Saturday, March 30, 2013

UConn to Open Next Season at Barclays Center vs. Maryland

As first reported by the Washington Post, UConn will be opening up its 2013-14 season at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn against Maryland.

It's an excellent idea for the Huskies on two fronts: with its conference tourney no longer at Madison Square Garden, UConn will now play (at least) three games in NYC next year -- against the Terps on Nov. 8 in Brooklyn and a pair of 2013 2K Classic games at MSG on Nov. 21 and 23.

Also, playing a high-quality team from a major conference is exactly what UConn needs to do more of in the coming seasons, or at least until it gets into a better league. As of now, the Huskies will be playing Maryland, Washington and possibly Boston College (2K Classic) in non-conference bouts. Of course, with Louisville sticking around for one more season in the yet-to-be-named conference, the Huskies' conference schedule will be pretty strong for another year, with Louisville, Temple, Memphis and Cincinnati on the slate.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Khadeen Carrington Enjoyed Unofficial to UConn Thursday, Plans to Visit Cincinnati, St. John's

Khadeen Carrington has been up at UConn a few times, including First Night festivities back in October. But Thursday was the first time he really got to sit down with Kevin Ollie and other members of the coaching staff and athletic department and learn more about the program and how it plans to move forward.

According to his mother, Lima, Khadeen liked what he heard.

"It was good," Lima said on their drive back from Storrs to Brooklyn. "We had a look at the foundation (of the practice facility), they explained everything. They think he's going to be a great asset for the program. They expressed a high interest in having him. He is the type of guard that they're looking for for 2014."

In other words, a combo guard, according to Lima, who said her son is a "great scorer, but actually plays really well at the point, too."

Carrington made no decision on Thursday and probably won't until early in his senior season next fall. He is hoping to visit both Cincinnati and St. John's in the near future.

"We're definitely not going to rush the process," Lima said. "We'll take everything in and process it as a family. Khadeen is going to ultimately let us know where he feels the most comfort level. As his mom, I'm going to give help to him, help him make sure wherever he goes is what's best for him."

Carrington knows both Kentan Facey and Terrence Samuel pretty well, having played against Facey's Long Island Luthern team about a month ago (L.I. Lutheran won, but Carrington played well).

“Def. not gonna rush the process, take everything in, process it as a family. Khadeen is going to ultimately let us know where he feels the most comfort level. As his mom, I’m going to give help to him, help him make sure wherever he goes, what’s best for him.”

Carrington will play this summer for the New York Lightning AAU team, which is coached by former UMass standout Dana Dingle.

“He’s a hard-nosed kid, explosive, he can do a number of things," Dingle said. "He knows how to fill it up, put the ball in basket and has a will to win ... He's pretty much one of the top three (2014) guards in the city."

As far as Carrington's recruiting process, Dingle said he's "just trying to take it slow. The one school he's been to continuously is UConn. But this time first time before just taking in game."

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Khadeen Carrington Visiting UConn Today

Khadeen Carrington, a 2014 guard out of Bishop Loughlin High in Brooklyn, will be making an unofficial visit to UConn today (Thursday).

The Huskies like where they're at with Carrington, who was at UConn's First Night festivities back in October and made a couple of other unofficials during the season. This visit will be a chance for Carrington to get to know the campus, the coaching staff and the program's plans and future a little better.

Carrington is the Huskies' only scheduled visit for now, but expect some more once the Final Four is over.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Look at Some Potential Recruits for UConn, as it Looks to the Future

Greetings. Just back from a nice, family vacation to Florida. Did Busch Gardens, then headed down to Marco Island for four days. Real nice. Went to a Red Sox game. Didn't realize how close I was to Florida Gulf Coast University, which (like the Red Sox' spring training facilities) is located in Fort Myers. Stayed away from Panama City.

Now we're back, and we've got our mind on UConn and its future. No doubt, there are plenty of questions to be answered. First and foremost, of course, is whether Shabazz Napier (and Ryan Boatright, and DeAndre Daniels) elects to stay in school or go pro. Napier recently told the Boston Globe that it's a "tough decision," and that nothing's been decided yet. He's still got a few weeks to decide, but with NBA scouts I've talked to nearly unanimous in agreeing he should stay, coupled with the fact that his injured foot could limit him in the harsh NBA workouts he'd be going through, there seems a very good chance he'll remain in Storrs.

Boatright and Daniels seem near-certainties to stay in Storrs at this point. Then there's the Enosch Wolf situation. Nothing has been determined yet, as UConn awaits the outcome of Wolf's case. He's not scheduled for another hearing for a few weeks. While Wolf wants to remain at UConn, Kevin Ollie has a tough decision on his hands, and with UConn already reeling from the APR situation that kept it out of this year's postseason (did you hear?) -- not to mention angling for a better conference and, with that, a better image -- it's not inconceivable that Ollie could come down very hard on Wolf.

There's also the Tyler Olander situation, but it appears his transgression (while embarrassing for him and the university) was far more minor than Wolf's. In fact, according to Neill Ostrout of the Journal-Inquirer, Wolf has been accepted into a Pretrial Diversion Program and his trespassing charge is likely to be dropped.

As it stands, UConn has nine current scholarship players -- Napier, Boatright, Daniels, Wolf, Olander, Omar Calhoun, Phil Nolan, Niels Giffey and Leon Tolksdorf. Former walk-on Brendan Allen was awarded a scholarship this past season, but it was made clear to Allen and his family that that was a one-year situation and, almost certainly, he won't be on scholarship next season.

The Huskies have three incoming players -- Kentan Facey, Terrence Samuel and Amida Brimah. That would take up 12 scholarships, leaving UConn with just one more to give -- again, assuming Napier, Boatright or Daniels don't leave, Wolf isn't booted off the team or some other unexpected transfer happens.

The Huskies will be looking for the best available player, preferably someone that can put the ball on the floor and score the ball, to fill that remaining skolly. Doesn't have to be a point guard, but with really just two ballhandlers (Napier and Boatright) returning (along with the addition of Samuel), UConn could use someone else who can take the ball up the floor. With most Class of 2013 prospects already committed, the Huskies will be scouring for de-commits from programs that went through coaching changes, etc., as well as JUCO players.

As for 2014, the Huskies are in on seemingly dozens of recruits. It's a key recruiting class, as Napier, Olander, Wolf, Giffey, probably Daniels and maybe Boatright will all be gone.

UConn is definitely interested in former Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby, who recently left the Pirates' program. What's that, you say? Don't players have to sit out two years when transferring from one conference school to another? True, but, of course, Seton Hall (Big East) and UConn (Conference To Be Named Later) no longer reside in the same conference.

