Sunday, September 29, 2013

UConn Snares Power Forward Rakim Lubin

Been out of town at a wedding this weekend, so I missed UConn's first practice on Saturday, as well as the news that the Huskies received a commitment from Rakim Lubin.

Here's a story on Lubin's commitment and what it means for UConn going forward.

And here's Register colleague Chip Malafronte's take on UConn's season-opening practice.

We'll be back on the beat starting Monday.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jalen Ollie Learned Leadership from His Dad

Kevin Ollie's son, Jalen, is a quarterback at Glastonbury High who's off to a nice start in his senior season. He's also a pretty good basketball player. Maybe not Division 1 material at this point, but pretty good, nonetheless.

I stopped by Jalen's game last weekend against Hall in West Hartford and watched him put forth a command performance. He ran, passed and willed his team to a come-from-behind, 35-28 victory. Most impressive were his leadership skills -- something that obviously runs in the family. (Kevin Ollie wasn't at the game. Seems he had a few key recruits on campus last weekend, but he did watch Jalen's game on video later. Mom, Stephanie, was at the game).

Here's a little feature on Jalen's transformation as a leader on the football field.

Kid's a spitting image of his dad, too, right down to the same smile, laugh and voice inflections. Doesn't sound like he'd ever go the Jeff Calhoun route, though, and play at UConn.

"The point of college is leaving your parents and stepping out," he said with a classic Ollie laugh.

Here's a video of Jalen connecting on a touchdown pass in the win over Hall:

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Husky Run Notes on Calhoun, Olander, Purvis, Facey, Boatright, etc.

Unlike last season, UConn actually has a finish line to cross this season. Here's a few of what I found to be some of the more interesting notes and quotes from today's Husky Run:

*** Omar Calhoun was the only scholarship player not to run (other than Tyler Olander ... more on that later). Calhoun had offseason surgery on both hips, but he's in "good condition," according to Kevin Ollie, and was cleared to start playing again about a week ago. He played in some 5-on-5 games with some of the pros who were on campus over the weekend for Jim Calhoun's tribute.

"Kemba, all our pros told me he's playing with confidence," Ollie said. "He got a couple of dunks in the run, so that was good to hear. Just hearing from James (Doran, the team trainer), he's doing everything possible to be ready for that first practice. I think he's a full-go."

*** Olander is still suspended from the team indefinitely. Ollie has no timetable for when he might return.

"I hope that he becomes a better young man from this distraction," the coach said. "That's the first thing and the last thing. I just want him to learn, and hopefully he does that, with the different steps he's taking. He's doing a great job so far, but every day, you've got to win the day. All of us have our vices. Every day, I've got to sacrifice my vice -- I'm not gonna tell you what it is, but I have mine."

Said Ryan Boatright: "Tyler’s gonna be Tyler. We tell him, and Coach told him the decisions he makes are selfish decisions because they hurt the team, not only himself. Because we’re gonna need Tyler to be good. I think him not being able to be around us as much since being suspended, I think it got through to him this time. Personally, I live with him, so I tell him to keep his head and keep working, because we’re gonna need him to win a national championship.”

Niels Giffey on Olander: "I'm just trying to keep him motivated, I go to the gym at night with him a lot and we take a lot of shots. I’m just trying to be there for him, be a good friend to him. He’s still with the team a lot. You’ve got to keep him focused on basketball, even though he’s going through hard times."

"I also told him, you’ve got to see the situation you’re in. You get a lot of media attention. If things like that happened back in Germany, where I grew up, nobody would care about it, to be honest. So, you’ve got to put these things into perspective. He’s not a bad kid, he just made a couple of poor decisions, and he’s got to live with the consequences.”

*** NC State transfer Rodney Purvis finished dead-last in the Husky Run with a time of 29:36 (nearly 10 minutes after DeAndre Daniels' crossed the finish line). He admitted he was dragging afterwards, and Ollie noted that it's been an adjustment for Purvis to get acclimated to the Husky Way.
"I’m telling him: ‘Rodney, you’re not playing this year, but you’ve got to make sure you think you’re playing this year, so when 2014 comes on and those curtains open, people are like, ‘Man, this is a whole different guy.’ That’s what I want them to see. But if you wait until 2014, you’ll never be that guy. That’s an important message I’m giving him: You’ve got to play like you’re starting every game. That’s how you’ve got to prepare.”

