee after the game. Not starting also affected him, he said.

“I’m not used to coming off the bench," he said. "That’s one of things I have to get over and get used to doing. I think that’s what’s really throwing me off, too. But it doesn’t really matter … it matters how I perform in the game.”

Indeed, Drummond was probably just a little frustrated that his much-ballyhooed debut didn't go very well, individually. But he seemed ready to put it behind him and get better for Monday against Wagner.

“Everybody has their off days," he added. "I’ve just got to come back tomorrow, have a great practice, have another great practice on Sunday and come out on Monday and play again.”

Tyler Olander said he saw from Drummond "a first college game against a D-I team. I know Andre’s going to respond very well. He knows what to expect now.”

Shabazz Napier offered him some consoling advice afterwards.

“I told him, ‘Don’t allow coach to drill your mistakes in your head. You made a mistake, make up for it.’”

*** Calhoun was peeved at all his bigs (except Olander) after UConn barely outrebounded Columbia 43-41 and allowed 20 offensive boards.

"They outworked us. We don’t have anyone in the frontcourt ready to play right now, except for Tyler, who understands the game of basketball.

“I told Enosch (Wolf), ‘You haven’t done much, but it’s a good time for you to do something right now.’”

Said Olander: “We were getting pushed under the rim a little bit, which shouldn’t happen. The other team worked hard, and we (the frontcourt) kind of failed to respond.”

*** Alex Oriakhi was a virtual no-show, with two points and five boards. He was also a no-show for the postgame press availability, a rarity for him.

*** Fortunately for UConn, Jeremy Lamb and Napier showed up, combining for 51 of the team's 70 points (Lamb's 30 was a career-high).

Columbia coach Kyle Smith said of Lamb: "Here's how good he is: I had no idea he had 30. The game is very easy for him."

Smith also said Napier can do everything. "He's got a little Chris Paul, (with the) floperoos."

*** Calhoun's most telling quote: “I’m looking to the next game – the game where Shabazz has four fouls, the game when Jeremy’s shot doesn’t go. Then what happens?”

*** The coach seems to be getting a bit annoyed by the Ryan Boatright and Niels Giffey situations.

On Boatright: “I’ve not been informed of anything. That’s not unexpected.”

And on Giffey's return: “You’ll have to ask Niels. He says his ankle’s sore.”

he’s capable of, by any means. He’s not going to let that happen again.”

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Huskies Heading Back to Paradise Jam

Looks like both the UConn men's and women's teams will be competing in the 2012 Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

The Register's intrepid UConn women's basketball beat writer Jim Fuller has learned that both teams will be competing, though the women's field has yet to be determined.

According to tournament director Sean Christensen, the eight-team men's field (which will be split into two groups of four teams) is currently as follows:

New Mexico
Mercer University
Wake Forest
George Mason
University of Illnois Chicago (UIC)
Quinnipiac University

No dates yet, but this year's men's tournament begins Nov. 18 and the women's starts Nov. 24.

The UConn men won the event three years ago, beating La Salle, Miami and Wisconsin.

Andre Drummond Everything You Think He Is -- And More

Believe it or not, there was a time – not too long ago – when Andre Drummond didn’t particularly like to dunk.

As a 6-foot-7, somewhat uncoordinated freshman at Capital Prep in Hartford, Drummond preferred gliding in for a layup than slamming the ball through the hoop. “Big Finesse,” his coaches used to call him.

“Me and a couple of coaches would tell him, ‘Dunk the ball!’” Capital Prep coach Levy Gillespie recalled. “He’d jump in the air and want to make an up-and-under layup around a guy who’s, like, 6-4. We’d be like, ‘Andre, what are you doing?’”

Drummond eventually got the message.

“By the end of his sophomore year,” Gillespie said, “he had pretty much perfected that windmill that he loves, and the between-the-legs dunk.”

Ah yes, the windmill and the between-the-legs dunk, both of which he showcased in a dunk contest at UConn’s First Night festivities a few weeks ago. They weren’t enough to win the contest – fellow freshman Ryan Boatright, the underdog at 5-10, won the hearts of the judges – but they sure were an emphatic “Hello, how do ya do?” to the 10,000 fans who jammed Gampel Pavilion that night.

Suffice to say, Andre Drummond now likes to dunk. His first basket in a Husky uniform came on a vicious, two-handed putback slam of a Jeremy Lamb floater in UConn’s exhibition opener on Nov. 2. He brought the house down three days later at the XL Center by slamming home an alley-oop pass off the glass from Shabazz Napier in the Huskies’ exhibition finale.

“I was actually planning on putting it between my legs,” Drummond confessed, “but Shabazz was like, ‘Let me get the assist.’”

Of his 13 field goals in UConn’s two exhibition contests, about 10 of them have been dunks. And there figure to be plenty more throughout the winter – beginning tonight at Gampel in UConn’s season-opener against Columbia all the way to, quite possibly, the New Orleans Superdome in early April.

But Andre Drummond, the Middletown resident who also happens to be the most heralded recruit ever to don a UConn uniform, is about much more than just dunking. He’s everything you could expect from a prodigious talent – and a lot of things you might not expect, as well.

He’s 6-foot-11, 277 pounds yet “quick as a cat,” according to coach Jim Calhoun. “He might be as good a runner as we have on our team.”

Despite his penchant for slamming the ball through the hoop with savage force, he’d rather hit a teammate with a nifty interior pass.

“I get more excited seeing my teammates scoring the ball and watching their reaction than me scoring the ball myself,” Drummond said.

Though famously close-guarded through a recruiting process that left nearly everybody – including the UConn coaching staff – surprised when he declared his commitment to the school via Twitter on Aug. 26, he’s a disarmingly friendly young man, as comfortable chatting with a media throng as he is clowning around with teammates in his dorm.

