Sunday, July 28, 2013

A.J. Price Likes the Potential of Kentan Facey, Amida Brimah (Who Resembled Two Ex-UConn Players on Sunday)

Went to check out Kentan Facey and Amida Brimah square off against each other at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am Sunday evening. Both players, without question, need to put on weight and get stronger. Both are a bit raw, and it all was exposed against the older, bigger, stronger competition at Crosby High (including Edmund Saunders, who is pushing 300 pounds but still has some game. More on that later).

From where I was sitting, Facey is definitely the more polished player right now. He blocked a couple of shots, grabbed some boards and made a couple of inside baskets, finishing with five points. Brimah outscored him with nine, but was definitely more raw and mistake-prone. There was a nice reverse layup and a couple of easy dunks, but also a dropped pass on a breakaway and had some happy feet in the lane.

I asked A.J. Price (who poured in 31 points, including seven 3-pointers) if he saw similarities between Brimah and Hasheem Thabeet when Thabeet was a freshman.

“Without a doubt," Price said. "You hate to compare somebody to somebody, but that’s the first thing you see. I watched Hasheem be the same way when he first came here, not really knowing how to use his body, know how big he is. He has the same problems right now, but he has a good basketball IQ, which is unteachable. I think once he gets in there with the coaching staff, he’ll be fine.”

There was another UConn player with whom Brimah shared an unfortunate similarity on Sunday. With about seven seconds left, Brimah tossed up a wild, midcourt shot, thinking time was expiring. It was pure Roscoe Smith. Everybody had a good laugh about it, including (much to his credit) Brimah.

“I thought the time was over, so I put it up before time (was over)," he explained, with a smile.

Added Facey: "We know we’re not going to have a chance to take that shot unless we have like a second left in a regular game at UConn. If he had realized it, he would have made a smarter play.”

It's interesting: Facey and Brimah are good friends. They share a lot of similarities: both have lived in the U.S. for about three years (Facey's from Jamaica, Brimah from Ghana), both have three sisters ... and both could be battling for minutes at center for UConn come mid-October.

A few weeks ago, Kevin Ollie told me and a couple of other reporters that, essentially, Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun and DeAndre Daniels were going to be in his starting lineup. That basically just leaves the five position, with improving Phil Nolan and veteran Tyler Olander (coming off a disappointing season) likely the front-runners. But Facey and Brimah will certainly try to be in the mix, as well.

“That’s why we’re all here, that’s why we play the game, to be the best we can best we can be and be in a good situation," Facey said.

I jokingly asked Facey who got the better of whom on Sunday, but he wasn't kidding with his answer.

“Today, I feel like I had a more all-around game. Amida probably had two or four more points, but I feel like I had a better game all-around.”

Can't disagree with him there.

Price, a Long Island native, actually played with Facey a few times at Long Island Lutheran (Facey's alma mater) the past two summers.

"I think he’ll have a good career," Price said. "He’s gotten better since I saw him.”

As for Brimah: “The big fella has a lot of potential. I think when he gets with Coach Ollie and they teach him how to use his size and be effective as he can, I think he’ll be very good.”

*** After playing his first three seasons with the Indiana Pacers and last year with the Washington Wizards, A.J. Price is an NBA free agent. His agent, Cheshire's Jeff Schwartz, is in the process of looking for potential fits for him.

Price is proud of his career to this point.

“Considering how I came into the league, 52nd pick, not a lot of 52nd picks make teams," he said. "So just to make my first team was an accomplishment in itself. I think it took a couple of years to get acclimated to the NBA style, but I think now I have more of a grasp on it and I’m just eager to get with somebody this season to show what I can do.”

*** Saunders added nine points in Sunday's victory, and was able to get his large frame in the air for a pair of late-game dunks -- one of them an alley-oop.

*** Facey is looking forward to getting some more instruction from the coaching staff in the ensuing weeks.

"Everything’s going tremendous," he said. "Classes are great, workouts are good. We get to work out with coaches now because they’re going to be back from the live period, so we’re going to be able to work out with them more than we have the past couple of weeks.”

