Friday, August 31, 2012

Kemba Walker Helping Kids in Charlotte

Kemba Walker may have just dealt out his most valuable assist yet.

Kemba recently helped dedicate a new basketball court for inner-city kids at the Milton Road Boys & Girls Club in Charlotte, N.C. The club serves over 2,000 local youth.

The court refurbishment is part of Under Armour and the NBA FIT's five-city initiative to repair and rejuvenate basketball facilities for inner-city kids. Other cities are Baltimore, Philadelphia, Houston and Newark.

Here's some video of Kemba helping out:


Friday, August 24, 2012

A Look at UConn's Three Incoming Freshmen

Today is freshman move-in day at UConn -- a good day to avoid the campus if you don't have to be there, I'm told.

With that in mind, thought I'd take a look back at UConn's three incoming freshmen, Omar Calhoun, Phil Nolan and Leon Tolksdorf, from interviews and video footage I shot this past summer. Nothing groundbreaking here, but a chance for fans to see and hear these guys perhaps for the first time (and, in Nolan's case, see him on the court during the Greater Hartford Pro-Am).

All three could see significant playing time this season, based on the mass departures from UConn's program over the past several months.

(And yes, UConn has a fourth incoming player in the form of R.J. Evans, Salem product and Holy Cross transfer. He's a grad student, not a freshman, but he's got an interesting story nonetheless.)

Anyway, the three frosh:

Omar Calhoun:

Phil Nolan:

Leon Tolksdorf:

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Add R.J. Evans to UConn's 'Berlin Wall'

Leon Tolksdrof said he's heard the nickname "The Berlin Wall." I've always thought the "Teutonic Trio" would be a better nickname for UConn's three German-born players, Niels Giffey, Enosch Wolf and Tolksdorf.

But that may not work anymore, either. Giffey, Wolf and Tolksdorf won't be the only Husky players who will be greeted by family when UConn faces Michigan State in Germany on Nov. 9. R.J. Evans, the Holy Cross transfer and graduate student, has German roots, as well.

Evans' paternal grandmother was born in Germany. Ottile (Mauser) Evans came to the United States in the 1950's and currently lives in Queens. She has only been back to Germany a few times over the years "for funerals and stuff," Evans said. But when the Huskies head to Germany in November, R.J. will get a chancenot only to travel out of the U.S. for the first time but to finally meet some nephews and cousins with whom he's talked on the phone before but never met face-to-face.

"It should be fun," he said. "I've got a lot of family over there in Frankfurt that I've never seen before. Going over there will be a good opportunity to see family I've never seen."

So, guess it's time for a different nickname for UConn's German brigade.

“They say we have four Germans on the team, because of me," Evans said. "We’re basically Team Germany over here.”

*** Meanwhile, did its fourth annual rookie survey, polling league rookies on who they thought would be Rookie of the Year, have the best NBA career, etc.

Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond each got votes in a couple of different categories. Lamb finished third (10.8 percent) in the Best Shooter category, and also received votes for Funniest Rookie (did I miss something the last two years in Storrs?).

Drummond, meanwhile, finished tied for fourth for Most Athletic (11.8 percent, with Dallas's Jared Cunningham), and received votes for Best Defender.


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Leon Tolksdorf is in Storrs Now (w/video)

Drove up to Storrs today and had a nice conversation with Leon Tolksdorf, the freshman forward from Germany.

Tolksdorf arrived on campus about a week ago for international orientation. This past summer, Tolksdorf played for the ALBA Berlin Under-19 team, as well as for the German national team in the European Championships. Germany finished fifth, losing to Spain in the quarterfinals.

Tolksdorf is an interesting story. UConn's coaching staff had never seen him play live before, only on video, when it invited him for an official visit back in May. Other schools -- Providence, Louisiana-Lafayette -- were recruiting the 6-foot-7 shooter, but Tolksdorf knew where he wanted to go.