Purvis admitted things are "way different" in Storrs than they were in Raleigh, N.C.
"I kinda feel like I’m starting back over, getting in shape and things like that. Just getting used to everything. I was never used to waking up at 8 a.m. and having to lift, then getting to class and stuff like that. I was used to lifting after I was done with classes, things like that. No excuses, I’ve just got to get used to everything.”

“I’ve got to challenge myself. In practice and things like that, even the little things – I’m in the gym just about every night, I’ll grab a manager and get him to rebound – I’m just focused on being a good teammate, getting guys better, and when it’s my time to play, I’ll definitely be better.”
Don't take any of Purvis's early struggles as a sign he's not happy here, however.
"I love it here," he said. "I love everything about this school."

 *** Ollie said he hopes to hear from the NCAA on Facey within the next few days, before UConn's first official practice on Saturday. Facey hasn't spoken with the NCAA; all communication with the NCAA has been done through UConn's compliance office.
“It’s difficult," Ollie said. "The same thing I’m saying to Rodney, I’m saying to him: you don’t control this (situation), but you’ve got to think positive about it. Everything happens for a reason, I truly believe that. It’s tough telling him that.”
*** Asked how he's improved the most over the summer, Ryan Boatright said: “I became a point guard. I think my point guard skills are at an all-time high since I’ve been playing basketball, because all my life I’ve been told to score. Now, I think I’ve got that balance of distributing and getting everybody involved, and getting mine at the same time.”

It's assumed by most that this is Boatright's final season in Storrs, though he's hardly a sure-fire NBA draft pick next June.

“I’ll be a liar if I said I’m not thinking about the NBA," Boatright confessed. "It’s something I’ve always wanted to achieve my whole life, and I’m so close to it … But that’s individual. Right now, my main focus is this team. I know for me to go to the next level, we’re going to have to be good and win games. I tell my teammates all the time, for me to get to where I’m going, I need y’all.”

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

DeAndre Daniels Wins Husky Run for Third Straight Year

Here are the much-anticipated times in today's Husky Run:

1. DeAndre Daniels, 19:52
2. Pat Lenehan, 19:52.5
3. Ryan Boatright, 20:28
4. Kentan Facey, 20:52
5. Niels Giffey, 20:53
6. Leon Tolksdorf, 21:00
7. Amida Brimah, 21:35
8. Alex Enos, 22:55
9. Terrence Samuel, 23:14
10. Phil Nolan, 24:53
11. Lasan Kromah, 25:02
12. Tor Watts, 26:19
13. Rodney Purvis, 29:36

Overall winner: Derek Lockwood, a graduate student in UConn School of Physical Therapy, 17:40.3.

Here's some video of Daniels finishing as top Husky scholarship player for third straight year:

And here's Shabazz Napier addressing the runners at the start of the race:

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Final Budget for UConn Practice Facility Approved

UConn's board of trustees have approved a final construction budget for the new practice facility at $33.3 million, which puts it a tad over budget, according to the Associated Press. And it doesn't include furniture, fixtures and equipment, which should push the final tally over $40 million.

Nearly all the money raised is through private donations, with $231,000 to be picked up from the university's operating funds.

And here's a quick video of how the facility is progressing:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kemba Walker Gets His Own Park

Apparently, Kemba Walker recently got his own park in the Bronx.

Certainly can't hurt UConn's recruiting in New York City, one would think.


Monday, September 23, 2013

DUI Charges Against Tyler Olander Dropped

Tyler Olander pleaded guilty to operating without a license Monday morning at Rockville Superior Court, but the more serious charge of driving under the influence of alcohol was dropped.

Olander was arrested on Sept. 7 on Route 195 in Mansfield, just north of North Eagleville Road, after a police officer witnessed Olander's vehicle making "several jerky steering maneuvers within the lane of travel," according to state attorney Cynthia Baer.

Olander failed a field sobriety test, according to a police report, but subsequently took two breath tests and was under the legal limit of .08 both times.

"The science was on our side," said Olander's attorney, Rob Britt. "We're happy the state reviewed the science in the matter, because we believed it was on our side."

Olander does not have a driver's license, however, so he paid a $75 fine for operating without a license on Monday. He had been indefinitely suspended from the UConn men's basketball team after the incident, and now hopes he'll be able to rejoin the team.

"That's my goal, and God willing, I'll be back," he said. "I hope people don't see these past incidents as a reflection of who I am. I hope they see me as a good kid that just made some mistakes, as everybody does."

Olander was at a special tribute to Jim Calhoun at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday night, seated at a dinner table with his fellow teammates.