“He’s a wonderful kid, well-adjusted,” said Jere Quinn, who coached Drummond at St. Thomas More Prep the past two years. “He’s happy, and he likes to make other people happy.”

And despite being the No. 1-rated recruit in all the land by many scouting services and quite possibly the top pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Drummond is as eager to get better as a walk-on trying to earn a scholarship.

“I’m not the type of guy who’s going to read about myself or talk about myself or brag that I’m the best player in the world, when I’m really not,” he said. “Yeah, I think I do some good things, but there’s always room to do better things, to get yourself better prepared to play at the next level.”

Added UConn junior forward Alex Oriakhi: “The thing about him is, with all the hype around him, you’d think he’d be arrogant. But he’s not. He listens. I try to coach him out there and tell him what he’s doing wrong, and he just takes it in like sponge. That’s the greatest part about him. When you have a kid with that much talent and is willing to listen and get better … the sky’s the limit.”

Long, Strange Trip to Storrs

Andre Drummond’s journey from Middletown to Storrs encompassed only 40 miles, but it took four years and seemingly countless twists, turns and rumors before he finally became a Husky.

Drummond is originally from Mount Vernon, N.Y., and figured he’d eventually play at Mount Vernon High, alma mater of ex-UConn great Ben Gordon.

“Everybody keeps asking me, ‘How did you get out of there?’” Drummond says. “Usually, when you’re in Mount Vernon, (you) don’t leave.”

But when Drummond was about 8, several of his aunts and uncles started leaving town and moving up to Middletown. Eventually, his mother, Christine, moved him and his sister, Ariana, as well.

“They liked the environment,” Drummond explained. “It’s a nice place to grow up for the kids and things like that.”

He went to middle school in Middletown, then two years at Capital Prep before enrolling at St. Thomas More in Oakdale, where he “transformed into a totally different person, basketball-wise,” according to Gillespie.

Indeed, Drummond emerged as a dominant force in prep school. He won 55 games in his two years there, including the 2011 national prep school championship, for which he was named MVP. He was heavily courted by virtually every major program in the country.

But he wasn’t above criticism. Perhaps the most prevalent was that Drummond took plays off, didn’t always play hard. While there was a smidgeon of truth to this knock, it was largely a misconception.

“I think sometimes, kids play to the level of their competition,” said Quinn. “His focus was as good as a typical high school player. Did he take some plays off? Yeah, when we were up 15 (points). Did he ever go and hide in a big game? No. Every coach in the country is trying to find a magic potion to make kids play 100-percent.”

Calhoun concurred.

“I would hate to think of him in a high school game right now. He could do anything he wants without working – just run up the floor and dunk on people. He’s not lazy in any sense of the imagination … He’s just a really nice person. We need to get him to learn, culturally, what we try to do: play hard every single possession.”

Indeed, the proper rub on Drummond may be that he’s too nice – particularly on the basketball court.

“When I’m out there, I’m always smiling,” he said. “That’s just the way I play. Some people think it’s because I don’t take the game seriously. That’s not the case at all. I enjoy playing the game and I’m always smiling, there’s no need for me to be angry at all.”

‘Do I Hear, ‘Repeat’?

Despite Drummond’s naturally sunny disposition, he was legitimately conflicted and sometimes pained during his recruitment process, particularly over the past year. He kept his decision-making process so private that, well into this past summer, Quinn had no idea whether Drummond would return to St. Thomas More or pursue other plans.

UConn thought Drummond was going to commit in June, but that was called off. So the Huskies gave their 10th and final available scholarship to 6-8 forward DeAndre Daniels, a national top-10 recruit.

In mid-August, Drummond finally announced that he’d be transferring to Wilbraham & Monson Academy, where he’d play with good friend Kris Dunn of New London, for another year of prep school. A couple of weeks later, Dunn changed his mind and said he’d play his senior year at New London High.

A few days after that, on a rainy Friday night, came Drummond’s Tweet Heard ‘Round the Nutmeg State: “It’s official: I’m heading to the University of Connecticut to be a Husky this year. Do I hear, ‘Repeat’?”

One problem: UConn had no scholarships to offer Drummond. That was solved when Michael Bradley, who had sat out the previous season as a red-shirt and who had spent much of his youth in a children’s home, gave up his to Drummond.

“I’m thankful for everything that he did," said Drummond. "Me and Mike have had a great relationship, I’ve known him since I was a sophomore, so, I’m really thankful for what he did.”

No doubt, UConn fans feel the exact same way.

“Now,” said Jim Calhoun, “the thing is to take this athletic, wonderful kid who listens all the time, and turn him into a terrific basketball player. He’s not that yet, he really isn’t. But he’s got some things you just can’t teach.”

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Calhoun: 'It's Going to be a Very Good Night'

UConn's chamionship banner unveiling on Friday will begin at 6:59 p.m. (after a new UConn basketball video montage is played on the big screen) and end just a few minutes later. It'll be a purposely brief, unpretentious event, but still very meaningful.

"It’s a big deal. A national championship is a big deal,” said Jim Calhoun, who’s won three of them. “I’ve always considered it a big deal. I think it will be very good to finish it off and start anew. It’s going to be a very good night."

After that banner is unveiled, it's all about the quest for another for the Huskies. Of course, this year's three freshmen weren't along for last year's remarkable ride. They want to start their own.

At UConn’s national championship dinner in Hartford a month ago, where last year’s players received their championship rings, Andre Drummond, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels sat at a separate table while the rest of the team sat up on the dais.

“I was actually pretty angry watching them get their rings,” Drummond said, with a smile. “It just made me want to get a ring, put in blood, sweat and tears to make sure I get a ring ... Now, I’m a part of the UConn family. I wasn’t there for the national championship team, but I’m a part of the family, so it’s just as good.”

