Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ex-Hillhouse Star Keith Cothran Shot Wednesday Night; Condition Uncertain

Keith Cothran, the New Haven native who starred at Hillhouse High, then URI, was shot in the head Wednesday night in Hamden. As of Thursday evening, no one could confirm Cothran's condition, as he was not listed at any area hospitals.

One thing is certain: the inner-city violence in the New Haven area is completely out of control. Will it ever end?


Former UConn Athletes Spearhead Fight Against Epilepsy

Former UConn baseball player David Fradkin and his wife, former UConn swimmer Monica (Rose) Fradkin, are spearheading the fight to raise money and awareness for epilepsy with the S4 Epilepsy Walk, Dinner and Silent Auction in Southbury on June 9.

Here's the release on the event:

The S4 Epilepsy Walk, Dinner and Silent Auction, rapidly becoming known as an event having “Southbury Feel With National Appeal,” will commence at Ballantine Park with a 2.74 mile charity walk and continue with a day of fun, food and family activities.  Over 550 guests are already registered and are now members of the S4 Team. 

S4 stands for “Sarah and Southbury Strikeout Seizures,” in which the Fradkin Family of Southbury, CT hope to increase awareness and raise funds for epilepsy research in honor of their 11 year old daughter, Sarah, who was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 6 years old.

Pre-registration on-line is encouraged at the S4 website at  Gift packet pick-up for pre-registered guests will begin at 1:04 p.m. at Ballantine Park.  Welcoming events will start at 2:24 p.m. with the S4 video courtesy of Sniffen Productions highlighting Sarah’s inspirational story.

Leo’s Restaurant of Southbury has stepped up to the plate as the lead food sponsor and is coordinating efforts with Valley Provisions (Boar’s Head Brand Distributor), Seńor Pancho’s, Julio’s Wood Fired Pizza and Grill, and Empire Szechuan to serve up a great taste of Southbury.   County Line Auto of CT is sponsoring a basketball shootout and MetroGrass of NY is sponsoring a putting contest.  Jimmy D with Jimmy D Productions will provide music and entertainment.  With the generous support of Joseph Merritt and Co./Merritt Graphics and their custom signage, Ballantine Park will look fabulous on June 9th.  

There will be a large number of unique items available for silent auction bidding that have been donated from around the country and by regional businesses.  The “National Appeal” of the event has been further enhanced by the support of many major league players who have joined the S4 team.  Winning bidders will have the opportunity to experience once in a lifetime access at many ballparks and exclusive golf clubs.  Bidding on these experiences will begin June 4th and continue through June 26th at  

Proceeds raised at the June 9th S4 event and the online auction will benefit CURE, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy.   Epilepsy and seizures affect nearly 3 million Americans of all ages.  About 200,000 new cases of epilepsy occur every year.  1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lifetime.  Funding for epilepsy research is only a fraction of that given to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other well know diseases, yet more people suffer from epilepsy than Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and Parkinson’s combined.

For more information please go to

Saturday, May 26, 2012

DeAndre Daniels Gets Back to Work

There's always a lot of positive spin coming out of Storrs during the off-season, often to be taken with a grain of salt. This guy looks better than ever, that guy is out to prove everybody wrong, this guy is the best recruit the program has had in years.

One thing I'm buying right now, however, is the unanimous belief that DeAndre Daniels is currently out-working everyone on the team -- by a lot. Talk to anyone around the program and one of the first things they mention is the time and work Daniels is putting in right now.

I witnessed some of it first-hand earlier this week as Daniels and Ryan Boatright went through a grueling shooting drill at Gampel, and wrote this story for the Register. Daniels talks about how he's ready to put last year's disappointing freshman season behind him (OK, a common cliche), how his sister's major health scare in February weighed on him at times during the season, and how he (briefly) considered transferring from the program.

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UConn to Face Wake Forest in Paradise Jam

UConn will meet Wake Forest in the opening round of the 2012 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam at University of Virgin Islands, according to the brackets released by tournament officials.

The Huskies, seeded No. 2 in the tourney, will play the seventh-seeded Demon Deacons on Friday, Nov. 16, at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). On the same side of the bracket, No. 3 seed Iona will take on No. 6 seed Quinnipiac at 9 p.m. Those winners will meet in the tourney semifinals on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 9 p.m., while the losers will play on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m.

On the opposite side of the bracket, No. 4 George Mason challenges No. 5 Mercer in the tourney opener (1:30 p.m.), while top-seeded New Mexico plays No. 8 seed Illinois-Chicago (4 p.m.) in the other Friday doubleheader.

