Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Busy Couple of Weeks in Store for UConn Men's Basketball Team

Greetings from Gampel, where things really start to kick into gear now for the UConn men's basketball team.

Over the next 2 1/2 weeks, the Huskies will play seven games (two of them exhibitions) on two different continents, two countries and a U.S. territory.

The Huskies play American International College Thursday at 7 p.m. in an exhibition at Gampel, the first time someone not named Jim Calhoun is at the helm since March 5, 1986. Then, they play UMass-Lowell on Sumday at 1 in Hartford. On Tuesday, the Huskies bus down to New York City and fly to Frankfurt, Germany, for their showdown with Michigan State in the Armed Forces Classic on Friday. On Saturday at 1 p.m. local time, UConn flies out of Germany for a nine-hour flight back to NYC.

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, UConn hosts Vermont in its first regular-season game at Gampel. The following day, the Huskies jet down to the U.S. Virgin Islands for three games in four days.

Phew! Get tired just writing that.

It's a lot of basketball for this bunch, and don't be surprised if they're dragging by those final couple of games in the Paradise Jam. But it certainly kicks Kevin Ollie's coaching careeer into high gear from the start.

One interesting caveat to the Paradise Jam: there is talk of a certain Jim Calhoun joining Joe D'Ambrosio as color man for the games. Calhoun will be going to both Germany and the Virgin Isles, and since Joe D's longtime radio partner Wayne Norman will be back in the States for UConn football, he may need some help with the radio broadcast.

Calhoun certainly would be an interesting and entertaining choice, but don't hold me to it: it's all very, very preliminary.

*** Elsewhere, Enosch Wolf is participating in non-contact drills only today and won't play in tomorrow night's exhibition. However, he is expected to practice fully on Saturday and play in Sunday's exhibition.

And, here's Dan Shaughnessy's take on Kevin Garnett's cold shoulder to Ray Allen last night in Miami.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

UConn's Graduation Success Rate Not Very Good

UConn had 14 of its 19 athletic programs with graduation success rates at or above the national average, including five that had a perfect score of 100.

The men's basketball program's GSR was 11 percent. The 2012 GSR numbers reflect student-athletes who entered classes from 2002-05.

Here's what UConn had to say in a press release:

Fourteen of the University of Connecticut’s 19 athletic program have graduation rates at or above the national average in their sports while five Husky teams had a perfect 100 as the NCAA released its Graduation Success Rate for all member institutions on Thursday.

The UConn rowing, field hockey, lacrosse, softball and women’s tennis programs all had perfect 100 GSR scores. Rowing was eight points above the national average, while field hockey was six points above, lacrosse three points above, softball 11 points above and women’s tennis seven points above.

Other UConn teams that rated above the national average were: baseball (80 GSR, 6 points above national average), women’s basketball (92 GSR, six points above national average), women’s cross country and track and field (88 GSR, two points above national average), football (69 GSR, one point above national average), men’s ice hockey (85 GSR, five points above nation average), women’s ice hockey (94 GSR, three points above national average), men’s soccer (92 GSR, 15 points above national average), women’s soccer (92 GSR, two points above national average) and men’s swimming and diving (86 GSR, even with national average).

"I want to congratulate the student-athletes on all our teams for their outstanding success in the classroom," said UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel. "The commitment of our Husky student-athletes to excellence in both academics and athletics is a source of pride to our entire University. I want to thank the coaching staffs of all our sports and the staff of the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletics for all their efforts in supporting the academic success of student-athletes ."

The UConn men’s basketball team had a GSR of 11 percent. The UConn men’s basketball team has shown progress in its academic record with a 978 Academic Progress Rate score (out of 1000) for the 2010-11 – a season in which it won the NCAA Championship. A similar score is expected for the 2011-12 academic year when it is announced in June 2013.

"I want to be clear that everyone at UConn is and will always be committed to academic excellence for all of our student-athletes and in particular our men's basketball players," said Manuel, a past member of the NCAA's Academic Cabinet and Academic Eligibility and Compliance Committee. "The University and its Division of Athletics has implemented changes that are designed to positively impact the academic performance of our men's basketball student-athletes. We have evidence that those changes have been successful with our 2010-11 APR score our anticipated 2011-12 APR score.

“While we are disappointed with any low score in a measurement of academic success, the UConn men’s basketball team should not be defined academically by the policies governing the support of our student-athletes seven to ten years ago. Significant changes have been made in the last two years in that support and I am confident that the men’s basketball team will continue to produce the academic results that we expect from all UConn student-athletes.”

The average rates above are based upon scores from all NCAA FBS schools. The GSR data show the percentage of student-athletes earning a degree within six years of entering college. The NCAA developed the GSR to account for student-athletes not tracked by the federal graduation rate. The 2012 GSR numbers are based on entering classes from 2002 to 2005. UConn has a total of 24 sports, but the number is based on 19 sports because cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams are counted as one sport and UConn does not offer first-year financial aid in the sport of golf.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kevin Ollie is Bringing His Own Style, Methods to UConn Program

Kevin Ollie has definitely brought his own methods and philosophy to the UConn program as its first-year head coach, as I detail in this story from today's practice.

Ollie is definitely in his element at practice, hardly appearing like a man in his first year as head coach at any level but rather a man thoroughly in his element. Gotta admit, I like what I see so far. Here's some video footage from today's practice (including Donny Marshall draining a 3-pointer as a member of the 'walk-on team' -- which certainly didn't make Ollie too happy), interspersed with interviews with Ollie and Shabazz Napier:

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UConn's 'Focus' Evident After Players Called Practice on Their Own on Sunday

Kevin Ollie certainly has his own style and ideas for this UConn basketball team, and he's hit the ground running implementing them.

The Huskies have had a sports psychologist meet with the team. They're running different offenses than what Jim Calhoun used to, and running practice a lot different, as well. Today, they had three referees at practice, calling fouls during drills and scrimmages.

“We want him to get used to referees," Ollie said. "They’ve got to have that experience of not fouling, understanding travels. When it’s just us with the whistles, we’re not calling every ticky-tack foul. So I love the refs to come in here and give us that game-like atmosphere.”

One of the off-shoots of the sports psychologist spending a weekend with the team a few weeks ago is that the team gathers in a circle after easch practice and talk numerous things, particularly about being "focused," according to Shabazz Napier.

That manifested itself in a very positive way on Saturday. While gathered in a circle, R.J. Evans came up with the idea of returning on Sunday at 1 p.m. to run through the team's new offensive sets for an hour, prior to 2 p.m. study hall.

“That’s the great thing about this team: R.J. pulling them together, Tyler pulling together, Shabazz," Ollie said. "They came in on Sunday, I didn’t ask them to do it, they did it themselves. They’re doing it for themselves. It’s about sacrifice, 10 toes in and not five. I love their attitude.”

Napier said the 2010-11 and 2011-12 teams might have tried to do the same thing, "but it would have been a struggle. I don’t think everybody would have come in at 1 p.m. People would have been filing in and out – 1:05, 1:15. This team came in at 12:55, they were all here. This year’s team, we’ve got something to prove, so let’s get here five minutes early.”

Here's a few more items from today's practice:

Ollie on Enosch Wolf:

“Everybody is being very cautious around here. It’s his third concussion. We don’t want him to get his fourth and then get to a point where he’s got to retire from basketball ... He’s feeling much better now, but we’ve got to see, once he starts doing his cardio, if the side effects come back. But he’s coming in, paying attention, working hard.”