Speaking of the Calhoun tribute, it really was a nice ceremony. Every ex-player who went up to talk about Calhoun (Ray Allen, Rudy Gay, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, Kemba Walker, Kevin Ollie, Glen Miller, Kevin Freeman, Donny Marshall, A.J. Price ... everyone) spoke eloquently. Really, everyone was better than I expected.

Baseball coach Jim Penders delivered a terrific speech (as a last-minute replacement). Only complaint for me was that, as well as everyone spoke, they were all too long! How long? Festivities ran about two hours past schedule. Or put it this way: Calhoun's speech at the end of the night was one of the shortest.

As great a night as it was, and as much as a testament it was to the truly remarkable bond that unites just about all UConn basketball players and coaches, past and present, it's impossible to ignore the very public rift in the UConn hoops family currently going on in the Tate George case.

Meanwhile, here's a Connecticut magazine feature piece on Kevin Ollie.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jim Calhoun: 'It's an Incredibly Emotional Thing for Me'

Some notes and quotes from a special tribute to Jim Calhoun held at Gampel Pavilion Sunday night:

*** Among those who attended were Ray Allen, Ben Gordon, Kemba Walker, Rudy Gay, Donyell Marshall, Donny Marshall, Andre Drummond, Hasheem Thabeet, Jeremy Lamb, Scott Burrell, Jeff Adrien, A.J. Price, Stanley Robinson, Kevin Ollie, Andre LaFleur, Patrick Sellers, Glen Miller, Karl Hobbs, Tom Moore, Steve Pikiell and Eric Hayward. I’m sure I missed a few – more than a few. Gov. Dannel Malloy was there, too. As were the members of this year's UConn team (including Tyler Olander), Warde Manuel, George Blaney, Dee Rowe … you get the point. A tremendous outpouring of support for Calhoun.

*** There will be busts of Calhoun and Geno Auriemma inside the new practice facility.

*** It was also announced on Sunday that Stadium Road on campus will now forever be known as Jim Calhoun Way.

*** Some of what Calhoun had to say before the program:

“It’s an incredibly emotional thing for me, personally. Telling A.J. ‘Congratulations on the birth of your daughter.’ Jeff just got his contract. A long, long time ago, I said I wanted to get into coaching to hopefully affect some people’s lives. They’ve affected mine, I know for sure. I knew it would be an emotional day, but when I see them, it just does something to me, certainly.”

“It’s an incredible bond that never gets broken. As long as they’re fair with you and you’re fair with them, and they had my back, and I had their back … people always say, ‘Coach, you’re too tough on those guys.’ It’s because I love them. I suffer when A.J. didn’t do well, Scottie, Ray, whoever it may be. I jumped out of my chair this year when Ray hit the big 3-pointer for the Miami Heat. Those things don’t change.”

(on the state of the UConn program)

“I think it’s in very good shape. I never had any questions with the guy I wanted to be the coach. I think he’s done an incredible job, and he’ll continue to do an incredible job. The kind of support we had … I was thinking last night, how special the game was – not necessarily the game, per se, but the atmosphere. We used to have basketball games like that at the Civic Center, 16,000. We need to have that, and we will have that.”

*** Ray Allen a great story that defined how the bond among UConn players is built.

“One of the things that I always think about is Eric Hayward. He comes to mind a lot when I talk about our bond that we share. We used to start practice every year in the field house. The trash can was over in the corner, and it was over in the corner for one person. They said, at some point, Eric Hayward’s gonna throw up in the trash can. I was like, ‘Somebody throws up during practice?’”

“Over the course of that year, we’d run suicides we had to be at the line in 28 seconds. Early in the year, Eric never made it. Every time he didn’t make it, we’d have to run again. Coach didn’t care, he didn’t have any sympathy for us. It got to the point where we started running over to Eric, watching him and making sure we did what we had to do to get him over that line in 28 seconds. That was a moment where I saw true growth and I understood what Coach was doing. As much as, at that moment, we didn’t particularly like Coach, it created that bond and got us together. In order for us to grow into a team and be a unit, we had to help Eric get to the point where he could beat this suicide in 28 seconds. Once we got him over that line, it was like we had a sense of accomplishment.”

*** Of course, there’s been a rift in that UConn bond recently in the case of Tate George, who’s on trial for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that bilked clients out of millions. Among them, apparently, is Charlie Villanueva.

Asked about George, Calhoun simply stated: “I haven’t talked to Tate in five years.”

