Sunday, November 30, 2014

My AP Top 25 this week

I very nearly did something I try never to do this week: Drop a team in my rankings after it went undefeated for the week.

I was very tempted to drop Wisconsin from No. 1 to No. 2, even though the Badgers beat UAB, Georgetown and Oklahoma to win the Battle 4 Atlantis (where UConn will be a year from now).

Not because of peer pressure – though five of the eight people who voted for Wisconsin as preseason No. 1 dropped it to No. 2 last week and replaced it with Kentucky, which has certainly looked dominant. No, I almost dropped Wisconsin because I started to think that Kentucky may simply be the better team. While I never try to drop a team that doesn’t lose, I realized this doesn’t have to be a steadfast rule. What if Wisconsin wins its next 30 games, and Kentucky does, too, while the Wildcats continue to look as dominant as they did against Kansas and, on Sunday, Providence? At what point do I simply admit UK is the better team and flip-flop the two of them?

But ultimately, I stuck with the Badgers at No. 1, for two reasons. For one, Georgetown and Oklahoma are both very good teams, and Wisconsin beat both on a neutral floor. (Though it took a furious comeback to beat the Hoyas. Had Georgetown won, my conflict of who to pick No. 1 this week would have been easily avoided).

The other reason is, Wisconsin plays Duke on Wednesday night. Granted, the game is in Madison, but if the Badgers win, they’ll prove they’re deserving of No. 1. And if they lose, they drop.

Meanwhile, Kentucky faces Texas (on Friday), North Carolina, UCLA and Louisville over the next few weeks. If the Wildcats win those games (or even most of them) in the same fashion they’ve beaten Kansas and Providence, they’ll move up to No. 1 on my ballot, no matter what Wisconsin or anybody else does.

As for UConn, it falls out of my Top 25 after consecutive losses to West Virginia and Sunday's painful loss to Texas. Obviously, this is a team that has some issues, though there are some things to like as well (defense, rebounding, Daniel Hamilton and, of course, Ryan Boatright). Husky fans can only hope Boatright’s injury isn’t too serious.

Granted, losing to consecutive Top 25 teams from the Big 12, one on a neutral court, the other on a last-second 3-pointer, isn't the end of the world for the Huskies. But clearly, this team is a work in progress.

This also means no AAC teams in my Top 25 this week. With UConn, SMU, Memphis and now Cincinnati off to shaky starts, last year’s success is quickly becoming a distant memory.

1.       Wisconsin
2.       Kentucky
3.       Arizona
4.       Duke
5.       Wichita State
6.       Louisville
7.       Texas
8.       Gonzaga
9.       Villanova
10.   North Carolina
11.   Kansas
12.   Virginia
13.   Iowa State
14.   San Diego State
15.   Miami
16.   Michigan
17.   Ohio State
18.   West Virginia
19.   Arkansas
20.   Michigan State
21.   Oklahoma
22.   Maryland
23.   Oklahoma State
24.   Butler
25.   Creighton

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UConn-Texas postmortem

Some notes, quotes and video from UConn's tough, 55-54 loss to Texas on Sunday. A painful loss for the Huskies, in more ways than one.:


(on how he first hurt his ankle with 5:58 left)

“We were fighting for a rebound in traffic, and I don’t know what happened, if I stepped on somebody’s foot or something.”

“If anybody knows me, you know I’m not gonna sit down. I was just trying to tough it out the last four minutes. For me, when I continued to play, when I put all that force on it to turn back the other way, it just gave out.”

(on being helpless while watching Jonathan Holmes' game-winning shot went in)

“Man, it was crazy, because when I rolled it and I was falling, I’m watching it the whole time. So it was like slow motion. As I’m watching the ball go through the air, I didn’t even feel my ankle, it was like numb. As soon as it went through the basket, it just shot straight through me. The pain was crazy. But, it was a great play, he made a tough shot. It’s basketball, you’ve got to live with it, get better and move on.”

(on status of his injury)

“I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’ll be back. It’s nothing major, to the point where I’ll miss 2-3 games. I don’t know if I’m gonna play Friday, but I’m gonna try my best to get back Friday.”