Wolf was hit in the head by an Omar Calhoun elbow in Friday's practice. Ollie did point out, however, that Wolf "is gonna be ready for Germany."

*** Phil Nolan missed his second straight practice with a 103-degree temperature, but Ollie has really liked what he's seen thus far from the freshman.

“Phil’s been giving us awesome energy and tremendous focus out here, so I can’t wait to get him back.”

*** Ollie on DeAndre Daniels:

“I want him to be engaged. I thought last year he went in and out. I want him to be consistent. I can feel DeAndre’s presence. That’s what we’re working on … then everything else is going to fall in place, because he’s very, very talented.”

*** Ollie on new scholarship recipient Brendan Allen:

“He can contribute. Everybody that comes in this gym can contribute … We gave him a scholarship, so we think he’s got a little something. We need him to continue doing what he’s doing academically, and bring it on the court. Brandon’s a guy, if I play him one minute or 40 minutes, he’s gonna be ready. We want guys like that don’t rock the boat, no matter if you’re playing or not playing. This is your team, it’s about sacrifice.”

*** Ollie on Shabazz Napier and his health:

"He’s pretty much close, to me. If he’s lacking any, I don’t see it. But we still want him to get to that next level. He was picked Second Team all-Big East. We want him first. We’ve got to keep pushing him to that level. I think he can be a great basketball player for us, because he’s smart. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve been around. He knows the game. He says he’s gonna be my assistant coach, but I don’t know about that. Let him have a long career before he’s my assistant coach.”

*** Ollie on Omar Calhoun:

“He puts things in boxes. Academically, when he’s in academics, it’s academics, don’t bother me about anything else. When he gets on the basketball court, he puts it in that box. Everything I try to tell him something, he just does it. I don’t have to tell him twice.”

“And he’s a scorer. I want him to be more aggressive. He’s playing very, very well for me right now, and I’m excited about his future here at UConn.”

*** Niels Giffey on Ollie's interactive style in practice:

“It’s definitely motivating, because he’s the one who’s always giving 100 percent. Every time I step on the court, I feel like I’ve got to match his intensity … He’s really somebody to look up to.”

*** Giffey on Wolf's injury:

“It’s tough for us, it’s so unfortunate. He had a great summer, he was there to take the next step and to actually get a chance to get on court and get in games. Now, me and DeAndre have got to play the four a little bit and show our versatility.”

*** Napier on his health:

“If I had to put a number on it, 92 to 95 percent. I still feel sore if I’m running up and down. If I just stay still, my stiffness comes back.”

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Enosch Wolf 'Day-to-Day' with Concussion

Enosch Wolf suffered a concussion last Friday after being hit in the head during practice. He’s still being evaluated and is considered day-to-day. While concussions are taken ultra-serious these days (with good reason), and this is the third Wolf’s suffered within the past year, the early word is that he isn't necessarily out for long and could even be available to play by, say, UConn’s second exhibition game on Nov. 4.

Elsewhere: Brendan Allen, the sophomore guard out of Windsor, has been awarded a scholarship. He becomes UConn’s 11th scholarship player.

UConn’s walk-ons this year are local: Trey James of Middletown, Dave Vandal of Stonington, Terrance Ditimi of Stamford and Tor Watts of Brooklyn. Brooklyn, N.Y., that is, for Watts.

Hey, it's the second straight year UConn has had a walk-on from Middletown: Andre Drummond was, of course, a walk-on last season.

Oh, and frosh forward Phil Nolan has missed the last two practices with flu-like symptoms.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

UConn Wants Morgan High to Change its Logo

So UConn is asking Morgan High in Clinton to change the way its and logo looks.

I understand UConn's point here -- a registered trademark is a registered trademark. Still, at a time when the school could use all the positive publicity it can get regarding its athletic programs, UConn certainly comes across as being bullies here.

And maybe the more interesting point: the university is just now learning that a school about 40 miles from campus has been using a similar logo for nearly 80 years?

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Preseason AP Top 25, All-America Team

Happy to say I'll be Connecticut's AP Top 25 men's basketball voter again this season. I think this is the fourth straight year? Those Sunday night West Coast late games are always fun when your ballot's supposed to be in by Sunday night.

Anyway, here's the preseason Top 25 I submitted to the AP a few minutes ago (minus the occasionally witty blurbs). Although they are eligible to be voted for despite their postseason ban, UConn doesn't make the cut:

1. Louisville
Rick Pitino may be, in Jim Boeheim's words, "full of (bleep)," but the defending Big East champ Cardinals certainly aren't.
2. Indiana
Most figured Tom Crean would get Hoosiers back to national prominence quickly. Led by Cody Zeller, it's happening now.
3. Kentucky
The beat goes on: farewell, Anthony Davis; hello, Nerlens Noel. (By the way, didn't Yankees notice that 'Cats won national title this season?).
4. Michigan
I've always loved John Beilein as a coach. Give him a team brimming with talent and watch out.
5. N.C. State
On Dec. 4 at MSG, UConn will see first-hand if Wolfpack deserve preseason tabs as ACC's best team.
6. Ohio State
I'm a little leery of Buckeyes without a dominant big man in middle, but Aaron Craft is a top guard.
7. Duke
OK, let's get our Plumlees straight: Miles is gone, Mason's back and Marshall's ready to go. Right? Right.
8. Kansas
Jayhawks slipped from first to second in Big 12 for first time in eight seasons last year. Not likely to repeat that this season.
9. North Carolina
If UConn players could have taken phony courses UNC players have been taking, they might be eligible for NCAA tourney this year.
10. Florida
Gators will be playing Yale in New Haven on Jan. 6 so that Rhode Island's Erik Murphy gets a chance to play game closer to home. Should be fun.
11. Syracuse
Orange play UConn for final time as members of the Big East on Feb. 13 in Hartford. Sad.
12. Michigan State
The Kevin Ollie Era (and '12-13 college hoops season) kicks off with bang when Huskies face talented Spartans Nov. 9 in Germany.
13. UCLA
If Shabazz Muhammed, Kyle Anderson are deemed eligible, Bruins could be Final Four-bound.
14. Arizona
After starring at Xavier last year, Mark Lyons gets to play for Wildcats this season as a grad student. Odd.
15. Creighton
Blue Jays have one of best players in nation in coach's son Doug McDermott, who could average over 25 per game this season.
16. Memphis
Will Joe Jackson be "Steppin' Out" as one of nation's elite players this season?
17. Baylor
Surprised Scott Drew hasn't found a way to get Brittany Griner to play for his team.
18. San Diego State
Fab Five father Steve Fisher has top four scorers returning from last year's Mountain West regular season champs.
19. Missouri
Those predicting that Mizzou is Final Four good apparently feel Alex Oriakhi will be 2010-11 Oriakhi, not '11-12 Oriakhi.
20. St. Louis
It's too bad Rick Majerus (heart issues) will be sidelined for what could be Billiken's most exciting season in years.
21. Notre Dame
With Farmington's Tim Abromaitis unable to secure a waiver to play, who'll be Big East's scholar-athlete of the year this season?
22. UNLV
Roscoe Smith won't be able to play this season for this "organization" (as he likes to call teams), but Rebels are very strong.
23. Pittsburgh
With a healthy Tray Woodall and frosh Steven Adams in two, no way Jamie Dixon has second disappointing season in a row.
24. Virginia Commonwealth
Another NCAA tourney run will make Shaka Smart even more attractive to big programs (including Warde Manuel?).
25. Tennessee
After watching Jarnell Stokes dominate UConn first-hand last year, I'm pretty high on the Vols this season.