Burrell on the situation:

“It’s very sad to see it happen. You don’t know if he’s innocent, guilty until the trial … It’s sad to be in that situation. The last time I saw him, he said it wasn’t true. He sent an email to a lot of us saying it wasn’t true. So, we’ll see what happens.”

*** Sticks says he’s heading to Canada in a few weeks to play professionally for the Moncton Miracles of the National Basketball League of Canada.

Here’s Sticks talking about Calhoun as a “father figure”:

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Big Weekend for UConn Recruiting Visits

UConn has a trio of recruits in on visits this weekend.

That's Sam Cassell, Jr., son of the former longtime NBA guard and a former UConn recruit before committing to Maryland, then being ruled a non-qualifier and spending a year at a JUCO.

That's Ray Kasongo, a 6-foot-9 power forward out of Canada via Phase 1 Academy in Arizona. Could be a real diamond-in-the-rough for the Huskies.

And JaQuan Lyle, a recent Louisville de-commit out of Huntington Prep in West Virginia is also slated to be on campus.

We'll have updates this weekend if any of the above players commits to UConn, and if we hear any details on how their visits went (doesn't every recruit say he enjoyed his visit, though?).

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Calhoun Dinner, Husky Run, First Practice: Busy Week for UConn Coming Up

Sick of the NFL yet? I am. And it doesn't look like college football season's going to hold much interest around these parts -- at least after Saturday.

So what better time to remind you that the men's college basketball season actually gets underway a week from tomorrow. Well, practices, anyway. A new NCAA rule allows teams to practice 30 times in the 42 days leading up to the first day of the men's college hoops season, which this year is Nov. 8. So teams can start practicing on Friday, Sept. 27 -- although UConn may well opt to start the following day.

In fact, the Huskies -- like most teams -- will likely ease their way into the season and not overwork their players in the early goings, so as to ensure they're still fresh by the time March rolls around.

*** UConn basketball starts taking the forefront on Sunday, when Jim Calhoun is honored in the "Heart of a Champion: A Tribute to Jim Calhoun" event at Gampel. Tickets to the event are $125 and proceeds go toward the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the UConn Health Center, as well as the building of the new practice facility. Many former UConn greats are expected to be there, and ticket sales seem to be going pretty well to this point.

The event begins with a reception from 4-5 p.m., followed by the dinner and program from 5-8 p.m. Susan Herbst, Warde Manuel, Calhoun and former players are among those expected to speak at the dinner.

*** UConn's annual Husky Run will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 25, starting at 2:30 p.m. at the East Entrance of Gampel. First Night festivities won't be held until Friday, Oct. 18, per usual (despite the earlier start to practices).

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

UConn Inquiring About Devonte' Graham

UConn is looking at another point guard who would, ostensibly, join the team for 2014-15.

Devonte' Graham, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Raleigh, N.C. is currently at Brewster Academy. He signed with Appalachian State last fall, but in February requested a release from his national letter-of-intent. That was denied, as was his appeal, so he opted to do a postgraduate year at Brewster.

(Photo by Greg Mintel, Raleigh News-Observer)

"He could have done the easy thing, what kids have done for a long time, and withdrawn from class (at Raleigh's Broughton High), which would make him a non-qualifier and a fifth-year senior at Brewster, and his letter-of-intent would have been voided," Brewster coach Jason Smith said.

Instead, Graham graduated from Broughton and is taking a full load of courses at Brewster with hopes that he's released from his LOI at some point by Appalachian State. He has one more appeal, but if it is rejected again by the school, Graham would have to sit out next year at whatever school he ends up going to.

Smith doesn't know for sure why Appalachian State is preventing his release, though he believes the school feels Graham had been tampered with following his commitment last September.

UConn, Providence, Pittsburgh and URI are the schools that have expressed interest in him, but none can talk to Graham directly yet because he hasn't been released from his LOI. UConn has been up to Brewster to see him once, and has been checking in with Smith periodically to see what Graham's situation is.

"He's very athletic, explosive," Smith said. "He shot the ball extremely well yesterday and the day before. He had a great summer, as well. He played in the North Carolina pro-am and was named player of the year for high school/prep kids."

Which leads to the question: no disrespect to Appalachian State, but, well ... why did he wind up committing to Appalachian State?

"He wasn't really sure how the recruiting process worked," Smith explained. "His only visit to App. State was early in September, and the coaches did their best job to get the player to commit, put a little pressure on him."

Graham committed on his visit and never visited anywhere else. He had been slated to visit URI last fall.