A few things to know about Columbia:

*** The Lions went 15-13 overall and 6-8 in the Ivy under first-year coach Kyle Smith. Four starters return from last year's team, led by a top-notch backcourt: senior Noruwa Agho averaged 16.8 ppg last year and junior Brian Barbour 13.3.

*** Senior Blaise Staab's full name is Blaise Voskuhl Staab. Yup, he's Jake Voskuhl's cousin. Staab, a 6-5 forward, didn't play at all last season due to injury. He averaged 1.7 ppg in limited time as a sophomore and missed all but four games as a freshman due to a bout with mono.

*** UConn and Columbia haven't played in nearly 30 years. Their last meeting was on Dec. 28, 1983 -- an 85-60 UConn victory in the Connecticut Mutual Classic. The Huskies hold a 6-2 all-time advantage in the series. Columbia's last victory: 72-71 on Dec. 7, 1976 in New York City.

*** Friday's bout is the first for Columbia against a defending champ since 1947, when the Lions beat Holy Cross.

In other news, SNY has announced that it will cover televise 14 UConn games this year, beginning with Monday's 7:30 p.m. bout with Wagner.

Following that game, SNY will debut SNY Spotlight: Jim Calhoun, a look at the coach's career.

Here's SNY's UConn TV schedule:

Mon 14 UConn-Wagner: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn. 7:30
Thu 17 UConn-Maine: XL Center, Hartford, Conn. 7:00
Sun 20 UConn-Coppin State XL Center, Hartford, Conn. 1:00
Sun 18 UConn-Holy Cross XL Center, Hartford, Conn. 1:00
Thu 22 UConn-Fairfield XL Center, Hartford, Conn. 7:00
Wed 28 UConn at USF St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Fla. 9:00
Sat 31 UConn-St. John’s XL Center, Hartford, Conn. Noon
Tue 3 UConn at Seton Hall Prudential Center, Newark, N.J. 7:00
Sat 7 UConn at Rutgers Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, N.J. 8:00
Sun 29 UConn-Notre Dame XL Center, Hartford, Conn. Noon
Sat 4 UConn-Seton Hall XL Center, Hartford, Conn. Noon
Wed 15 UConn-DePaul Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn. 7:00
Tue 28 UConn at Providence Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, R.I. 7:00

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Calhoun: Boatright Frustrated Right Now

For those who see Jim Calhoun screaming maniacally on the sidelines during games, it may come as a surprise that he’s normally pretty serene during practice.

That changed briefly on Wednesday. Calhoun appeared peeved at something Ryan Boatright had done, and Boatright appeared to talk back to the coach.

“Shut the (bleep) up!” Calhoun loudly exclaimed.

Boatright got quiet in a hurry.

“There are a couple of words you can say to them to let them know you don’t want them speaking, and the conversation has come to an end and (they) just don’t know it,” Calhoun said after practice. “There are certain words you can use to say that are right to the point.”

Calhoun said Boatright is just a little frustrated right now – not so much on the court, but off it. The NCAA has yet to clear him to play due to an eligibility question, and it appears he won’t be able to go in UConn’s season-opener Friday night.

After practice, Boatright said something to the coach about his own play.

“I’m not worried about your play,” Calhoun said. “I’m worried about you getting down.”

“He’s missed two exhibition games,” Calhoun added. “It’s difficult for him.”

It seems Calhoun is a bit frustrated by the situation. He seemed to try to measure his words when talking about the situation on Wednesday.

“The situation’s somewhat simplistic,” he said. “We’re looking at case precedents … We’d love to have him back on Friday, but I have no idea (when) … He will return. When, I don’t know.”

He added that the NCAA has never “formally talked to” the UConn basketball program. “They didn’t include us in any discussions.”


*** Niels Giffey spent most of Wednesday’s practice on a stationary bike and appears doubtful for Friday. His ankle is more sore than his knee is, Calhoun said.

*** Calhoun is happy with UConn’s non-conference schedule: “It’s a deceptively tougher schedule than people think.”

*** Alex Oriakhi on his two disappointing exhibition performances: “I could have been more aggressive, as far as rebounding. Hopefully, I’m going to get more minutes than I did in the last game.”

“I feel when I’m on the court, I can get a rhythm. I wasn’t able to get a lot of playing time last time, which was unfortunate. But the rest of our big men stepped up.”

*** Calhoun said likely the same starting five for Friday as Sunday’s exhibition finale: Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith, Tyler Olander and Jeremy Lamb. Yup, that means Andre Drummond makes his collegiate debut off the bench.

Said Drummond: “I’ve come off the bench before. I’m not used to really coming off, but that’s some of the things you’ve got to get adjusted to. I’m not expecting to start or anything like that. I know I need to come in and play my role. Hopefully, one of these games I do end up starting.”

Drummond has been struggling from the foul line in practice and missed his lone attempt in an exhibition game. There’s a reason, he says: “I wasn’t always a bad free throw shooter, but my arms got longer out of nowhere, for some reason. That kind of threw me off a little bit, so I was trying to figure out my muscle memory to get it all back again … It’ll be back shortly.”

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Monday, November 7, 2011

All-Stars to Play in Bridgeport Nov. 18

Interesting lineup of NBA players, including Rudy Gay and Hasheem Thabeet, playing in an all-star charity game on Nov. 18 at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena.

Ryan Gomes, Jordan Williams among the other locals; John Wall and Tyreke Evans among the other stars who'll play.

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Lamb, Oriakhi, Drummond on Naismith List

UConn sophomore Jeremy Lamb (Norcross, Ga.) headlines a trio of UConn players named to the Naismith preseason watch list, as announced today by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Lamb is joined by junior Alex Oriakhi (Lowell, Mass.) and freshman center Andre Drummond (Middletown, Conn.).