"UConn was always ranked No. 1 for me," he said. "I was really excited when I heard that I could come for an official visit. When I got here, the coaches were so nice and everybody was so nice to me, the campus was so great. There was no doubt for me to choose another school.”

The presence of two other German natives -- Niels Giffey and Enosch Wolf -- didn't even make that big of a difference.

"That wasn’t the reason why I chose it," he said. "The basketball program is great, the school academically is amazing. That’s the reason I chose the school.”

Tolksdorf played with Giffey on the ALBA Berlin team three years ago. Giffey was the star and Tolksdorf was just in his first year and battling some injuries. He's stayed in touch with Giffey over the past few years through Facebook, text messages, etc.

Giffey and Wolf (whose brother Tolksdorf teamed with in Germany) have taken the freshman under their wings since his arrival in Storrs.

“We’re just trying to help him have an easy start," Giffey said. "I know how it was for me. I was the only guy here, because Enosch wasn’t here. I definitely had my ups and downs. I’m just trying to prepare him for that, mentally.”

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Friday, August 17, 2012

UConn to Play in Impressive Preseason Tourney in 2017

It's still five years down the road, but this one is worth the wait: UConn is one of 16 schools to commit to a preseason tournament to honor Nike founder Phil Knight in Portland, Ore., in November, 2017. Here's the story from

All the participating schools are "Nike schools." The roster of attendees: UConn, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Georgetown, Texas, Oklahoma, Stanford, Oregon, Xavier, Butler, Gonzaga and Portland.

Wow. Impressive. Very impressive.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hero of the Game: Curtis Kelly

Couldn't make the Greater Hartford Pro-Am championship game Thursday night, but apparently I missed a good one as Recycle King Naughty Boyz came back for a 139-137 win over Harte Nissan to claim the title.

Jerome Dyson poured in 55 points to go with 12 rebounds to lead the way, while SMU-bound Danny Lawhorn added 32 and Doug Wiggins tossed in 22.

But here's the most interesting thing from the email I got from the league: Curtis Kelly had eight points and was named "Hero of the Game." Apparently, he hit the game-winning shot with about two seconds left. Good to hear that Kelly's back in the area.

To this point, he's best known around these parts as the guy who transferred out of UConn after failing to live up to his potential. And at the GHPA, his previous claim to fame was getting posterized by a dunk by Waterbury's Kelvin Davis a few years ago.

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Tharon Mayes Giving Guidance to Inner City Kids ... And His Highly-Touted Son

Here's a feature I wrote on Tharon Mayes, the former New Haven high school star who went on to a successful career at Florida State, then Europe.

Why am I putting a story on Mayes on a UConn blog, you ask? Well, a quick look at his surname and you may be able to surmise that UConn fans may be very interested to hear what Mayes has to say.

Mayes is the father of Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the highly-touted Class of 2013 shooting guard who is a big-time UConn target. (Actually, Mayes is Xavier's stepfather -- he met Xavier's mom, Marilyn, when Xavier was about five).

According to Mayes, Xavier attended Cheshire Academy four years ago, as detailed in a nice story by the late, great Dave Solomon, but is now at Huntington Prep in West Virginia). Among the six schools he's "fond of", according to his dad: Florida State (Mayes's alma mater), UConn, Baylor, Alabama, Memphis and UCLA. There are others, as well. I apologize if I made it sound earlier like he had pared his list down to just those six.

Rathan-Mayes, who has made unofficials to both UConn and UCLA already, plans another unofficial to FSU sometime over the next couple of weeks. He'll narrow down his visits after taking the SAT's in September, according to Mayes. Xavier would like to commit early in November.

Tharon Mayes said that Jim Calhoun's coaching future is "a concern. He likes Kevin Ollie. Kevin’s been speaking to him, it’s definitely a school of interest. But that is something that’s a little scary.”

Here's what Tharon says about his son's game: "He can definitely stroke it. But I think, with him, what makes him tough is he plays both guard spots very well. It adds more to his game than him being a pure point guard or two-guard."

*** Meanwhile, Joey Natale of caught up with Reggie Cameron after his visit to UConn on Tuesday. Guess what? The visit went "great."

