Friday, May 27, 2011

Edge of Seventeen?

According to Andy Katz's blog, Big East coaches want to continue to bring every Big East team to the annual conference championship tournament at Madison Square Garden in 2013, when the league will have expanded to 17 teams with the includsion of Texas Christian.

Some AD's apparently want to bring only 12 teams to New York, but the coaches would prefer all 17, with a five-game Tuesday kicking things off. Winners from that day would play seeds No. 5-7, then the quarterfinals on Thursday would look as they do now, and so on.

The presidents will likely decide on the number of teams for the 2013 tournament at their annual meeting this fall.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

McGarry to Visit UConn This Weekend

Per ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep, UConn will be getting an unofficial visit this weekend from Mitch McGarry, a 6-foot-10, Class of 2012 center out of Brewster Academy.


Want to Ride Your Bicycle?

The fifth annual NBC Connecticut Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk will be held at the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows on Iron Horse Boulevard in Simsbury on Saturday, June 11. The event benefits the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center in Farmington and Coaches vs. Cancer, an American Cancer Society program.

The ride and walk is presented by CIGNA and the Hartford law firm of RisCassi and Davis, and is dedicated in part to the memory of Eileen Fucile and Doris Davis.

There will be rides of 10, 25, 50 and 75 miles and a 5K walk/run. All participants in the ride and walk/run will receive a free gift bag and an invitation to a special closed practice of the 2011–2012 UConn men’s basketball team at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs in October 2011.

The event also includes a cookout featuring Price Chopper’s famous “House of Barbecue,” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, live music by the Timmy Maia Band, hot air balloon rides, children’s activities and more. The UConn Health Center Department of Dermatology will offer free skin cancer screenings from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also on hand will be UConn’s trophies for the 2011, 2004 and 1999 NCAA men’s basketball championships.

This annual event is hosted by Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun, head coach of the UConn men’s basketball team and a three-time cancer survivor.

“I stand as a cancer survivor determined to help in the fight against this terrible disease,” said Calhoun. “I invite all of Connecticut to grab their bikes or their running or walking shoes and join me on June 11th.”

Calhoun will participate in the bike ride along with a number of UConn men’s basketball assistant coaches and former players. His wife, Pat Calhoun, will lead the 5K walk/run with the hosts of “Sports Talk” on WTIC 1080 AM, Joe D’Ambrosio—also known as “the voice of the Huskies”—and Kevin Nathan. Nathan is also sports director at NBC Connecticut.

Children and well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome in the 5K walk. Register online at Visit the web site or call Gold, Orluk & Partners at 860.674.1500 for more information.


UConn White House Tour on ESPNU

I don't like ESPN. Coddles to the NFL so much it might as well be the NFL Network. But I'll give them this free plug:

UConn's visit to the White House, chronicled by ESPN's Andy Katz, will air on ESPNU tonight at 6:30 in high definition.

The Huskies made the most of their trip to Washington, D.C., where head coach Jim Calhoun, assistant coach Kevin Ollie, forward Jeremy Lamb and the team, offered inspiration to local kids during a basketball clinic for area youth. The group also toured the White House and spent quality time with President Obama, the first fan of college basketball.

If you miss tonight's broadcast, it will also re-air on Friday at midnight and Sunday at 11 and 11:30 a.m.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Calhoun on APR

As had been reported late last week, UConn has fallen short of the NCAA's APR standards. Here's what Jim Calhoun had to say, in a press release sent out by the school:

"We are all disappointed in our academic performance and going forward we are going to attack this in the only way I know how and that is to work as hard as possible to get better every day.

I do know that over the past year we have made improvements and are moving in the right direction. I believe that we have good, hard-working people in a position to make a positive difference.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Sellers to Hofstra?

The Hofstra men's basketball team could start to look like mini-UConn pretty soon.

According to Jeff Goodman of, former UConn assistant coach Patrick Sellers is expected to be named one of Mo Cassara's assistants. And, the Dutchmen are one of the possible destinations for Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, who has already made one unofficial visit to the Hofstra campus and is hoping to take another.