The Naismith award is presented annually to the national player of the year. Former UConn star Kemba Walker was a finalist in 2011 with Jimmer Fredette of BYU taking home the honor.

Kentucky and North Carolina led the way with four student-athletes each on the list.

Lamb was most recently named an Associate Press Preseason All-American after being named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team and the Wooden Preseason Top-50. Oriakhi joined Lamb on the Wooden Preseason Top-50 and also received votes in the Preseason All-America voting. He was a Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team selection.

Drummond, the BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year, was also a BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection. The freshman center was most recently named to the Wayman Tisdale Award preseason watch list which honors the nation’s top freshman at the end of the season.

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Bodog Likes Huskies

According to, UConn is a 12-to-1 pick to win the 2012 NCAA tournament. Here are the top 25 teams in the nation, in terms of Bodog's odds:

North Carolina 7/2

Kentucky 9/2

Ohio State 15/2

Duke 10/1

Connecticut 12/1

Louisville 12/1

Syracuse 12/1

Florida 20/1

Vanderbilt 20/1

Memphis 22/1

Kansas 25/1

St. John's 25/1

UCLA 25/1

Michigan State 28/1

Pittsburgh 28/1

Texas 28/1

Baylor 35/1

Indiana 35/1

Michigan 35/1

Arizona 40/1

Georgetown 40/1

Gonzaga 40/1

Notre Dame 50/1

Villanova 50/1

Wisconsin 55/1

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Walden St. Juste Alive Thanks to Teamwork

This is non-UConn related (aside from the kid's uncanny resemblance to Kemba Walker), but Hartford's Walden St. Juste, a former Albertus Magnus standout, nearly died on Halloween night. In fact, he did die -- at least for a matter of seconds or even minutes -- before being resuscitated by his coach A.J. Huston and with the help of his teammates on the Connecticut Topballerz of the ABA.

Here's my story on St. Juste in the Register.

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A Post on UConn-C.W. Post

Some notes 'n quotes from UConn's 91-61 exhibition game win over CW Post this afternoon:

C.W. Post coach Chris Casey, who spent six years as Norm Roberts' assistant at St. John's:

(On UConn)

“They can score in transition, they can score around the basket, they have guys that can make shots and they defend you – because they’re fundamentally very good defensively, and because their sheer size covers so much ground. And it goes without saying, they’re very well-coached.”

(on Andre Drummond)

“He’s like a colt right now, and with the history of this place, the way they make guys into players, I think he’s going to be very, very good … He’s scratching the surface right now.”

(on his team's strategy of guarding Jeremy Lamb)

“Hope he misses.”

Jim Calhoun

(on DeAndre Daniels)

“He really looked like a complete basketball player. He handled the ball, made a couple of really good passes, he’s going to make shots because he’s a good shooter. And defensively, he really, really was good.”

“He’s got a chance to be a great shooter someday. Right now, he’s not as strong as he needs to be, he doesn’t always get his shot ready … I like the way he put the ball on the deck, a couple of passes. Like I said to Niels (Giffey), ‘I’d get that boot off pretty quick.’”

*** Ah yes, Giffey, who sat out the game with a hyperextended right knee and a bone bruise in his right ankle.

"It's been 3-4 weeks with that bone bruise," Calhoun said. "If it doesn’t start getting better, you’re a little concerned … the knee has improved, but the ankle is kind of about the same. He was not full-go, in fairness to him, in the first exhibition game.”

Calhoun added that the players who dressed and played on Sunday are, most likely, the same who'll dress and play in Friday night's season-opener.

*** Calhoun noted that walk-on Brendan Allen is the team's back-up point guard right now, with Ryan Boatright still dealing with an eligibility issue and Calhoun wanting Lamb to score more playing off the ball.

“Friday night, (if) Shabazz picks up his second foul, Brendan will probably play the rest of the first half … He’s got to refine his dribble, he’s got to pass the ball a little more assertively. But he knows the offense, he’s got a good body, he’s a really good athlete. There’s every reason to believe that he can play at this level.”

“He may be one of our three, four, five best athletes on the team. He can jump, he can run.”

“I’m not trying to say he’s a game-changer or a program-changer, but right now he’s filling in a void.”

Allen's class schedule doesn't always jibe with UConn's practice schedule, meaning he sometimes arrives at practice late.

“It makes me focus immediately," Allen said. "I kind of take it as a good thing. I’m ready to go.”

*** How comfortable are the Huskies with Allen as their backup PG right now? Ask Shabazz Napier, the starting PG:

*** Late in the game, Drummond picked up a loose ball just before midcourt and had a 2-on-0 with Napier. He gave it to Napier, who then threw the ball off the glass for an alley-oop dunk for Drummond.

Admitted Drummond afterwards: “I was actually planning on putting it between my legs, but Shabazz was like, ‘Let me get the assist.’”

It was one of 13 assists for Napier, who added 14 points. Lamb scored 23 points, Drummond went for 16 points and 10 boards, Daniels netted 13 and Tyler Olander 10. Alex Oriakhi had four points and eight rebounds.

"We need Alex to be better than that," said Calhoun. "We just do."

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Kevin Freeman Talks About His New Job

Kevin Freeman met with reporters this morning at the XL Center to discuss his new position as assistant director of men’s basketball administration. Freeman, 33, is a former Husky captain and member of the 1999 NCAA National Champions.

“It’s an opportunity to get back here,” said Freeman. “It’s full-circle for me. It’s a dream come true to come back here in the fold with UConn.”

He said his role will largely be as a mentor to the players, along with helping director of basketball administration Karl Hobbs with daily activities.

“A lot of the academic stuff,” Freeman said of his duties, “help a lot of guys in a mentorship role as far as degree completion, serve as a liaison to compliance, a lot of compliance issues … I think I can help them with a lot of off-court issues that (the media) might not see, and just being a positive student-athlete.”