*** Oh, and in the GHPA playoffs: Doug Wiggins had a triple-double (40 points, 10 boards, 10 assists) to lead Recycle Kings to a 152-145 win over Harte Nissan in Game 2 of the championship series. The decisive Game 3 will be tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. at Classical Magnet School.

UConn target Kuran Iverson added 36 points and eight rebounds and Jerome Dyson 30 and 11 for Recycle Kings.

Ryan Gomes had 34 and 10, Lamonte Ulmer 28 and 12 and Keith Cothran 27 and seven for Harte Nissan.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wanna See Caron Butler Play Hungry, Hungry Hippos?

Here's something UConn fans may find interesting: The NOC, one of YouTube's new sports content partners, just released a new piece starring Caron Butler and his "very competitive" family.

In the video, Butler is pitted against family members in a range of household competitions -- from Hungry, Hungry Hippos to backyard hoops. An interesting look at Butler's beautiful home and family, all in the name of fun.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Connecticut's Mike Aresco Named Big East Commish

Middletown native and Southport resident Mike Aresco has been named the Big East's fourth commissioner. Aresco is also a graduate of UConn's law school.

There will be a press conference in New York City tomorrow. For now, here's what the Big East has to say:

                 Aresco will assume Commissioner’s duties in early September.

“The search to identify the new Commissioner of The BIG EAST Conference was truly an international search,” said Greg Williams, University of Cincinnati President and Chair of the Commissioner Search Committee. “We had many outstanding candidates, but we are fortunate to have Mike Aresco as our new Commissioner. His breadth of experience and depth of knowledge in intercollegiate athletics will continue to move the BIG EAST forward on a successful path. The BIG EAST has enjoyed a great history. Mike Aresco will help assure the conference of a vibrant future.”

“The search committee identified some truly outstanding candidates and we are most pleased that Mike Aresco will be the person who will take the BIG EAST to future success,” said Judy Genshaft, University of South Florida President and Chair of the BIG EAST CEO Executive Committee. “He has all of the characteristics that we need in a Commissioner. His career has been filled with achievement and success in intercollegiate sports. Mike Aresco knows the BIG EAST and he has a great vision for our future.”

“The Presidents have acted very responsibly,” said Interim Commissioner Joe Bailey. “They have appointed a leader with integrity, intelligence and energy. Bravo!”

At CBS Sports, Aresco has been responsible for all college programming for the Network. In addition, he has been involved with the strategic development of CBS Sports Network programming. He joined CBS Sports as Vice President, Programming, in 1996 and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000 and named Executive Vice President, Programming in 2008. He is responsible for managing the division’s college sports properties, including contract negotiations and future acquisitions for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, regular-season college basketball and football bowl games. He also has been responsible for administering the network’s various NCAA properties.

Aresco was instrumental in negotiating the CBS Television Network’s current landmark agreement with the NCAA granting CBS Sports and Turner Sports exclusive rights to the NCAA Men’s Basketball through 2024 and the Network’s historic 15-year deal with the SEC.

Before CBS Sports, Aresco worked at ESPN where he was responsible for overseeing the acquisition, scheduling and development of long-term strategies for all of ESPN and ESPN2 college sports properties. He joined ESPN in 1984 and was named Assistant General Counsel in 1988 before moving to the ESPN programming department.

Aresco is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Tufts University (B.A., magna cum laude, history); the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (M.A., international relations), where he held a John Moors Cabot Fellowship, and the University of Connecticut Law School (J.D.).

A native of Middletown, Conn., Aresco lives in Southport, Conn., with his wife Sharon. They have two sons, Matthew, who operates his own television production company and Brett, an aspiring actor in New York City.

During an extensive search process, Russell Reynolds Associates and the BIG EAST met with many individuals, and regardless of their interest in the position, all provided valuable insight and were instrumental to the search and the decision made by the BIG EAST. Russell Reynolds would like to thank all of the individuals it spoke with for their willingness and enthusiasm to participate in the process, and Russell Reynolds was pleased to assist the BIG EAST in naming their new Commissioner.