Doug McDermott, Creighton
Cody Zeller, Indiana
Isaiah Cannan, Murray State
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
C.J. Leslie, NC State

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Noah Vonleh, Many Other Top Prep Stars in New Haven Nov. 16-18

For UConn fans not heading to the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands next month, there's a much shorter trip you can make at that time to see some of college basketball's (and, perhaps, UConn's) future.

The National Prep Showcase will run from Nov. 16-18 at New Haven's Albertus Magnus College. The unofficial kick-off to the prep season features many of the top prep teams and players in the nation.

Among them will be some major UConn targets, inclulding Noah Vonleh, the 6-9 Class of 2013 out of New Hampton (N.H.) School, who is considering UConn, Ohio State, North Carolina, Indiana, Georgetown and Syracuse. New Hampton will be playing Saturday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. against Hargave Military Academy and on Sunday Nov. 18 at 11:45 a.m. against Lee (MA) Academy.

Husky fans may want to pay particular attention to Brewster Academy, which features three Class of 2014 UConn targets: Chris McCullough (a 6-9 forward), Jared Terrell (6-3 guard) and point guard Kevin Zabo.

McCullough is considering Kansas, UConn, Indiana, West Virginia, Arizona, Iowa State, Memphis and Kentucky.

Terrell is considering Cincinnati, UConn, DePaul, Iowa State, Miami, Penn State, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall and St. John's.

Brewster plays Nov. 17 at 6:15 p.m. against Kiski School from Pennsylvania, then on Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. against St. John's NW Military Academy of Wisconsin.

Other top players at the event will include Wayne Selden of Tilton (committed to Kansas), former Northwest Catholic star Kuran Iverson of Fishburne Military Academy (Memphis), Anton Gill of Hargrave (Louisville), Kyle Washington of Brewster (NC State), Donte Clark of Hargrave (Virginia Tech), Terry Rozier of Hargrave (Louisville) and Damone Dodd of Massanutten Military Academy (Maryland).

Here's the schedule:

Friday, November 16th
12:00p.m. Fork Union Military Academy (VA) vs. St. Thomas More (CT)
1:45p.m. Hargrave Military Academy (VA) vs. Notre Dame Prep (MA)
3:30p.m. La Jolla Prep (CA) vs. Bridgton Academy (ME)
5:15p.m. Fishburne Military Academy (VA) vs. Northfield Mount Hermon (MA)
7:00p.m. Putnam Science Academy (CT) vs. Wilbraham & Monson Academy (MA)
8:30p.m. Massanutten Military Academy (VA) vs. South Kent (CT)

Saturday, November 17th
9:30a.m. Bridgton Academy (ME) vs. Fork Union Military Academy (VA)
11:15a.m. St. Thomas More (CT) vs. Fishburne Military Academy (VA)
1:00p.m. New Hampton School (NH) vs. Hargrave Military Academy (VA)
2:45p.m. Notre Dame Prep (MA) vs. Massanutten Military Academy (VA)
4:30p.m. St. John’s NW Military Academy (WI) vs. Lee Academy (ME)
6:15p.m. Kiski School (PA) vs. Brewster Academy (NH)
8:00p.m. South Kent (CT) vs. Vermont Academy (VT)

Sunday, November 18th
10:00a.m. Brewster Academy (NH) vs. St. John’s NW Military Academy (WI)
11:45a.m. Lee Academy (ME) vs. New Hampton School (NH)
1:30p.m. La Jolla Prep (CA) vs. Northfield Mount Hermon (MA)
3:15p.m. Kiski School (PA) vs. Tilton School (NH)
5:00p.m. Wilbraham & Monson Academy (MA) vs. Blair Academy (NJ)

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

UConn Coach Glen Miller Went to See Ron Patterson on Wednesday

UConn associate head coach Glen Miller was up at Brewster Academy to watch Class of 2013 guard Ron Patterson in a workout on Wednesday. The Huskies' interest right now is "very preliminary, at this point," according to Brewster head coach Jason Smith. But there's a lot to like about Patterson.

"He’s an extremely versatile player," Smith said. "He's 6-foot-2 but he's got over a 6-11 wingspan. Most people when first see him ... Coach Miller said, 'What is he, about 6-4?' He's got a college-ready frame, tremendous length, and he's shooting extremely well in open-gym workouts. And he's got the potential to be an elite, college-level defender."

Patterson, an Indiana native, had signed with the Hoosiers as a full NCAA qualifier and attended summer school there this past summer. According to Smith, Patterson got a C and a C-minus in a couple of courses, and Indiana denied his admission. In reality, the Hoosiers had oversigned by two for this year's class, meaning two players had to be let go.

UConn and Syracuse have jumped on the Patterson bandwagon recently. He has already visited Xavier and cancelled an SMU visit for this weekend because his parents weren't able to attend. Marquette and Florida State have offered, but Smith said Patterson isn't interested in those schools because of the other players they have on their roster at his position. Villanova is in the process of setting up a visit.

There doesn't appear to be a visit set up with UConn yet, but Smith is sure the Huskies will be back up to see him again.

"I think that Ron is being very deliberate," Smith said. "I think UConn is very interested in him, and he looks forward to knowing a little more about them."

There are three other reasons Miller (who was the only college coach at Brewster on Wednesday) made the trip: Class of 2014 point guard Kevin Zabo, guard Jered Terrell and 6-9 forward Chris McCullough. The Huskies are in on all three players.

*** Elsewhere: UConn has made Noah Vonleh's final six schools. They list is: Indiana, Syracuse, Georgetown, Ohio State, UConn and North Carolina.

Vonleh hails from Haverhill, MA, so the fact that UConn is the only New England-based school has to be considered a big plus if the big fella wants to stay near home.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Big East Tourney to Remain at MSG for Multiple Years

The Big East's annual Garden party will continue for years to come.

The conference announced on Wednesday that its annual Big East Championship Tournament continue to be held at Madison Square Garden for the foreseeable future. The Big East and Madison Square Garden have agreed to a multiyear extension of their contract.

(My main story from today's Big East Media Day)

“Madison Square Garden has been the Big East’s home for 30 years,” new commish Mike Aresco said, “and has produced some of the signature moments in college basketball history. We are happy that our teams will continue to bring the excitement of Big East basketball to the Garden.”

With the defection of Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference after this season, there has been some worry that the ACC may try to hold its championship tournament at MSG, at least periodically.

The Big East’s current contract with MSG doesn’t expire for another four years. There was no word on how many years the new deal will entail.

Of course, UConn won't be able to participate in this year's event. Or will it? While the chances are extremely slim, UConn is holding out a bit of hope that the league presidents change their mind on their decision last March to bar any postseason-ineligible teams from its conference tourney. The presidents meet again in a couple of weeks in Chicago for what would appear to be the Huskies’ last chance. UConn is hoping that, since the players responsible for the poor APR scores are long-gone (and, now, Jim Calhoun is gone, too), that the presidents may reconsider.

It's very unlikely, however.

“It’s possible that it could be discussed,” Aresco said on Wednesday, “but again, UConn hasn’t indicated yet what they want to do. It could be discussed, but I want to state that that’s our policy of our conference at this point.”

Big East Bonds

First-year UConn coach Kevin Ollie brought in a noted sports psychologist a few weeks ago to help the Huskies bond a little better, and by all accounts, it’s worked.

Ironically, UConn sophomore Ryan Boatright also spent a good part of the summer bonding with some of his Big East rivals. He went up against Louisville’s Peyton Siva, the preseason Big East Player of the Year, at Chris Paul’s CP3 Camp, and also teamed with Siva, Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley, Syracuse’s Brandon Triche and Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick at the adidas Nations camp in August.