Ultimately, he hopes this is his first step on the ladder up to being a head coach.

“Coaching is definitely my ultimate goal, but first you’ve got to experience some of it to see how far you want to go, what you want to do,” he said. “I’ll take it step by step.”

Freeman has spent the past 11 seasons playing overseas in Italy, Australia, Greece, South Korea, China, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela.

“Overseas is really tough. Eleven years over there, being away from my family nine months a year, it takes its toll on you. A true blessing came to me with this opportunity, and I’m going to take full advantage of it.”

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hamden's Carberry Takes on Huskies Sunday

My story on Hamden's Tobin Carberry, a starting guard for C.W. Post, which plays UConn in an exhibition game on Sunday at the XL Center.


Kevin Freeman Joins UConn Staff

Kevin Freeman has joined the UConn men's basketball staff. Here's the release by the school:

Kevin Freeman has been named to the position of Assistant Director of Men’s Basketball Administration at the University of Connecticut, it was announced today by head coach Jim Calhoun. Freeman is a former Husky captain and member of the 1999 NCAA National Champions.

“I am thrilled to have Kevin join our staff here at UConn,” said Calhoun. “Kevin was one of the great warriors we have ever had play for us and is just the type of person that all of our current players should aspire to be like and be around.”

Freeman is the all-time UConn leader in games played at 140, No. 17 on the all-time scoring list with 1,476 points and No. 8 on the all-time rebounders list with 913. He was the Most Outstanding Performer of the 1999 BIG EAST Championship and was named to the 1999 NCAA West Regional All-Tournament team. He was a co-captain of the 1999-00 Husky squad and UConn compiled a 109-32 record in his four seasons, reaching the Elite Eight in 1998 and winning the NCAA title in 1999.

After completing his career at Connecticut, Kevin played 11 seasons of professional basketball, retiring after the 2010-11 season. He played in professional leagues in Italy, Australia, Greece, South Korea, China, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela during his career.

Born March 3, 1978, Kevin is a native of Springfield, Mass and came to UConn after competing as a all-state high school performer at Paterson Catholic HS in New Jersey. Kevin and his wife Nicole have a daughter Kekoa and a son Sire.

Also, Niels Giffey suffered a hyperextended right knee in Wednesday's exhibition win over AIC. He hasn't practiced the last two days and will be a game-time decision for Sunday's exhibition vs. C.W. Post.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Big East Countersues West Virginia

The Big East Conference has filed suit against West Virginia University in Superior Court for the State of Rhode Island, Providence County. This breach of contract lawsuit seeks an order requiring West Virginia to comply with the Big East bylaws, as well as damages resulting from West Virginia’s improper attempted withdrawal in violation of those bylaws.

Here's what Big East commish John Marinatto had to say:

“Today’s legal action underscores The BIG EAST Conference’s stated position that it will vigorously pursue the enforcement of its rights and West Virginia University’s obligations under the conference’s Bylaws which West Virginia formally agreed to and helped construct.”

Personally, while it may appear a bit petty of the Big East to be so defensive about holding teams for 27 months before they can withdraw, I'm actually all for it. Marinatto's leadership of the conference has been questionable at best since Mike Tranghese's retirement, but I'm with him on this one. What's the use of having bylaws in a contract if teams can just flout them at will, whenever a perceived better offer presents itself?

Ultimately, I'd be surprised if Syracuse, Pitt and WVU remain with the Big East for three more seasons, as they'd currently have to. It would be just too awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved to have three teams that don't want to be here sticking around for so long.

But they'll have to pay up, far more than just the current $5 million exit fee. Sort of like in baseball, if a GM for one team wants to leave to become GM of another team before his contract is through. There's got to be some sort of compensation for the team losing said GM -- or, in this case, the conference losing teams.


Top Prep Recruits in New Haven Nov. 18-20

The National Prep Showcase, the unofficial kick-off to the prep school season, will be held at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven on Nov. 18-20, and many of the top recruits in the nation (including several UConn targets) will be there.

Among the UConn targets who will be in attendence are: Nerlens Noel, a 6-foot-10 Class of 2013 center out of the Tilton School in New Hampshire; Noah Vonleh, 6-8 Class of 2014 forward out of New Hampton School (N.H.); Goodluck Okonoboh, a 6-8 Class of '14 forward (who is also Alex Oriakhi's cousin); Wayne Selden, a 6-5 Class of '14 shooting guard from Tilton; and Jeremy Miller, a 6-9 Class of '15 center from New Hampton.

For those who'd like to see Tilton play, its only game will be on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. against Kiski School of Pennsylvania. (Yes, UConn does host Coppin State at 1 p.m. at the XL Center that day).

New Hampton plays Kiski on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m., then takes on Blair Academy on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Here's the full schedule for the three-day event.

In all, nearly 100 of the top Division 1 prospects will be playing, including:

Mitch McGary, 6'9", C/F, 2012, Brewster Academy (NH), committed to Michigan, 2nd ranked prospect in national class of 2012

Ricardo Ledo, 6'6", SG, 2012, South Kent (CT), committed to Providence, 22nd ranked prospect in national class of 2012

T.J. Warren, 6'8", F, 2012, Brewster Academy (NH), committed to North Carolina State, 23rd ranked prospect in national class of 2012

Chris Thomas, 6'5", G, 2013, South Kent (CT), 13th ranked prospect in national class of 2013

Mike Tobey, 7'0", C, 2012, Blair Academy (NJ), top 100 national player, committed to Virginia

Aaron Thomas, 6'5", G/F, 2012, Brewster Academy (NH), committed to Florida State

Jakarr Sampson, 6'8", F, 2012, Brewster Academy (NH), top 100 national player

Darrick Wood, 6'5", SF, 2012, Bridgton Academy (ME), committed to St. John's

Amir Garrett, 6'7", F, 2012, Bridgton Academy (ME), top 100 national player, committed to St. John's