“I’m disappointed for them, because they worked very, very hard and should’ve won that game. But it was a great shot by Holmes, he’s a great player.”

“They’re wide-open shots. Somebody’s gonna have to step up and make some shots here if we’re gonna win some games.”

(on Boatright's ankle injury)

“Ryan is very meticulous about his body, so he’s gonna get in and rehab. He hates missing practice, so that’s one guy I’m not gonna be worried about him getting back on the court.”

(on whether he's "confident" Rodney Purvis will be back for Friday's Yale game)

“I’m not confident in anything. I’m gonna let my medical team address the situation. He’s gonna be in a boot, I don’t know how long. If he’s ready, he’s gonna be out there playing, hopefully like Rodney can play.”

(on Omar Calhoun)

“He had a good practice, but we just didn’t feel comfortable in him playing in this game. Hopefully, he gets another week off and he can come back for Yale. If he’s not ready for Yale, we’ve got a break for finals, and I imagine he’ll be ready for Coppin State.”


"The first look was to Myles (Turner) slipping to the basket, I’m guessing it wasn’t open. The second one was D-Holland screening for me in the corner. Connor (Lammert) did a really good job delivering the pass, and D did a really good job setting the screen.”

“Yeah, that’s about as good a look you’re gonna get with four seconds left.”


“I know how hard it is to come in here and win. You come in here and win, you’ve done something.”

“The only time we really listened to what we were asking for was on that last play.”


“In the huddle we said switch everything, but I guess the guy behind me didn’t know that they were setting a back screen on me and we were supposed to switch everything. My guy ended up getting the open shot. He just made a tough shot.”

“It’s real tough. I just think we’ve got to get in the gym and make shots. If we just make a couple more shots, we’ll be alright. I think going in, we’ve just got to get more time in the gym and continue to work on our game.”

“We most definitely should have won. We had the game won. It just came down to one shot and just miscommunication. If we had communicated, we would have won the game, because we played hard and we got after it.”

“I got back-screened and I guess we just got confused. He got open for a shot, and it was uncontested.”

(on whether he was able to talk to Barnes, who coached his older brother, Jordan, for two seasons)

“I actually tried to go in the beginning of the game and he didn’t want to shake my hand. I thought it was pretty crazy, but that’s how it goes sometimes, I guess.”

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Rick Barnes ruminates on UConn, Kevin Ollie

Rick Barnes spoke with the Connecticut media on a conference call Friday morning, in advance of Sunday's UConn-Texas battle at Gampel.

Here's some of what Barnes had to say:

(on how things have changed for the Longhorns with the loss of freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor, who broke his wrist last week and is out for a while)

“Not so much, with Javon (Felix) and DeMarcus Holland, they’be been here, they all do it a little bit different. We’ve tried to put a system in to help us when we have injuries, so it’s not built so much around one person. Isaiah's speed, his ability to get to the basket and create is a little different than how Javon does it. He moves the ball more than Isaiah ... The other night, DeMarcus did wonderful job running the system, staying in system. In terms of what we try to do, we haven’t changed that much."
(on what he thinks of UConn)

“You look at our team, we’re a big team, but we can play small if we have to. We’ve done a little bit of all of it. Look at our size, look at their guard play, perimeter play, we're gonna have to defend ball screens in halfcourt. We're gonna have to be able to guard the basketball. Ballscreen defense is very, very important. Handling their quickness, speed will be a major thing for us."

(on scheduling a tough non-conference slate each year)

"Dave Gavitt taught me a lot, and I'm very fortunate to have had him in my life. We played in the Big East tournament one year and he jumped on the bus and was riding back with us. I think at the time he was working with the (NCAA selection) committee. We're on the bus coming back, we had won a game in the Garden and were feeling pretty good. We were right on that bubble. Dave said to me, 'What are you prepared to tell your team if you don't get in the tournament.' I said, 'Are you telling me something I don't know or should know?' The next day, we didn't make the tournament."

