Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lamb Nets 15 in USA's Romp

Jeremy Lamb scored 15 points to help the USA U-19 team to a 115-60 rout of Egypt in its FIBA World Championship opening game in Liepaja, Latvia.

Lamb shot 6-for-12 from the floor, including 3 of 6 3-pointers, while adding five assists and three steals in the Americans' romp. Creighton's Doug McDermott led the way with 19 points for Team USA, which scored the game's first 22 points. Memphis' Joe Jackson also netted 15.

USA will face Serbia ono Friday. Serbia beat China, 78-73.

"The young men focused on the things we wanted to focus on, defensively especially. I like the fact that we shared the basketball and we had a lot of guys get some good looks at the basket and make some shots," said USA U119 mentor Paul Hewitt (George Mason).

"I was happy with our ball movement and I thought we defended well, but in particular ball movement and we made some threes. I think any team that wins this world championship is going to have shoot the ball well from the outside and that's usually keyed by good passing."


UConn's League Opponents, Sites Announced

The Big East announced its league opponents and game sites today. UConn will play home contests with Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Seton Hall, Syracuse and West Virginia.

The Huskies will travel to play Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, South Florida, Syracuse and Villanova.

That means UConn will play Notre Dame, Seton Hall and Syracuse twice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kemba Keeping Up Appearances

Here's a story filed by Dan Podheiser of the Middletown Press, our sister paper, on Kemba Walker's visit to Avon today for a one-day clinic for kids:

The hard-hitting questions were coming at Kemba Walker one after another.

“What size shoe do you wear?”

“What’s your second favorite sport?”

“Do you play XBox ... what’s your online name?”

For the 117 kids who showed up at Roaring Brook Elementary School on Wednesday, getting a chance to mingle with their UConn idol meant more than shaking his hand and getting an autographed photo. It was a chance to learn from the best.

Walker teamed with some of the top basketball instructors in the state to put on the All Pro Sports one-day basketball clinic for kids. From layup and boxing-out drills to a 30-minute lecture on “positive choices,” the clinic is designed to give kids an introduction on the basics of basketball — and a reason to get out of the house during the summer.

“Having a guy like Kemba here is an easy way to get the kids to our camp,” said Tim Leahy, who founded All Pro Sports five years ago. “But once [the kids] get here, they keep coming back because of the quality of our instructors, and because it’s fun.”

Leahy, who played college basketball at Eastern Connecticut State University, teams with co-director and former UConn basketball walk-on Steve Emt to put on basketball and soccer clinics across the state during the summer.

The duo takes pride in running clinics that not only help kids with their skills, but also provide valuable insight from positive role models like Walker.

“Given all the things kids have to do over the summer, I think it says something about our clinic that we can have a packed gym on a Wednesday afternoon,” said Emt, who is also the head basketball coach at RHAM in Hebron.

As for Walker, the recent first-round pick (ninth overall) of the Charlotte Bobcats is biding his time before he and the rest of the NBA finds out about the league’s future. The uncertain lockout situation leaves recent draftees like Walker without much direction this summer, but the reigning NCAA champ is staying busy.

“I got a place on Long Island so I’ll be living there for a while, just working out and trying to stay in shape” said Walker, who noted that he’s rooming with former Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins, another Bronx native. Jenkins was taken in the second round by the Golden State Warriors in last week’s draft.

Walker says he’s looking for a place in Charlotte and plans to move his family down there as well. Though he hasn’t officially made any money for playing basketball yet, he has started to cash in on his new professional status.

“My agency is keeping me pretty busy with appearances and stuff,” he said.
And though he might not have a chance to practice with his new teammates for a while, Walker won’t have to look too far to find a competitive game at his new residence.

“I mean, it’s New York. It’s not too hard to find guys who can play.”

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Ever Think You'd See This Day?

... Me neither!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lamb Nets 13 in Team USA's Loss

The USA U-19 National team fell to the Lithuanian U-19 squad, 108-75, in an exhibition game Tuesday in Vilnius, Lithuania. It's the US team's second straight exhibition loss to the Lithuanians.

Creighton's Doug McDermott led USA with 15 points and seven boards while Jeremy Lamb added 13 points.

The Americans, playing in their second and final exhibition contest, led just once (6-5) all game.


Daniels Arrives at UConn

DeAndre Daniels set foot on UConn's campus for the first time on Monday. So far, so good ... and busy.

Daniels, the highly-touted recruit who committed to the Huskies earlier this month, has had a whirlwind first couple of days: getting together his schoolbooks, computers, dorm key, etc.; scrimmaging with some of his new teammates; grabbing dinner with Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith and Ryan Boatright; taking two classes this morning; his first workout in the weight room; a tutorial sesson; another scrimmage this evening.

"It's been crazy, so far," he said on Tuesday, shortly after a weight-room session with Oriakhi, Smith and Boatright. "They're treating me like I'm already family, so, I'm happy."

Daniels, a 6-foot-7 forward originally from Los Angeles who appears to be an affable kid, chose UConn without ever having visited the campus. His father, LaRon, visited and liked what he saw, and that was good enough for DeAndre.

"Just listening to my dad, I sat down with my family and thought this was the best situation for me," he noted.

Daniels, a 6-foot-7 forward, can't wait to start this season.

"They won a championship," he pointed out. "Losing Kemba, that's a big part, but we've got me and Ryan Boatright to come in and help try to fill – not fill Kemba's spot – but help the team and hopefully get us back to the national championship."

Daniels considers himself a small forward but says he can "do anything on the court -- post up, whatever Coach needs me to do."