Ryan Taylor, 6'7", SF, 2012, Hargrave Military Academy (VA), committed to Louisville

Montrezl Harrell, 6'8", F, 2012, Hargrave Military Academy (VA), committed to Virginia Tech

Codi Miller-McIntyre, 6'3", SG, 2012, Hargrave Military Academy (VA), committed to Wake Forest

Andre Washington, 7'0", C, 2012, Hargrave Military Academy (VA), committed to Wake Forest

Hanner Perea, 6'9", PF, 2012, La Lumiere School (IN), top 100 national prospect, committed to Indiana

Jay Simpson, 6'10", C, 2012, La Lumiere School (IN), committed to Purdue

Raphael Davis, 6'5", G/F, 2012, La Lumiere School (IN), committed to Purdue

Georges Niang, 6'8", F, 2012, Tilton School (NH), top 100 national prospect, committed to Iowa State

Domonique Bull, 6'4", G, 2012, Tilton School (NH), committed to Missouri

Laimonas Chatkevicius, 7'0, C, 2012, South Kent (CT), committed to Kansas State

Olivier Hanlan, 6'3", PG, 2012, New Hampton (NH), committed to Boston College

Zach Auguste, 6'9", PF, 2012, New Hampton (NH), committed to Notre Dame, top 100 national prospect

Aaron Ross, 6'8", F, 2012, St. John's Military Academy (WI), top 100 national prospect

Dominic Woodson, 6'10", C, 2013, Vermont Academy (VT), top 100 national prospect

Daquien McNeil, 6'3", G, 2013, Vermont Academy (VT), top 100 national prospect

Jared Terrell, 6'3", G, 2014, New Hampton (NH), top 100 national prospect

Kevin Kcehowski, 6'11", C, 2015, Kiski (PA), top 25 national prospect

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Charles Okwandu Taken in D-League Draft

Charles Okwandu is a Maine Red Claw.

Okwandu, the 7-foot center who graduated from UConn last spring, was taken by Maine with the third pick in the third round of Thursday's NBA Development League Draft. That means he'll be playing for ex-UConn assistant Dave Leitao, who coaches the Red Claws.

Here's the full list of D-League draftees:

1. Los Angeles D-Fenders Jamaal Tinsley, Iowa State
2. Texas Legends Alando Tucker,Wisconsin
3. Maine Red Claws Chris Wright,Dayton
4. Sioux Falls Skyforce Gabe Pruitt, Southern California
5. Texas Legends Jamal Sampson, California
6. Bakersfield Jam Edwin Ubiles, Siena
7. Erie BayHawks Cory Higgins, Colorado
8. Bakersfield Jam Nayal ‘”Mac” Koshwal, DePaul
9. Erie BayHawks Chris Daniels, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
10. Fort Wayne Mad Ants Cameron Jones, Northern Arizona
11. Tulsa 66ers Curtis Sumpter, Villanova
12. Dakota Wizards Osiris Eldridge, Illinois State
13. Bakersfield Jam Mustapha Farrakhan, Virginia
14. Rio Grande Valley Vipers Tyren Johnson, Louisiana-Lafayette
15. Canton Charge Tyrell Biggs, Pittsburgh
16. Tulsa 66ers Gary Johnson, Texas

1. Springfield Armor #Jonathan Thomas, Marshall
2. Texas Legends Jake Kelley, Indiana State
3. Rio Grande Valley Vipers Ashton Mitchell, Sam Houston State
4. Reno Bighorns Cedric Bozeman, UCLA
5. Tulsa 66ers #Dwight Buycks, Marquette
6. Fort Wayne Mad Ants Anthony Johnson, Montana
7. Idaho Stampede Jason Ellis, Boise State
8. Maine Red Claws Durrell Summers, Michigan State
9. Idaho Stampede Kevin Galloway, Texas Southern
10. Iowa Energy Brandon Ewing, Wyoming
11. Iowa Energy Dominic Calegari, California-Davis
12. Erie BayHawks Taj McCullough, Winthrop
13. Maine Red Claws Mike Tisdale, Illinois
14. Austin Toros Tristan Thompson, North Texas
15. Los Angeles D-Fenders Anthony Gurley, Massachusetts

* The Second Round has 15 selections since the Dakota Wizards traded their
2011 second round pick to the Utah Flash which are on hiatus for 2011-12

1. Los Angeles D-Fenders Eniel Polynice, Seton Hall
2. Tulsa 66ers Brady Morningstar, Kansas
3. Maine Red Claws Charles Okwandu, Connecticut
4. Sioux Falls Skyforce Casey Mitchell, West Virginia
5. Texas Legends Lawrence Hill, Stanford
6. Iowa Energy Jarrid Famous, South Florida
7. Erie BayHawks Mychel Thompson, Pepperdine
8. Bakersfield Jam Justin Graham, San Jose State
9. Idaho Stampede Kendall Dartez, Louisville
10. Bakersfield Jam Travis Walton,Michigan State
11. Tulsa 66ers Evan Fjeld, Vermont
12. Dakota Wizards Andrew Gonzalez, Houston Baptist
13. Idaho Stampede Cheyne Gadson, Oklahoma State
14. Rio Grande Valley Vipers Greg Washington, Hofstra
15. Dakota Wizards #Justin Johnson, Concordia
16. Springfield Armor #Dennis Horner,North Carolina State