At CP3, Boatright and Siva went at each other.

“Same thing as a Big East game,” Boatright noted. “Trying to rip each other’s necks off.”

But at adidas, Boatright got a chance to get to know his fellow Big East competitors a lot better. Bonds developed among all the Big East players.

“They’re all great guys,” Siva said. “Ryan Boatright is a funny guy. He’s very energetic, tough as nails as a guard.”

Added Cooley: “When you compete against somebody for four years, you should know a little bit about him. So it’s good to finally get to meet them and develop some friendships.”

The players teamed together on the court and hung out together off it for the week. Precious little of the talk amongst them dwelled on things like the Big East and its rocky future, or about UConn’s postseason ban – though the latter did come up at least once.

“Boatright kind of said an off-hand joke about how there’s not going to be enough bodies (on UConn’s team),” said Cooley, referring to the mass wave of defections from last year’s squad.

More often, it was the conversations were far more light-hearted fare.

“It was more about how are coaches are, some of the funny quotes our coaches would say,” Siva said.

No doubt, Boatright had some prime material for that after playing for Jim Calhoun last season.

Interestingly, Siva, Cooley and Dieng all earned first team all-Big East preseason honors, while Triche was a second team pick. Boatright received no recognition.

“I don’t really care, it is what it is,” he said. “I’m still going to prepare myself to be the best player I can be, and my team to be the best it can be.”

Sports Psychologist a Success

Ollie’s decision to bring in Dr. Joseph Carr, a sports psychologist who has worked with other college and NBA teams, seems to have been a success – even if UConn players were a bit skeptical at first.

“Nobody really felt like doing it but K.O.,” Boatright confessed, adding that the team spent about eight hours a day over a recent weekend in a circle, learning about each other’s lives.

But he feels the team emerged a better team because of it.

“Once we got it going and it was over, we appreciated that he made us do it, because it really helped a lot.”

Freddie Wilson Surprises

New Haven’s Freddie Wilson figures to be a key element for Seton Hall this season as a sophomore.

“Freddie’s probably surprised me more than anybody this year,” Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “He’s coming in great shape. I think (our) summer trip to Spain really helped him. He’s understanding his role a little more. He’s done a great job of embracing what a point guard really needs to be. Last year, I don’t think he really understood what he had to do. Playing behind Jordan (Theodore), he didn’t have a great opportunity to do it. This year, I expect big things from Freddie.”

Wilson averaged 1.8 points in 8.1 minutes of action as a freshman last season. The 6-2 Hillhouse product will play both the point and shooting guard this season.

“He’s going to have to,” Willard said. “He understands what he likes to do offensively. Freddie’s biggest drawback (is) … I think they only play on the offensive side in Connecticut high school basketball. The more he understands the defensive side, the more playing time he’ll get. He’s got a great scorer’s mentality. He’s got a mentality of being in attack mode, which I like.”

Chicago Hope

DePaul’s Cleveland Melvin, a preseason second team all-Big East pick, committed to UConn while still in prep school but backed out and went to Chicago instead.

His decision was a mixed blessing for the 6-fot-9 junior out of Baltimore. Melvin was the conference’s Rookie of the Year as a freshman and averaged 17.9 points per game last season, making him the top returning scorer in the league. He is a preseason second team all-Big East pick.

Of course, he also missed out on UConn’s national championship run two years ago.

“I’m definitely happy to be in this position I’m at,” Melvin said. “I thought it was the best fit for me. I fit their playing style. I’ve had two successful years. Coming into my junior year, I’m just very excited to get this season started and winning some more games.”

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UConn Picked to Finish 9th in Big East; Napier Earns Second Team Nod

UConn has been picked to finish ninth in the 15-team Big East this season by the league’s coaches.

Shabazz Napier has been picked for the preseason All-Big East Second Team. He is the only UConn player to earn any type of preseason honors.

Louisville is the consensus pick to win the conference, earning 14 o 15 first-place votes only because coaches can’t pick their own team. Rick Pitino apparently picked Notre Dame, which got the only other first-place vote, but the Irish finish third behind Syracuse in the preseason poll.

Louisville’s Peyton Siva is the preseason Player of the Year and Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams the preseason Rookie of the Year.

1. Louisville (14)
2. Syracuse
3. Notre Dame (1)
4. Cincinnati
5. Georgetown
6. Pittsburgh
7. Marquette
8. South Florida
9. UConn
10. St. John’s
11. Rutgers
12. Villanova
13. DePaul
14. Seton Hall
15. Providence

Player of the Year: Peyton Siva, Louisville
Rookie of the Year: Steven Adams, Pittsburgh

Peyton Siva, Louisville
Giorgui Deng, Louisville
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame
Vincent Council, Providence
Otto Porter, Georgetown

Shabazz Napier, UConn
Brandon Triche, Syracuse
Cleveland Melvin, DePaul
D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s
Anthony Collins, South Florida

Chene Behanan, Louisville
Trey Woodall, Pittsburgh
Jarien Grant, Notre Dame
C.J. Fair, Syracuse

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UConn Interested in Ex-Indiana Signee Ron Patterson, Slated to Visit Him Today

UConn is expressing interest in Ron Patterson, a highly-touted, Class of 2013 shooting guard from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.

Patters, 6-foot-3, was an Indiana signee who tried to enroll there for the fall semester. He learned in mid-August that wasn't going to happen, however, and reclassified to the Class of 2013.

According to a tweet by Brewster coach Jason Smith on Wednesday morning, UConn and Syracuse are the latest schools to express interest in Patterson. Smith said that UConn will visit Patterson today.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

UConn All Set to Begin Building Hoops Facility

UConn has received enough donations to begin work on it's new on-campus basketball facility. Here's what the school had to say, along with a rendition of what the facility will look like:

Donors to the University of Connecticut have made it possible to begin construction of a major new basketball facility on the campus, adjacent to Gampel Pavilion.

The University of Connecticut Foundation announced on Tuesday that it has donations and pledges in hand for 75 percent of the construction cost of the UConn Basketball Development Center -- $24 million of the $32 million needed -- and will obtain financing for this project so construction can begin as soon as possible. Completion is expected to take about 24 months.

"I couldn't be more excited that the practice facility we have been waiting for will become a reality," said head coach Kevin Ollie. "I want to thank all the donors who helped make this possible. I know there is still a lot to do as far as fundraising and we intend to help by putting as hard-working a team as possible on the court. The new building will enhance our efforts to remain competitive at the highest level when it comes to recruiting, practice, and game preparation."

“UConn is fortunate to have many strong supporters across the nation, who have dedicated themselves to the academic advancement of the university, the research ambitions of our faculty and students, as well as athletics,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “As we continue to build and renovate so many facilities on our multiple campuses, an outstanding new home is needed for our championship men’s and women’s basketball programs.”

Most recently, alumnus Mark Shenkman and his wife, Rosalind, committed $2 million to the facility. Mr. Shenkman is the chair of the UConn Foundation Board of Directors and previously made a $2.5 million gift to name the athletic training and student recreational facility that bears his name on the Storrs campus.

“Rosalind and I feel very blessed to be able to make this gift to the University of Connecticut. This gift represents an investment in the future of UConn basketball,” said Shenkman. “After recently visiting the practice facilities at other institutions, I realized the importance that a practice facility can have in conveying the strength of a program. The completion of this basketball practice facility will certainly perpetuate UConn’s preeminent position as one of America’s college basketball capitals.”