Either way, good to see Sellers land on his feet. He was let go by UConn in the wake of the Nate Miles recruiting violations, but since then his name has been cleared of all wrongdoing.

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Calhoun to Headline SWIM Event

Jim Calhoun will headline St. Vincent's 8th Annual SWIM Prostate Cancer Institute Celebrity Dinner on Thursday, June 16 at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport.

The event will begin with a celebrity meet and greet reception at 6 p.m., a silent acution of unique sports memorablilia and a dinner program at 7:15 p.m.

The funds raised from the dinner will allow the SWIM Prostate Cancer Institute to continue its free monthly community screening program for uninsured men age 50 to 60 and high-risk men age 40 to 50. The SWIM PCI provided prostate cancer screenings to more than 336 men in 2010. The SWIM PCI also sponsors monthly support groups, the Prostate Cancer Buddy Network, educational lecture series, clinical trials and financial assistance to cancer patients and their families when needed.

Tickets are $250 for the Meet & Greet Reception, Dinner & Program or just $125 for the Dinner & Program only. Table sponsorships are also available.

To purchase tickets or for more information, contact St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation at 203-576-5451.


Friday, May 20, 2011

APR Clarification

The APR situation and how teams are penalized for not living up to its standards can be a bit confusing. With that in mind, my prior blog post was a bit misleading about why UConn is being docked two scholarships.

The Huskies are losing two because its four-year rolling average was under 925, AND it had 0-for-2 athletes on its roster -- players with remaining eligibility who left the school in bad academic standing.

Had UConn achieved a 925 or above score, it would not have lost the two scholarships, no matter how many 0-for-2's it had on its roster.

Here's Why UConn Loses Two Scholarships ...

It wasn't supposed to be revealed publicly until Tuesday, but thanks to a glitch on the part of the NCAA, the APR scores of college teams from across the country became public knowledge this morning.

And, as expected, the UConn men's team will be docked two scholarships next season for its failure to meet APR standards. The Huskies' four-year rolling average APR score, from 2006-2010, is 893 -- below the standard score of 925.

UConn is a first-time APR violator, so it is subject simply to "public notice." So why are the Huskies being docked two skollies? Because while teams aren't penalized solely for falling short on APR the first time, they lose scholarships for every "0-for-2" player on the most recent academic year's team roster. The Huskies had two players from last year's team leave school while not in good academic standing (i.e., they flunked out), so they lose two scholarships.

It will likely get worse next year, too. Teams falling short on APR for a second time lose a scholarship (on top of any "0-for-2's") as well as practice time. The Huskies' APR for the 2009-10 team was a grisly 826, and all signs point to the Huskies falling short on their four-year average at this time next year.

Fall short a third time and the Huskies would be ineligible for postseason play. The good news for Husky fans is that they look to be in pretty good shape in two years, since the classes from 2008-12 appear to be in decent academic standing.

(Here's my story in today's Register)

The program has already been docked a scholarship by the NCAA for violations in the recruitment of Nate Miles and the defending national champions will have just 10 scholarships for next season. UConn has eight returning scholarship players and one incoming freshman (Ryan Boatright of Aurora, Ill.), meaning it currently has just one to give out to a prospective recruit for next season.

Failing to meet APR standards will hurt Jim Calhoun in his checkbook, too. Per his contract, his bonus for winning the national championship (about $87,500) would only be paid if the team meets APR standards. Also, he must donate $100,000 to the school’s general scholarship fund, meaning UConn’s APR shortcomings could cost the Hall of Fame coach about $187,500.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blue Mondy

Providence College sophomore guard Duke Mondy became the latest Friar player to be released from his scholarship on Thursday. Monday played in 28 games last season and averaged 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Mondy had been involved in several incidents in his time at PC. He was present last spring when teammates James Still and Johnnie Lacy were charged with a brutal assault of a fellow PC student on campus. And he was not allowed to play in the Friars' final four games last year for unspecified reasons.

PC officials aren't disclosing why Mondy was released.

No, he's not coming to UConn.


For What it's Worth ...