Still, Cosby would have to sit out one season, so he's not on the scope until 2014-15.

Three of the Class of 2014 players highest on UConn's wish list are L.J. Peak, a 6-5 small forward out of Chicago; Khadeen Carrington, a 6-3 shooting guard out of Brooklyn who visited UConn on First Night back in October and is making an unofficial visit to Storrs on Thursday; and Ahmed Hill, a 6-5 shooting guard out of Georgia.

The Huskies also have interest in Abdul-Malik Abu, a 6-7 forward who plays at Kimball Union, and his AAU teammate Jared Terrell, a 6-4 shooting guard up at Brewster Academy.

UConn has some peripheral interest in Jacquil Taylor, a 6-9 forward out of Beaver Country Day in Brookline, Mass. Taylor, who transferred from Cambridge Ringe & Latin two years ago and just turned 18, is an athletic forward who could fit in very well in Storrs.

At 210 pounds, Taylor needs to add some muscle. He also fractured his foot midway through this past season, had surgery and just got out of his cast. He's in a walking boot right now, is slated to get his final screws out in a little over a week and is expected to make a full recovery. However, he'll miss the entire spring and (possibly) summer AAU season.

Maryland is very high on Taylor, and VCU, Providence and St. Joseph's have also offered. Stanford and Purdue have recently gotten in on his recruitment. UConn assistant Karl Hobbs (a Ringe & Latin product himself) has come to see Taylor play and has been inquiring about him quite a bit, though Taylor has yet to hear personally from Ollie. According to Taylor's dad, Maurice, they were slated to make a visit to UConn this winter but a snowstorm, then Jacquil's injury, intervened. Maurice said they're hoping to sit down with Ollie and the coaching staff at some point in the near future.

And, of course, there's 7-footer Pascal Chukwu at Fairfield Prep.

UConn also has shown some mild interest in Bonzie Colson, a 6-6, Class of 2014 power forward in the Jeff Adrien mold out of St. Andrew's School in Barrington, R.I. Colson has offers from Seton Hall, Rutgers and George Washington, among others. UConn has only shown slight interest to this point.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kevin Ollie will serve as guest analyst for CBS tourney coverage

On vacation, but had to share this: Kevin Oliie will serve as a guest analyst on Friday for CBS's NCAA tournament coverage.

CBS Sports Network has added current college coaches and former players as guest analysts for its coverage of the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Coaches include Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie, South Carolina’s Frank Martin, Boston College’s Steve Donahue and Rutgers’ Mike Rice, as well as former playersBobby Hurley (Duke and current Rhode Island assistant), Scoop Jardine (Syracuse) and Marc Jackson (Temple).

Donahue, Rice and Jardine serve as guest analysts on Thursday, March 21, while Ollie and Hurley are in studio on Friday, March 22. Jackson joins the coverage for third-round action on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24. Martin will be in studio for Sweet 16 coverage on Thursday, March 28 and Friday, March 29.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

UConn Season Review Tuesday at 7 p.m. on SNY

OK, you'd much rather be looking forward to UConn's first-round (er, second-round) NCAA tournament game on Thursday or Friday. We understand. But since that's not happening, you can tune in to SNY tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. for UConn's season-in-review show. Certainly an interesting season to review. Tim Welsh, Tarik Turner and Gary Apple do the honors.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Final AP Top 25, Plus All-America Teams

Here's my final AP Top 25 ballot of the season. It's potentially the most inconsequential Top 25 all year. After all, once we find out what teams are going where and playing when in the NCAA tournament, does it really matter where they're ranked?

Of perhaps more interest is the three All-America teams and Player of the Year and Coach of the Year picks voters are asked to submit. Here are my selections:

Trey Burke, Michigan
Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Otto Porter, Jr., Georgetown
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
Mason Plumlee, Duke
Cody Zeller, Indiana
Shane Larkin, Miami
Ben McLemore, Kansas

DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Russ Smith, Louisville
Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Shabazz Muhammed, UCLA

Player of the Year: Otto Porter, Jr., Georgetown
Coach of the Year: Jim Larranaga, Miami

Yup, I went with Napier on Third Team. That's not homerism, but rather someone who watched him play all season while much of the rest of the country seemed to ignore him and his team.

I often side with the Big East, so Porter was an easy choice for me. As for Coach of the Year, I strongly considered Jim Crews of St. Louis, who took over for the late Rick Majerus under tough circumstances. But people forget the Billikens were expected to be a Top 15/20 team this season. I gave the slight edge to Larranaga, who, I'm sure, is hated more by UConn fans for being the coach of THAT George Mason team in 2006 than he is for being a former standout player at Providence.

Oh yeah, that Top 25 I was talking about earlier:

1.       Gonzaga
2.       Louisville
3.       Indiana
4.       Kansas
5.       Miami
6.       Duke
7.       Ohio State
8.       Georgetown
9.       New Mexico
10.   Michigan
11.   St. Louis
12.   Michigan State
13.   Kansas State
14.   Florida
15.   Memphis
16.   Oklahoma State
17.   Arizona
18.   Virginia Commonwealth
19.   Marquette
20.   Creighton
21.   Pittsburgh
22.   Oregon
23.   Syracuse
24.   Wisconsin
25.   Mississippi

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jim Boeheim Calls APR Guidelines 'Ridiculous'

The last time I posted video of Jim Boeheim on this blog, he was calling Andy Katz a disloyal idiot.

This time, Boeheim more or less blasts the APR guidelines that are keeping UConn out of the postseason, calling them "ridiculous."

While I don't agree with everything Boeheim says here -- UConn did have blame in not making sure players were in good academic standing before leaving -- I agree with his general premise, that the rules are a bit silly and that UConn should be allowed to play in the Big East tournament.

Here's what Boeheim had to say after I asked him if there was something missing with UConn not being at the Garden this week:

“It’s unfortunate, because I think the whole (APR) thing is ridiculous,” he said. “The whole thing — guys leaving, they just leave, the coach can’t control it, all of a sudden the school gets punished. That wasn’t the purpose of that legislation when it went in. It’s been adapted to that, and I just don’t think it’s the right thing.”

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'Bracketologists' Differ on Where UConn Would Be if Tourney-Eligible

It’s fun -- yet really impossible -- to speculate where UConn would be right now if it was postseason-eligible. After all, if the Huskies had been postseason-eligible this season, would Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith still be on the team?

Still, it’s an intriguing question: based on what the Huskies did this year, would they be solidly in the NCAA tournament field at this point, or on the bubble, with work to do this week at the Big East tournament (if, of course, they were allowed to play in that tourney).