As for where Graham may have interest in going, Smith isn't sure right now.

"He's just a little bit stressed out about the whole App. State situation," the coach said. "He's uneasy not knowing how his future's going to lie."

*** Graham isn't the only Brewster Academy player that UConn has interest in. The Huskies have offered 2015 guard Donovan Mitchell, who recently transferred from the Canterbury School in Connecticut and whose mother recently moved to Connecticut. UConn is one of the first schools to offer Mitchell; BC, PC, St. John's are others, and Maryland is coming to see him today.

Mitchell, a 6-3 guard who hails from Elmhurst, N.Y., has been compared favorably to Ben Gordon by a few coaches who've seen him, Smith said.

The Huskies are also interested 6-8 2015 forward Jared Reuter.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 16, 2013

Terry Larrier 'On the Fence' Between UConn, VCU

Sounds like Terry Larrier, the 6-foot-7 small forward out of the Bronx, is legitimately torn between UConn and VCU.

"I think he's on the fence," said Jeremy Pridgen, who coaches and trains Larrier's AAU team, Team SCAN. "If he could give half of himself to one, half of himself to the other, he'd do it."

But Pridgen added: "I think he pretty much knows what he wants to do. It's more of a situation of, 'How am I gonna call this one coach and tell him I'm not coming?' He's gonna fit in great, wherever he goes."

Larrier's decision could come over the next few days. If he lands in Storrs, Kevin Ollie is getting a good one that could offset some of the misses (Abdul Malik Abu, Quentin Snider, Paul White) the Huskies have had over the past couple of weeks.

"He's one of the best kids we've had in the program," Pridgen said. "He's come so far in a very short amount of time. He's worked hard, grown a few inches, and has come far. And he's got so much further to go.

"He's got a lot of talent. He's hungry, too. When you put those two things together, he can actually do it."

Pridgen compares Larrier to DeAndre Daniels, except "Terry is a much better shooter." He noted that VCU head coach Shaka Smart has been "on him from minute-one. He's been on him really hard."

However, Pridgen added, "UConn is creeping up on him."

Larrier visited Storrs a few weeks ago.

"That meeting went well," Pridgen said. "He loves Rudy Gay. He sees himself fitting in there really well ... He looks at UConn's wings like him -- long and lanky -- and who made it to the next level. And he likes Coach Ollie. He thinks he's going to have it rockin' like when (Jim) Calhoun was there."

Now, it's just a matter of making a very tough decision.

"He loves Kevin, he loves Shaka," Pridgen reported. "He loved Billy (Donovan, Florida's coach), too, but he hasn't really been on him like the other two."

Whatever the decision, one thing is certain: UConn definitely has a fan in the Team SCAN ranks in Pridgen. And that could help in the future with a kid like Thomas Bryant, a 6-9 Class of 2015 power forward, or even (way down the road) Tremont Waters, a Class of 2017 point guard who played for Team SCAN and is now at South Kent School ... and who happens to hail from New Haven.

"When they start winning this year, all the (Class of) 2015 kids are gonna be like, '(Ollie) really lets those guards play,'" Pridgen said. "Once he puts one of his own guys in the league, when they see the kind of year Shabazz (Napier) and Ryan (Boatright) are gonna have, they're going to be very intrigued about going there. UConn is gonna do very well."

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tate George on Trial for Wire Fraud

It's Tate George vs. Brevin Knight on trial in New Jersey, where George faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud.

Labels: ,

In-Homes with Paul White, Devin Robinson for UConn; Bonzie Colson Will Also Visit Temple

A tinge of recruiting news as UConn picks up the pieces following Abdul Malik Abu's commitment to NC State:

*** It appears Bonzie Colson's visit to UConn on Oct. 11 will be an unofficial one. Why? Because it's a simple, two-hour drive from St. Andrew's School in Barrington, R.I. (my hometown) to Storrs. Might as well save your officials for visits that involve plan flights and overnight stays.

Colson will also take an unofficial to Temple shortly after the UConn visit.

He's leaving his fifth and final official visit open. As it stands, he's already visited Pitt, will be at Florida State this weekend, Notre Dame at the end of the month and Miami on Oct. 4-6.

St. Andrew's coach Mike Hart says Colson is still "wide-open" in his recruitment. Glen Miller was at St. Andrew's on Monday.

*** UConn will be making an in-home visit with Paul White on Wednesday. White is slated for an official visit Sept. 27-29.