"The success of our men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes, in both the classroom and on the court, will be greatly enhanced by the UConn Basketball Development Center,” said UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel. “I want to thank Mark and Rosalind Shenkman and all of our benefactors whose generosity are allowing us to begin construction of this project. We will continue to fund raise to obtain the entire cost of the project.”

The UConn Basketball Development Center is one of the projects supported through the ambitious Our University. Our Moment. fundraising campaign launched publicly in September 2009 by the UConn Foundation. So far, $348.8 million of the $600 million campaign goal has been raised

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Kemba Walker's Awesomeness

Kemba Walker will be narrating a 10-part series on one of NYC's top AAU programs on Awesomeness TV. Here's the info from the release I received:

Documenting one of New York City’s top AAU basketball teams on its road to victory, AwesomenessTV is proud to debut its new series featuring The City Hoops, an AAU team founded in 2008 that has quickly risen to the top.

Award-winning producer Brian Robbins followed the players, coaches and parents on the journey toward the 2012 National Championships. Narrated by NCAA Champion and Charlotte Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker, who also played New York City AAU basketball, the series tells the aspiring underdog story of both the individual players and the team as a whole.

The 10-part Web series premiered on Oct. 13th and will air every Saturday on AwesomenessTV’s YouTube Channel. Viewers can head to one of the most subscribed YouTube original programming channels to watch the series premiere episode here.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

UConn Fans May Not Want to View Xavier Rathan-Mayes's Decision

Xavier Rathan-Mayes will be announcing his collegiate decision tonight at 9 right here. His final three is UConn, Illinois and Florida State, but not necessarily in that order. In fact, UConn fans might want to tune into the Yankee game instead. Rathan-Mayes will not be choosing the Huskies.

UPDATED: As expected, Rathan-Mayes didn't pick UConn. He committed to Florida State, alma mater of his dad, New Haven's own Tharon Mayes.

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Kevin Ollie Gets Vocal at UConn's First Practice

Some observations from Kevin Ollie's first practice as UConn's head coach:

Ollie is more vocal than Jim Calhoun, who didn't do a lot of shouting in practices. Ollie raised his voice a few times, but it was mostly positive encouragement. At one point, a walk-on shouted, "You look like you're giving up!" at the White Team of Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, Enosch Wolf and another walk-on that was struggling to get stops during a four-on-four drill. Ollie turned to the kid and told him if he was going to do any talking, it needed to be positive encouragement, not negative.

Not that Ollie didn't go negative. He once yelled at frosh Phil Nolan, "Hey Phil, if you want to play, you've got to get your ass some rebounds." He got on Boatright during the drill for not keeping his arms raised on defense. Another time, he stopped everything and told his team to be more vocal.

There were no "F-bombs" like Calhoun was noted for, but certainly some, shall we say ... PG-13 language.

Boatright was particularly peeved during the final drill, in which each four-man group must get three straight defensive stops before practice can end. It took Boatright's team a while, due in part to Leon Tolksdorf's hot shooting but also due to a lack of boxing out. At one point, Boatright kicked some foam padding about eight rows into the stands out of frustration.

After practice, Ollie took Boatright aside, one-on-one.

“He was just saying continue to be a leader," Boatright said. "Even when things aren’t going your way, continue to be a leader, because this team is going to feed off me. I’ve got to bring the energy and enthusiasm, even when things aren’t going my way.”

*** We only caught the last hour or so of practice, but there were certainly some positives. As mentioned before, Tolksdorf can shoot. Boatright calls him "Pistol Pete" (and I give Boatright props for knowing his hoops history).

Omar Calhoun knocked down some shots, as well, and looked good overall -- even providing some vocal leadership, though he's just a freshman.

I also liked a fairly complex new offense Ollie has installed, one that involves plenty of down-screens and movement. It's far more imaginative than some of the offensive sets I've seen the team run in recent years.

*** Shabazz Napier participated in about "45 percent" of practice, according to Ollie. He looked good in shooting drills, the coach said, but can't move laterally as quickly as they'd like him to and didn't do any one-on-one or physical drills.

Napier hopes he's "a few days from being 100 percent" and hopes to be ready for UConn's first exhibition game on Nov. 1.

“I think I should be out on the floor," he said. "I’m moving along quickly. This is my fifth week, so I really wasn’t supposed to be shooting, jumping (at this point)."

*** Khadeen Carrington of Brooklyn and Winston Morgan out of East Catholic, both of whom were guests at Friday's First Night, were also at Saturday's practice.

UConn also had another visitor -- Bennie Boatwright, a 6-6, Class of 2015 wing out of the Los Angeles area who has received scholarship offers San Diego and New Mexico State. He was on an unofficial visit.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Video of Omar Calhoun, Ryan Boatright Dunking at UConn's First Night

Here's my story from Friday's First Night festivities, where UConn's present and future were accounted for, but it's past may have been most prevalent, even without Jim Calhoun in attendance.

Sometimes sitting right underneath the basket isn't the greatest thing when youre shooting video of a dunk contest. Still, I think this footage gives a good representation of dunks by Ryan Boatright and winner Omar Calhoun First Night:

And here are some more scenes from First Night, including perhaps an even more impressive dunk by Calhoun at the end:

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Khadeen Carrington, Winston Morgan Visiting UConn Tonight

UConn has a pair of Class of 2014 guards here at First Night.

Khadeen Carrington, a 6-1, 175-pound shooting guard out of Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn, and Winston Morgan, a 5-11 point guard out of East Catholic High, are in the house. Commits Kentan Facey and Terrence Samuel are also expected to be here.

Also, 6-6 small forward Brandon Austin out of Imhotep in Philly will be making a visit to Storrs next Friday (Oct. 19).

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UConn Hires Ricky Moore

As expected, UConn has hired Ricky Moore as assistant director of basketball administration. Here's the press release:

Ricky Moore, co-captain of the University of Connecticut’s first national championship men’s basketball team in 1999, has been named as the Assistant Director of Basketball Administration on head coach Kevin Ollie’s staff at UConn.

Moore, a 1999 UConn graduate with a degree in community program development, comes back to Storrs after serving as an assistant basketball coach at Dartmouth College for the past two seasons, following his retirement from an 11-year career in professional basketball.

At UConn, Moore will work directly with Kevin Freeman, the Director of Basketball Administration, in a non-coaching position.

“I’m thrilled to be able to have Ricky join our staff,” Ollie said. “With his high character and strong basketball background, especially with his ties to UConn, he will be a perfect addition to help us maintain the success we have achieved. Ricky’s unselfishness as a player epitomizes the kind of attitude we are looking for from our student-athletes and from everybody associated with our program. I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome him back to the Husky family.”

As an assistant at Dartmouth the past two years, Moore was involved in all phases of the men’s basketball program under coach Paul Cormier, including recruiting, admissions, compliance, academics, and travel arrangements, as well as game planning and coaching.

Previously, Moore played professionally for 11 years in five countries --- Austria, Ukraine, Sweden, Turkey, and Germany --- as well as in the Continental Basketball Association and the NBA Developmental League.

Originally from Augusta, Ga., Moore came to UConn as a freshman in 1995-96 and enjoyed a tremendous amount of success. During his four seasons, the Huskies compiled an overall record of 114-24 and a BIG EAST mark of 55-17, winning three BIG EAST regular-season championships, three BIG EAST tournament championships, and reaching the 1996 NCAA Sweet 16, the 1998 NCAA Elite, and capturing the 1999 NCAA Championship.