UConn is a 25-to-1 pick to repeat as national champions, per North Carolina is 3-to-1 favorites to win it all.

Odds to Win the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship:

North Carolina 3/1
Duke 8/1
Louisville 17/2
Ohio State 17/2
Syracuse 12/1
Kentucky 13/2
Texas 18/1
Florida 18/1
Memphis 20/1
Pittsburgh 20/1
UCLA 20/1
Kansas 22/1
Connecticut 25/1
Michigan State 25/1
St. John's 25/1
Indiana 30/1
Arizona 35/1
Baylor 35/1
Butler 35/1
Georgetown 35/1
Gonzaga 35/1
Michigan 35/1
Notre Dame 35/1
Vanderbilt 35/1
Kansas State 50/1
Texas A&M 50/1
Villanova 50/1
Washington 50/1
Wisconsin 55/1
Alabama 60/1
Temple 60/1
Tennessee 60/1
West Virginia 60/1
Florida State 65/1
Boston College 75/1
Cincinnati 75/1
Illinois 75/1
Minnesota 75/1
Mississippi State 75/1
Missouri 75/1
Oregon 75/1
Purdue 75/1
UNLV 75/1
Xavier 75/1
Arkansas 100/1
California 100/1
Clemson 100/1
Colorado 100/1
Georgia 100/1
Georgia Tech 100/1
Marquette 100/1
Maryland 100/1
New Mexico 100/1
North Carolina State 100/1
Oklahoma 100/1
Oklahoma State 100/1
Richmond 100/1
San Diego State 100/1
Seton Hall 100/1
St. Mary's 100/1
Stanford 100/1
USC 100/1
Utah State 100/1
VCU 100/1
Virginia Tech 100/1
Washington State 100/1
Iowa 125/1
Mississippi 125/1
Arizona State 150/1
BYU 150/1
LSU 150/1
Miami FL 150/1
Old Dominion 150/1
Penn State 150/1
South Carolina 150/1
Auburn 200/1
Rutgers 200/1
South Florida 200/1
Texas Tech 200/1
UAB 200/1
UTEP 200/1
Virginia 200/1
Wake Forest 200/1

Huskies will Host Arkansas on Dec. 3

UConn will play Arkansas in a Big East/SEC Challenge game on Saturday, Dec. 3, either in Storrs or Hartford. Here's the release sent out by UConn:

The pairings for the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge have been announced and defending National Champion UConn will host Arkansas on Saturday, December 3, 2011. The time and location are to be determined. The two teams will play at either Gampel Pavilion in Storrs or the XL Center in Hartford.

“We are excited to be a part of what should be a great event. It is a competition that will be beneficial for the BIG EAST and for UConn and we think our game with Arkansas will be highly competitive and exciting for college basketball fans,” said Head Coach Jim Calhoun.

The BIG EAST/SEC Challenge will begin its fifth year pitting two of the premier conferences in the NCAA. Both conferences have won eight games in 16 contests. Connecticut owns a 0-1 record, falling to Kentucky, 64-61, at Madison Square Garden on December 9, 2009.

The two conferences have agreed to change the format in 2011 and 2012. For the first time, all-12 teams in the SEC will compete compared to the four-game format in the past. Also a first in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge, all games will be played on campus sites.

Since 1999, the SEC (five) and the BIG EAST (eight) have combined for 13 Final Four appearances and six national titles: Connecticut (1999, 2004 and 2011), Florida (2006 and 2007) and Syracuse (2003).

The BIG EAST/SEC Challenge involves nine teams ranked in the early preseason top 25 by senior college basketball writer Andy Katz: No. 2 Kentucky, No. 4 Syracuse, No. 6 Connecticut, No. 7 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Louisville, No. 12 Florida, No. 14 Alabama, No. 17 Pittsburgh and No. 19 Cincinnati. Overall, the field of 24 consists of 13 teams from the 2011 NCAA Tournament (eight from the BIG EAST and five from the SEC).