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Friday, July 26, 2013

UConn-Maryland at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at Barclays Center

UConn's season-opening game on Nov. 8 against Maryland at the Barclays Center will tip off at 6:30 p.m. Here's the press release from UConn:

The University of Connecticut, in conjunction with  Barclays Center, the University of Maryland, the University of Louisville, and ESPN, has announced the starting times of two major sporting events taking place on the same night this fall.
On Friday, Nov. 8, the Huskies will open their 2013-14 men’s basketball season against Maryland at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2. It will be the first meeting between the nationally-known hoop programs since March, 24, 2002, when they battled in the NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinals.
Immediately following that game, at a starting time of 8:30 p.m., the UConn football team will entertain Louisville in an American Athletic Conference game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. That game will also be televised on ESPN2.
Tickets for the UConn vs. Maryland college basketball game at Barclays Center are on sale now and available through Ticketmaster by visiting or, or by calling 800-745-3000. Group tickets are also available by calling 800-GROUP-BK.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

UConn to Face SCSU on Oct. 30

OK, it's not exactly like adding Kansas to the schedule, but it's interesting on a local front: UConn will face Southern Connecticut State in an exhibition game on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. Currently, the site is to be determined, but it's likely either to be Gampel or the XL Center, not Bridgeport.

SCSU has played UConn in one regular-season game in its history, and it didn't work out well for the Owls: a 100-37 Husky victory. That was back when Division 1 teams would occasionally play D-2 teams in regular-season contests. That doesn't happen anymore.

It's not believed that the two programs have ever met in an exhibition game before.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Terrence Samuel Will Wait Until Fall to Start Classes at UConn

Terrence Samuel was supposed to have been up in Storrs by now, taking summer courses with fellow incoming freshmen Kentan Facey and Amida Brimah. However, he is back home in Brooklyn and won't likely arrive on campus for classes until the end of August for the start of the fall semester.

There may be some sort of issue with one of his high school courses. It's not exactly clear what the issue is, but it doesn't appear to be anything serious. There seems to be some communication issues with his former high school guidance counselor, which has slowed the process.

But I spoke to Samuel this morning and he is upbeat and excited to start his UConn career. It'll just have to start about 1 1/2 months later than he originally had planned.

UConn's second-session summer courses began on July 15.

*** UConn is also apparently doing its due diligence on Rodney Purvis, who had some academic issues prior to his freshman season last year at NC State. Purvis was allowed to play, so there are obviously no eligibility issues. UConn is just being extra careful and looking into the explanation as to why Purvis was, indeed, allowed to play last season.

No reason to make a big deal out of any of this. UConn should be commended for its diligence.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Look at 10 of UConn's Most Coveted Recruits

Kevin Ollie & Co. are currently in the midst of their firstJuly recruiting period with Ollie as head coach

For the first time in a while, UConn has four guys out on the road recruiting – Ollie, Glen Miller, Karl Hobbs and Ricky Moore. Teams are only allowed three people out recruiting per day, but staffs can rotate so that one guy is on the road but not recruiting on a given day while the other three are at events.

The July recruiting period has been a bit different this year, with five days on then two off over a three-week span. Coaches could recruit from July 10-14, July 17-21 and, now, July 24-28. UConn has been well-represented at events like the NIKE Global Challenge in Washington, D.C., and the Peach Jam down in South Carolina.

The Huskies have famously been in on seemingly dozens and dozens of Class of 2014 recruits, but obviously have more interest in some than others. With so many questions and possibilities of graduations and defections to the NBA after this season, UConn isn’t so much focusing on specific positions but, rather, high-level, high-character kids.

And with a bountiful Class of 2015 harvest (particularly at point guard) looming in the not-too-distant future, the Huskies aren’t overly concerned with filling all 13 scholarships for the 2014-15 season. They’re more concerned about bringing in quality players who fill needs – preferably versatile players like Daniel Hamilton, an NBA-talent who can play all three guard positions, and Rodney Purvis, who can also play the 1, 2 or even 3. Hamilton has already committed to the Huskies, and Purvis has transferred from NC State but won’t be eligible to play until ’14-15.