Daniels originally committed to Texas in 2009 but, realizing he had made the decision too early, off his first offer, he de-committed. A year later, he opened up the recruiting process again, and chose UConn.

Playing for Jim Calhoun, in a program that has put numerous wing players in the NBA, was obviously a big factor. So was fellow Los Angeles native Kevin Ollie.

"Me and Coach Ollie, we connect like that."

Daniels said he'll be on campus for the whole summer.

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Alex Oriakhi, El Capitan

Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith walked across campus to a Subway with UConn's two new freshmen, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels, on Monday evening. It was as much a bonding experience as a chance to grab a bite to eat.

Oriakhi, a junior, and Smith, a sophomore, gave the newcomers the lay of the land a little bit, explained to them what it's like being a UConn men's basketball player and politely warning them, "I hope you guys are ready."

"We were just trying to let them know they're part of the team, too," Oriakhi explained. "We were just getting them comfortable, because we want to make them feel as if they're part of the team. At the end of the day, they're going to war with us."

While it may seem like little more than a random gesture – fellas gotta eat, after all – the experience was a small example of Oriakhi's new role at UConn. About a month ago, he and sophomore Shabazz Napier were named co-captains by head coach Jim Calhoun. It's an important role for any player on any team, but perhaps even more so considering the leadership void they're trying to fill: the one left by Kemba Walker, maybe the greatest leader in program history – not to mention Donnell Beverly, whose veteran presence also provided great stewardship for last year's national-champion Huskies.

"It's definitely a great honor, and a lot of pressure at the same time," Oriakhi admitted, shortly after an early-afternoon workout with Boatright. "Just to be captain, I'm the leader and everybody's going to look to me and Shabazz. That's definitely the pressure you kind of want, being one of the best players on the team. No complaints, really."

Oriakhi watched and learned from Walker and Beverly last year, noting how they kept "everybody together" throughout the summer, all the way to Houston. That's exactly what Oriakhi is trying to do now.

"The big men work out in the morning, I'm just pushing them and giving them a lot of confidence, just telling Mike and Enosch, you guys are going to be playing a lot this year, we need you guys," he said. "Just showing them hard work can really pay off. I think they're really buying into that. They're really working extremely hard."

It won't be as easy for Oriakhi this summer, as he may have a lot of traveling to do. He attended the Amare Stoudemire Camp for big men last week in Chicago and is hoping for an invitation off that to the LeBron James Skills Camp.

Later in July, he'll be playing in the World University Games, starting off in Colorado Springs, Colo., then jetting off to China.

Oriakhi doesn't think it's asking too much for Napier to serve as captain, even though he's just a sophomore.

"To me, Shabaazz has always been mature," he said. "He definitely plays like it. For him to learn from Kemba in one year, and now it's his turn … I know it's kind of early for him to be given such a huge role, but he's good enough and he's more than capable of doing it, so I don't think there's any pressure for him, only because we think he's that good and he has the ability to do it."

Speaking of Kemba, Oriakhi couldn't be happier that his former teammate went ninth overall in Thursday night's NBA draft – though he was surprised to see him slip a bit as a few European players got picked ahead of him.

Oriakhi may have more than just a viewing interest in next June's draft. Some mock drafts are already projecting him as a late-first or early-second round pick. Oriakhi insists he doesn't worry about that stuff.

"I try to just focus on being the best player I can be at Connecticut, and everything else takes care of itself," he said. "You think of stuff like that, it doesn't really help you at all. I'm just trying to be the best player I can be, I don't really pay attention to all that. The NBA's not going anywhere."

Quite literally, with the lockout and all.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lithuania Thumps USA U-19 Team; Lamb Scores 6

Jeremy Lamb scored six points in 18 foul-plagued minutes as the U.S. Under-19 team lost to Lithuania's Under-20 squad 101-72 on Sunday in Panevezys, Lithuania.

Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan/Miami, Fla.) paced the USA offense with 18 points, 16 coming in the second half. Team USA had only arrived in Lithuania about 26 hours before tip-off.

Joe Jackson (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.) added 13 points and a team-leading eight rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Americans, while Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa) finished with 12 points and four rebounds.

Lamb started and shot 2-for-6 from the floor (2-for-4 on 3-pointers) to go along with a pair of rebounds and three turnovers. He committed four fouls.

"I thought the Lithuanian team played very well, especially in the first half. They moved the ball extremely well and did a great job of screening our guys," commented USA head coach Paul Hewitt (George Mason). "I expected us to play better. I don't think we played very well. But again credit should go to Lithuania, they played well.

"I thought the thing we learned from this game is just how physical the game is. We have to raise our level of physicality, especially on the defense end, firing through screens, and on the offensive end, setting better screens. I thought in the first half we were a little timid, a little light on our screens. In the second half, especially in the third quarter, we did as better job. We picked it up defensively, picked it up offensively and did much better.

The U.S. never found its rhythm in the game. Falling behind 5-0, Jackson converted two free throws and Meyers Leonard (Illinois/Robinson, Ill.) hit a short jumper with 8:30 left on the clock to close the gap to 5-4. The USA shooting went arctic cold from that point and the red, white and blue didn't hit another jumper until the 2:36 mark of the period, and by then the USA was looking at a 26-8 deficit.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Former Hillhouse, PC Hoopster Shot Dead

Sad story out of New Haven: Former Hillhouse High and Providence College basketball player Donell Allick was shot dead early Friday morning.

I got to know Allick a little bit while covering PC for the Pawtucket Times back in the early 2000's. Seemed like a nice enough kid. According to the Register's story, he was one credit short of earning his degree from Louisiana Tech. Very sad.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Majok Wowed Lakers in Italy

So where has Ater Majok been since his one unillustrious season at UConn?