UConn is coming off its third National Championship, defeating Butler in the National Championship, 53-41. The Huskies lost consensus First-Team All-American Kemba Walker to the NBA but return 2011 BIG EAST All-Rookie selections Jeremy Lamb (Norcross, Ga.) and Shabazz Napier (Randolph, Mass.) along with current sophomore Alex Oriakhi (Lowell, Mass.) and freshman Roscoe Smith (Baltimore, Md.).

Arkansas finished 2010-11 with an 18-13 overall record, including a 7-9 mark in the South Eastern Conference. Arkansas lost to Tennessee in the first round of the SEC Tournament, 74-68.

ESPN will provide exclusive coverage of all 12 games across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

Thursday, December 1st

St. John’s @ Kentucky
Providence @ South Carolina
Georgetown @ Alabama
Mississippi @ DePaul

Friday, December 2nd

Cincinnati @ Georgia
Florida @ Syracuse
Auburn @ Seton Hall
Vanderbilt @ Louisville

Saturday, December 3rd

Arkansas @ Connecticut (site TBD)
LSU @ Rutgers
Pittsburgh @ Tennessee


Coombs-McDaniel: 'It's Just Business'

For anyone who thinks Jamal Coombs-McDaniel was pushed out of UConn after his arrest for marijuana possession, think again.

Coombs-McDaniel told me on Thursday that he had decided to transfer prior to his April 21 arrest on the UConn campus.

"Oh yeah, yeah, I had made up my mind before that," he said. "I was just looking for schools, and I found some schools, so I'm just going from there."

(Read my article in the Register here).

Coombs-McDaniel listed Hofstra, Miami (Fla.), Missouri and UC-Irvine as potential destinations. He's already made an unofficial visit to Hofstra, which is coached by longtime New England basketball guru Mo Cassara, and plans on visiting Miami next week and Missouri the week after that. Phil Pressey, Coombs-McDaniel's AAU teammate and good friend, plays at Mizzou.

As to the reason why he's transferring, Coombs-McDaniel said: "I just wanted to play more, finish up my career strong, personally, and basically be a main, focal player on a team at this point in my career ... My playing time was going up, going down, going up, and we have a lot of good kids coming back next year. I don't want to spend my junior year like that. I want to be happy throughout the year."

He added that he and coach Jim Calhoun were "cool."

"I respect him, I'm sure he respects me. It's just personal business. I have to look for a better situation for me."

Coombs-McDaniel said he'll return to UConn on June 1 to take a summer school session, then be on his way.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

Got a press release in my work mail box today (the old kind of mail box, not my e-mail in-box) from the University of Dayton. Release talks about how the school's multi-sport, on-campus practice facility has been given a new name (Cronin Athletics Center) and will undergo a major renovation project this summer.

The project will create new offices, meeting spaces, film rooms and technology suits for UD's most prominent sports programs -- men's basketball, women's basketball (!) and vollyeball (!!).

When completed, the release adds, the 9,000-square foot project will also create additional space for the Office of Academic Services for Student Athletes, as well as other UD athletic programs.

Which begs the question: if Dayton has a 9,000 square-foot practice facility for all 17 of its programs, and make major renovations to accomodate its volleyball program, why the heck can't UConn build a practice facility for its national championship basketball team(s).

Just wondering.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Bit of Recruiting Info

If there's one thing e-mailers have been asking me for more than anything else over the past month or so it's been recruiting updates.

Fact is, there aren't a whole lot to give right now, though I try my best in this story in the Register. Bottom line: UConn appears to be working under the assumption that it's got just one scholarship to give, and the Huskies need to make sure it's utilized well. The Huskies have been paying particular attention to some players who have recently de-committed from other programs.

As for Andre Drummond? Wouldn't count on it. I spoke to his coach at St. Thomas More, Jere Quinn, earlier today and he said that Drummond is absolutely returning next year for another year of prep school. Led by the efforts of Kevin Ollie, UConn may still be holding out hope for a change of mind from Drummond, but knows it's highly unlikely. Of course, he'll still top the Huskies' 2012 wish list.