Here’s an incomplete list of 10 recruits, in no particular order, whom UConn has prioritized:

Pascal Chukwu, 7-foot-2 center, Fairfield Prep -- Very high on the Huskies' wish list. The Nigerian native and his host family have been extremely close to the vest about his recruitment. However, he recently noted that UConn, Providence and St. John's are three of the schools that have shown the most interest in him. Chukwu has made several unofficials to UConn. The thought is he'll stay close to home.

Kelly Oubre, 6-6 small forward, Findlay Prep -- High-scoring, strong-shooting 3-man has stated that "UConn is coming at me the hardest." 

Abdul Malik-Abu, 6-7 power forward, Kimball Union --- One of the Class of 2014's top big men; a strong, 235-pound specimen who's a very impressive rebounder.

Goodluck Okonoboh, 6-9 forward, Wilbraham & Monson --- rates him as the best shot-blocker in his class.

Leron Black, 6-7 power forward, Memphis, TN --- Baylor decommit has said UConn, Florida, Illinois, NC State and Ohio State have been coming at him the hardest.

Josh Perkins, 6-3 point guard, Huntington Prep --- UConn's most coveted Class of 2014 point guard has said he'll announce his decision on Aug. 25 -- but not before a visit to Storrs.

Kameron Chatman, 6-7 small forward, Long Beach, CA --- An AAU teammate of Daniel Hamilton.

Devin Robinson, 6-8 power forward, Christchurch, VA. --- It appears UConn and Indiana hold the edge in his recruitment.

Terry Larrier, 6-7 small forward, Malvern, PA --- In the process of moving out to the wing full-time.

Bonzie Colson, Jr., 6-5 power forward, St. Andrew's -- UConn is definitely intrigued by son of former URI player, who made an unofficial to Storrs last month, but there's concern about his height (which is closer to 6-4). He has not been offered a scholarship yet.

Other recent recruits like Jared Terrell and Ahmed Hill aren't happening.

*** In other news: A night after Kemba Walker and A.J. Price teamed up on Kemba's All-Stars (along with UConn incoming frosh Amida Brimah) for an exciting night of GHPA action on Saturday, Price was at it again for the All-Stars on Sunday. Price had 33 points and nine rebounds, but it wasn't enough to prevent a 95-86 loss to PPF Graphics. Recent UConn alum R.J. Evans added 22 points and seven boards in the losing cause.

On Monday, Harte Nissan takes on Fairview Capital at 6:30 p.m., followed by Hot 937 All-Stars facing PPF Graphics at 8:15 p.m.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

UConn to Face BC on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.

UConn will play Boston College in the semifinals of the 19th annual 2K Sports Classic on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

It'll be the first time UConn plays BC since Jan. 5, 2005 (a 75-70 loss in Hartford). The Huskies are 54-35 all-time against the Eagles, including wins in 28 of the last 31 match-ups.

The winner will face the winner of Indiana-Washington the following night. The consolation game will be played at 5 p.m.

The complete bracket (including UConn's first two opponents in the event, in games played in Stors) will be announced later.

Phil Nolan Chosen for US All-Star Team

Phil Nolan has been named to the East Coast All-Stars team, which will play for the 2013 Four Nations Cup held in Tallinn, Estonia July 25-27. The team will face the top FIBA National teams of Belarus, Estonia and the Slovak Republic.

Here's the roster:  (Roster providing additional information is attached and available at

Russ Smith Louisville
Eron Harris West Virginia
Mike Gbinije Syracuse
Jarrodd Uthoff Iowa
Jabrille Williams Binghamton
Phillip Nolan UConn
Kadeem Batts Providence
Tate Unruh Northern Colorado
Rakeem Christmas Syracuse
Tom Knight Notre Dame
Mike Rudy Lycoming
Justin Miller Lycoming

Head Coach: Guy Rancourt
Assistant Coach: Ken Hamanaka

And here's how you can follow the team's progress: Go to , follow us on Twitter @East_Coast_BBC or on Facebook EastCoastAllStarsBasketballClub.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

A.J. Price Scores 20 in Greater Hartford Pro-Am Loss

From today's Greater Hartford Pro-Am:

2013 GHPA B-Ball Showcase - Scores
Sunday July 14th 3pm
Final Score:
Pauly Chute Slamm 96         Cambyland 88
Top Players:
Ken Horton: 23 points, 11 rebounds        (France/Euro Pro League, CCSU alum.)
 Bobby Moore: 18 points                              (CT Topballererz/ABA)
Anthony Jernigan: 25 points, 7 rebounds (Monroe College, NY)
Charles Easterling: 19 points, 11 rebounds (Hartford Lightning/ACPBL)
Sunday July 14th 5pm
All Faith Angels 98                 Kemba's All-Stars  86
Top Players:
 Marcus James: 34 points, 9 rebounds (Sam Houston St.)
Gerald Carter: 20 points            (Marist Univ. alum.)
AJ Price: 20 points, 6 assists (NBA Washington Wizards)
Kyle Vinales: 18 points, 5 rebounds (CCSU)
Monday July 15th
6:30pm: Cambyland vs All Faith Angels
8:15pm:  Pauly Chute Slamm vs Harte Nissan


George Springer Could Be UConn's Best Young Pro

What if the next great professional athlete out of UConn wasn't Andre Drummond, Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb ... or even a basketball player at all?

What if it's George Springer, the New Britain product and 2011 first-round pick by Houston? It certainly could be. Check out these minor-league numbers this season between Double-A and Triple-A: .315, 26 homers, 72 RBI, 28 steals in 90 games. Here's Springer taking BP and talking at Sunday's Futures Game at Citi Field (he went 1-for-3, beating out an infield single and nearly breaking the glass windows of the third-deck Acela Club with a foul-ball home run):

I didn't have the heart to tell him I've got him on my Fantasy Baseball team. Or current Rock Cat Miguel Sano, either. I shouldn't be in last place in coming years.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Report: Enosch Wolf to Sign with German Pro Team

It appears Enosch Wolf's days as a UConn Husky are over.

According to Sportando, Wolf has agreed to terms with Telekom Baskets Bonn. An official announcement is expected soon.

Wolf had been given the option to returning to UConn, but only as a non-scholarship player. The cost to the 7-foot-1 German would have been prohibitive: upwards of $50,000. The coaching staff has long assumed Wolf would not be returning.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Shabazz Napier Aiming to Be Better at Everything Next Season

Ultimately for Shabazz Napier, his decision to remain at UConn for his senior season had nothing to do with potential draft status or injuries or anything else. It simply came down to a promise he made to his mother.

(Here's a story on UConn's terrific backcourt tandem in the Register)

"The biggest thing is getting a degree, walking across that stage," Napier said on Thursday. "My mother told me I promised her that, and I kept my promise. There was nothing else. My mother's been a single parent for 27 years. The closest bond I can have is with my mother. I promised her something, and I'm not gonna go behind her back."

Napier, of course, announced his decision nearly three months ago.  After participating at the NIKE Point Guard Skills Camp a couple of weeks ago with Ryan Boatright in Union, N.J., and at the LeBron James Skills Academy earlier this week, Napier is back in Storrs working on his summer courses. He said he's on track to graduate after the fall semester with a degree in sociology.

Despite a sterling junior season in which he led the Huskies in scoring, assists and clutch shots and was actually second in rebounding (!), Napier is still looking to get better. He said he learned a lot about how he can improve at LeBron's camp.

“It was good, a new learning experience," he said. "(I learned) how better I need to be to become as good as I want, learned a lot from myself, coaches, asked a lot of questions, being out there with group of talented players.”

“I think I need to improve on being a leader. You can never not improve on being a leader. I can definitely improve my defensive aggressiveness, get better on defense, better at shooting. There were a lot of things last year that a lot of people said I did well, but can always improve on and get better. Nothing can be perfect, but when strive to be perfect, you can be as good as you can be."

Napier believes the Huskies can be "tremendously good" next season.

"Our agenda needs to be the same as it was last year," he said.

With no postseason to play for, the Huskies really bought into the team concept last season, playing for their school, their coaches and each other. Could they lose that edge next year -- especially with a few players who harbor NBA draft dreams for next June?