Looks like a good choice to me, particularly with his background in television. The league's negotiations for a  new TV contract are critical to its long-term survival. And, let's be honest -- since the resignation of Mike Tranghese a few years ago, there was nowhere to go but up with this hire.

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Images from the Pro-Am: Kuran Iverson, Jeremy Lamb, Jerome Dyson, A.J. Price

Harte Nissan beat Recycle Kings in Game 1 of the Greater Hartford Pro-Am finals on Monday. Game 2 is on Wednesday at 7 p.m., with Game 3 (if necessary) on Thursday at 7. Here are some nice photos from GHPA action this summer:

Clockwise: Jerome Dyson goes behind the back; A.J. Price and Ryan Gomes go head-to-head; UConn target Kuran Iverson throws down a dunk; Jeremy Lamb soars in for a slam.

Always good stuff from the pro-am. Unlike the video I've blogged here, I didn't take these photos. Dyson, Price/Gomes and Iverson were taken by Arthur Teal, and Lamb was shot by Ty Waterman.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kentan Facey commits to UConn

Even with coach Jim Calhoun sidelined after last weekend’s bike accident, the UConn men’s basketball program snared its first commitment from the Class of 2013. And it’s a good one.

Kentan Facey, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Long Island Lutheran High, has decided that Storrs is the place for him after an unofficial visit on Wednesday.

“The style of play, the coaching staff, the academics meet my standards,” he said of his decision to pick UConn over numerous other Division 1 scholarship offers. “I can come in, work hard and earn my minutes.”

Facey made his visit with his New Rens AAU coach, Karriem Memminger. They sat down and had a good conversation with UConn president Susan Herbst, who helped ease Facey’s worries about the program’s one-year postseason ban and Calhoun’s future.
“She pretty much cleared air about penalties they face and made it clear that she would implement things so that wouldn’t’ happen again,” said Facey, who maintains a 3.5 grade-point average. “She made it clear the program is going upwards.”

As for whether Calhoun will be there for the final two years of his contract, Facey said: “She didn’t go in-depth about that, but enough to make me feel comfortable.”

Memminger was convinced about Calhoun staying.

“It’s all on Calhoun,” he said. “If you know Calhoun, you know basketball is everything to him. I’ve been doing AAU for a while, and they’ve been saying the last 6-7 years that Calhoun is leaving. It ain’t anything new. You’re going to have to take that guy out of there with a coffin. That’s his baby, he built (the program) from scratch.”

Memminger added that Herbst “gave every indication, though didn’t come out and say it, that Kevin Ollie would be the successor.”

Said Facey: “Even if that happens, it’s still a good situation. (Ollie) is a good guy, he’s got plenty of experience. There’s nothing to lose there, in my opinion.”

Facey didn’t get to meet Wednesday with Calhoun, who’s at home rehabbing after fracturing his hip in a bike accident Saturday. He’s met him and talked to him several times before the accident.

“(Calhoun) was great,” said Memminger. “He said Kentan was their No. 1 priority for bigs. They did a good job. They showed the kid they wanted him.”

Facey did get to meet one of his idols on Wednesday. When Facey first came to New York from Trelawny, Jamaica a couple of years ago, his first introduction to college hoops was watching Kemba Walker lead the Huskies to their improbable 2011 national championship. Walker was at Gampel Pavilion on Wednesday.

“We had a brief chat, took a couple of pictures,” Facey said.

Facey is more of a face-up power forward than a classic center.

“He shoots 3’s, runs the floor,” Memminger said. “His talent is a little different than some of the other big guys there. And he’s a great kid, a 3.5 student. It helps UConn to bring in kids like that.”

Facey said he’s planning on focusing on civil engineering when he gets to Storrs next year.

Facey really blew up this summer and was offered scholarships from programs such as USC, UCLA, Louisville, Pitt, Memphis, St. John's, Providence and Rutgers.