We asked a couple of noted “bracketologists” – ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and Yahoo Sports’ Brad Evans – and their opinions were surprisingly varied. Lunardi has the Huskies as a No. 10 or 11 seed, probably needing a win this week in New York to assure themselves of a Big Dance ticket, while Evans has UConn as a 6 or 7 seed – with the potential to climb as high as a 5 or fall as low as 8.

Here’s what they had to say:


“For the record, you’re the first person that’s asked me today, but I’ve been asked every day, all season about UConn. I’ve been evaluating them as if they were eligible, and right now they’d be around the cut line, between a 10 and an 11. Kind of where Villanova and Cincinnati are. I’ve got Villanova at 40, Cincinnati at 41. They’d be in the field. Not by a lot, but by enough to feel comfortable.”


“Right now … I’d have them on a 6 or 7 seed line, probably a back-end 6 seed. Their record isn’t gaudy by any stretch, but they’ve got RPI wins, quality wins akin to a Wisconsin or an Illinois. They’ve got 10 losses, but enough accrued quality victories worthy of a 6 seed, or at worst a 7 seed.

“Now, if they lost the opening game of the Big East tournament, they may slide to an 8 seed. But that’s rock-bottom for them. Conversely, if they won three in a row or took the Big East tournament title, they have a ceiling of a 5 seed.”

So why the discrepancy between Lunardi and Evans?

“I usually weigh strength of schedule (they’re top 30), quality wins, but (if you) look at is other metrics – UConn’s KenPom ranking is 53, they’re Sagarin is around 55," said Evans. "Every committee’s different. If you look at secondary metrics and cling to those, they could be a 10 seed. But if you use traditional measurements like RPI, quality wins, strength of schedule, which I’m endeared to, they’d be higher.”

Of course, if Alex Oriakhi or Roscoe Smith (or Andre Drummond) were here … and if they were eligible for the Big East tourney … etc., etc.

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Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie Teaming Up on Basketball Camp

Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie have teamed up for a basketball camp for boys ages 8-19 this summer at UConn. Here's the press release:

Coach Calhoun and Coach Ollie announced that they are teaming up in 2013 to create the Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie Basketball Camp. At the camp, boys ages 8 to 19 will have a chance gather at the University of Connecticut to learn about life and the game of basketball with the coaches and their staff. In addition to top basketball instruction, The Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie Basketball Camp, will help young boys gain an understanding of what it takes to achieve great things in life while teaching them about teamwork, dedication and perseverance.

Registration is now open for two session of camp on the Storrs campus. The first session is June 26-29 and the second session is July 10-13. Boys of all abilities are welcome. To find out more about the camp or to register, visit or call 860-674-1500.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Gary McGhee's ankles, the Hotel Pennsylvania: I Miss the Big East Tournament Already

The presidents of the Catholic 7 formally approve breaking away from the Big East, the ACC officially accepts Notre Dame for next season, blah, blah, blah. Here's a pretty good piece from the ProJo's Kevin McNamara on how special the Big East tournament has been through the years. It will never be the same. Not even close.

UConn should have been allowed to play in this final version of the Big East tournament, despite its postseason ban. Syracuse was banned from the postseason 20 years earlier, but was still allowed to go to Manhattan.

Then again, some people apparently feel UConn still has a shot at winning this week's tourney. According to, the Huskies have 22-to-1 odds of winning this year's Big East tourney. That's better odds than Villanova, Cincinnati, PC, St. John's, Rutgers, Seton Hall, USF and DePaul are getting. And they're all allowed to actually play in the tourney.

Odds to Win the Big East Post Season Tournament
Louisville 7/5
Georgetown 17/4
Pittsburgh 19/4
Syracuse 5/1
Marquette 10/1
Notre Dame 18/1
Connecticut 22/1
Villanova 25/1
Cincinnati 28/1
Providence 60/1
St. John's 75/1
Rutgers 250/1
Seton Hall 350/1
South Florida 250/1
DePaul 750/1

*** My own Big East tournament memories aren't as wide-ranging, since I had never attended one before covering my first in 2000 as the Providence College beat writer for the Pawtucket Times. Over the next four years, PC would win just one BET game, so my stays in Manhattan (usually at the "lovely" Hotel Pennsylvania across the street from the Garden) were always short.

Then, when I took over as the Register's UConn beat writer in 2008, my stays were equally short -- first-round exits in '08, '09 (extended by a whole mess of overtimes) and '10.

Then came 2011, and the most amazing run I've ever witnessed.

Here are a few archives of great UConn BET games over the past few years: the championship game win over Louisville in '11, capping the five wins in five nights run; the semifinal win over Syracuse in '11 that took "only" overtime period; the quarterfinal win over Pittsburgh in '11, won by Kemba Walker's buzzer-beater that forever relegated poor Gary McGhee to Craig Ehlo status; and, of course, the six-overtime thriller against Syracuse in '09, a loss Jim Calhoun is still bitter about.This one was so good, and took so long (and late in the night) to finish, perhaps things were better summed up the following day.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Amida Brimah's Season Highlights Video

And here's some Amida Brimah season highlights to get UConn fans thinking about next season:


NBA Scouts on Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels: Stay at UConn

I talked to a couple of veteran NBA scouts – one from an Eastern Conference team, one from a Western Conference team, both of whom scouted several UConn games this winter – about the NBA draft prospects ofShabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels. Omar Calhoun’s name came up, too.

Here’s what they had to say:


On Shabazz Napier:

“I think he should stay in school. I think he’s a talented kid. He needs to show more consistency, more leadership. I think he needs to take the program back to where they all want it to be. I believe he’s well capable of it. He needs to have a good summer.

“If he did declare, he could be taken in the second round. He’s one of those guys that, some people are going to like him and some people are not.

“He’s fearless, he’s capable of running three or four 3’s in a row. He’s capable of changing the game in a heartbeat. He can impose his will on the game.”

On Ryan Boatright:

“I think he has to stay in school. He has to improve his shooting. At his size, he has to be able to knock down shots. He’s got great speed, quickness, an ability to get in the lane. He’s improving his passing, but he’s gotta work to be a knock-down shooter.

“They listen to people outside who don’t know what they’re talking about. If they ever let us talk to them – we care about the game. And we care about them as people to a certain degree, but their head is so full of nonsense about their careers. They come out of these AAU programs, where everyone’s telling them how wonderful they are. Unfortunately, the college coaches have to continue it in order to recruit them. They’re not telling them the truth. The only one who’s telling them the truth is an NBA scout. And the NBA scout can be very hurtful, very cold and professional, but they’ll tell them what they need to hear. Our system is out of whack.