1. Springfield Armor Chris Taft, Pittsburgh
2. Canton Charge TJ Campbell, Portland
3. Rio Grande Valley Vipers Pooh Williams, Utah State
4. Reno Bighorns Donald Sims, Appalachian State
5. Dakota Wizards Darion “Jake” Anderson, Iowa State
6. Tulsa 66ers #Larriques “Rico” Cunningham, Lee
7. Iowa Energy Nick Murphy, Jacksonville State
8. Idaho Stampede Eric Devendorf, Syracuse
9. Bakersfield Jam David Palmer, Northern Kentucky
10. Erie BayHawks Tirrell Baines, Marshall
11. Iowa Energy Michael Tveidt, North Dakota State
12. Texas Legends #Vance Cooksey,Pikeville
13. Sioux Falls Skyforce Billy McShepard, Valdosta State
14. Maine Red Claws Sadiel Rojas, Oklahoma Wesleyan
15. Austin Toros #Omar Reed, Bluefield
16. Los Angeles D-Fenders Brandon Rozzell, Virginia Commonwealth

1. Los Angeles D-Fenders Courtney Fortson, Arkansas
2. Austin Toros Soloman Bozeman, Arkansas-Little Rock
3. Maine Red Claws Darren Cooper, Portland
4. Sioux Falls Skyforce Anthony Moody, Mary
5. Texas Legends Josh Southern, Boston College
6. Iowa Energy Carlton Fay, Southern Illinois
7. Erie BayHawks Al Nolen, Minnesota
8. Bakersfield Jam Lawrence Westbrook, Minnesota
9. Idaho Stampede Courtney Pigram, East Tennessee State
10. Fort Wayne Mad Ants Justin Neuhaus, Colorado Christian
11. Tulsa 66ers Byron Eaton, Oklahoma State
12. Dakota Wizards Joe Harden, California-Davis
13. Reno Bighorns #Augustine Okosun, Northwood
14. Rio Grande Valley Vipers Willie Veasley, Butler
15. Canton Charge Tyrone Kent, Toledo
16. Springfield Armor Brandon Bush, Texas State-San Marcos

1. Springfield Armor #Marcus E. Hill,Minnesota State - Mankato
2. Canton Charge Travis Franklin, Colorado State
3. Rio Grande Valley Vipers #Joshua E. Jones, Husson
4. Reno Bighorns Roderick Flemings,Hawaii
5. Dakota Wizards Parrish West, Alaska-Fairbanks
6. Tulsa 66ers #Brian Barkdoll,Northwest Nazarene
7. Fort Wayne Mad Ants Jabril Banks,Northern Colorado
8. Idaho Stampede James Wright,Colorado
9. Bakersfield Jam Perry Stevenson,Kentucky
10. Erie BayHawks Adrian Bowie, Maryland
11. Iowa Energy Thomas Baudinet, St. Anselm
12. Texas Legends #Ryan Anderson, Nebraska
13. Sioux Falls Skyforce Will Pratt, Northwestern State
14. Texas Legends Anthony Vereen, Texas-Arlington
15. Austin Toros Myles McKay, Wisconsin-Whitewater
16. Los Angeles D-Fenders Franklin Session, California
State-Los Angeles

1. Los Angeles D-Fenders Robert Diggs, George Washington
2. Austin Toros #Dan Vandervieren, Concordia
3. Reno Bighorns Calvin Haynes, Oregon State
4. Sioux Falls Skyforce Brian Evans, Texas A&M-Corpus Cristi
5. Texas Legends Derek Williams, Southern Methodist
6. Iowa Energy Jason Westrol, Bentley
7. Reno Bighorns Bobby Howard, Montana State
8. Bakersfield Jam Nick Covington,Oklahoma City
9. Idaho Stampede #Desmond Blue, Lee
10. Fort Wayne Mad Ants Brian Wanamaker, Texas Wesleyan
11. Tulsa 66ers Maze Stallworth. Morehead State
12. Dakota Wizards Jawan Bailey, Incarnate World
13. Reno Bighorns #Joseph Kennerly III, Central Oklahoma
14. Rio Grande Valley Vipers Tron Smith, St. Mary’s
15. Canton Charge #Harry Marshall, Indiana State
16. Springfield Armor Michael Sturns, Holy Family

1. Springfield Armor Akeem Bennett,St. Francis
2. Canton Charge Jonathan Blake, Texas Wesleyan
3. Rio Grande Valley Vipers #Justin Tubbs, East Tennessee State
4. Reno Bighorns Reuben Clayton,Tennessee-Martin
5. Dakota Wizards Bruce Price,Tennessee State
6. Tulsa 66ers Xavier Alexander,Southern Nazarene
7. Fort Wayne Mad Ants Dauntae Williams, Central Oklahoma
8. Idaho Stampede #Dwain Williams, Hawaii
9. Bakersfield Jam Juma Kamara, Portland State
10. Erie BayHawks Jamael Lynch, Masschusetts-Lowell
11. Austin Toros James Lewis, Fresno Pacific
12. Texas Legends Collin Mangum, Southern Methodist
13. Sioux Falls Skyforce Brock Gillespie, Rice
14. Maine Red Claws Jonathan Dupre, Pepperdine
15. Austin Toros Jerel Hastings, Albany
16. Los Angeles D-Fenders Troy Payne, Santa Clara


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Drummond, Calhoun on Drummond's Debut

Here's what Andre Drummond and Jim Calhoun had to say about Drummond's first game in a UConn uniform:

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

UConn Routs AIC in Exhibition Opener

A fairly typical exhibition opener for UConn. Some sloppiness, some poor play -- particularly in the first half -- but overall plenty of positives, as well. Here's my game story.

We'll start with who didn't play, either at all or in the first half. Ryan Boatright is being held out as UConn and the NCAA explore his eligibility, and Jim Calhoun had little to say about the matter after the game.

“I watched Bill Belichick today, and I really enjoyed it," said the coach. "I loved his answers: ‘Nope,’ ‘Yup.’”

He did add, however: “There’s probably 35-40 kids right now probably in similar situations (as Boatright).”