All eight teams will play their third games on Monday, Nov. 19, including the championship game at 9 p.m.
Game times are subject to change for television considerations, which will be announced at a later date. The tourney will take place at the Sports and Fitness Center on the island of St. Thomas.

UConn won the 2008 Paradise Jam championship, defeating LaSalle, Miami, and Wisconsin on its way to the title. That season, the Huskies went on to post a 31-5 overall record and reach the 2009 Final Four.

UConn and Wake Forest have met only twice, each winning a game on its home court. The Huskies bowed to Wake Forest, 103-77, in Winston-Salem on Dec. 29, 1969, and defeated the Deacons, 84-75, on Dec. 2, 1991, at the Hartford Civic (now XL) Center.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Catching Up with Jim Calhoun, DeAndre Daniels, Ryan Boatright ...

Spent some time up at UConn today for a variety of reasons. Witnessed the continued demolition of Memorial Stadium, as a construction vehicle -- looking like some sort of dinosaur straight out of Jurassic Park -- tore up what remained of the bleacher seats at the old stadium.

The press box was scheduled to go down later today. Why is this all happening? So that the area can be used to build a new basketball practice facility. So don't get too emotional about the end of Memorial Stadium. Its long-overdue demise will only help UConn's basketball program in the future.

*** I also saw Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels going through some vigorous workouts in a catch-and-shoot drill. The players took turns taking jumpers off "screens" (two large trash barrels were setting the "picks") from all over the court in one-minute segments. It's a grueling drill, one that keys on moving without the ball (not to mention getting up shots while tired) and both looked good stroking down the bulk of their shots.

Daniels is drawing rave reviews for his work ethic this spring.

"He's working extremely hard," said director of basketball operations Karl Hobbs. He's really focused on what he has to do."

I talked to Daniels for a bit about his tough freshman year, in which he not only went through the typical struggles but also dealt with his sister Keirstyn's frightening health issues -- a non-cancerous tumor on her brain.

"That weighed on me," he admitted. "In the middle of the season, I missed a couple of practices to see her and stayed at the hospital for, like, eight hours just to see if she's OK after surgery. She's fine now. She's good."

Daniels struggles and eventual lack of playing time caused him to consider a transfer -- briefly.

"I won't lie, at some point, me just being a young kid and being selfish and not understanding, it crossed my mind a couple of times," he said. "But I would never really do it. I'm here. I'm still a Husky."

And, of course, with the mass exodus of transfers, NBA draft entries, etc., playing time is available for Daniels next season.

"He sees his opportunity," said Jim Calhoun. "One door closes, another door opens. He's got a great opportunity. I've always thought he was going to be a good player. The shot he has is still the same shot, he's had to learn to shoot it at full speed. He's jumped both feet in and worked as hard as anybody, if not harder."

We'll have much more on Daniels in the next day or two ...

***Oh yes, caught up with Calhoun, too. He's doing well, says his back his fine. He was in good spirits -- his wife, Pat, and her sister and two daughters-in-law were out at the 'American Idol' finals last night -- and knows next year will be a different one. And not only because of the likely postseason ban. UConn will have a different look, without the dominant shot-blocking presence in the middle its had for so many years now (though the Huskies feel incoming frosh Phil Nolan will eventually be a strong inside presence).

Calhoun says Boatright will be the point guard solely next year, with Shabazz Napier moving off the ball. Omar Calhoun will play the 2, and R.J. Evans can play all over the place. Boatright's excited about the proposition, knowing that playing point will be his only ticket to the NBA.

UConn's German trio of Niels Giffey, Enosch Wolf and incoming frosh Leon Tolksdorf will all try out for respective German national teams this summer. Boatright will attend Chris Paul's camp, and Napier will try out for the Puerto Rican national team.

Nolan and Omar Calhoun should be on campus to start summer classes around June 24.

*** Oh, and Tony Robertson's still on campus. He just finished a Spanish course today and begins another Spanish class on Tuesday, as well as an English class. Robertson said he's about 12 credits short of graduating with a political science degree.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

D.C. Will Host East Regionals

Not that this is likely to affect UConn, but a Big East school will be hosting next year's East Regionals.

Washington, D.C. will join Arlington, Texas, Indianapolis and Los Angeles as sites for the regional semifinals and finals from March 28-31. Cities hosting first and second-round games will be Dayton, Ohio; Auburn Hills, Mich.; Austin, Texas; Kansas City; Lexington, Ky.; Philadelphia; Salt Lake City; and San Jose. The Final Four will be held April 6 and 8 in Atlanta.