“People have to do the math, which they don’t. There are 30 teams. There’s X number of guaranteed contracts. On some teams there are no spots. On a few teams there are one or two spots."

All first-round draft picks get guaranteed money, even if they get sent to the 'D' league. Second-round picks don't get guaranteed money, though occasionally teams will give them it.

On DeAndre Daniels:

“I think he has a great upside. He’s on our future list. He’s got to get stronger, tougher and more consistent. He has a ton of talent. I’ve seen him play very well at times, and I’ve seen him disappear for long periods of times, which I know people around UConn talk about.

“And the other kid (Omar Calhoun) is gonna be good. I think he’ll take a big step over the summer.


On Napier:

“He’s a tough little guy, got a lot of winner in him. I wouldn’t count him out. He’s not your classic anything. Jim (Calhoun) really likes him, thinks he’s a really underrated shooter, and he’s probably right. He’s got a decent feel distributing ball. He’s not an over-the-top athlete, but I wouldn’t count him out.

(Second round?) “Something like that, maybe. I can see him not getting drafted. Either one is crazy to leave school for."
The scout did point out that this year is a "very weak draft," but next year is expected to be better.

On Boatright:

“I don’t see it for him. He’s an undersized scorer, he has zero point guard skills. He gets stuck in the air. He can make a play now and then, but he’s looking out for himself all the time. He’s a scorer and very quick. At that size, a guy running around like a lunatic, looking for his own shot all time … Somebody else might like his raw ability. He’s a good athlete, but you’re gonna get a version of the kid (Nate) Robinson. I don’t know what you do with guys like that. I’m just not a fan for him.

“There are guys like that in the league, but they have the right mental approach. (Jose) Barrea wasn’t really a point guard, either, but he had the right intangibles. This kid seems tough, too, but …

“His software package didn’t include an option … when he gets in the lane, he’s way out of control. Once in a while, he’ll come up with something. But, especially at the next level, those windows get closed really quickly.

This same scout wasn't wild about Boatright back in mid-January, either.

“I think both are pretty marginal. Shabazz is much more solid. I’d rather go to war with a guy like Shabazz."

On Daniels:

“He’s got some ability. He’s very athletic, looks like he’s got skills. He can shoot the ball OK. You hear people saying how soft he is, that’s never good. You can be thin, but wiry strong. He doesn’t have to be a killer if he’s not toughest guy in world.”

*** Incidentally, neither Napier, Boatright nor Daniels are listed as being selected in the mock drafts at both or In fact, none of the three are even in the latter's 2014 draft, which is silly.

Obviously, mock drafts don't mean a thing. Ultimately, it's up to what the players (and their families) believe is the right thing to do.

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UConn to Play in 2K Sports Classic Next Season

UConn will be playing in the 2K Sports Classic next season. The Huskies (along with Boston College, Washington and Indiana) will host a pair of regional round games in Storrs Nov. 14-17. Win or lose, UConn and the three other hosts will all head to Madison Square Garden for the championship rounds Nov. 21-22.

Here's the press release:

Tickets are now on sale for the Championship Rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, which returns to Madison Square Garden for the 2013-14 men's college basketball season.
TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets for Championship Round games of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project at Madison Square Garden are on sale now and may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 866-448-7849 or through

Headlining the field for the 19th annual 2K Sports Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project are Indiana, UConn, Boston College, and Washington. These four teams, which combine for 101 NCAA Tournament appearances, will each host a pair of regional round games on campus from Nov. 14-17 before heading to the World's Most Famous Arena for the Championship Rounds on Nov. 21-22. The remainder of the 12-team field will participate in subregionals held at campus sites.

Indiana - The Big Ten regular season champions spent 10 weeks ranked No. 1 this season...owns a 26-5 record...has won five National Championships and has been to 36 NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance last year...three of the five starters are underclassmen, highlighted by sophomore forward Cody Zeller (team highs 16.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and junior guard Victor Oladipo (13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg)...head coach Tom Crean will again welcome a top-rated recruiting class next season.
Connecticut - The Huskies have won three National Championships and have played in 31 NCAA 20-10 UConn posted its 20th 20-win season over the last 24 seasons...first-year head coach Kevin Ollie is expected to see the return of his top seven scorers and all five starters from this year, led by junior guard Shabazz Napier, who is the Huskies' leading scorer at 17.1 ppg to go along with 129 assists...sophomore guard Ryan Boatright is right behind Napier with an average of 15.4 ppg to go with a team-best 131 assists.

Boston College - Head coach Steve Donahue has a team that is expected to return all five starters and seven of its top eight scorers...leading scorer and rebounder Ryan Anderson, a sophomore forward, is averaging of 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds a game...freshman guard Olivier Hanlan is netting 14.6 ppg to go along with 72 assists...the Eagles, 15-16 this year, have been to 18 NCAA Tournaments.
Washington - Head coach Lorenzo Romar is in his 11th season and has led the Huskies to 207 wins over the last nine seasons, including 17 this season...10 underclassmen are on the roster, led by junior guard C.J. Wilcox and his 16.8 ppg scoring average...the Huskies have been to 16 NCAA Tournaments in their history and won either the Pac-12 Conference regular season or tournament championship in each of the previous four years (2009-12).

In all, fifteen of 20 starters are expected to return next season.

Matchups for the Championship Rounds, as well as the entire bracket for the 2013 2K Sports Classic, will be announced at a later date.

At last year's 2K Sports Classic, Alabama's Trevor Releford earned MVP honors, highlighted by his 25-point effort in the Championship Game, as the Crimson Tide rolled to the tournament title. 'Bama downed Villanova, 77-55, in the title match after Rodney Cooper hit the game-winning shot in Alabama's 65-62 semifinal win over Oregon State the night before. The crown marked the second year in a row that an SEC school emerged victorious.

Wounded Warrior Project
is the beneficiary of the 2K Sports Classic. The mission of Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is to honor and empower wounded warriors. WWP's purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

My AP Top 25, and Some Praise for UConn's Assistant Coaches

Jim Calhoun was at a lot of UConn practices this season, and most home games (other than when he went on a trip to Cancun, and possibly one or two other home contests). He only made three road trips, I believe: to Germany, to St. Thomas and to the Garden for the NC State game.

I didn't find his presence overbearing on Kevin Ollie. Maybe Ollie would beg to differ, but I doubt it. The man is truly like a father figure to Ollie. At home games, Calhoun could be seen perched at along the base line, watching rather stoically but approvingly -- indeed, like a proud father watching his son do fine work.