Roscoe Smith sat on the bench the entire first half, even as walk-ons and Enosch Wolf got some run. According to Calhoun, it was a disciplinary measure for violating "a commitment he had with us … no big deal … No more will come of it. It’s finished.”

OK, now on to who did play both halves. Andre Drummond appeared a bit uncomfortable early on, no doubt a combination of playing with a face mask and playing in his first collegiate game (or exhibition game, as it were).

But after missing his first three shots from close range, and picking up his third foul early in the latter half, Drummond started to settle in. He finished with 10 points and four boards and gave himself a "C-plus" for his efforts.

"I'll go with an 'F' for the first half," he added.

“I think he struggled a lot with the mask on," Calhoun said. "I don’t think he expected to. How do you ever know if a kid struggles because of the fact that it’s his first game … He doesn’t have any idea how great he’s going to be some day. You saw some slight things. When he has a layup, it’s not just a layup.”

Indeed, Drummond had a few rafter-shaking dunks.

*** Shabazz Napier also overcame a slow start (0-for-6) and finished with nine points, seven rebounds and a whopping 15 assists. Oh, and no turnovers.

"Fifteen to '0' was nice, but the '0' was because he wasn't doing anything in the first half," Calhoun said. "How can you have a turnover when you're not doing anything? But in the second half, he got us going."

*** Calhoun was most pleased with the play of Tyler Olander, who had nine points and nine boards and, along with Napier, was the team's best overall player, per the coach.

"He was always fundamentally sound, has a good feel for the game," Calhoun said. "But he blocked four shots – I don’t know how many he blocked last year, if he blocked 10 I’d be surprised – and he looked like he knew exactly where he should be, defensively and offensively. Happily, the things that we see in practice translated over into an exhibition game.”

In fact, Olander had just seven blocks last season.

“He would have been good playing against most anybody tonight," Calhoun added.

Said Olander: “I’m just a lot more aggressive attacking rebounds, not shying away when I get the ball in the post. I’m more confident in my moves down there.”

*** In his debut, DeAndre Daniels had 10 points and four boards. However, he earned a quick hook from Calhoun after hitting a 3-pointer and giving the "Monocle" sign to the student section.

“He can do that if we’re in New Orleans playing for the national championship," said Calhoun. "But playing a Division 2 team, up 35 points … and he’s one of the great kids in this program, one of the nicest kids. It’s atypical. I don’t think you’ll see that move again.”

Said Daniels: “Coach was right, I was wrong for doing that. I was just kind of in the moment. I learn from my mistakes.”

*** Calhoun wasn't happy with the play of Alex Oriakhi (13 points, eight boards)

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Boatright Out Due to Eligibility Issue

UConn freshman Ryan Boatright will be held out of intercollegiate competition while the school works cooperatively with the NCAA in a review of his eligibility, a review that is not related to academics.

Boatright will continue to practice with the team and may sit on the bench during games, but will not dress or see action while the joint review takes place.

Boatright, an electrifying guard out of Aurora, Ill., is expected to back up Shabazz Napier at point guard this season. Last week, the Huskies welcomed a new walk-on, Brendan Allen of Windsor, on the team, and Allen has been seeing a lot of practice time at the point. Jim Calhoun said he expected to see Allen garner some minutes in the exhibition opener against AIC.

Boatright committed to UConn in October, 2010, after having given West Virginia's Bob Huggins a verbal commitment a couple of weeks earlier. The reason: Jabarie Hinds, another point guard (and UConn target) committed to WVU a couple of days after Boatright had, creating a logjam at the position in Morgantown.

And that wasn't the first time that Boatright seemed poised to attend a school but wound up not doing so. Remember when then-USC coach Tim Floyd created a stir when he recruited a 13-year-old kid out of Aurora, Ill.? That kid was Boatright.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Drummond Could Play vs. AIC

Looks like Andre Drummond may make his debut in a UConn uniform Wednesday night after all.

Drummond, who suffered a mild concussion and broken nose in practice on Friday, has been participating in non-contact drills. He was fitted for a mask and will try it on before the exhibition opener with AIC. If he feels comfortable with it on during UConn's 2:30 p.m. shootaround, he'll likely see some time -- though he won't be in the starting lineup.

Jim Calhoun said tomorrow's starting five will likely be Jeremy Lamb (who has clearly emerged as the team's leader, per the coach), Shabazz Napier (who has shown improvement in practice over the past few days), Alex Oriakhi, freshman DeAndre Daniels and Tyler Olander (who's been "our best overall big guy," according to Calhoun).

Here's my advance on the exhibition opener. A few other notes and quotes from today's availability:

*** Impressive walk-on Brendan Allen should see some significant playing time on Wednesday.

*** Calhoun feels very good about the team's man-to-man defense. The fast break has been better, too, now that Napier has been playing better.

*** Napier said he's been dealing with a sprained left ankle and a left knee injury, but is healthy now.

*** Kemba Walker and Kevin Ollie were complaining about not getting calls during scrimmages in practice. Ollie, apparently, even lobbied for a three-second violation.

"There has never been a call for the gray team," Calhoun said, "and there never will be."

*** When asked about Tony LaRussa's decision to retire as a world champion, Calhoun said, "Smart man." But he went on to stress how he has no desire to retire right now from a job he loves so much.

*** Jeremy Lamb apparently doesn't read his own press clippings. When asked how he felt about being named an AP Preseason First Team All-American, Lamb responded: “I think I heard about it yesterday. I can’t say it’s surprising, but I guess it’s a good accomplishment.”

*** Calhoun scored 27 points for AIC in a game at UConn on Dec. 1, 1964. His most memorable stat from that game?

"Eight stitches from Toby Kimball."

Indeed, Kimball tore down 28 rebounds that night, to go with 30 points in a 98-67 Husky win.

*** Enosch Wolf (right groin) has returned to practice and will be in uniform tomorrow night.

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