Well, after leaving UConn in September, 2010, he went over to Turkey and played for about two months, averaging about 14 points per game. He then returned to his adopted homeland, Australia, where he hooked up with a team called the Gold Coast Blaze.

Before that season ended, however, Majok asked for his release so that he could start preparing for the NBA draft. He worked out in front of a bunch of teams in group settings, one time going through a vigorous workout with ex-NBA player and coach John Lucas in Houston while several teams watched.

But it was a the adidas Euro Camp in Italy a few weeks ago, where many of the top international players work out and where all 30 teams were represented, where Majok really started opening some eyes.

"They played him at the the 3 position," said his agent, Mike Lelchitski. "He's been working to transition to playing the 3. He had a really tough time in college playing the 4 and 5. He's tall, but that's not naturally his position. He was able to really turn some heads and did a lot of things people never saw and didn't expect. He ran the court and altered shots, but also played great perimeter defense, locked down some of the great international players, and shot the ball extremely well from 3."

Majok played so well that the Lakers invited him for an individual workout last week, the only individual workout the 6-foot-11 Majok had.

"The Lakers were extremely interested right off the bat," Lelchitski said. "They had four second-round picks and they were looking for guys that could develop down the line."

Majok will attend a Lakers mini-camp next week out in L.A. After that, thanks to the NBA's unsettled labor situation, everything is up in the air.

"Ater wants to have ability to play in NBA one day," Lelchitski said. "That’s his dream. Whatever steps they suggest he take, he’s open to them. He has a lot of interest in Europe right now. I think that’s a great place for him to develop. His passport allows him certain opportunities in Europle others don’t have. Even if he's not in the NBA the next 1-2 years, he's in a great spot, because he has a team that believes in him enough to invest a draft pick, which says a lot."


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jennings Give Kemba a Man-Hug

Kemba Walker is congratulated by Brandon Jennings -- who, ironically, nearly went to UConn -- after being selected 9th overall in NBA draft. In fact, had Jennings gone to Storrs, Walker probably wouldn't have wound up a Husky.

And here, Kemba meets the Connecticut media shortly after being selected:

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Kemba Walker Picked Ninth by Bobcats

I’m not sure what this says, or if it means anything at all, but I find it ironic that Derrick Williams (Arizona), Enes Kanter (Kentucky … sorta), Tristan Thompson (Texas) and Brandon Knight (Kentucky) – all of whom were beaten by Kemba Walker and UConn this season – all were selected before Walker in the NBA Draft.

I don’t know, just found that interesting. Personally, I would have looked over Walker’s alleged shortcomings and recognized his heart and winning attitude. Apparently the NBA’s greatest winner of all time (with apologies to Bill Russell) felt the same way.

Some Kemba quotes from tonight:

(on MJ)

“I’m happy he’s giving me this opportunity. He’s the greatest player ever to play the game, so anything I can learn from that man, I’m going to ask a lot of questions.”

“He was a winner, he had a lot of heart when he played. I’m all about heart. I go out there and compete every night, and I’m not going to go down without a fight.”

(on being picked ninth)

“I’m happy, I can’t complain at all. If I went (No.) 30, I wouldn’t be mad, honestly. I’m just happy to be in the NBA. I’m just going to continue to work hard and keep improving … Of course I wish I could have gone higher, but who cares? I’m with Michael Jordan.”

(on tearing up after hearing his name announced by David Stern)

“I told myself I was going to hold it in, but I couldn’t. I’m a very emotional guy, and when great things happen to me, I let it show.”

( On possibly having to battle current Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin at the point):

“As far as sharing time with D.J., I have no problem. As long as we’re playing well and we’re winning, if I can do anything possible to help that team, I’m willing … I’m definitely more confident playing on the ball, but last year, having to score so much, I learned how to be off the ball. If there’s a situation where me and D.J. (are) in the game together, both of us, depending how the night is going, can play off the ball, so there’s no problem with that.”

(on everything that’s transpired over the past year)

“It’s been like a movie. This whole year has been magical, honestly So many different, crazy things have been happening to me. I just feel blessed. I have God on my side and, hopefully, the sky is the limit for me.”

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Lamb Makes U-19 Team

OK, this time we mean it: Jeremy Lamb has earned a spot on the USA U-19 World Championship team. The team, featuring five players with prior USA Basketball experience, will look to defend the gold medal won by the U.S. in 2009 at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship.

Named to the 2011 USA Basketball U19 World Championship squad were: Keith Appling (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.); James Bell (Villanova/Orlando, Fla.); Anthony Brown (Stanford/Huntington Beach, Calif.); Jahii Carson (Mesa High School/*Arizona State/Phoenix, Ariz.); Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan/Miami, Fla.); Joe Jackson (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.); Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut/ Norcross, Ga.); Meyers Leonard (Illinois/Robinson, Ill.); Khyle Marshall (Butler/Davie, Fla.); Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa); Tony Mitchell (North Texas/Dallas, Texas); and Patric Young (Florida/Jacksonville, Fla.).

George Mason University mentor Paul Hewitt is head coach of the USA U19 World Championship Team, and is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Randy Bennett of St. Mary's College and Cliff Warren of Jacksonville University.

"I like the depth and versatility of this team, in particular our big guys. I think our big guys are a great presence around the basket and do an excellent job of screening," said Hewitt. "Defense will have to be a staple for this team and we have work to do. I'm not happy with where we are defensively. I think we made steps, we're doing some good things, but in order to compete for the gold medal we have to get better.