Here's what Calhoun had to say about Ollie's first season as head coach. One other thing to note: as good a job as Ollie did, he had some great help. Ollie was always quick and adamant in heaping praise on his assistants, going out of his way to do so at the Dec. 29 press conference announcing his new, long-term contract. Glen Miller, Karl Hobbs and George Blaney combine for 57 years of head coaching experience with 860 wins between them. They all also boast UConn NCAA championship rings, as do director basketball administration Kevin Freeman and assistant director of basketball administration Ricky Moore (both as players). They were invaluable this season.

Meanwhile, here's my penultimate AP Top 25 ballot this season. Yeah, Syracuse isn't in it. Yeah, four Atlantic 10 teams are in it. Deal with it.

1.       Gonzaga
2.       Duke
3.       Indiana
4.       Georgetown
5.       Louisville
6.       Kansas
7.       Michigan
8.       Miami
9.       Ohio State
10.   Michigan State
11.   Kansas State
12.   Florida
13.   Oklahoma State
14.   New Mexico
15.   St. Louis
16.   Arizona
17.   Memphis
18.   Marquette
19.   Pittsburgh
20.   Creighton
21.   Virginia Commonwealth
22.   St.Mary’s
23.   Colorado State
24.   Butler
25.   Temple

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Shabazz Napier Earns First Team Big East Honors; Omar Calhoun All-Rookie

Shabazz Napier earns first team all-Big East honors, while Omar Calhoun makes the all-rookie team. I thought Napier might get jobbed in the voting (that Mick Cronin!) because of UConn's postseason ban, and even his injury that forced him to miss two late games. But I was wrong. Of course, there's no doubt he's a first-teamer. I'll even probably vote for him as a third team All-American. Not homerism, just someone who watched him all season while most of the rest of the nation ignored UConn.

I thought Ryan Boatright might get honorable mention honors, but no dice. Fuquan Edwin? Really?

Here's the all-Big East teams and all-rookie team. Otto Porter of Georgetown was a unanimous choice, meaning he'll be the player of the year, too. JaKarr Sampson and Ryan Arcidiacono were unanimous all-rookie choices, too, but it says here that Sampson will be rookie of the year.

Keep in mind, Peyton Siva (third team) was the preseason player of the year, and Steven Adams was pre-season rookie of the year.

Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, G, Jr., 6-1, 171, Roxbury, Mass.
*Otto Porter, Jr., Georgetown, F, So., 6-8, 205, Sikeston, Mo.
Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, C, Jr., 6-11, 245, Kebemer, Senegal
Russ Smith, Louisville, G, Jr., 6-0, 165, Briarwood, N.Y.
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame, F, Sr., 6-9, 246, Glenview, Ill.
Bryce Cotton, Providence, G, Jr., 6-1, 165, Tucson, Ariz.
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati, G, Jr., 6-4, 221, White Plains, N.Y.
Vander Blue, Marquette, G, Sr., 6-4, 200, Madison, Wisc.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, G, Jr., 6-5, 202, Bowie, Md.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, G, So., 6-6, 185, Hamilton, Mass.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse, F, Jr., 6-8, 215, Baltimore, Md.
Markel Starks, Georgetown, G, Jr., 6-2, 175, Accokeek, Md.
Peyton Siva, Louisville, G, Sr., 6-0, 185, Seattle, Wash.
Tray Woodall, Pittsburgh, G, Sr., 6-0, 190, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Brandon Triche, Syracuse, G, Sr., 6-4,210, Jamesville, N.Y.
JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova, F, So., 6-6, 240, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Davante Gardner, Marquette, F, Jr., 6-8, 290, Suffolk, Va.
Kadeem Batts, Providence, F, Jr., 6-9, 245, Powder Springs, Ga.
JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s, F, Fr., 6-8, 204, Barberton, Ohio
Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall, F, Jr., G-F, 6-6, 205, Paterson, N.J.
Omar Calhoun, Connecticut, G, Fr., 6-5, 195, Brooklyn, N.Y.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown, G, Fr., 6-3, 227, Indianapolis, Ind.
Steven Adams, Pittsburgh, C, Fr., 7-0, 250, Roturua, New Zealand
Chris Obekpa, St. John’s, C, Fr., 6-9, 223, Makurdi, Nigeria
*JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s, F, Fr., 6-8, 204, Barberton, Ohio
*Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova, G, Fr., 6-3, 195, Langhorne, Pa.
*Denotes unanimous selection.
^Due to a tie in the voting, an additional position was named.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Jim Calhoun: On Kevin Ollie and College Realignment

Spoke with Jim Calhoun briefly at today's game. Here's what he had to say:

(on the job Kevin Ollie did this season)

"There was no doubt in my mind, almost three years ago, that Kevin would be a great guy to bring back someday … we thought at that time a guy who could someday take over the program. Obviously, he’s done a magnificent job."

"For me, with all the assistants, it’s like watching a son and all my other kids. It’s been great. Kevin’s done a terrific job. He’s gotten a hold of the situation, which as you can see was difficult, and he’s actually made it into a pressure-free (environment), judge how we play by ourselves."

(on the obstacles Ollie faced in his first year as head coach)

"Obstacles, to be very honest with you, are a part of coaching. He’ll have more obstacles next year when more is expected from him. I believe that. The best thing you can do is look what your situation is and then build from that. I always believe, you play the game for the game. That part (the obstacles) didn’t concern me. What did concern me, the change of coaches, I basically recruited every one of these kids, and they thought they were playing for me, and they played for Kevin. That’s what he really did great. I’m really so proud of him."

(on the Catholic 7 split from the Big East)

"People say, ‘well, it’s about time.’ I don’t believe that. I thought, nostalgically, it was one of the great things in the history of basketball. Dave Gavitt, God rest his soul, invented something very, very special."

"I do believe what goes around, comes around. I believe that, eventually, all of us will be under the umbrella of four major conferences throughout America. There are about 110 schools who want to do what we do, which is make money to market our university."

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Kevin Ollie: 'UConn is the Only Brotherhood I Know"

Not even sure where to start here. An emotional, and very fitting, end to UConn's season -- as well as its long, often dominant run in the Big East. Here's the game story, and here's the notebook, which touches on Shabazz Napier's return, the draft possibilities of Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels, R.J. Evans' emotional pregame speech and Warde Manuel's announcement that there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for UConn's new practice facility on April 16. The facility should be completed in about 14 months, or around May, 2014.

Here's what Kevin Ollie and the players had to say after the game:


“Everybody was crying, because it came from the heart. He’s been here one year, but he’s always going to have a special place. He’s a UConn family for life.”