Moore, a rare three-time co-captain, averaged 6.9 points and 3.8 assists in 134 games for UConn and his 510 assists still rank sixth on the all-time list. He scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and played his trademark suffocating defense in UConn’s 77-74 win over Duke in the 1999 NCAA Championship game. He was named to the Final Four and West Regional All-Tournament Teams and Basketball News Magazine selected him as the National Defensive Player of the Year. In 2001, he was named to UConn’s All-Century Team.

Born April 10, 1976, Moore and wife Heather are the parents of two children, daughter Kendyll, 6, and son R.J., 4.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Husky Run? Yes, Huskies Plan to Run This Year. Honest!

We've heard this before, but this time it's coming from a different source: the Huskies plan to run a lot this year. And press. And box out.

That's what Kevin Ollie's been stressing so far in the preseason, and he'll be doing so even more as the season officially unveils Friday night at First Night festivities (or, more appropriately, Saturday morning at the team's first full practice).

Jim Calhoun has, of course, promised to do all of these things more in recent years. But the truth is, UConn really hasn't been much of a running team -- at least not an effective one -- lately. And I can't think of more than a handful of times over the past couple of seasons where UConn has applied choking, fullcourt pressure. Please refresh my memory if I'm wrong.

And boxing out? Please -- a lost art in most of college basketball, but a veritable relic in Storrs the past few seasons.

Anyway, here's my story from today's Husky Run, where Ollie promises a "West Coast style, up-and-down, with an East Coast mentality" this season. Really, with such a guard-oriented team, the Huskies don't have many other options.

*** Ollie certainly has a few mottos. One of them today, we learned: "all 10 toes in, not five. You’ve got five in, you don’t belong here. I’m gonna tolerate you for a little bit until I can find someone else.”

*** Inevitably, Ollie and his players were asked by many media types, "With no postseason, what are you playing for this year."

All the right answers were given, but Ollie also touched on an interesting subject. With no NCAA or Big East tourneys, can his players still get proper attention from NBA scouts?

The answer: Of course.

"You’re always getting evaluated," Ollie said. "Kyrie Irving played 11 games and was the No. 1 pick (in 2011). We’re going to still have general managers (here)."

Though nothing's even close to certain, Ryan Boatright would seem to be the top candidate to possibly enter the NBA Draft after this season. I asked him if he thought the lack of a postseason could hurt his draft stock.

"Honestly, for me going to the league, I don’t feel like the tournament would benefit (me)," he said. "I mean, it would benefit, but I don’t think it’ll hurt me. I mean, last year, Jeremy (Lamb) just played one game in the tournament, the first game we lost. Damion Lillard (of Weber State) was the No. 6 pick, I never even heard of that school before. If you’re good, they’re going to find you. They’re going to hear about you, and you’re going to get your opportunity.”

*** Boatright will defend the dunk contest he won from Andre Drummond last year. He'll go against (we're told) freshmen Omar Calhoun and Phil Nolan, as well as Breanna Stewart from the women's team.

"I haven’t been doing as many dunks as I did in high school," Boatright confessed. "In high school, that’s all I wanted to do is dunk all the time. I’m gonna pull something out of my sleeve, definitely try to defend my title. It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be a good show.”

Omar Calhoun said he may try his hand at the 3-point contest, as well.

*** As always, Shabazz Napier had some interesting things to say:

(on the postseason ban)

"Why not go out there and hurt someone else’s postseason? We’re going to do our best to win every game possible, and realize we’ve still got a chance to win a championship – the regular season championship."

(on Ollie's one-year contract)

"We want the coaching job to stay in the family. We all love Coach Ollie, we’ve all created bonds with him. We all kind of felt upset he only had seven months, we felt he’d have more than that. But at the end of the day, I guess you’ve got to prove yourself.

(on the difference between Ollie and Jim Calhoun)

"Coach Ollie’s going to put a little spice on it. He’s going to be able to get to the younger guys. Not that Coach Calhoun didn’t, but … Coach Ollie’s a guy who’s going to push you to the limits, he’s not just going to let you go the extra mile, but he knows how to do it in a certain way that’s going to help everybody. Coach Calhoun helped me out because he understood he had to dig deep in me and yell at me. Not a lot of people are like that. Ryan’s that way, Kemba was that way, guys like that, he helped them."

Napier hopes to be able to practice, at least partially, on Saturday.

*** Omar Calhoun on UConn's tradition of great guards.

"It’s a rich tradition. There’s a lot of great guards that have come out of UConn and have made great impacts on the league. I feel like I can be next in line. Kemba, I definitely had a good relationship with him. Seeing his process and growth at UConn, it’s definitely something I looked at when making my decision.”

Omar's sister, highly-touted recruit Sierra, will be on-hand Friday, but not on an official visit.

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DeAndre Daniels Wins Husky Run

DeAndre Daniels was the first finisher among UConn players (and second overall) in the annual Husky Run on Thursday. His time of 18:47 was 45 seconds better than last year's winning time of 19:32. The faster run took its toll on him, too, as he dropped to the ground in exhaustion after finishing the race and lay prone on the ground for several minutes.

"I'm a little dizzy," he said later. "I wanted to come out and win it again, because everybody was talking trash ... I was just pacing myself, but as I came down the hill, I started cramping upand I got a little dizzy. At the end, I passed out and laid on the ground for a second. But I'm fine now."

Here are the results from this year's 3.4-mile race:

1. DeAndre Daniels, 18:47
2. Ryan Boatright, 19:37
3. Niels Giffey, 20:18
4. Leon Tolksdorf, 20:20
5. Brendan Allen, 20:48
6. Omar Calhoun, 22:27
7. Tyler Olander, 22:28
8. Phil Nolan, 23:35
9. Enosch Wolf, 23:47
10. R.J. Evans, 25:02
11. Shabazz Napier, DNP (injury)

UConn senior Tim Isselee was the overall winner, with a time of 18:39.

Here's what Daniels said about the upcoming season:

"I felt like ever since Kevin Ollie has taken over, our bond has gotten so much better. Everybody's working so much harder. We're going to have a great season."

"From last year, I learned about basketball, and about myself, what I've got to do, to sacrifice. Working hard every day over the summer, preparing for this moment, I'm ready."

Daniels spent part of the summer working out with his cousin down in Orlando. He also noted that his sister, who had brain surgery last winter, is "perfectly fine" now and, in fact, is a freshman at UConn's Hartford campus, where she's on academic scholarship.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Some Very Interesting Words from Kevin Ollie, Rick Barnes

Went to the Jimmy V Classic Dinner tonight at Pier Sixty in Manhattan. Didn't get to enjoy the menu, but had a great filling of coach conversation beforehand with Kevin Ollie and Texas coach Rick Barnes.

Here's some of what they had to say:

I asked Ollie if he thinks he'll be animated and, shall we say, "vocal" on the sideline like his predecessor, Jim Calhoun.

“Anybody who knows me from when I played here ... once I got between those lines, I’m a tough competitor. I want guys to compete, to understand who I am, what I demand. I demand excellence in everything I do, I demand that from my coaches, I demand that from myself.

"You can make a suit out of the same material 15 different ways. Me and coach have the same material. I might make my suit different, he might make his suit different, but it’s the same material. It’s hard work, it’s different, it’s understanding that it’s the group greater than the individual. And theyr’e going to understand that. If not, they’re going to be sitting right down beside me and they’re gonna get the picture real quick.”

He added that there's a running joke around the players that "Coach Ollie is different now," moving from assistant to head coach, "but they understand what’s on the line, and putting on that UConn jersey is something special.”