And the Huskies will be getting a visit from one of Facey's highly-touted New Ren teammates on Friday, when Class of 2013 shooting guard Terrence Samuel visits the campus with coach Sean Marks.


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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jim Calhoun: 'I Expect to be Back to Full Health in a Couple of Months'

Spoke with Jim Calhoun by phone late this afternoon. He's sore, confined to a walker right now, but in good enough spirits, already getting some "weight-bearing" exercise in.

Calhoun said that, while there is no timetable on when he may return to the office, he expects to be back to full health in a couple of months.

In essence, this hip injury doesn't change anything in terms of his potential return to the sidelines this season -- a return he's still pondering.

Here's my story.


UConn Product Mike Olt Working Hard as Big-League Rookie

I assume most UConn men's basketball fans don't necessarily follow UConn baseball. Still, the school's alumni -- and Connecticut sports fans in general -- have to have some pride in Mike Olt, the former Husky standout who's now a rookie with the Texas Rangers.

Olt, a Branford native, is at Fenway Park the next three days (he'll be at Yankee Stadium early next week), and I had the chance to catch up with him to talk about his early major-league success (and failures), as well as his pride in UConn.

Great kid, definitely worth rooting for and following as his career progresses. But don't take my word for it. Take the word of veteran Ranger infielder Michael Young, who only has 2,176 career hits to his credit and says: "He's going to have a very successful major-league career."

*** Back to basketball, looks like it was Calhoun Charity Game, Pt. III Monday night at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am. A.J. Price, Kemba Walker, Tyler Olander and Gavin Edwards teamed up to swamp Niels Giffey's Atty Deron Freeman, 167-141.

Price had 35 points and 10 assists; Kemba had 30 points, seven assists and seven boards; Olander had 20 points, 10 boards and five dimes; Edwards had 20 points and 12 boards.

Giffey had a big night, with 30 point, 11 boards and a pair of steals.

Here's the upcoming playoff schedule. Don't ask me who's on what team, because that is often somewhat ... fluid:

Play-IN Game Tuesday August 7th 7pm
Atty Deron Freeman vs All-Faith All-stars
Wednesday August 8th
6:30pm: (8) State Farm Slamm vs (9) CT Flight
8:15pm: (6) PPF vs (7) Hot 93.7
Thursday August 9th
6:30pm: (4) Simoniz CBC vs (5) Cambyland
8:15pm: (3) Harte Nissan vs Atty Deron Freeman/All Faith
Saturday August 11th
5pm (2) Doc Hurley vs PPF/ Hot 93.7
7pm (1) Recycle King Naughty Boyz vs State Farm/CT Flight

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Blaudschun: Jim Calhoun to be Released from Hospital Tomorrow

Mark Blaudschun is the first to get a hold of Jim Calhoun at the hospital, and he writes that Calhoun will be released from the hospital tomorrow (Tuesday), spend about a week at home rehabbing and then continue coaching the UConn basketball team -- and deciding whether or not he wants to continue doing so.


Remembering Dave Solomon

A year ago today, the Register and the entire journalism community suffered a great loss when longtime Register columnist Dave Solomon was killed in a one-car crash. He was on his way home from a UConn football practice.

I can't tell you how many times over the past year I've looked at a sports story -- whether it be UConn or some other local or national story -- and wondered, "What would Dave's take on this be?" "What kind of a column would he have written?" To think of what Dave would have written about UConn's APR situation and postseason ban, Jim Calhoun's status and future, the Penn State ugliness -- what a great loss to all of us who appreciate thoughtful writing on interesting, sometimes very important topics.

The Dave Solomon Scholarship at UConn has been established to forever keep his memory and spirit alive. Please take a moment to think of Dave at


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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jeremy Lamb, Kemba Walker, A.J. Price Highlight GHPA Sunday Night

Looks like the Greater Hartford Pro-Am was a big beneficiary of the Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game being in town this weekend.