(on whether Shabazz Napier will go pro)

“I’ll just give him feedback. I know a lot of GM’s, a lot of people up there. I’ll just get feedback. Of course he’s going to have to make a deision and live with it, and whatever decision he makes, I’ll support it. But, I’m going to give him feedback and we’ll go from there. Hopefully, he makes the right decision in his heart. We’d love him coming back, but if he goes to the NBA and plays well, that’s good publicity for us, too. Either way, it’s going to be fine.”

(who else may go pro?)

“Shabazz – Ryan, maybe DeAndre, who knows? I know they’re going to be players that provide a spark for us if they come back. And if they don’t, we’re going to make adjustments and keep plugging like we always do.”

(on UConn)

“UConn is the only brotherhood I know. Now, they’re a part of something special. It’s a special brotherhood, and we just showed it again.”

(on the end of UConn’s affiliation with the Big East)

“Change happens. Now, you’ve got to change your approach. We’ve got to have the same recipe that allowed us to win championships. Our recipe’s not gonna change, but we’ve got to change our approach as a coaching staff, as a university. But, the same things are going to be here – the pride, the tradition, the dominance. I’m just so glad I


(on whether he’s thinking of going pro)

I haven’t really thought about it. I’m still just taking this in and still kinda sad that this season has been shortened.

(on when he knew Shabazz Napier would play on Saturday)

I had a feeling about it that he was going to play, after the South Florida game, that he was going to play, because I know Bazz and he’s a competitor. We were shooting around, and we came back in the locker room to get dressed and he’s in there with his shoes on. Then we went back in and he had his uniform on, and we were all happy.


(on next season)

“If everybody comes back, it’ll definitely be a special team, if we come back and work the way we did in the offseason and play together like we did this year.

(on whether he’ll turn pro)

Me and Bazz have decisions to make. We’re gonna talk about it – our families, friends, coaching staff – we’re probably gonna talk to each other.

(on coming up clutch in OT)

“I’ve been put in those situations throughout my whole life. Coming here and playing with a great player like Shabazz, sometimes you’ve just got to take a backseat. Today was my time to shine and take over.”

(on his game-winning shot)

“I tried to get the separation that I needed, to get the lift. That’s what initiated the foul, I got up in his chest. Once I got the separation, I put it up with all the confidence in the world. And it went in.”



(on missing last two games)

“Watching those last two games just broke me down. I wanted to play so bad. Mentally, I was ready to play, but physically I wasn’t.”

(on when he knew he could play on Saturday)

I decided I was mentally ready, but I wasn’t going to push myself unless I was physically ready. I think there were 35 minutes left on the clock and I came back in and just suited up. I’m always mentally ready to play, but if I’m not there ready physically, I’m not going to push myself.”

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Tyler Olander on his Lost Season

Talked to Tyler Olander, who was sitting on the UConn bench with crutches and a walking boot on his left foot. He said he’d had a stress fracture in his foot for a few weeks before it finally “cracked” against South Florida.

Here’s some more of what he had to say:

(on his season as a whole)

“It wasn’t what I was hoping for and what I came into this season expecting. I’m thinking a lot about going into next season, how much harder I have to work and things I have to do to get better.”

(I asked him if he, like several other UConn players, was forced to play out of position this season as a five, rather than a face-up four)

“I really think that was my game. I’m not really a back-to-the-basket kind of guy. I thought it was a good experience, I learned a lot, learned to use my right hand, stuff like that. Playing out of position, I guess, but I did learn a lot.”

(if he thinks he’ll play more power forward next season, with a couple of big man recruits coming in)

“I think I might be able to. I hope I will be able to. But if I don’t, I’d rather be on the court, so if I have to play the five, it’s no problem.”


Friday, March 8, 2013

Kevin Ollie: "This Will Be My Favorite Group -- Forever"

There will be a brief ceremony after Saturday's PC-UConn game at sold-out Gampel, honoring this year's team. There will be no championship banners lifted to the rafters, no pep rally for the upcoming Big East tournament. The season will be over, but this team of gritty players that defied a lot of odds, that stayed in Storrs despite knowing there'd be no postseason and watched many former teammates defect (and got precious little national recognition all season) will be honored.

I like the idea. Apparently, so does Kevin Ollie.

“This will be my favorite group forever, how they battled and played with each other,” the coach said. “If we get beat by 50 (Saturday), that’s not going to change anything. The sentiments in my heart I have for these guys. When the last buzzer goes off, they’re going to have their heads up high and their chests out.”

Here’s more of what Ollie had to say before today’s practice:

No update on Shabazz Napier, but he’s “feeling better. I don’t know if he’s available.”

Omar Calhoun’s wrist is “hurting really bad. If he can’t go, we’ll have Leon (Tolksdorf) and Brendan (Allen) to fill in.”

Ollie added: “I want guys, if they’re healthy, to play … I won’t be inclined to sit anybody down (just because it’s the last game of the season).”

(on the Big East-Catholic 7 split, which became official today)

“Susan Herbst and our athletic director, Warde Manuel, are going to get us in the best position possible. If they think this is the best position for us, we’re going forward. I have to coach the team, whether they’re playing in my backyard, the ACC, the Big East or whatever they call this conference. I’m in their boat, ready to go wherever they take us.”

“It’s going to be a great journey. UConn basketball is going to be here forever. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

(on Tyler Olander, whose disappointing junior season came to an end after he broke his foot in Wednesday’s loss at USF)

“We wanted more production, he wanted to have a better year. But, he stayed in the fight. I’m not worried about individual stats, I’m worried about team. He did a wonderful job in practice, in games he tried hard. The shots weren’t going in. I imagine he wanted to be a better rebounder, and we thought he would be. Hopefully, he comes in next year, provides a spark, gets the rebounds we know he can get. He’s gonna have a great senior year. Everybody’s got to go through something.” 

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Big East Separation is Official

It's official: The Catholic 7 is officially splitting from the Big East. Formal Board approval is expected on Tuesday.

Here are a few answers to questions people have been asking about the split:

*** What will be the name of the "old" Big East (since the Catholic 7 and their new friends will be taking the Big East name with them)?

It has been reported that the America 12 is the leader in the clubhouse, since that name has been registered with a branding firm by the league's attorneys. But that was one of a list of names the firm was given, and the league "is not necessarily married to anything," according to a Big East source. In fact, the league is planning on possibly reaching out to fans for suggestions on a new name and "having some fun with it."

Here's what Big East commish Mike Aresco said in a release: “We have not chosen a new conference name at this time and there are no favorites. We are going through a thoughtful evaluation of potential names for our conference, and will select a name in a timely manner through a comprehensive and deliberate process that involves our presidents and athletic directors as well as constituents from inside and outside the conference. We are excited about the prospect of re-branding and look forward to working with our institutions and our fans as we engage in this process.”