“You’re gonna see the passion," he concluded. "If that’s laid-back passion or (in-your-face) passion, you’ll see it.”

Calhoun has been around Gampel just about every day since his retirement, and Ollie doesn't see that changing anytime soon. And he's happy about that.

“I think he’ll be around. I don’t think he can leave. He’s been great so far. Any question I ask, he’s already seen it, done it. Before I can even say it, he knows what’s coming. He gets me really focused on my task around. He’s been a tremendous asset for me."

Ollie added: “It’s not like I’m following him. I’m right on the side of him. I think we’re locked on. It’s going to be a great new era of UConn basketball, but not an era without Coach Calhoun. I’m gonna be with him. I’m looking forward to it.”

Ollie said that the extra hour or two of practice each week now allowed by the NCAA has helped his team get off to a "tremendous" start, particularly picking up defensive principles. He had a sports psychologist, Dr. Joseph Carr, who's worked with numerous NBA and college teams, come in with the team a few weekends ago and spent about 30 hours with the players, helping them "just getting to know each other, how to common-bond. We established that. I wanted to establish the guys taking ownership of the team. Hopefully they run with it throughout the whole season … and throughout their whole life.”

Ollie said Tyler Olander (ankle) is in "great" health, and that Shabazz Napier should be about "85 percent" by Saturday, when hopefully he'll be back on the floor. Napier hasn't been doing drills, but rather doing rehab in the pool and treadmill, but has ramped up his rehab over the past week.

Ollie said he has a comfort level with both Glen Miller and George Blaney, and that "Glen will be a great person at my side, and just in case I get kicked out of a game, he’ll take over.”

*** Some real interesting stuff as well from Barnes -- who, of course, went up against Calhoun many times at Providence (and later at Texas), and who coached against Ollie when Ollie was a player. Boy, does he respect Ollie.

"I’m not sure people really understand that he was the perfect guy to step into this position," Barnes said of Ollie. "My only thing, as a coach, I wish they would have given him a long-term contract, to have him do what he needs to do. He’s gonna get it done, but still … I can tell you this, there’s not a university in the country that wouldn’t want him to represent their university, the way he conducts himself. And he’s another guy, like Jim Calhoun, that truly, truly loves the University of Connecticut.”

Barnes continued: “We were out recruiting yesterday. I said to him, ‘I’m happy for you, because you’re the perfect guy, but I wish they would have done things different.’ And he immediately said, ‘Hey, this is a great opportunity. I appreciate them giving me this opportunity.’ That tells you all you need to know. He could have gone the other way, but he didn’t … that right there, as much as anything, tells you how loyal he is. I don’t think you could find a coach that wouldn’t say he’d wish he’d have a four or five-year (contract).”

Barnes confirmed one of my favorite Calhoun stories of all time: that UConn recruited both Austin Croshere and Travis Knight, got Knight but not Croshere, and every time Croshere hit a 3-pointer against the Huskies, Calhoun would turn to his assistants and yell, "Wrong guy!"

But he also told me this story: After Barnes' Longhorns had beaten UConn in the Elite Eight in 2003, Calhoun sent Barnes a letter (not an email, a letter) a couple of days later.

"I got a great, great letter from him," Barnes recalled. "He told me how much he hated losing, and said, ‘I want you to know that I’m extremely happy for you.’ It was one of those letters where when you read it … I felt he meant it, because he knew that we both had some tough jobs along the way."

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Bobby V to be at UConn's First Night on Friday

Didn't take long for Bobby V to find work after being canned by the Red Sox! He's performing at UConn's First Night festivities Friday night!

OK, different Bobby V. The one who'll be at Gampel Friday night is the former Bobby Valentino, who's apparently a platinum recording artist. Here's some more info on Bobby V. (Doesn't he know that AC/DC had an album called 'Fly on the Wall' back in the 80's?).

The doors open at 4 p.m. on Friday, and the first 7,500 fans in attendance will receive a FREE rally towel courtesy of SNY. Also, the first 75 UConn students (with a valid ID) in atendance (at the North Entrance) will receive VIP courtside seating for the event.

The UConn volleyball team takes on Cincinnati in a BIG EAST showdown starting at 4. The 2012-13 men’s and women’s basketball teams will sign autographs for Husky fans from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

First Night will be headlined by feature performances from Bobby V, the UConn band, cheer and dance squads, introductions of the players and coaches, a dunk contest featuring the 2011 winner Ryan Boatright and ultimate prize giveaways. The show will end at approximately 8 p.m.
4 p.m. – Doors Open and UConn Volleyball vs. Cincinnati

5 – 6:30 p.m. - Autographs

7 p.m. – Show Begins

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Report: Brandon Austin to Visit UConn Next Weekend

According to, forward Brandon Austin will visit UConn next weekend after a visit to Providence this weekend.

Austin is a senior at Imhotep. His AAU coach, Warren Green, said that he's working on setting a date for UCLA, but could wait for the spring to do that. Georgetown and Texas round out his top five.


Susan Herbst Leading Charge on Athletics Programs Oversight

A release sent out by UConn this evening:

A new report that incorporates perspectives of higher education leaders nationwide, including University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst, is urging colleges and universities to enhance their governing boards’ oversight of their athletics programs.

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) on Tuesday released “Trust, Accountability, and Integrity: Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics,” the result of extensive study by the association under the guidance of a 14-member advisory board. The report, an initiative of the AGB Intercollegiate Athletics Project, was released at Tuesday’s Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (KCIA) meeting in Washington, D.C. The findings were presented by AGB President Richard D. Legon and John T. Casteen, president emeritus of the University of Virginia and director of the project. Casteen also was UConn's 11th president, serving from 1985 to 1990.

“It is imperative that our nation’s colleges and universities find ways to ensure transparent, responsible management of our valued intercollegiate athletics programs while protecting and furthering our academic missions. It was an honor to serve with President Casteen and others who care so deeply about student success," Herbst said.

The new report cautions that as intercollegiate athletics departments increasingly operate like businesses, boards must act to ensure an appropriate balance between athletics and academics in their institutions, or policy makers or regulators will do it for them.

The report focuses on three recommendations for appropriate board engagement:

- The governing board is ultimately accountable for athletics policy and oversight and must fulfill this fiduciary responsibility.

- The board must act decisively to uphold the integrity of the athletics program and its alignment with the academic mission of the institution.

- The board must educate itself about its policy role and oversight of intercollegiate athletics.

“In light of recent issues in college sports, it is imperative for boards to function at a higher level of awareness and judgment in order to address the financial challenges associated with college sports, to ensure the link between intercollegiate athletics and academic priorities, and to reaffirm standards and ethics in college athletics,” Legon said.

“Chief executive officers administer their institutions’ sports programs on a daily basis,” Casteen said, “but boards must engage actively and appropriately in the policy considerations surrounding the key issues, which can have a major impact on their institutions’ financial welfare and reputation.”

As part of the report, AGB surveyed chief executive officers and board chairs of Division I institutions, as well as of university systems that include Division I institutions.

The survey asked those institutional leaders how they have applied recommendations from AGB’s 2009 “Statement on Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics” and about other governance issues related to college sports, including compliance with the rules and regulations of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and various conferences.