Jeremy Lamb poured in 52 points to lead State Farm Slamm to a 150-67, USA-Nigeria-style beating of All-Faith All-Stars on Sunday afternoon. Lamb added 10 rebounds and (I love this) two assists. Two.

In the second game, A.J. Price and Kemba Walker reunited for the first time since 2009 to lead Doc Hurley to a 106-94 win over Hot 93.7. Price had 30 points, five boards and (yup) two assists, while Kemba netted 28, had six rebounds and was unselfish enough to dole out three assists.

Oh, and the NBA flavor didn't end there. In the nightcap, Ryan Gomes poured in 40 to lead Harte Nissan to a 146-126 win over CT Flight. Gomes didn't play in the Calhoun charity game, of course. Seems he wasn't offered a scholarship by Calhoun.

On Monday, Atty Deron Freeman takes on Doc Hurley at 6:30 p.m., followed by Gomes's Harte Nissan against PPF Graphics at 8:15 p.m. (or so).

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Jim Calhoun's Surgery Successful

Jim Calhoun underwent successful surgery Saturday night to repair a left hip fracture suffered in a bicycle mishap earlier in the day.

Calhoun is resting comfortably at John Dempsey Hospital at the UConn Health Center in Farmington. He is expected to be released from the hospital within the next few days and will recuperate at home.


Video Action from the Calhoun Charity Classic

Although Jim Calhoun wasn't able to attend the event due to a broken hip suffered in a bike accident earlier in the day, there was still plenty of fun and action at Saturday night's charity all-star game. Here's some video evidence:

Kemba Walker, Ray Allen introduced to the crowd; MVP Walker drains a 3-pointer; Big Ed Nelson blows a dunk; Rudy Gay finds Edmund Saunders for a nice reverse layup:

Hasheem Thabeet and Rudy Gay mess around prior to the game; Kemba talks about how special UConn will always be to him; Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton shoot the breeze:

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shabazz Napier Still in Boot; Kemba Just Wants to Win

Here are some notes 'n quotes from Saturday's Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity Classic:

Kemba Walker is one of the most celebrated winners in UConn basketball history. The run to the 2011 Big East and national championships is proof of that.

So imagine how it killed him as a rookie this season with the Charlotte Bobcats, who had an all-time worst record of 7-59.

“Of course (it did),” he said Saturday, prior to the Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game. He added that his goal for the team in the future is “winning, that’s it. I just want to win.”

Adding another national champion (2012 No. draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) to the mix can only help, Walker figures.

“But it takes more than just me and him,” he noted. “As long as (we)can try to bring that winning culture to the team, it’ll help a lot.”

Walker was a winner again on Saturday, scoring 38 points to lead the White Team to a sudden-death overtime (seriously), 109-107 victory over the Blue Team. In an interesting twist, however, Walker had two chances to give his team the win and came up short both times.

At the end of regulation, he put up a 16-footer (similar to his famous game-winner against Pitt in the 2011 Big East tournament) but had it blocked by Rudy Gay.

In OT, Walker made some terrific crossovers and put up a similar shot with Jeremy Lamb guarding him. The shot was an air ball.

The White Team won thanks to Jerome Dyson’s steal and layup.

*** Shabazz Napier is still in a walking boot after fracturing the pinky toe on his right foot a few months ago, but he’s 100-percent confident that he’ll be ready to go once practice starts in mid-October.

Napier said he’s due to get the boot off in 2 ½-3 weeks, and hopefully begin basketball activities shortly after that.

Jim Calhoun has mentioned that Napier will likely play off the ball more this season, allowing Ryan Boatright to control the point. That’s fine with Napier.

“In high school I was more of a combo guard,” he noted. “When I came to college, I realized I had more potential being a pro point guard. If I was blessed enough to make it to the NBA, that’s what I’d be. But, I’m willing to do anything coach wants me to do. Whatever he wants me to do, I’ll do it – whether it be running in the rain at (midnight), I’ll do it.”

He’ll be asked to score more this season.

“I started scoring well at the beginning of the season, but then I allowed a lot of things that were going on with the team to get in my head,” Napier noted.