"The selection was harder than I expected. The young man we decided not to keep, Javon McCrae, it was really just a numbers situation, he played more than well enough to make the team. We just didn't feel comfortable going over there without three point guards," Hewitt stated.

The team will complete its domestic training Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and then depart for Europe on June 24. The USA squad will train June 25-28 in Lithuania. The Americans will face the Lithuania U20 National Team in an exhibition game on June 26 in Panevrzys, Lithuania, and then meet the Lithuania U19 National Team on June 28 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men is being held


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Golf is no Fool's Game

Jim Calhoun and George Blaney played in today's Travelers celebrity pro-am with Michael Bolton. For those who think Bolton is simply a balladeer who remakes R&B standards and keeps winning Grammies, it may interest you to know that he's got a heavy metal past.

(For what it's worth, Bolton apparently can really kill the ball off the tee).

Caught up with Blaney after their round with pro Ryan Moore was rain-shortened after 14 holes. Blaney spoke about what he envisioned for Kemba Walker in tomorrow night's NBA Draft.

"Every pro team that I've talked to couldn't get over the stories about what a good kid he was," Blaney said. "Jim had told a story at one of the dinners about how when Kemba won the MVP of the Maui tournament and won the MVP of the Big East tournament, after each of those tournaments, he was the last guy on the bus going back to the hotel. And he had the trophy both times. Both times he got on the bus and the team stood up and gave him a standing ovation. I told that to a bunch of general managers and they were blown away by that, I thought."

Where will Walker wind up, and what teams seem to like him the most?

"When you're in the top 10, it can be three as well as 10 in a heartbeat, because it just depends on who gets picked before you. It changes quickly. I'm hoping he goes anywhere from three to seven."

"I thought Utah and Sacramento and Toronto showed the most interest, in my conversations with them. But you don't know until the guy ahead of you picks, and who's left on the board at that time. Caron (Butler) was supposed to go four, and somebody got picked ahead and he wound up going 10. Those things can happen."

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Ollie Not Hiding Under a Rock

Dreary day here at the Travelers Championship pro-am day. Rain has cancelled the remainder of the morning round. Jim Calhoun, playing in a group with pro Ryan Moore, as well as George Blaney and Michael Bolton (not the guy from 'Office Space,' either), got in 14 holes before rain ended their day.

Kevin Ollie and Ray Allen played in a group with Jim Furyk. Hopefully they didn't try to emulate his swing.

Afterwards, Ollie talked about a few things, including the prevailing thought that he will be Calhoun's successor some day at UConn.

Yes, he's heard the rumors.

"Unless you're hiding under a rock, you hear your name," he said. "But I don't get caught up in that. I take it one day at a time. God has given me this day to be on this Earth, and that's the only thing I'm concentrating on. If it does come to me being the head coach there, I'd love the opportunity. But anything can happen. I'm just going to go out there and try to be the best coach I can be, learn from a Hall of Fame coach, learn from Coach Blaney, who's got over 400 wins. Learn from Glen Miller, who's been a head basketball coach for 17 years. I've got a plethora of people to learn from, and I'm just an empty cup trying to get better each and every day."

Ollie also talked about Kemba Walker and where he may go in tomorrow night's NBA Draft.

"I'm just hearing that he's definitely going to be a top 10 pick," Ollie said. "He's comfortable taking it all in. The place he's in right now is great. He deserves everything he's going to get. He's going to be a great player when he gets to the NBA because of his drive, his passion and his will to win are all off the charts. Every level he's been at, he's been a winner, so I don't see that changing when he gets to the NBA."

He said Utah and Sacramento appear to be potential landing spots, but hopes that isn't true for one selfish reason.

"I'm kinda biased, I wish he was on the East Coast," Ollie confessed. "I'm getting kinda old in age, so I go to sleep on those TNT games at 10:30 p.m. Hopefully he'll be East, but it looks like he'll be out West somewhere."

Ollie said he's talked to Walker "throughout the year" on what to expect about the draft process, being an NBA player, etc.

"Now, he's just enjoying the process, listening to his agents, I know he's probably called Coach Calhoun," Ollie said. "Just letting him enjoy this. This is his time. It's going to be a great, great opportunity for him to hear his name get called, hopefully meet David Stern. Hopefully the kids that are in our program now see his determination, see his due diligence, see his preparation each and every day and try to emulate that some way, somehow."

Oh yeah, the obligatory 'is Calhoun coming back?' question:

"We just see him every day, working so hard, beating me into the office. At 8:30 a.m., he's grinding away. Hopefully he's coming back, but you just never know. He deserves this opportunity to sit back and talk to his family, come up with the best decision for him and his family."

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Come Chat About Kemba at 2 p.m.

I'll be doing a chat about Kemba Walker and the NBA draft today (Wednesday) at 2 p.m. Please feel free to join and ask a question or two at:


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lamb Named to U-19 National Team

Jeremy Lamb is one of 13 players named to the 2011 USA Men's Under-19 World Championship Team. The selections were made after four training sessions over the past four days. The USA squad will look to defend the gold medal won in 2009 at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship that runs June 30-July 10 in Latvia.

Named as a finalist for the USA U19 World Championship squad were: Keith Appling (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.); James Bell (Villanova/Orlando, Fla.); Anthony Brown (Stanford/Huntington Beach, Calif.); .); Jahii Carson (Mesa High School/*Arizona State/Phoenix, Ariz.);Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan/Miami, Fla.); Joe Jackson (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.); Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut/Norcross, Ga.); Meyers Leonard (Illinois/Robinson, Ill.); Khyle Marshall (Butler/Davie, Fla.); Javon McCrea (Buffalo/Newark, N.Y.); Doug McDermott (Creighton/ Ames, Iowa); Tony Mitchell (North Texas/Dallas, Texas); and Patric Young (Florida/Jacksonville, Fla.).