*** Who will be in this new league -- the one that UConn is in?

Well, for next year, anyway, it'll be UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Temple, Memphis, Central Florida, Houston, SMU, Rutgers, Louisville and (possibly) Notre Dame. Louisville and Notre Dame, you ask? Aren't they off to the ACC? Well, yes, but not until 2014-15. The new conference's football schedule is already out, and Lousville is on it, so even though Louisville's separation date has yet to be officially determined, it would be extremely problematic if it tried to jump ship now.

As for Notre Dame, since it obviously doesn't play football in the league, an earlier separation is far more feasible. Of course, it will cost them a good chunk of money, but it's feasible. In fact, the ACC reportedly has said it would accept Notre Dame for next season. It's hard to believe Notre Dame would stay with the new Big East (Catholic 7) for a year in limbo.

Oh yeah, and Rutgers isn't supposed to move to the Big 10 until 2014-15, but who really cares? It's Rutgers.

*** With the "new" Big East holding on to Madison Square Garden for its conference championship, where will the new conference championship tournament be?

Unknown at this point. Reports have stated perhaps Memphis, Houston, Orlando, Hartford, or a revolving door (as the Big East did in its infancy). Memphis would make a lot of sense to me, as it's a great basketball town. And I know that UConn is insisting that Hartford is kept in consideration. (And Orlando's got Disney World).

*** Why the hell is all this happening?


*** Where will the "old" Big East headquarters be?

They'll likely stay in Providence, even though PC is leaving the conference with the Catholic 7, since the league has a lease on its current building for seven more years. Hard to believe the league will stay in Providence for all seven of those years, however.

Mike Aresco will remain commissioner of the conference, but it remains to be seen where other employees of the current Big East will end up. The "new" Big East will be looking for employees, after all, and could certainly take current Big East employees with it.

*** So which conference is better: the new Big East (Catholic 7) or the old one (America 12, or whatever)?

Let's take a look:




St. John’s
Seton Hall


Notre Dame (maybe)
Central Florida
South Florida

If you go by this year's results, by my count, the Catholic 7 has four NCAA tourney locks and three bubble teams. The America 12 has three locks and four bubbles (if UConn had been eligible. I'm saying the Huskies would be on the bubble right now, but maybe they'd be more of a lock than I'm giving them credit for). And that's assuming Notre Dame stays for next year.

That's about a wash, though top-to-bottom, I'd go with the Catholic 7. It's only got two awful teams, while the America 12 has three or four.

Of course, Providence could be real good next year, and Marquette should be really, really good. Then again, UConn has the chance to be really, really good next year, too. Overall, for next year, I'd give the Catholic 7 a slight edge, but for 2014-15 ...


Central Florida
South Florida
East Carolina

... the Catholic 7 wins in a landslide. It'll also be adding St. Louis and Dayton. Of course, by then, maybe UConn or Cincy or both will be en route to the ACC or elsewhere. Who knows these days?


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tyler Olander Has Broken Foot, Done for UConn's Season

Add Tyler Olander to UConn's M*A*S*H unit.

Olander suffered a fracture of his left foot during Wednesday night's game at USF and is done for the season. Surgery is likely, according to a UConn spokesman, but he will see a surgeon Monday to determine that for sure and when it would happen.

Shabazz Napier (foot) and Omar Calhoun (wrist) both received treatment on Thursday (the Huskies didn't practice) and remain day-to-day for Saturday's season finale vs. Providence. Napier did wear two sneakers for a time and did some light movement drills on the court.

Also, thanks to the gang at Campus Insiders for having me on today. Wish I could have provided them a better picture of myself, though. Seems all the photos I have on my computer are of my kids.

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College AD's Average Over $500,000; Warde Manuel Below the Average

At $450,000 per year, Warde Manuel is below average on the college athletic director pay scale.


How Many UConn Players Will Even Suit Up for PC Game Saturday?

A third straight loss for UConn, which is banged up and battered beyond recognition at this point. One more game and the season's over.

Saturday’s season finale vs. Providence is a rare advance sellout at Gampel. Plenty of fans will be there, but how many able-bodied players will be suiting up for the Huskies?

We know Niels Giffey (finger) is done for the season. Enosch Wolf (indefinite suspension), too. Logic would dictate that Shabazz Napier (foot), who’s missed the last two games, won’t return for one more fairly meaningless (at least for the Huskies) game. (Though I have a sneaky suspicion that Napier will give it a go).

Now, Tyler Olander and Omar Calhoun are question marks.

Olander left the game late in the second half with an injured left foot, and was seen leaving the Sun Dome on crutches, his foot in a walking boot.

Calhoun played, but his sprained right wrist obviously hampered him. He shot 1-for-14, even embarrassingly missing a wide-open dunk late in the first half. A UConn source told me before the game that, ideally, Calhoun would need about a week or so to rest his wrist before returning to action.

After Wednesday’s loss, Calhoun was asked if he’d give it one more go Saturday vs. PC.

“We’ll see what happens, see if I’ll be able to go,” he replied. “Right now, I don’t know.”

So how does a lineup of Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, R.J. Evans, Phil Nolan, Brendan Allen and Leon Tolksdorf look on Saturday? Not too good for the Huskies, though the Friars – who have played their way back to near the NCAA tourney bubble – probably would love to see that.

My guess is Olander is done but Calhoun gives it one more go. And again, I have no idea why, but I think Napier will be out there, too. Just a rather illogical hunch.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shabazz Napier Still a Maybe, Niels Giffey Out, Joe D. in for UConn?

Niels Giffey is done for the year for UConn. Here's what he had to say Tuesday afternoon at the team hotel in Tampa:

And here’s what Kevin Ollie had to say about Giffey, Shabazz Napier and a few other subjects:

(on Giffey)

“We’re making it positive. Hopefully he recovers real soon, gets back to his German National Team, has a productive summer in the academic arena, then get ready to play for us. But he’ll be ready to go.”

(on DeAndre Daniels)

“I think he’s really taken the challenge on. At practices, he’s doing great. I see a transformation of a young man growing into a big-time player. Hopefully, in 2013-14, he’ll be even better.”

(on USF)

“They’re on a one-game winning streak. I think they put 83 on the board against DePaul. They’re playing aggressive, (Victor) Rudd is playing real good coming back from his injury, and (Anthony) Collins is really a focus, trying to keep him out of the lane.”

(on Napier, who is again a game-time decision)

“I think (his foot) responded. It’s still tender. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. I have full confidence in James Doran and our athletic training staff that they’re going to get Shabazz ready to play. If he can’t, we’re going to go into the off-season getting him back ready, and we’ll see what happens going forward.”