What type of things?

“Things that were going on throughout the whole season, whether it be inside or outside. Sometimes as a young athlete, you let things get to your head. I learned from my mistakes.”

*** UConn is expected to have several recruits come in on official visits this week. One of them is Kentan Facey, a 6-foot-9 Class of 2013 power forward out of Long Island Lutheran High.

Per NCAA rules, UConn could not have any recruiting visitors at Saturday's game. If any came, it was on their own accord.

*** Hasheem Thabeet recently signed with the defending NBA Western Confernece champion Oklahoma City Thunder.

“It’s another opportunity for me,” he said. “I just have to put in the work.”

*** Stanley “Sticks” Robinson was at the game, but didn’t play due to a torn left Achilles tendon he suffered in March while playing for the Iowa Energy of the NBA developmental league.

*** Donnell Beverly, a 2011 graduate, played in China last year.

*** The announced attendance was 7,241.

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UConn Stars Past and Present React to Jim Calhoun's Bike Injury

As you probably know by now, Jim Calhoun isn't at tonight's Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game after fracturing his hip in a bike accident today in Madison. He will have surgery tonight at the John Dempsey Hospital at UConn Health Center in Farmington, and a UConn spokesman said Calhoun is expected to make a full recovery.

The players and coaches at Saturday's game learned of Calhoun's accident at various times during the day (Hasheem Thabeet said he found out this morning). Here's some of their reactions:

Thabeet: "I hope he recovers soon. I just hope for the best for him. He's one of the people who's always been there for me, in all kind of ways."

Kemba Walker: “I wish he was here, I wish he was coming, but things happen in life. He’ll be alright, though.”

Shabazz Napier: “He’s a competitor, no matter what he’s doing – riding a bike, playing golf, especially basketball. Hopefully, he’ll be better soon. We wish he was here with us, but we’re just hoping nothing serious happened to him.”

UConn AD Warde Manuel: "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with Jim for a speedy recovery. He’s had some bad breaks this last year or so ... I know it's tough on him and Pat and the family."

George Blaney, on whether he'd consider telling Calhoun to stay off his bike from now on: "Have you ever tried to tell him anything?"

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Sun Rising on Jerome Dyson's NBA Career?

A reminder that the Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena. Many of the top UConn stars of the past (Kemba Walker, Ray Allen, Rudy Gay, Jeremy Lamb, Hasheem Thabeet, etc.) are expected to be there.

Here's a little feature I did on Jerome Dyson, who's now a Phoenix Sun. He'll be at the game, too.

And remember, you can get autographs from most of the players once the game is over.

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Jordan Bell Calls UConn 'Dream School'

Jordan Bell, a 6-foot-7, Class of 2013 power forward out of California, loves him some UConn.


"Yes, yes I would commit (if offered by UConn)."
Bell is a 6'7 power forward from California who holds offers from several Division 1 college programs, including: Alabama, St. John's, Texas, San Diego State, Hawaii, Memphis, Virginia Tech, San Jose State, San Francisco, Nevada, Oklahoma, and every Pac-12 program besides Utah and Stanford. 
His game is based on timing, athleticism, and grit. Jordan is an exceptional rebounder and shot-blocker, and is a tough mismatch for opposing teams because of how well he runs the floor for a post player.
So what makes a kid from Long Beach so attracted to going to school on the opposite coast? The UConn tradition.
"UConn is my dream school. They have a great coaching staff, I love their defense, and their offensive sets. Plus school-wise and academically -- it's just a great school," he said. 
Ah yes, the whole "dream school" thing. We've heard that before. But it seems Bell is pretty high on UConn, and would seem to be a great fit in Storrs.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

It Pays to Have Jim Calhoun as a Reference

As Rod Sellers, Jerome Dyson and just about every other former UConn basketball player has learned, it pays to have Jim Calhoun on your side.

