Friday, April 26, 2013

With Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels Back Next Year for UConn ... Watch Out

As you surely know by now, Shabazz Napier announced today that he'll return for his senior season at UConn. Here's the story from today's Register.

Napier's not alone. Ryan Boatright also announced he’s returning to UConn for another year. DeAndre Daniels, too. With those three back (along with everyone else from last year's team except R.J. Evans and, possibly, Enosch Wolf), the Huskies should be a very good team next season. Preseason Top 15 easy, one would think.

Here's what Boatright and Daniels had to say today at Gampel:

Boatright said he made the decision a couple of days ago, and that he knew all along that Napier would be returning, too.

“Shabazz is Shabazz,” he said with a smile. “I’ve been around him long enough to know how to read him.”

(on reaching his decision to stay)

“It was tough. I really had my mind set on going, that’s what I really worked for this year. The way the situation went, me and my family felt like it wasn’t the right time. I’ll never put myself in a harder situation than it’s got to be.”

He said he had conversations with Kevin Ollie, Jim Calhoun … “everybody.”

“Coach Ollie’s got the best interests at heart for me, so I take his opinion very (seriously). He told me the best decision was for me to come back. I took it back to my mom, and we made the decision it was best for me to come back.”

(on how good a team the Huskies should be next season)

“Next year’s going to be a great year. Everybody’s going to be extremely hungry. Watching that (NCAA) tournament’s painful. It’s humbling and it makes you even hungrier. We all watched it together, so we’re going to come back with a chip on our shoulder even bigger than last year.”

Boatright knows what he must improve upon in order to be a sure-shot draft pick after next season.

“Decision-making and my 3-ball. Decision-making can always be better, as far as being a point guard and reading when to shoot and when not to shoot. Knocking down open shots – everybody in the NBA knocks down open shots. And you’ve got to be able to shoot the 3 more consistent than I did.”

Did he have pressure from his friends and family back home to get to “The League” this year?

“Nobody really makes it out of from where I come from. Just making it to college is good for them. They’re like, ‘We’ve got your back, no matter what you do. You go to the NBA or come back to school, we’re going to always be your fans.’ The most pressure was put on by me, because I expect much more from myself. I’m glad with my decision and I’ve got to make the best of it.”

*** And here's what Daniels, shooting around on his own (as he does so often) had to say:

"It really wasn't ever a tough decision for me. We sat down with my family and decided it was best for me to stay here, get better, work on my game and just become a better person and come a step closer to graduating."

Daniels has been hitting the weights hard and is up to 203 pounds, after ending the season at 195. You can see more definition already in his shoulders.

"(I need to) be more consistent with my play -- ballhandling, shooting and just getting stronger," he said.

"I think we have a chance to be pretty good. Hopefully, we can go far in the tournament and hopefully win a national championship."

(On Napier)

"I see him walking around now, he's all happy, like he's got a weight off his shoulders. I'm happy for him."

*** Elsewhere, bumped into Ricky Moore, who's been promoted from assistant director of basketball ops to full-time assistant coach.

“It’s nice to be able to get out on the floor (in practice) and do some teaching," Moore said. "I learned a lot alongside Coach Blaney."

He added that he’s excited to get out on the recruiting trail in July. As an assistant at Dartmouth, Moore did plenty of recruiting. He realizes it’s a different world recruiting for UConn, but says the hard-working attitude he had to have while at Dartmouth – staying in gyms long after the bigger programs had left to get an even better idea about what kind of player/person a recruit is – will benefit him with the Huskies.

*** Also saw Niels Giffey in the gym. His broken finger is still taped, and he's unable to shoot. Giffey hopes to be able to get back to basketball activities in a couple of weeks or so.

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