George Mason University mentor Paul Hewitt is head coach of the USA U19 World Championship Team, and is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Randy Bennett of St. Mary’s College and Cliff Warren of Jacksonville University


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kemba's Draft Situation

Here's what we've been told about what Kemba Walker can expect at the NBA Draft on Thursday night in Newark:

*** Kemba's worked out with five teams -- Utah, Toronto, Sacramento, Detroit and Charlotte. It appears he'd be a pretty good fit with all five, with the possible exception of the Raptors, who have some good young guards in place. Utah picks third overall, Toronto fifth, Sacramento seventh, Detroit eighth and Charlotte ninth. Expect Kemba to go somewhere between No. 3 and No. 9 (more likely No.'s 7-9).

*** For what it's worth, has him going eighth to the Pistons, while has him going fifth to the Raptors.

*** The Knicks? Yeah, they love Kemba. But picking at No. 17, there's no chance Walker would still be available. They could trade up, of course, but you've got to have the goods to trade for a higher pick. Not sure if the Knicks have what it takes.

*** The Celtics? Not particularly interested in Kemba. They do have Rajon Rondo, after all.

*** Rumors you may have heard about Brandon Knight's agent not wanting Knight to go head-to-head against Walker in NBA workouts are true.

*** Kemba just finished his workouts and is in New York City right now, where he'll be until Thursday's draft. The endorsment opportunities have already started: Webster Bank and Best Buy, specifically, with surely more to come.

That's all we've got for now. See you in Newark!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All is Right with Ryan Boatright

Just spoke briefly with Ryan Boatright, the incoming freshman point guard out of East Aurora, Ill. Boatright will arrive in Storrs in about 10 days – on Saturday, June 25 – and begin summer classes the following Monday.

Boatright, who was Illinois' co-Mr. Basketball this past winter along with Stanford-bound Chasson Randle, is looking forward to kicking off his Husky career. He has certainly taken note of the program's two signings last week – fellow incoming freshman DeAndre Daniels, a forward, and Class of 2012 guard Omar Calhoun, Jr.

"It's exciting, because I know we'll have a great team, year after year," Boatright said. "We'll always be strong, keeping the program at the top where it belongs."

Boatright averaged 32 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals per game as a senior for East Auroroa. A shoot-first point guard, he scored more than 50 points in a game twice, including 63 in one contest.

With Kemba Walker heading to the NBA, Boatright figures to fight for the Huskies' starting point guard position. Of course, sophomore-to-be Shabazz Napier will have something to say about that.

"I was never the type to take a back seat, or at least go in with that attitude," Boatright said. "I'm going in to fight for whatever I'm gonna fight for. But it's not about starting or anything like that, it's about doing what the team needs me to do."

Boatright has heard from both recently named co-captains Alex Oriakhi and Napier – mostly Oriakhi – over the past few weeks.

"He just keeps saying, 'It's gonna be fun.'"

Andre LaFleur was Boatright's prime recruiter. Of course, LaFleur left the UConn program in April to become Ed Cooley's associate head coach at Providence. Boatright was disappointed that LaFleur left.

"I mean, I couldn't say it was messed up, but it was just shocking, really," he said. "I didn't see that coming. I'm supportive of him, he had to do what he had to do. It didn't really make a difference for me coming there, though."

Neither, apparently, did the potential for Jim Calhoun to retire.

"He told me, just like he told everybody else, 'Don't worry about it 'til I say I'm not gonna be there.'"

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Omar Will Be at Top 100 Camp

Omar Calhoun will participate in the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Top 100 High School Camp this week (Wednesday through Saturday) at the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena.

Calhoun, a 6-foot-5, Class of 2012 shooting guard out of Christ the King High in New York, committed to the Huskies last week.

The camp, which will feature 18 of the top 20 ranked high school players in the nation, helps prepare players for competition and life at the next level. (There are seminars on everything from how to dress to sex education. We kid you not).

Among the other participants include Andre Drummond (Class of 2012), Mitch McGary ('12) and Nerlens Noel ('13) -- players UConn is recruiting heavily.

(As an aside, who ever would have guessed UVA would name its basketball arena after Led Zeppelin's bassist?)

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Calhoun Spins His Spokes, Then Speaks

Jim Calhoun participated in his fifth annual ride and walk against cancer on Saturday. Starting amidst a torrential downpour ("I'm a rain-maker," he noted), the clouds were clearing by the time he finished his bike ride.

Fitting, as things couldn't be much sunnier for the UConn men's basketball program these days.

Here's a little of what Calhoun said on a number of topics Saturday afternoon in Simsbury:

(On what he's telling prospective recruits about his future at UConn)

“Whatever answer I’m giving them, apparently, they like it.”

(On the Huskies' program as a whole)

“I want the program to be like Carolina’s and, somewhat Duke, but more like Carolina’s in the sense that Bill Guthridge went to the Final Four when Dean (Smith) left, Matt (Doherty) had a really great year then a not such a great year and Roy (Williams) came in and they moved on. What we’re selling in our situation is the ability to get you ready to succeed, get to postseason play and get to the NBA. We had a pretty good year this year doing that.”

“The program is exactly where we want it to be.”