"It's possible we may lose that edge," Napier admitted. "But hopefully, the guys will have the same mindset. If not ... that's what coaches are for."

And team leaders. And Shabazz Napier is undoubtedly that, even if he knows he can become an even better one.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Will UConn Have Best Backcourt in College Basketball Next Season? Ryan Boatright Thinks So

Had a nice chat with Ryan Boatright today for a story I'm working on regarding UConn's backcourt.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of a better backcourt in America next season. I may be forgetting a team or two, but is there anyone who could actually top Boatright, Shabazz Napier and Omar Calhoun (along with incoming grad student Lasan Kromah and freshman Terrence Samuel)?

I tend to doubt it, and so does Boatright.

"I'll take my (backcourt) against any backcourt," he said.

Maybe the best evidence is the fact that UConn was the only school with two players (Boatright and Napier) at the recent NIKE Guard Skills Academy in Union, N.J.

"It was fun, I played well," Boatright reported. "It was just fun getting a good workout in, playing against other kids from the West Coast and different conferences, the top competition in the country. It's always fun going head-up with the best."

Boatright was a teammate of Napier's on the first day of camp, then went up against him the second day. Who got the best of whom?

"Of course I'm gonna say me," Boatright said with a laugh. "We both got each other's number."

Truth is, Boatright and Napier didn't always get along swimmingly when Boatright first got to UConn two seasons ago.

"We had our differences, like everybody, but we're good friends," he said. "We get along great on the court, we know each other in and out. Back when I was a freshman, like any freshman, you're gonna bump heads. But we're all good now, we're on the same page. We just want to win."

Boatright said he's expecting more big things from Calhoun this season, and is looking forward to playing with Samuel, whom he hasn't met yet.

"He's gonna get a chance to learn from two very experienced guards, me and Shabazz, who are both ready for the NBA," Boatright said.

Boatright said he's already gained 10 pounds since March (up to 175 pounds) and that he'll be playing the point more often than Napier next season.

"In the NBA, I'm gonna be a point guard, I'm not gonna be a two," he said. "My natural position is point guard, but I'm able to score. I can score at any level."

Boatright will finish up summer courses in Storrs this week and head back home to Aurora, Ill., where he'll play in the NIKE/Jordan Brand pro-am. He'll attend Chris Paul's CP3 camp for the second year in a row in August before returning to UConn.

Once October rolls around, Boatright will be ready to join forces with what could be the best backcourt in college basketball.

"We all just play together, we're not scared of anybody, especially me and Shabazz," Boatright said. "We've got a lot of heart. Heart will take you a long way."

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Tribute to Jim Calhoun at Gampel on Sept. 22

UConn will host “Heart Of A Champion: A Tribute To Jim Calhoun” on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013 at Gampel Pavilion. The event will pay tribute to Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun and his indelible mark on the UConn community and the entire state of Connecticut during his time as men’s basketball coach from 1986-2012.

The event will include a wide variety of speakers, including former Husky players from different eras of Coach Calhoun’s UConn career.

The cost for attending is $125 per person. Additional information on how to purchase tickets for “Heart of A Champion” will be announced in the near future.


Monday, July 8, 2013

No Memphis Blues in the American Athletic Conference

Someone's excited to be in The American.

The University of Memphis is producing a "By the Numbers" web page series on its athletics programs to introduce them to the media (and general public) over the next couple of weeks. It's first link, unveiled today, is on the Memphis football program. Included in the link is the schedule by which each program will be featured over the ensuing days. The men's basketball program will be featured July 19, for those interested (I'm always up for some good Keith Lee nostalgia. He was my favorite player back in the day).

And, of course, the Tigers' rifle program will be featured July 16, so mark your calendars.

In all seriousness, it's a nice, proactive thing Memphis is doing. Memphis does seem to be excited to be a part of this new conference, so that's kind of refreshing to see.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Warde Manuel Not Looking to Leave the American at This Point

Warde Manuel says UConn is done worrying about getting into a bigger, better conference.