Sellers recently got a job, thanks in no small part from a phone call from Calhoun to Sellers' interviewer. "The guy came in and he was so happy," Sellers recalled. "He was saying, 'Man, I can tell all my friends I got a personal call from Jim Calhoun.'"

Dyson, of course, ran into some trouble during his four years at UConn, including a 30-day suspension for a positive drug (marijuana) test. But Calhoun stuck by his side.

"A lot of times, Coach could have easily looked the other way and forgot all about me," Dyson noted. "There were some incidents where he could have just given up on me, and he didn’t. I think the opportunity he’s given me was big for me."

Dyson and Sellers will be among the many UConn alumni at Saturday's Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game. Kemba Walker, Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Rudy Gay, Jeremy Lamb, Khalid El-Amin, Hasheem Thabeet and Jake Voskuhl are among the many other ex-Huskies expected to play and/or participate.

Here's the info:

What: The Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Why: To raise money for the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the UConn Health Center
Who: Kemba Walker, Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Rudy Gay, Jeremy Lamb, Khalid El-AMin, Ricky Moore, Jake Voskhul, Hasheem Thabeet, Kevin Ollie, Travis Knight, Rod Sellers and Scott Burrell are among those expected to play and/or participate.
How: Tickets are $12 to $25 and can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 800-345-7000, going to or visiting the Mohegan Sun box office.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jerome Dyson Not a Sun Yet; Has No Regrets About UConn Career

Jerome Dyson is in a bit of basketball limbo right now, but it's much better than where he was a year ago -- or even a few months ago.

Dyson was recently traded from Minnesota to Phoenix (shortly after being dealt from New Orleans to Minnesota), though nothing's official yet. Technically, he's still a Hornet.

"They're still trying to work out the numbers," he said on Wednesday, prior to a Greater Hartford Pro-Am game. "I haven't taken my physical yet. I'm waiting for a phone call from my agent. It is tough. I want to be able to tell people something. Everybody’s asking questions. A lot of information came out before that I was going to Minnesota, then Phoenix. Everyone’s been on Twitter asking me questions. It’s really hard, because I can’t say much.”

Most importantly, though, Dyson is an NBA player -- something that was obvious from the amount of autographs and pictures he had fans asking for on Wednesday. It's also something that, he admits, he wondered whther it would ever happen while toiling in the 'D' League the last two years.

“That first year (2010-11) was hard for me," he admitted. "Going from UConn to the D-League was a total 180 as far as how we travel, where we stay, practice – just the overall whole experience. I had thoughts of leaving and going overseas. I had talks with my mom about it, but I think my mom and my agent were probably the biggest supporters of me. My agent always told me I was an NBA player."

There was one other experience that convinced Dyson he wanted to remain Stateside, as well.

"I think the one thing that brought me back this past year is the fact that I got to go represent my country at the Pan-Am Games," he said. "That was probably the biggest (factor) in my decision of whether I was going to stay or go overseas. That experience is something I’d never give back for anything.”

Dyson certainly appears to be a more mature, content person than the sometimes aloof kid at UConn who once was suspended 30 days as a sophomore after flunking a drug test. (Ironically, Dyson was on the same team Wednesday night as Doug Wiggins, with whom he was arrested in that January, 2008 incident on campus).

Jim Calhoun recently told me that Dyson had expressed some regret to him about what he "did or didn't do" during his time at UConn. Calhoun told him it wasn't what he'd done in the past that was important, it was what he was doing right now.

Dyson agrees.
“I wouldn’t call them regrets. Everything’s a learning experience. I’m happy the way everything has turned out. I’m sure you can always go back and change things, but I don’t have any regrets.

"I don't focus on the past. I'm just focusing on the present right now."

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UConn Makes Xavier Rathan-Mayes' Top 10

According to The Recruit Scoop, Xavier Rathan-Mayes has cut his list to 10 teams -- and UConn makes the cut.

Rathan-Mayes' list is as follows: Baylor, UConn, Alabama, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Memphis, Texas and UCLA.

His father, of course, it Tharon Mayes, the New Haven product who starred at Florida State back in the day.

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