(On the team's APR situation)

“We just need some change, so that we don’t have a situation like we did with the APR. Not drastic change, just change. It’s actually already built in there, we’ve just got to get everybody aboard.”

“Having Susan (Herbst, the school's incoming president) out here like this is, I think, terrific. She was at the Final Four, at the Big East. We need people to be active, just like our coaches are active.”

(On the recruiting efforts of Kevin Ollie and Glen Miller)

“They’ve done a terrific job, I didn’t expect anything less. When Kevin Ollie talks, you’re going to listen … (Glen) knows the terrain, he knows what he’s doing, he’s smart and he’s a great basketball guy. I thknk a lot of times we lock too many things into Kevin Ollie, Glen Miller or whomever it may be. It’s UConn. We happen to have very good guys in place, doing a wonderful job. But we’ve had other good players come in before. We got Ray Allen, we got Emeka, we got Ben Gordon ... we've got some guys who can play a little bit. I’ve always said that one of the greatr recruiting jobs of all-time in recognizing that he would be good was Andre (LaFleur) with Hasheem Thabeet. I didn’t’ see what he saw. He saw that, and plenty of other coaches didn’t see that. He did.”

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Herbst Talks About Practice Facility, APR, etc.

It's easy to see why Jim Calhoun is so enamored with incoming UConn president Susan Herbst.

She's bright, effervescent and very approachable. She also seems to be a big fan of Calhoun, the men's basketball team and, indeed, the entire UConn athletic department.

Here's some of what she said after participating Calhoun's annual Ride and Walk on Saturday in Simsbury:

"(The basketball practice facility) is a very, very high priority in fundraising for me. We are working on a plan for that. It's time. You've seen the facilities, relative to what otehr D-1 programs have, we're not there. And that does have to do with academics. You have the practice facility, you have more flexibility in terms of practice schedules, and how to balance them with academic schedules and what classes they can take. And also study areas and offices for academic advisors. The basketball practice facility is a super-high priority for me, in terms of philanthropy."

(On remedying the program's APR woes)

"We have a pretty extensive academic plan that we've been working on. We're definitely accelerating it. There's no question it needs improvement, it absoluteley must move up. You have to remember these are student-athletes -- 'student' has to be in bold type and underscored. The APR methodology is a bit controversial, and it's evolving. But overall, putting the more technical stuff aside and how things get counted, the APR is about student success. So, it's good that that statistic exists, to remind you of the whole student"

"There's a tiny, tiny number of (players) that will make the NBA. Most of them will have to find some kind of other career. So we need to focus on that."

(on Calhoun)

"Obviously, the country knows that Jim Calhoun is a great coach and a basketball legend. But I don't think people have any idea of his philanthropy -- how long it's been going on, how extensive it is, how much time he spends on it. I think locally, people know that, but nationally, I wish there was more attention to that, because I think he's such a model for the university citizen. He wins for us and he brings us so much glory, but then he inspires other people to give and to think about giving. For UConn, philanthropy and development are very high priorities."

"To have one of our leading citizens and most important people nationally to be so involved in philanthropy is very important, for the whole university. And he's so modest, I don't think a lot of people know he has this other role aside from basketball."

(On how she feels about college sports in general)

"Throughout my career, when I've been troubled with problems, you go over to the athletics department and you know you're going to find that positive spirit. It's very rejuvenating. It's good to know on the tough days that athletics is there."

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Another Calhoun in Storrs

While Jim Calhoun hasn't officially announced whether he's returning, there will be another Calhoun on the Husky men's basketball team in two years.

Omar Calhoun, a 6-foot-5, Class of 2012 shooting guard out of New York's Christ the King High, has verbally committed to UConn.

"Yes, I committed to the University of Connecticut,” he told's Adam Zagoria. “After spending quality time with Coach [Jim] Calhoun and the rest of the coaching staff, Coach [Kevin] Ollie and Coach [Glen] Miller and touring the campus my family and I felt UConn is the perfect place for me to continue my higher education academically as well as athletically."

Another nice haul for the Huskies, who got a commitment on Tuesday from DeAndre Daniels, one of the Class of 2011's top forwards.

No wonder Jim Calhoun seems in such good spirits these days!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oriakhi, Napier Developing as Leaders

A couple of UConn tidbits this evening:

*** Worried about the leadership vacuum created by the departure of Kemba Walker and Donnell Beverly? Don't be. At least for now. Alex Oriakhi and Shabazz Napier have been named de facto captains this summer, and both are showing tremendous leadership skills, according to Jim Calhoun and George Blaney.

*** Kevin Ollie did a tremendous job in leading the charge in recruiting DeAndre Daniels. It involved a lot of footwork, a lot of work overall, but it has obviously paid off. Now's as good a time as any to remind you all of what a great hire Ollie was for the program.

*** Jim Calhoun attended a two-day NCAA seminar down in Tampa earlier this week, with college coaches from across the land. He said he spent much of his time with Rich Rodriguez, talking about "life in general."

"It was semi-interesting, semi-boring," he said of the seminars, which lasted eight hours the first day and five the second and had to do mostly with rule changes and things like that.

*** As of right now, Calhoun doesn't believe there will be any more departures from the roster. Of course, that could always change by the end of the summer.

*** With Walker gone, Calhoun noted, the team had the choice of going with more size or more offense. It has chosen the latter.

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Oriakhi to Try Out for World University Games

Alex Oriakhi will be part of a group of 22 players that the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee has selected to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team training camp.

The training camp, which will be held July 29-Aug. 7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be used to select the 12-member team that will represent the USA at the 2011 World University Games men’s basketball competition Aug. 13-23 in Shenzhen, China.