(By the way, Quinn seems to think Drummond wouldn't be eligible for the 2012 NBA draft, since he'll still be 18. However, my understanding is that as long as Drummond turns 19 during the year of the draft -- which he will -- he'd be eligible. Either way, the point may be moot: Drummond's mother wants her son to go to college, according to Quinn).

UConn is very, very interested in a pair of current Tilton (N.H.) School products: Nerlens Noel, a 6-10 Class of 2013 center, and Wayne Selden, a 6-4 Class of '14 guard.

Oh, and as to Huskies' past: Jamal Coombs-McDaniel has some suitors in Hofstra, Miami and Missouri, I'm told. Hofstra seems to be making the biggest push, though it's still very early. And Missouri would appear to be a long-shot.

An even longer shot (as in not happening)? Boston College, or any Boston-area school, for that matter.

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Calhoun to be Honored (Again) on Wednesday

First the White House, now the New York Athletic Club.

Jim Calhoun will be presented with the Winged Foot Award, given annually to the national championship men's and women's basketball coaches, at the New York Athletic Club tomorrow in Manhattan. It will be the third time (obviously) that Calhoun has been so honored.


Monday, May 16, 2011

UConn Likes Gibbs

According to Adam Zagoria's blog, UConn is interested in Sterling Gibbs, 6-foot-1 point guard out of New York City. Might seem a little strange, since the Huskies already have Shabazz Napier in the fold and Chicago's Ryan Boatright set to join the team next fall.

But you can never have enough of a good thing -- and Gibbs, who has received his release from a commitment to Maryland following Gary Williams' retirement and was visiting Texas this past weekend, is a good one.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Huskies Going to Washington

The UConn men's basketball team will head to the White House on Monday to meet President Obama in a ceremony honoring their 2011 NCAA championship.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Coombs-McDaniel Transferring

Jamal Coombs-McDaniel has been granted permission to speak to other schools and will be transferring from UConn.

Here's the story I wrote for the Register on Coombs-McDaniel's transfer. Apparently, his transcript was opened up for other interested schools a few days ago, and Missouri and Hofstra are said to be two of multiple schools interested in his services.

Coombs-McDaniel had told the Register during the Huskies' Final Four run that he had considered transferring earlier this season. Now, apparently, he has solidified his decision.


Coombs-McDaniel ... To Be Continued

Jamal Coombs-McDaniel had his case for marijuana possession continued until May 19 this morning.

Coombs-McDaniel was at Rockville Superior Court this morning but didn't appear before a judge. He spoke briefly to reporters, but didn't want to talk about the case. He is apparently being represented by a relative from the Boston area.

We can report that his knee surgery last month went well and that he's currently working out on the stationary bike and doing other non-running exercises.

Oh, and the brand of cigars Coombs-McDaniel and two others were found to be in possession of, along with 5.6 grams of marijuana? Backwoods Mild 'n Wild.

Happy Cinqo de Mayo!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mann Up?

UConn has offered 6-foot-5 guard Charles Mann out of Georgia, and he seems to like the Huskies a lot.

"That's pretty much my dream school," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Mann will be visiting Georgia Tech on Friday, and has received offers from about 10 other schools.


It's Official: Miller is New UConn Assistant

Here's the press release:

The University of Connecticut announced Wednesday the naming of Glen Miller to the position of Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach. Miller served as the Director of Men's Basketball Administration for the 2010-11 season.

“I am so happy to be able to move Glen into the position of assistant coach,” said head coach Jim Calhoun. “Glen is an exceptional teacher of the game of basketball and I am excited that he will be able to get back on the court for us this year.”

“I am thrilled to be back on the court coaching and teaching and also back on the road recruiting,” said Miller. “ I enjoyed the past year being back here at UConn and hope that I can continue to have a positive impact in an assistant coach spot.”

Miller is a graduate of UConn, former basketball letterwinner (at UConn and Northeastern) and former assistant coach under Jim Calhoun at UConn and spent 17 seasons as a collegiate head coach, 11 years in the Ivy League at the Division I level. He rejoined the UConn staff in June of 2010 in the position of Director of Basketball Administration.

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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