Of course, barring some miracle reversal in thinking by the NCAA, UConn won't be invited to any of the sites.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hathaway Named A.D. at Hofstra

Hofstra University is becoming UConn West (OK, only a couple hundred miles west, but still west). Patrick Sellers is an assistant coach of the men's basketball team, Jamal Coombs-McDaniel is a player on the team and now Jeff Hathaway is the school's new athletic director.

Here's the press release from Hofstra on Hathaway's hire:

Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz today announced that the University had hired Jeffrey A. Hathaway, formerly the Director of Athletics for the University of Connecticut and the outgoing chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, as Hofstra University’s new Vice President and Director of Athletics.
“In collegiate athletics, the name Jeff Hathaway means success on any number of levels: in the classroom, on the playing field, in the boardroom, with donors and the media. Most importantly, Jeff’s focus on excellence, ethics, leadership and academics will allow the Hofstra Pride athletics program to move to the next level of excellence,” said Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz. “His tenure at the University of Connecticut was one of unprecedented growth, and under his leadership, we look forward to ushering in a new era of Hofstra Pride athletic success.”

“I am excited to join the Hofstra University community and to have the opportunity to provide leadership and serve the student-athletes, coaches and staff in this outstanding athletics program,” commented Hathaway. “I particularly would like to thank President Stuart Rabinowitz for allowing me to become part of the Hofstra University family.

Throughout my career I have been be part of programs that have competed against Hofstra and I have seen firsthand the success the Pride has had over the years. My primary focus will be on the academic achievement of our student-athletes and providing them the opportunity to participate and achieve in their academic and athletic endeavors as we prepare them for their lives after graduation from Hofstra.”

Hathaway is signing a 5-year agreement with Hofstra University. He will begin in June 2012, at a date to be determined later this week. Eastman & Beaudine assisted in the search, and President Rabinowitz, consistent with the need for confidentiality and speed, consulted with members of the Hofstra University Board of Trustees as appropriate.
“We had an opportunity to bring Jeff to Hofstra so we moved quickly to come to an agreement,” said President Rabinowitz. “We want to thank Danny McCabe and the athletics staff for ensuring a smooth transition.”

Hathaway and President Rabinowitz also confirmed an agreement with Acting Athletic Director Danny McCabe to remain the program’s Executive Associate Director of Athletics

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

John Calipari in Connecticut; Jim Calhoun Has Announced His Return Before

Warning: If you hate John Calipari and have any preconceived notions about what a dirty scoundrel he is, don't read this story. Or, better yet, maybe you should.

Calipari was in Stratford Wednesday night, not to recruit a player but to be the guest speaker at the St. Joseph's boys basketball banquet. Stems from his long-time friendship with St. Joe's coach Vito Montelli.

I'm not saying this is the greatest act of kindness ever performed by a college basketball coach (though it's not the first time Cal has done something like this). But let's face it, the head coach of the national champions didn't have to come from Kentucky to Stratford, Conn., on a Wednesday night to address a high school boys basketball team -- one which holds no potential recruits for him. Just a guy being loyal to his friend.

Not saying Calipari is a saint, but maybe he's not as evil as some make him out to be.

*** On another note, while sifting through my blog archives this morning looking for an old post, I came across this from April 9, 2009, just a few days after UConn had been beaten by Michigan State in the Final Four: Calhoun, through a press release sent out by the school, announced that he would be returning to coach UConn  the following season. Why? To nip all the rumors of his potential retirement in the bud, and as much as anything else, help the Huskies on the recruiting trail.

So when Calhoun says now that, with two years left on his contract, there's no reason for him to announce he's returning and that the only announcement would be if he's not returning ... well, that wasn't the case three years ago. Obviously, he wants to keep some doors open.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Report: Leon Tolksdorf Commits to UConn

It looks like UConn's has added to its German connection.

According to, the Huskies have landed a commitment from Leon Tolksdorf, a 6-foot-7 forward from Berlin. That's Berlin, Germany, not the Berlin with the turnpike and the summer fair.

Tolksdorf is labeled as a shooter. In 21 games last season for ALBA Berlin II, he averaged 5.2 points in 14.2 minutes per game. He shot 40 percent from the floor and 34.1 percent from beyond the arc, and 71.4 percent from the foul line.

He joins 6-5 Omar Calhoun and 6-11 Phil Nolan as 2012 incoming recruits for UConn. He also joins juniors Niels Giffey and Enosch Wolf as UConn players from Deutschland.

