Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Huskies Are Ready for Iowa State

UConn freshman forward DeAndre Daniels can be forgiven if his mind hasn’t totally been on basketball in recent days.

Daniels’ sister, Keirstyn Schumpert, had surgery on Sunday to remove a brain tumor. Doctors were able to remove the tumor and Schumpert is still resting in the hospital but could go home as soon as Thursday, according to Daniels.

He and his family were at the hospital for about seven hours on Sunday.

“It was real tough, just waiting until the doctor came out to tell us what’s going on,” he said.

Daniels added that right now, the right side of his sister’s face is numb, but she is cancer-free.

Schumpert is a standout guard at Manchester High. Daniels wasn’t sure what the surgery could mean for her basketball future.

*** Royce White is a matchup nightmare, but it's starting to feel like people are making him out to be the next Magic Johnson. No doubt, however, he's a big concern for UConn.

"I think the thing he does is he makes you -- you don't want to get polarized on him and get beat," said Jim Calhoun. "He can help facilitate that, so it becomes very difficult. But he's a heck of a basketball player. I was talking to a pro scout today who's seen him four or five times and just said he's got some (Kevin) McHale stuff inside. Right now, I wouldn't consider him a great shooter outside, but he just does things to help his team win."

Andre Drummond, Roscoe Smith and Alex Oriakhi could all see time guarding White.

"Just to give you an idea," Calhoun noted, "this morning at practice, we played four different guys on him -- small, big. We tried different sets trying to figure out which way he'd try to go after us.

Said Drummond: “He’s a big man that dribbles the ball, passes to his open teammate. A lot of focus is on him, because you’re not used to see a 6-8 big bring the ball up the court and run their offense. But we know what we’ve got to do to win this game.”

That means utilize the Huskies’ significant size advantage by rebounding and defending inside.

“If anything, it creates a matchup problem for them,” Drummond added. “(White is) shorter, you’ve got me and Alex down on the post.”
For what it's worth, UConn came off very confident today. Not cocky, but definitely confident.

*** And, of course, there's ISU's prowess on 3-pointers -- a bugaboo for UConn defensively most of the season.

“In some of the regular season games, I think we didn’t work as hard to defend the 3 as we could,” said Jeremy Lamb. “We let people get open shots, and they were able to hit a couple, and it gave them confidence to hit more. I think we’ve just really got to be ready to close out, no easy buckets.

In short, the Cyclones can be a matchup problem for UConn.

“They’re attacking two things that, during the year, have reared its ugly head for us,” Calhoun admitted. “We block shots down low very well, but we haven’t taken away the kind of penetration I’d like to see. And, at a particular point in seven or eight games, we were just God-awful (defending the) 3. We’ve worked hard and gotten better at it, but we’re going to be put to the ultimate test.”

*** Win and the Huskies should get the Saturday night date that everybody seems to want: a rematch with Kentucky, the No. 1 overall seed.

"You definitely hear it from the fans, they definitely want to see the UConn-Kentucky matchup," said Oriakhi. "Coach tells us to take it one game at a time. We're just trying to beat Iowa State and then play Saturday. If we win on Saturday, we want to play again."

There were about 8,000 UK fans at the Wildcats' open practice on Wednesday. There were about eight UConn fans.

*** Although UConn and Iowa State have never played each other, the Cyclones have two players who have played against the Huskies.

Chris Allen was a sophomore on the Michigan State team in 2009 that beat UConn in the Final Four. He scored two points in nine minutes off the bench in the Spartans’ 82-73 victory in Detroit. Allen also played on MSU’s Final Four team the following year before transferring to Iowa State. He has played in 14 NCAA tournament games, most by any player in this year’s field.

Also, senior guard Scott Christopherson was a freshman at Marquette in 2008 when the Golden Eagles lost at UConn, 89-73. He transferred to ISU the following season.

In fact, Iowa State has seven transfers on its roster, including ex-Michigan State standout Korie Lucious, who’s red-shirting this season.

“Did I plan on bringing six of them in my first year?” Hoiberg said. “No, it just happened to be a year where a lot of guys were leaving their schools.”

*** Brigham Young arrived in town on Wednesday after rallying from 25 points down to beat Iona the night before. The Cougars will face Marquette on Thursday.