*** The Huskies are also still on for an in-home with Devin Robinson on Sept. 17. Robinson is slated for an official on Oct. 18-20, meaning he'll be at UConn's First Night festivities.

*** According to Adam Zagoria at, JUCO guard Jeff Newberry is slated to visit UConn in the next week or two.

*** According to Josh Gershon at FOX Sports/, Kevin Ollie checked out Los Angeles's Chance Comanche, a Class of 2015, 6-10 center, on Monday.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tyler Olander Suspended by UConn After DUI Arrest

UConn senior forward Tyler Olander has been suspended indefinitely from the men’s basketball team after a DUI arrest Saturday night.

According to the state police in Tolland, Olander was pulled over on Rte. 195 on Saturday at 10:49 p.m. He failed a field sobriety test and was charged with operating under the influence, operating an unregistered motor vehicle and operation of a motor vehicle in violation of license classification.

The latter charge, according to a source, stems from Olander not having a driver's license at all. Not a suspended license or a misplaced license -- no license at all. Olander was driving a friend's car.

A court date will likely be held in a couple of weeks.

It’s the second time in the span of six months that Olander has run into trouble. The Mansfield product was arrested while on spring break last March in Panama City, Fla. on trespassing charges. The charges were eventually dropped and he was accepted into a diversionary program, but he was stripped of his captaincy by coach Kevin Ollie and barred from the locker room and team activities for a month, Olander told the Register last month.

“Basically, all the UConn people were staying in two hotels,” he said of the March 21 incident. “You needed a wrist band to get in the hotel. My girlfriend was in the hotel, I wanted to get up there with her and it was past the hour, so they wouldn’t let me up.”

Olander said Ollie had told him he could win back his captaincy at some point. Safe to say, that's not going to happen now.

Olander is the second UConn player to be suspended indefinitely from the team in the past seven months. Enosch Wolf was suspended last February after a domestic incident with his girlfriend. He missed the remainder of the season, and his suspension was eventually lifted in June. However, he would have had to come back as a non-scholarship player, and Wolf elected to play professionally in Germany instead.

*** Anyway, I was on my way to Storrs at the time when UConn first sent out its email about Olander's suspension. My plan had been to watch some players and talk to them about the upcoming season (practices start in a little over two weeks!), but obviously got side-tracked.

To hold you over, here's some video of the team in pick-up games. Here, Kentan Facey takes the ball outside and doesn't pass to Amida Brimah, despite his pleas. Terrence Samuel winds up getting the ball and taking it to the hole, missing the layup. Brimah grabs the offensive board but is rejected by Phil Nolan:

And here, Lasan Kromah hits a lane fallaway jumper:

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

UConn Has 9 Current Pros, Some of Them Future Stars. UConn Baseball, That Is

This is a basketball blog, obviously, but I'm guessing there are some people who peruse this site who take some interest in the UConn baseball team, as well -- or, at the very least, enjoy hearing about anything good about any UConn sport.

With that in mind, I present my final Minor League Notes column of the summer,which takes a look at the wealth of UConn talent in professional baseball right now -- some of whom are knocking at the door to the bigs and, in a few cases, potential stardom.

No fewer than nine players from the 2010 UConn baseball team are all in the pro ranks right now and all have had at least a small measure of success. It's not out of the question that at least a half-dozen of these kids are in the majors within the next couple of years.

Leading the way, of course, is George Springer. Quite simply, he's had one of the greatest seasons in the history of minor-league baseball. But when his Triple-A season ended the other night, four of his Oklahoma City teammates were promoted to Houston (if being sent to Houston can be called a promotion), but not Springer.

I understand that there are concerns about starting his arbitration clock too early, meaning, in a nutshell, he would be in danger of becoming more expensive, earlier, for the skinflint Astros -- and also possibly hit free agency earlier. I get it. But for a team like Houston, one of the worst teams in the history of the sport, wouldn't it engender some goodwill with its already alienated fanbase to bring the young prospect up for a couple of weeks, let him get a few ABs, get his feet wet, maybe even sell a few -- not a lot, but a few -- extra tickets?

Of course that would make sense. But then, we're talking about a franchise that allegedly is the most profitable in baseball, thanks in large part to a paltry $13 million payroll and the owners pocketing their profits.

Absurd. Send the kid up.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Abdul Malik-Abu: 'UConn Was Definitely a Place I Saw Myself Going to"

Abdul Malik Abu held a joint press conference with fellow AAU teammate Jared Terrell to announce their college decisions. As you likely know by now, Abu didn't choose UConn.