Oriakhi averaged 9.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game during his sophomore campaign with Connecticut. He finished the season with 11 double-doubles, including 11 points and 11 rebounds in UConn’s 53-41 victory of Butler in the National Championship.

The USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by NCAA representative Jim Boeheim is expected on July 31 to announce finalists for the 2011 USA World University Games Team. Training camp will continue July 31-Aug. 7 at the USOTC, with the official roster being announced prior to the teams’ departure for China on Aug. 8.

“After a lot of thought and consideration of potential players, the committee has put together a very strong roster for the USA Men’s World University Games Team training camp,” said Boeheim. “As always, the committee will be looking for not only the most talented players, but also players that will work well as a team.”

Accepting invitations to attend the 2011 USA Basketball World University Games Team training camp were: Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame/Unionville, Conn.); Bradford Burgess (VCU/Midlothian, Va.); Marcus Denmon (Missouri/Kansas City, Mo.); Kim English (Missouri/Baltimore, Md.); Yancy Gates (Cincinnati/ Cincinnati, Ohio); Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh/Scotch Plains, N.J.); Draymond Green (Michigan State/Saginaw, Mich.); JaMychal Green (Alabama/Montgomery, Ala.); Tu Holloway (Xavier/Hempstead, N.Y.); Scoop Jardine (Syracuse/Philadelphia, Pa.); John Jenkins (Vanderbilt/Hendersonville, Tenn.); Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Seaside, Calif.); Greg Mangano (Yale/Orange, Conn.); Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota/St. Paul, Minn.); C.J. McCollum (Lehigh/Canton, Ohio); Khris Middleton (Texas A&M/North Charleston, S.C.); Darius Miller (Kentucky/Maysville, Ky.); Tony Mitchell (Alabama/Swainsboro, Ga.); Aaric Murray (West Virginia/Philadelphia, Pa.); Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut/Lowell, Mass.); John Shurna (Northwestern/ Glen Ellyn, Ill.); and Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin/ Bloomington, Minn.).

Purdue University head coach Matt Painter, who previously assisted the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team to a gold medal, has been selected as head coach of the 2011 USA Men’s World University Games Team, while collegiate head coaches Cuonzo Martin of the University of Tennessee and Brad Stevens of Butler University were named as assistant coaches.

The training camp roster features two players – Abromaitis and Jardine – who will graduate in 2011 with remaining eligibility, 14 athletes from the class of 2012 and six athletes who will graduate in 2013.

In addition to Boeheim, the 2009-12 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Committee includes NCAA appointees Lorenzo Romar (head coach, University of Washington), Bruce Weber (head coach, University of Illinois) and Roy Williams (head coach, University of North Carolina); and athlete representative Jay Williams, a member of the 2002 USA World Championship Team.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Daniels Commits to UConn

UConn got a commitment today from DeAndre Daniels, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound guard/forward out of the IMG Academy.

Originally from Woodland Hills, CA Daniels had been heavily recruited by Texas, Kansas, Duke, Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma State and others. A hybrid guard/forward, Daniels can attack the basket off the dribble, finish in traffic and knock down the three-point shot with consistency well beyond the college line, said Andy Borman, Director of the IMG Basketball Academy.

Daniels will take UConn's 10th and final scholarship available for next season.

After originally committing to Texas in 2010, Daniels decided to spend a year at the IMG Basketball Academy to better prepare himself for the rigors of a collegiate student-athlete.

“DeAndre has taken full advantage of everything that IMG has to offer and has continued to develop on the court, in the classroom and in the weight room,” said Borman. “He is an extremely talented young man, but what sets him apart from other talented kids his age is the fact that he is extremely driven and focused on becoming the best player possible. He is an immediate impact player at the next level.”

For more information/video, click here: DeAndre Daniels commits to UConn.


Calhoun Bike Ride on Saturday; Moore Honored Wednesday

Jim Calhoun is feeling pretty well these days. And why wouldn’t he? Fresh off his third national championship, the UConn men’s basketball coach says he’s as healthy as ever.

“I’ve always worked out,” he pointed out, “but now I’m at a level that I was about 25 years ago.”

One of his favorite modes of exercise is bike riding (“My wife says I’m trying to ride my bike away from age,” said Calhoun, who turned 69 last month), and he’ll be pedaling away on Saturday at the fifth annual Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk in Simsbury.

The event will be held at Simsbury Meadows on Iron Horse Blvd. and feature four different bike rides (10, 25, 50 and 75 miles) as well as a 5K walk/run. All proceeds benefit the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center in Farmington, as well as Coaches vs. Cancer, an American Cancer Society program.

“From my position as head coach at UConn, I can do good things,” Calhoun said. “This is really, really special for us. Being a survivor of cancer, losing my college roommate this past fall and my sister-in-law this past winter, (I realize) cancer strikes all of us. It’s very difficult.”

Organizers are expecting over 1,000 riders and walkers, including Calhoun (who says he’ll do either the 25-mile or 50-mile bike ride), assistant coaches Kevin Ollie and Glen Miller and other former players, including Donny Marshall and, possibly, Ray Allen.

“The only time Ray hasn’t done it is when he’s been in the NBA Playoffs,” said event spokesman Peter Gold.

Obviously, that won’t be a problem for Allen this year.

The 75-mile ride begins at 8 a.m., followed by the 50-mile at 9, the 25-mile at 10 and the 10-mile at 10:30. The 5K walk/run will also being at 10 a.m.

All participants will receive a free gift bag and an invitation to a special UConn men’s basketball closed practice in October.