(on who’s decision it will be if Napier plays Wednesday night)

“It’s ultimately up to him, and James Doran. Whoever I got, I’m gonna battle with those guys. Shabazz was great on the bench at Cincinnati. He was great, encouraging the kids. If he can’t be out there, so be it. But I know the kid is tough, and he wants to be out there. That’s the beauty of it.”

“Injuries happen, we’re going to try to fill in where we can. But Shabazz is going to be with us in spirit, if he can’t be out there on the floor with us.”

(on UConn’s ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mentality)

“Whoever’s on that bench, they’re alive. We’ll pull Joe D. out.”

That’s Joe D’Ambrosio, UConn’s radio play-by-play man. Now that would be a story.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Prep, AAU Coaches Weigh In on How Realignment Could Hurt UConn's Recruiting

If it seems as if I've written this story before, it's because I have ... sorta.

Whether it's been Jim Calhoun's health and/or age, the possible negative ramifications from Nate Miles or APR, or Kevin Ollie working on what amounted to a seven-month contract, there has been plenty of fodder in recent years for opposing coaches to recruit negatively against UConn. And, make no mistake, they have.

Now it's conference realignment and UConn's status in no-man's land, with no Big East brand name or conference tourney at Madison Square Garden to fall back on, as early as next season.

It's always interesting to hear what prep and AAU coaches (not to mention recruits) have to say about possible recruiting impact, and that's what we get in today's story from Jere Quinn (head coach at St. Thomas More, where Andre Drummond went for two years) and Kareem Memminger (coach of the highly-touted AAU program New York Rens, who featured current UConn commits Kentan Facey and Terrence Samuel). We also get Samuel's opinion on the matter.

While the opinions were varied (and both Samuel and Facey are still signed, sealed and delivered and optimistic about UConn), Memminger's opinion was particularly interesting, as he hails from New York, where UConn has mined some of its greatest players in recent years.

Said Memminger: “The 2014, 2015 guys, those are the guys it’s going to affect. I talked to one recruit — I don’t want to mention his name — that UConn has recruited. Basically, his camp told me he likes (UConn) a lot, but they don’t know what conference they’re going to be in.”

Memminger added: "Let's face it, man. It's Conference USA."

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

My AP Top 25 This Week

Here's the AP Top 25 ballot I submitted this evening. I was considering ranking Duke No. 1, despite its loss earlier in the week at Virginia, thanks to its big win Saturday over Miami. Ryan Kelly's return makes a huge difference.

But, for one, I had Duke No. 2 last week, and my personal rule is never to move a team up after a loss earlier in the week. And, as someone who champions the mid-majors, I have no reason not to vote Gonzaga No. 1. (Not that the Zags are really a mid-major anymore).

This is a really good team. Its only losses were at Butler (on a miracle) and to a good Illinois team. It's beaten Oklahoma State (whom I like a lot), Oklahoma, Baylor, Clemson and St. Mary's (twice). Any time you can go unbeaten in a league -- any league -- you are a damn good team. The Zags are damn good.

Plus, I think it's kind of refreshing that Mark Few and the Zags are so openly hopeful of getting that first-ever No. 1 ranking. Most coaches brush it off as not that big a deal, it's the NCAA tournament that matters, etc. And they're right. For Duke, being ranked No. 1 is old hat. For Gonzaga, it's something they're really excited about. That's pretty cool.

1. Gonzaga

2. Duke

3. Indiana

4. Georgetown

5. Kansas

6. Michigan

7. Miami

8. Kansas State

9. Louisville

10. Florida

11. Oklahoma State

12. New Mexico

13. St. Louis

14. Michigan State

15. Ohio State

16. Arizona

17. Memphis

18. Virginia Commonwealth

19. Marquette

20. Syracuse

21. UNLV

22. Pittsburgh

23. St. Mary’s

24. Creighton

25. Louisiana Tech

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Kevin Ollie: "You Can't Pick Up the Slack for Shabazz"

Quotes from today’s game, a 61-56 Cincy win over UConn. In added news: Niels Giffey suffered a dislocation fracture of his right index finger and was slated to be evaluated further when the Huskies got back to Storrs Saturday night.


(on his career-best 8 points, 7 rebounds)

“I probably wpould have felt better about the way I played if we had got the win.”

(on missing first of two FT’s that would have tied the game with 20 seconds left)

“I felt pretty good. I was pretty confident I was going to knock the free throw down. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. Just can’t hang your head about it, you just keep playing.”


“It was very frustrating. Last few games we’ve been right there, for us to take the game. We just fell short, man. We didn’t even get a shot up at the basket. That’s the most frustrating thing.”

(on the non-shooting foul, non-goaltend call with 3 ½ minutes left)

“What was I gonna do, run out-of-bounds? Obviously, I was going up for the layup. Once I went up, he obviously hit the ball out of the rim. He was laughing at me like, ‘Yeah, I got away with one.’ It is what it is, man. The refs can’t get every call, I guess.”

(on backcourt violation with 5.2 ticks left)

“Cashmere (Wright) definitely hit it. He touched it before he even went backcourt. I shouldn’t have even been in that situation in the first place. I should have made a better play or we should’ve run a better play.”


(on his first career start at UConn)

“I had an idea, because I was in the first group yesterday in practice, but didn’t know for sure.”

(on his inbounds pass with 20 seconds left that was stolen by Sean Kilpatrick)

“We were running the same play we always run. (Titus) Rubles made a good play. He took the ball, I didn’t think he was gonna jump that high. That one’s on me.”


“I don’t even really want to talk about Shabazz. These guys played hard. Shabazz is gonna get back, he’s gonna get back healthy. We played hard. Ballhandling or not, we had 19 turnovers against Georgetown, we had 15 tonight. These guys put us in a situation to win.”

(on Nolan)

“He played well, played aggressive, played with energy. I had to get on him in the first half, he took the challenge like a man and he played very, very well for us. He’s gonna be a great player for us in our program.”

(on Evans’ inbounds pass)

“They had a big center on it. R.J. tried to throw it over the top. We had been trying to get it over the top most of the game, and he just got a piece of it and it came up short.”

(finally talking about Shabazz … sorta)

“You can’t fill in the slack for Shabazz. Shabazz is one the best players in the Big East. You’ve got to play your game. Nobody fills in the slack. We just played with heart.”


“I just woke up today and didn’t feel like it was possible for me to play basketball.”

(on missing first game in UConn career)

“It’s so difficult. I was thinking about getting dressed at halftime. I don’t like missing games. I’ve fought through a whole bunch of injuries, but this one I just couldn’t do.”

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