With the caps of UConn, Providence, Florida and NC State sitting before him at the table, Abu jokingly swiped the Oklahoma State cap in front of Terrell, while Terrell swiped the NC State hat and put it on their respective heads. Laughter erupted and the two quickly switched caps. Abu had selected NC State, while Terrell (who didn't have UConn in his final four) chose Oklahoma State.

Asked about how he felt about UConn, Abu said: "They were real close. Kevin Ollie's a great man. He might have been one of my favorite head coaches in this whole thing, if not the favorite. He's a real guy, a friendly guy, real personable. UConn was definitely a place I saw myself going to, but I was more comfortable with the decision I made. I'm grateful they were recruiting me in the first place."

As Jim Calhoun liked to say ... "Next guy ..."

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 5, 2013

UConn Unveils Sites for its Home Games This Season

UConn has determined the sites for all but one of its home games this season. Everything's at either Gampel or XL, except a Dec. 28 game against Eastern Washington. That's likely to be the game at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. Negotiations are ongoing.

Elsewhere, the annual Husky Run is likely to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 25, as practices can begin on Friday, Sept. 27. That doesn't mean they will, however, as Kevin Ollie may decide to start practice the following day.

First Night festivities will be on Friday, Oct. 18.

 Here's the press release:

Defending NCAA champion Louisville and perennial national power Florida will be at Gampel Pavilion, while new American Athletic Conference rival Memphis and Pac-12 contender Stanford will come to the XL Center during the 2013-14 UConn men’s basketball home schedule.

UConn will play 10 games on campus at Gampel Pavilion and nine games at the XL Center in Hartford, including an exhibition game at each. The Huskies will begin on Oct. 30 with an exhibition game at Gampel against Southern Connecticut State University, and follow that on Nov. 4 with an exhibition game at the XL Center against Concordia (of Chicago).

The regular-season opener will be part of a unique Veterans’ Day doubleheader with the NCAA championship UConn women’s team. On Monday, Nov. 11, the UConn men will play host to Yale at the XL Center at 3 p.m., followed by a game between the UConn women and Stanford at Gampel Pavilion at 7 p.m.

The first two games of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project will be held at Gampel on Nov. 14 and 17, against Detroit and Boston University, respectively.

Opponents also coming to Gampel are Florida (Dec. 2), Harvard (Jan. 8), UCF (Jan. 11), Louisville for an ESPN GameDay (Jan. 18), Houston (Jan. 30), Southern Methodist (Feb. 23), and Rutgers for the regular-season finale (March 5).

The opponents’ lineup for the XL Center following the Yale opener includes Loyola, Md. (Nov. 26), Maine (Dec. 6), Stanford (Dec. 18), Temple (Jan. 21), USF (Feb. 12), Memphis (Feb. 15), and Cincinnati (March 1).

The venue and time for the Dec. 28 game against Eastern Washington will be announced at a later date.

This will be the 25th season at Gampel Pavilion for UConn, which opened in January, 1990. The Huskies have an overall record of 149-23 (.866) at their on-campus home, including a 6-1 mark last season. UConn has played games at the XL Center, formerly the Hartford Civic Center, since the 1975-76 season, with a 233-85 (.733) overall record. Last season, the Huskies went 7-2 in Hartford.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bonzie Colson to Visit UConn Oct. 11-13

Bonzie Colson, Jr. will make an official visit to UConn Oct. 11-13. It will be his final official visit. He was at Pittsburgh this past weekend and will also take trips to Notre Dame, Miami and Florida State.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Abdul Malik Abu's College Choice Still a Mystery

Larry Lucchino was fond of saying, "There are no secrets in baseball."

The same can usually be said in the world of college basketball, particularly when it comes to recruiting. While players like to hold press conferences where they reveal the hat of the school they're choosing, or simply make the announcement on Twitter, usually their decisions are pretty well-known by that time.

But that's not the case with Abdul Malik Abu and Jared Terrell, who will announce their college decisions on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston. Rarely has there been so much intrigue and speculation about a decision by a prep player, particularly in the case of Abu. While Terrell's decision is far from certain, the growing speculation is that he'll go and play for Danny Hurley at URI, where the 6-foot-4 guard could see playing time immediately.

But Abu is an entirely different story, and it's his story that UConn fans are solely interested in (the Huskies didn't make Terrell's final four and, in fact, UConn never seriously recruited him. Kevin Ollie watched him play a lot this summer, but only because he was on Abu's AAU team).