And here's the obligatory highlight video:

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Monday, May 7, 2012

John Marinatto Resigns as Big East Commish

John Marinatto has resigned as commissioner of the Big East. Joseph Bailey takes over as interim commish. Here's the release sent out by the conference:

"After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided to step down as Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference and formally advised our Board of Directors," stated Marinatto. "I have been associated with this league for my entire adult life and have had the tremendous honor of serving as its Commissioner since 2009. Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the Conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations. As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank both our membership and my staff for their unwavering encouragement, support and loyalty -- especially during this past year. I am extremely confident about the future of this league that I love very much."

“I know I speak for the entire Conference when I express my sincere gratitude to John for his leadership and dedicated years of service,” said Dr. Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida and Chair of the BIG EAST Conference. “John helped build the BIG EAST into what it is today, and played a critical role in our successful expansion efforts, and for all of that we thank him.”

Joseph A. Bailey III will today assume the position of interim Commissioner of the BIG EAST until a new Commissioner is selected. Bailey has extensive experience in the global sports industry as a leader, advisor and recruiter. He has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Miami Dolphins, Chief Operating Officer of the World League/NFL, Vice President of Administration of the Dallas Cowboys and other senior positions. Most recently, he has served as the Managing Director of RSR Partners, a leading executive recruiting firm.

“Joe is a proven leader who will do a terrific job guiding the conference through this time of transition,” said Genshaft. “His experience as a manager and his knowledge of the sports industry make Joe uniquely qualified to serve as interim Commissioner. He will move the Conference forward with a steady-hand as we explore new opportunities.”

“The BIG EAST has a terrific future,” said Bailey. “I’m excited to participate in shaping a new structure and strategic plans for the Conference, and I look forward to engaging on these matters with the leadership of all of the Conference’s members, old and new alike.”

The Conference also announced that it has retained The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to review its organizational design and structure. As the BIG EAST transitions to a national conference, its members will take this opportunity to position the Conference to maximize its media rights, branding and other strategies.
The search for the new Commissioner of the BIG EAST will be chaired Dr. Gregory H. Williams, the President of the University of Cincinnati and a member of the BIG EAST Executive Committee.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Register names All-State hoops team, tabs Kris Dunn as MVP

The Register unveiled its winter All-Area and All-State teams today, as well as its MVP's in respective sports.

Here's the Register's 64th All-State boys' basketball team, which includes UConn interest Kuran Iverson.

And here's Joe Morelli's story on our state boys' basketball MVP, Providence-bound Kris Dunn.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Michael Bradley: "I Don't Regret Coming to UConn"

Michael Bradley finished exams on Thursday ("they went great," he said). Now, he's packing up his stuff, heading down to his Chattanooga home to see his mom and ailing grandmother and, soon afterwards, heading to Western Kentucky University to start his college hoops career anew.

Bradley officially announced he's transferring to WKU, something that's been in the works for a couple of weeks. The main reason the 6-9 sophomore is leaving Storrs is to be closer to his grandmother, Frankie Bradley, who is battling lung cancer.

"I don't regret coming to UConn," said Bradley, who never played a single second in his two seasons as a Husky. He sat out as a redshirt his first year, then broke his ankle in the preseason last year and never recovered enough to get on the court.

"The way the dice rolled, sitting out my first year was the best thing to happen to me, because I had only played four years (of basketball) and one of them was my JV year," Bradley said. "The worst thing that happened was my injury."

Since he's transferring to be closer to home for his grandmother, Bradley may not have to sit out a season and be able to suit right up for the Hilltoppers. He said his grandmother seems to be doing well.

"Sometimes, I have to tell just by her voice, because she's stubborn like me," Bradley said. "She could be doing horrible and telling me she's doing good."

Bradley said that UConn's upcoming postseason ban played into his decision "maybe just a little ... but I wouldn't say it's the reason."

He added he has "no clue" if Jim Calhoun is returning.

As for Western Kentucky, Bradley said he doesn't know new head coach (and former assistant) Ray Harper too well, but said his AAU coach, teammates and people around the city of Chattanooga gave him "good feedback" about Harper.

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Phillip Nolan: "UConn Just the Place for Me"

Just got off the phone with new UConn recruit Phillip Nolan, who seems like a real nice, polite young man. Here's what he had to say.

"In my opinion, UConn is one of the best programs in the Big East. I know a couple of guys are transferring, and that opens up minutes at UConn. I know if I work hard enough, I'll be able to attain some minutes as a freshman."