Electronic copies of the report and its supplemental survey data are available online at


Friday, October 5, 2012

UConn's Paradise Jam Opener on CBS Sports Network

UConn's first game of the Paradise Jam on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. against Wake Forest will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

If UConn wins the game and faces either Quinnipiac (Tom Moore!) or Iona, the game will be at 10 p.m. on Nov. 18 and also be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

Here's the list of games that will be broadcast:

Nov. 16 at 5:00 PM –University of Illinois at Chicago vs. New Mexico – CBS Sports Network
Nov. 16 at 7:30 PM – UConn vs. Wake Forest – CBS Sports Network
Nov. 18 at 7:00 PM – Winner of Mercer and George Mason vs. Winner of UIC and New Mexico – CBS Sports Network
Nov. 18 at 10:00 PM – Winner of UConn and Wake Forest vs. Winner of Quinnipiac and Iona – CBS Sports Network
Nov. 19 at 8:30 PM – Consolation (3rd place/5th place) Game – CBS Sports Network
Nov. 19 at 11:00 PM – Championship Game – CBS Sports Network


Kevin Ollie's Coaching Staff Gets Restructured

As expected, UConn has restructured its coaching staff under new head coach Kevin Ollie. Glen Miller takes over as associate head coach, replacing George Blaney, who moves to full-time assistant. Karl Hobbs also gets bumped up to full-time assistant after spending last season as director of basketball administration. Kevin Freeman now takes over that role, after serving as assistant director of basketball administration last season.

UConn is expected to fill Freeman's former role, though nothing's official yet. Ricky Moore has stated recently that he will likely be hired for that role.

Here's the press release sent out by UConn:

The University of Connecticut men’s basketball coaching staff has been restructured under new head coach Kevin Ollie.

Glen Miller, starting the third season of his second stint on the UConn staff, will assume the duties of Associate Head Coach, while Karl Hobbs, last year’s Director of Basketball Administration, will join veteran George Blaney as fulltime assistant coaches. Kevin Freeman, who was added to the UConn staff last year as Assistant Director of Administration, will take over as Director of Basketball Administration.

“As I said when I accepted the job as head coach at Connecticut, I think I have the greatest coaching staff in the country,” Ollie said. “I feel extremely fortunate to have a staff with so much head coaching experience behind me. I know that we are going to work as hard as we can to continue the legacy of tremendous success that UConn enjoyed under Coach (Jim) Calhoun.”

The UConn coaching staff has a combined 57 years of collegiate head coaching experience with a combined total of 860 victories.

Miller returned to Calhoun’s UConn staff in 2010-11 as Director of Basketball Administration following 17 years of head coaching experience at Connecticut College, Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania. Last year, he moved into the role of fulltime assistant coach and was an integral part of practice work, game strategy, and recruiting.

A native of Groton, Conn., Miller played for two seasons at UConn, then played two seasons for Calhoun at Northeastern. He joined Calhoun’s first staff at UConn in 1986 and worked with the Huskies for seven seasons before being named head coach at Connecticut College in 1993. In six seasons, Miller led Conn College to unprecedented success, including a 28-1 record and a berth in the Division III Final Four in 1998-99.

Miller moved on to Division I, taking over at Brown in 1999-2000, and setting school records for wins in a two-, three-, four-, and five-year span, as well as most Ivy League wins in a season. He recruited and developed 10 all-conference players and the League’s 2004 Player of the Year. Following seven years in Providence, Miller was hired as head coach of the prestigious program at Penn in 2006. He led the Quakers to the Ivy League Championship and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2006-07, setting the school record for most Ivy League wins by a first-year coach. He spent three full years and part of a fourth as the Penn head coach. In 17 seasons as a head coach, Miller compiled 233 victories.

Born 8/20/1961, Miller and his wife Yvonne are the parents of four children: Tony, Genelle, Jillian (a UConn junior), and Emma.

Hobbs, who spent eight years as a UConn assistant from 1993-2001 and helped the Huskies win eight BIG EAST championships and the 1999 NCAA title, returned to Storrs last season and will again become a fulltime assistant on Ollie’s staff.

Hobbs had spent the previous 10 years as the head coach at George Washington University, leading the Colonials to two Atlantic 10 Tournament championships, a regular-season title, and five straight postseason appearances, including three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths. He was the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year in 2005-06, and notched 166 wins while at GWU.

Out of Roxbury, Mass., Hobbs was a four-year starting point guard for UConn (1980-84), where he served as team captain and was an All-BIG EAST selection as a senior. He led the team in assists all four years and still ranks fifth on the all-time list.

Hobbs began his coaching career as a six-year assistant at Boston University before joining Calhoun’s UConn staff. While Hobbs was at UConn, he was instrumental in the recruitment of such Husky stars as Richard Hamilton, Caron Butler, and Emeka Okafor. The Huskies had a record of 216-56 while Hobbs was on the staff.

Born 8/7/1961, Hobbs and wife JoAnn are the parents of two daughters, RaShauna and Kaliah.

Blaney has spent the last 11 years as a member of Calhoun’s coaching staff, serving as associate head coach for the past five seasons and taking charge of the team on those occasions when Calhoun was incapacitated.

Since Blaney joined UConn, the Huskies have a 278-102 record, captured six BIG EAST championships, made 10 NCAA appearances, three trips to the Final Four, and won two national championships.

Blaney, a 2003 inductee into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, brought more than 30 years of coaching experience with him when he came to UConn, including two seasons at Stonehill, three years at Dartmouth, and 22 years at Holy Cross, his alma mater, where he won 357 games, posted seven 20-win seasons, and made eight postseason appearances. He also was head coach for three years at Seton Hall in the BIG EAST before leaving to become the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the International Basketball League. Blaney returned to college coaching in 2000-01 as an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island before joining Calhoun at UConn the following year. In 30 years as a collegiate head coach, Blaney compiled an impressive 461-383 overall record.

A native of Jersey City, N.J., Blaney was an All-New England player at Holy Cross, where he scored 1,012 points. After he graduated in 1961, he was drafted in the fourth round of the NBA Draft by the N.Y. Knicks and played the 1961-62 season with the team.

Born 11/12/1939, Blaney and his wife Maryellen have two daughters and three sons, and five grandchildren.

Freeman, a former UConn captain and the program’s all-time leader in games played (140), came back to Storrs last year after playing 11 seasons of professional basketball in Italy, Australia, Greece, South Korea, China, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela. He served as assistant director of administration under Hobbs last year and will assume the director’s position this year.

Freeman, a native of Springfield, Mass., was an all-state performer at Paterson (N.J.) Catholic before his stellar career at UConn. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1999 BIG EAST Championship and selected to the 1999 NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team as an invaluable starter on UConn’s first National Championship team. During Freeman’s career, the Huskies compiled a 109-32 record, made three NCAA appearances, reaching the Elite Eight in 1998 and winning the crown in 1999.

He is No. 17 on UConn’s all-time scoring list with 1,476 points, No. 8 on the all-time rebounding list with 913, and earned his degree in 2006.

Born 3/3/1978, Freeman and his wife Nicole are the parents of a daughter, Kekoa, and a son, Sire.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kevin Ollie Had 'Great Home Visit' With Jabari Parker

Greetings. Back from Adam Greenberg coverage over the past few days. If you're somehow not aware of it by now, it's a nice story. Check it out.

Back to UConn affairs, it appears Kevin Ollie's in-home visit with Jabari Parker went very well last week.

"It was a great home visit," Parker's father, Sonny, told ESPN Chicago.

Parker will make visits to Duke and Michigan State, and will soon decide which other schools to visit. Will UConn make the cut? Stay tuned ...

Elsewhere, former UConn forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel has been suspended four games by Hofstra for doing "stupid stuff", a source tells me - though that's not exactly how Hofstra describes it.

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