The event also includes a cookout featuring Price Chopper’s famous “House of Barbecue,” live music from the Timmy Maia Band, hot-air balloon rides, children’s activities and more. Also, the UConn Health Center Department of Dermatology will offer free skin cancer screenings from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And, all three trophies from UConn’s national championship seasons – 1999, 2004 and 2011 – will be on display.

To register, or for more information, visit or call Gold, Orluk & Partners at 860-674-1500.

*** Calhoun will also be an honored guest tonight at the Franciscan Sports Banquet and Silent Auction at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Quinnipiac head coach (and former UConn assistant) Tom Moore will receive the Franciscan Life Center’s St. Francis Award and Ollie will receive the Jim Calhoun Community Service Award.

The event starts with a silent auction, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Items include signed jerseys from C.C. Sabathia and Carl Crawford, a signed baseball from Albert Pujols and autographed pictures of Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.

Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person (children under 12 $30).

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sellers Was Nearly a Cardinal

With one former UConn assistant coach already at a rival Big East school (Andre LaFleur as associate head coach at Providence), the Huskies nearly had another plotting against them in conference play.

Patrick Sellers interviewed with Louisville, and apparently had a very good, two-hour meeting with head coach Rick Pitino. Sellers has known Pitino's son, Richard, for a long while, and it was Richard who initiated the interest.

It didn't wind up working out -- perhaps because hiring a UConn guy, with the controversy surrounding the program, might attract some negative attention in the wake of Louisville's own recent controversies. Instead Sellers is at Hofstra, where he'll be an assistant to Mo Cassara. Also on Cassara's staff are former Providence College assistant Steve DeMeo and ex-Syracuse Allen Griffin, so it'll be a bit of a Big East reunion on the Pride staff.

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Calhoun: Decision on Retirement 'Will Evolve'

Jim Calhoun did a conference call this morning to promote the Jim Calhoun Ride and Walk, coming up on Saturday, June 11 in Simsbury. He's expecting about 1,000 participants -- hopefully more -- and plans to ride either the 25-mile or 50-mile course.

Calhoun says he's feeling great and that he's working out now at the level he was "about 25 years ago."

"My wife says I’m trying to ride my bike away from something called 'age,'" he joked.

We'll have more on the event later. For now, here's what he said about some issues involving UConn:

Calhoun says he hasn't decided either way on whether he'll retire or not. He said he'll tell recruits that ask that he'll be at UConn, but that few (none from the Class of 2012) have asked.

"The best thing for me to do, very honestly, is just let it happen," Calhoun said. "Right now, I’m doing everything possible to make sure UConn is as strong as it can be … I’m not going to set any more dates ... The best thing for me is to get as much distance from it as I can and … make sure the future of UConn is as bright as it can be."

"It will evolve. It’s just gonna happen," he added. "I’m not going to speak about it again."

*** Calhoun said he expects to add one more new player, possibly within "7-8 days." Otherwise, Ryan Boatright is expected to start summer classes on June 26; Niels Giffey is playing with the junior national team in Germany; Alex Oriakhi may try out for Team USA at the World University Games; Shabazz Napier is intending on attending Chris Paul's camp and Roscoe Smith will attend Amar'e Stoudemire's camp.

***The coach was happy to hear that Patrick Sellers has been hired as an assistant at Hofstra.

"I’m ecstatic," Calhoun said. "I couldn’t be happier for him. Pat’s good for the game, he’s a good person, he was completely exonerated by the NCAA. He’ll be good for the kids. I talked to Mo (Cassara) a great dal about him, and he’ll be a great addition to Hofstra."

*** Calhoun is hearing Kemba Walker could go as high as No. 3 in the NBA draft.

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Sellers Named Assistant at Hofstra

Patrick Sellers was officially named an assistant coach to Mo Cassara at Hofstra today. Could Jamal Coombs-McDaniel be the next ex-Husky to join the Pride?

Here's the press release:

Hofstra University named Patrick Sellers to the position of men's basketball assistant coach, it was announced today by Head Coach Mo Cassara.

Sellers recently served on the men's basketball staff at the University of Connecticut for six years, three as the director of basketball operations from 2004-07 and three as an assistant coach from 2007-10. While serving as an assistant, Sellers was responsible for recruiting several of the players on UConn's 2010-11 national championship team.

Sellers also was responsible for developing Connecticut's frontcourt players during his time as an assistant coach. He worked closely with Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien, who helped the Huskies reach the 2009 Final Four. Thabeet was the No. 2 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, while Adrien played this past season for the Golden State Warriors.

Prior to his stint at UConn, Sellers served for one season as an assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts (2003-04) and for four years at his alma mater, Central Connecticut State University (1999-2003). Sellers helped Central Connecticut earn a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in 2000 and 2002 under head coach Howie Dickenman, as the Blue Devils earned regular season and postseason Northeast Conference titles in both years.

Sellers began his coaching career at the high school level at St. Thomas Aquinas in New Britain, Connecticut. He served as assistant from 1994-97, before taking over head coaching duties in the 1997-98 season, when he guided his team to a conference title. He led the Saints to appearances in the Connecticut state tournament in both seasons as a head coach.

During his playing days at Central Connecticut, Sellers was a team captain as a senior and was named the East Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1991. He led the Blue Devils in rebounding as a junior and senior and finished with 581 boards in his career. He also has international basketball experience, playing professionally in England after graduating from Central Connecticut and coaching last year in China.

Sellers replaces Allen Griffin on the Hofstra coaching staff, after Griffin resigned to accept an assistant coaching position at Dayton in May.

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