Nolan said the questions surrounding how long Jim Calhoun will stay as head coach, as well as next year's almost certain postseason ban, didn't bother him.

"Not at all. I'm just excited to be a part of the UConn family. None of that stuff really bothers me. Coach Calhoun is not the only coach at UConn I have a relationship with. I'd like for him to stay as head coach, if that's what he wants to do, but it wouldn't change my decision."

Nolan said he's been in contact with Calhoun and assistant Kevin Ollie. He said that "nothing's been promised to me. They let me know that minutes will be available, it depends how hard I work, how bad I want it."

As for the postseason ban: "t really dosn't bother me. UConn is just the place for me."

(Give us a like on Facebook, if you get a chance!)

Nolan said he visited St. John's last weekend and Oregon and Clemson last fall. He'll make his first visit to UConn on Sunday.

Nolan played at two different public high schools and two different prep schools. He played this past season at Riverside University High in Milwaukee, his hometown. Nolan explains his nomadic high school life:

"My freshman and sophomore year I went to the same public school in Milwaukee. After my sophomore year, I went to prep school and thought it was going to be great. I was a little immature, and it didn't really work out for me. I came back home and ended up going to another prep school .. and that just didn't work out for me, either. Instead of going back to my original high school, I wanted to be at a high school near my home. Riverside is one of the best public schools in the city, and after prep school, I realized how imprtant grades were and (wanted to be in a good academic situation)."

Nolan says his strengths are rebounding, blocking shots, running the court. He admits he needs to get stronger, but has already bulked up from 187 at the end of the season to 209 pounds through working out four-five times a week with a personal trainer, downing protein shakes etc.

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Phillip Nolan Draws Praise from High School Coach

Phillip Nolan, UConn's newest recruit (and first since the program learned it will almost certainly be banned from next year's postseason), is "6-10, long, shoots pretty well from the outside," according to his high school coach, Tyrone Lewis.

"To be that long and tall like that, he can run the floor pretty well," added Lewis, who coached Nolan for just this past season at Milwaukee's Riverside University high school. "He can mix it up, and step back and hit jump shots, also."

Lewis said that Nolan was being recruited by Clemson, Marquette, Oregon, St. John's and DePaul, among others, and had visited Oregon, St. John's and Clemson. Nolan has yet to visit UConn, but Lewis believes that Nolan will be doing so early next week.

Lewis admitted that, after talking to him last week, he was "surprised" the big man chose UConn.

"But I think he's very happy with his decision," said Lewis.

Nolan could see minutes right away, as UConn's frontcourt was further depleted on Thursday when Michael Bradley officially announced he's leaving the program and heading to Western Kentucky University.

Nolan is well-traveled, having played for a couple of prep schools and public schools in the Milwaukee area. He had to sit out part of this past season until the MIAA cleared him to play a little after Christmas.

Lewis said Nolan averaged 16.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and three blocks per game. He shot 70 percent from the foul line and 62 percent from the floor. He also made three of the four 3-pointers he attempted.

Lewis said Nolan "did a pretty good job with academics" at Riverside.

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Phillip Nolan Tweets He's Committed to UConn

Recruits do still want to come to UConn!

Philip Nolan, a  a Class of 2012, 6-foot-10, 200-pound power forward out of Milwaukee, tweeted earlier today that he has verbally committed to UConn. Nolan is the 30th-ranked power forward in his class, according to

We'll have more later ...


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

UConn Will Play NC State in Jimmy V Classic

UConn will make its first appearance in the Jimmy V Basketball Classic this year when it takes on North Carolina State on Dec. 4 at Madison Square Garden.

The Huskies-Wolfpack game will start at 9 p.m. and be preceded by Georgetown against Texas at 9 p.m. Both games are on ESPN.

UConn has already signed on to participate in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, and will host the University of Washington on Dec. 29.

(Don't forget to give our UConn men's basketball Facebook page a "like", if you get a chance!)

UConn is 2-2 all-time against NC State, beating it 81-74 on Dec. 5, 1992 in Raleigh and 77-74 on March 17, 2002 in an NCAA tournament second-round game. The Wolfpack beat the Huskies in their initial meeting on Feb. 16, 1991, 60-59 at Gampel, and ended UConn's season in 2005 in an NCAA tourney second-round game in Worcester, 65-62.

The 18th annual Jimmy V Classic raises money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, which has raised more than $120 million to fund cancer research grants since 1995.

Tickets for the Jimmy V games will go on sale in the fall via Ticketmaster and the Madison Square Garden box office.