BYU has a UConn tie: first-year BYU assistant coach Mark Pope is the brother-in-law of former UConn director of basketball operations Beau Archibald. Pope, a team captain on the 1996 national-champion Kentucky team, is married to Archibald’s sister, LeeAnne. The couple married in 1999 and has four daughters.

*** Some interesting stuff from John Calipari on how to alleviate the one-and-done situation (something he says he doesn't like) and Calhoun on whether Calipari might move on to the NBA, particularly if he finally wins a national title.

Said Calipari: "Here's what I would say. It starts with you get the NCAA in the room, and you say you give these kids the stipend they deserve. That's one.

Two, the insurance that they have to pay for themselves, which can be upwards of $15,000 per year, $20,000 per year that they have to pay for themselves. They're loaned the money, and then they have to repay it when they come out. The NCAA should pay that to encourage them to stay.

The third thing is families, the NBA, and the NCAA should get together and have a loan program for those families‑‑ we're only talking 30 kids. We're not talking 500 players. We're talking 30 kids that would be eligible for that insurance. They should be able to have a loan. To what level, I don't know.

The last two things are the NBA. And Billy Hunter and I have talked about these. One, if a young man stays more than two years, his contract, his rookie contract should be shorter. And if a young man graduates, his pay scale should be higher when he comes in. Now we encourage these young people. It's about them. You should stay because of the integrity of our school. Unless you're Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, you guys leave and go change the world. But you guys, you stay in school because it's the integrity. It doesn't make sense to me.

My thing is these kids are chasing their dreams just like tennis players and golfers and geniuses and computer geeks and all the others. They're chasing their dreams the same way. And what we've got to do is come together and say, how do we do right by these young people? How do we make sure?

If the NBA says, no, we don't want to shorten their contract, well, then, it's on them. It's not on Billy Hunter, and it's not on the NCAA. If the NCAA says, no, we're not going to pay for this insurance. Those kids should pay for it themselves, disability insurance. Then that's on the NCAA.

But I think there's some things we can do, and hopefully people will come together and say these are simple things that would encourage young people to stay in school.

Let me say this. It's like last year. Brandon Knight. Brandon Knight was a 4.0 student and had 60 college credits after one year. He transferred in 23 honors courses, and he graduated with 60 college credits. That's two years of work in one year. But he was the seventh pick of the draft. How could you tell him to stay?

And Detroit, the Pistons, they love him. They want him to be what their whole organization is about. So it's not academic, and it isn't. It's what is right for these young people."

Say what you want about Calipari, but he makes some very solid points. Too bad it's unlikely the NBA Players Association would ever accept.

And here's what Calhoun had to say about Calipari:

"John at present rate, based upon numbers, is going in the Hall of Fame, assuming he stays in college basketball. And if he keeps‑‑ in 1990, we got beat by Christian Laettner's shot. For the next nine years, we were tortured that we weren't good because we couldn't win a National Championship, and we were good. Ray Allen, Donyell‑‑ we all know there's a lot of good players at UConn. We average 26 wins a year, the whole thing. A lot of final eights, just couldn't get there.


If you stick with it and you smell it enough, you'll get it. So I don't think it's a case of John winning or not winning a National Championship. Can I imagine John going in the NBA or anything else? Yes. Or anything else? Yes. I think John very simply marches‑‑ always has, even when he was a young guy. When he was at Pitt, marches to his own drummer, and I think that John has taken that and obviously done a very good job coaching‑wise and otherwise.

Let's put it this way. Maybe in your own set of mind, would you think it's some sort of standard, because I heard a lot of years until I won a few‑‑ you know, he's on the landscape now. You really don't have to look, find, and come up with a much better coach, quite frankly. I know he has a lot of very good talent. He does a lot with that very good talent.

My point being simply, if he feels that way, what you're talking, that's the difference. I've never had a chance to ask him, nor would I really. It's going to be his choice. He certainly can handle the players, that's one thing. And I've always said that some of our best teams are much more difficult to handle because of talent, and he's done a remarkable job doing that.

I don't think he has to prove anything more in college basketball if he got a very good NBA job, if that's what he'd want to do. I personally don't think he has to prove anything."










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