Abu's final four schools are UConn, Florida, Providence and NC State, and depending on which recruiting "pundit" you talk to (or which fan base's message board you read), the 6-8 power forward could end up at any of the four.

For its part, UConn has no idea whether or not Abu will reveal a Husky cap on Saturday afternoon. There is a line of thinking that Florida could have a slight edge, as influences close to Abu seem to be pulling for the Gators (and late Tuesday came word that Abu may be at Florida right now for a visit). But that is pure speculation at this point, and if nothing changes over the next few days, his choice on Saturday will be a complete surprise.

Again, this doesn't happen very often. With AAU and high school coaches, friends, "influences," family members, etc., usually some sort of word gets out about where a kid's likely to go. Case in point: Pascal Chukwu, the Fairfield Prep 7-footer who announced via Twitter last week that he'll be taking his talents to PC, kept his recruitment famously close to the vest. But even at the time of his announcement, it was pretty much assumed he would go to either PC or St. Joseph's, two small, Catholic schools where his guardian (an Iona alum) felt Chukwu would be more comfortable. Heck, his guardian's niece is a captain on the PC soccer team.

While UConn certainly wanted Chukwu, it had seemed pretty obvious from the start that the Huskies weren't going to land him. He never even got to Storrs for an unofficial visit (just to Hartford for a few games).

Abu is a different story. UConn obviously wants Abu, a desperately-needed physical, rebounding power forward who now attends Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire. The question is, does he want UConn? No one knows, or at least no one's saying.

If the Huskies miss on Abu, their hopes will likely lie in Paul White, a versatile 6-9 forward out of Chicago, or Bonzie Colson, Jr., a 6-5 (maybe) forward out of New Bedford, Mass. and St. Andrew's School.

White listed UConn among his final five, along with Arizona, DePaul, Minnesota and Georgetown. But according to a report, White is re-opening his recruitment, as more schools are showing interest in him. As of now, he's still planning on visiting Storrs on Sept. 27.

Colson, who made an unofficial to UConn back in June, has called the Huskies a "dream school." He will make an official visit to Storrs on Oct. 11-13. He visited Pitt over the past weekend and also is slated to go to Notre Dame, Florida State and Miami, as well.

He's also a vastly undersized power forward, but he has the will and the motor to be a successful college player -- an overachiever that could fit well in the Ollie mold.

(For those wondering about Terry Larrier, who visited UConn recently, he is viewed strictly as a small forward, not a power forward).

UConn missed on Chukwu. It could miss on Abu, White and Colson. If so, it would likely be viewed as a disaster. But it's easy to forget that the Huskies have already added Daniel Hamilton, a national top-50 recruit, and Rodney Purvis, an NC State transfer and former McDonald's All-American, for the 2014-15 season. And they will continue to monitor and recruit Hamilton this season as if he hasn't committed.

One more thing to add: the entire recruiting process has really gotten silly. Sillier than ever, it seems. The idea that fans -- grown men, usually -- would post on message boards or, worse, send Tweets to recruits begging them to come to the school they root for is beyond ridiculous. That they'll rip these kids -- 17 and 18-year-old kids, we might add -- if they don't choose their school is infantile and sickening. It's like they're personally insulted if a kid doesn't pick their team.

Yes, as a member of the media, I suppose I'm part of the same hypocrisy. I follow many recruits on Twitter and try to contact them and their parents or coaches from time to time to see where their decision process is at. It's part of the job -- not one I always feel particularly good about -- but obviously something that has to be done in this day and age.

But lately, I've had people ask me to predict where Abu is going to go. Sorry, I don't get into the game of predicting what's going on in the minds of any 17 or 18-year-old kid, much less one I've never met. I'll leave that to others.

Anyway, we'll all find out on Saturday at 3 p.m. Should be interesting.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 1, 2013

NCAA Stupidity Strikes Again

For those trying to predict how the NCAA will rule on Kentan Facey, don't waste your time. It's impossible to figure out how the NCAA will rule in any case.

Case in point: Rutgers' Kerwin Okoro, whose transfer waiver request has been denied by the NCAA. Okoro, a Bronx product, left Iowa State for Rutgers to be closer to his family after his father and brother in the span of two months last year.

But apparently, that wasn't good enough for the NCAA to allow him to play for the Scarlet Knights right away. Meanwhile, Johnny Football gets to run around and be an idiot all season (oops, sorry, except for one half of one game).

What a pathetic, moronic and corrupt organization.

Labels: , ,