There's no doubt in my mind that The American will be a good basketball conference -- for next season. But once Louisville leaves and the likes of Tulane, Tulsa and East Carolina arrive -- meh, not so much. Obviously, UConn will continue to keep its eyes and ears open in case the Big 10 or others come calling. But it may be a while.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Just Another Day at the Office for American Athletic Conference Commish Mike Aresco? Not Exactly

It wasn't necessarily just another day at the office today for Mike Aresco, the commissioner of the American Athletic Conference. While his office is the same -- complete with a large Big East Conference sign in the front office -- the league is very different. Aresco is very excited about The American's possibilities:

Here's some more of what Aresco had to say from his office this morning:

"It’s felt like we’ve already launched, in the sense that we’ve got the new name, the new logo. July 1 is more of an official date -- you note it on the calendar. The practical effect is that we have the four new teams come in."

"We look back at where we were in December and January. There were a lot of people who gave us no chance. They thought we would dissolve, or the whole thing would be come completely a litigious mess in every respect. They thought the Catholic 7 would devolve into that kind of situation. They thought that once we got that settled, we’d have a big fight over the money between the old and new schools and we wouldn’t have good cohesion between the newcomers and the core group. They thought UConn and Cincinnati, and maybe South Florida, wouldn’t buy into the new arrangement. And they have. UConn’s been one of our biggest supporters -- in private, too. People can’t see what goes on. Susan Herbst and Warde Manuel have been real champions of our effort."

"We have a really good, solid conference that can achieve some tremendous things if we do what we’re supposed to do. I wanted to make sure, back in those dark days, that this group of schools had a future. This is where they’re going to be. Realignment appears to be over. When things are going like this, you’ve just got to keep your head and take it one day at a time."

It's easy to forget that Louisville and Rutgers are actually bound to the AAC for two more years, though everyone -- including Aresco -- acknowledges that a negotiated agreement will be reached allowing them to leave before their required 27-month stay is over.

On Louisville being in the league for one more awkward season:

"I actually look at it in a positive way. I think it gives us a wind at our back, to have Louisville in for one more year, playing the good teams that we have, it’s going to make everybody better."

(on increased travel in the new league due to geography)

"With Olympic sports, not everybody plays the same sports. Olympic sports are more manageable than you think."

"UConn has Temple right down the road, it’ll have Navy right down the road, it’ll have Cincinnati not that far away. Then there are a cluster of schools where you can arrange scheduling. For football, it’s not a problem ... but with basketball, for instance, with the two Texas schools, two Florida schools, Memphis and Tulsa being close together, Memphis and Cincinnati not too far away. East Carolina is a little bit of an outlier, but not that bad. What we’re trying to do is figure out the twin visits, like the Pac-12 used to do and they might be going back to it."

"It’s funny, our footprint isn’t that different now than the Pac 12, if you look at all the way from Arizona up to Washington, down to southern California; if you look at the Big 10 now, from Nebraska, up to Minnesota, down to Rutgers and Maryland; from the tip of Florida all the way to Boston and Syracuse and Pittsburgh for the ACC. Those are significant distances they have to travel, for a number of schools."

(on AAC's potential strength in football)

"We think we’re closer to the other five. That’s how we feel, that’s how we’ve got to act. There’s no arrogance to that at all. That’s the last thing we are is arrogant. What we are is competitive, we know where we are, what we’ve been, the kind of teams we have."

"We think we’ve got the conference that can challenge those five. It’s our goal to be a challenger, to be a conference that’s talked about in the same breath as those schools. We understand we have a lot of work to do, and while we have really good schools with good histories and good tradition who play at a really high level, we don’t pretend to be the Big 10 or the SEC. Why would we? We understand what they are in terms of their branding and all. But we think we’re going to compete at a higher level, especially compared to some other conferences that we don’t necessarily think we have much in common with."

(on what Aresco, a Middletown, CT native and Xavier High grad, has heard from Connecticut friends about the new conference)

"It’s a mix, although for the most part, lately, it’s shifted to optimism. I think there was a great deal of skepticism before. I think losing the Big East name probably hit people pretty hard. But we’ve come up with a good name. I think there’s another factor here: I think UConn basketball will remain extremely strong, but UConn wants to also have a major football program, and I think it’s built a pretty darned good one over the years. I think Warde and Susan are focused on that, as well."