"If you ever don't make it based on your non-league schedule, you have no one to blame but yourself. Since that day, we've tried to do that. There have been years I know we could've won more games. But playing against Connecticut, against Michigan State, North Carolina through the years, those games have helped us in more ways than you can imagine."

(his thoughts on Kevin Ollie)

"What I remember about him as a player: I was watching them on TV, they were in a tough game, and all I know is they inbounded the ball with eight, nine seconds on the clock and he took it the length of the floor, penetrated, drew the defense and kicked it out to Ray Allen, I think. Maybe it was Donny Marshall. I'm telling you, the very next game, we have a two-point lead, same situation I watched him just win a game. I said to Franklin Western, 'I know he's gonna push it,' and they did exactly what they did against the other tam. Franklin tried to stop him, he kicked it out and won the game."

(It should be noted that Barnes appears to have gotten the second half of the story wrong. Ollie made the last-second shot to beat PC in that game. I believe it was his only field goal of the game)

"Like all of Jim's teams back then, they fight, they compete. He was as a player the way he is as a coach. His personality, he's gonna compete and take care of business."

(on Daniel Hamilton, whose older brother, Jordan, played for Barnes at Texas)

"He's different, more athletic than Jordan. Just like Jordan, he's a competitor. He's gonna play. It'll be fun watching him grow. Kevin will do a great job with him. They're different players, Daniel and Jordan.

"I do remember on a home visit to Jordan, (Daniel) was on the top of the bunk bed, sleeping. Everybody told me he's gonna be a good one."

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Monday, November 24, 2014

My AP Top 25: Wisconsin stays No. 1; UConn stays ranked

I know, I know -- Kentucky is the greatest team ever assembled. The Wildcats can even beat the 76ers -- not this year's 76ers, mind you, but the 1983 76ers of Dr. J, Moses Malone and "fo, fo, fo."

Or not. Let's pump the breaks on Kentucky a little bit here, OK? Yes, the 'Cats looked great destroying Kansas by 32 points. Yes, they've got nine McDonald's All-Americans -- and that doesn't even include one of their best players, Willie Cauley-Stein.

But these are mostly freshmen and sophomores. They're kids. And this platoon system has the potential to blow up in John Calipari's face, if certain guys don't buy into the team concept as much as he'd like. Didn't we learn from last season, when people were talking about Kentucky going undefeated and it wound up a No. 8 seed for the NCAA tournament?

Kentucky's good, and maybe it will win the national title. But for now, the 'Cats stay at No. 2 on my ballot. I had Wisconsin No. 1 last week, and I'm not going to drop the Badgers after a week in which they won two games by 24 points each.

Elsewhere, we knock out SMU, Stanford, Syracuse and Memphis and welcome Miami, West Virginia, Creighton and Providence.

Tough week for the AAC. SMU got swamped by a very good Gonzaga team (on the road, admittedly) as well as Indiana. Memphis has somehow played just one game, and it wasn't pretty -- a 15-point loss to a very good Wichita State. And UConn lost in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tourney finals to West Virginia.

I drop the Huskies from No. 12 to 23, but they'd better be careful, with Texas coming to town on Sunday and Duke on the horizon a couple of weeks later.

My ballot:

1. Wisconsin
2. Kentucky
3. Arizona
4. Duke
5. Wichita State
6. North Carolina
7. Louisville
8. Texas
9. Iowa State
10. Gonzaga
11. Villanova
12. Kansas
13. Virginia
14. San Diego State
15. VCU
16. Michigan
17. Miami
18. Florida
19. Michigan State
20. Ohio State
21. Oklahoma
22. West Virginia
23. UConn
24. Creighton
25. Providence


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Four UConn players suspended for West Virginia game

Omar Calhoun, Rakim Lubin, Dan Guest and Marcel Lewis were suspended for Sunday night’s game due to a violation of team rules. Their status will be reevaluated when the Huskies return home.

Calhoun has been sidelined by a knee injury and wasn’t slated to play anyway, while Guest and Lewis are walk-ons. The Huskies could have used Lubin, a 6-foot-8, 260-pound freshman, against WVU’s physical front line, however.

*** Cheshire’s Pat Lenehan was with the team for Thursday’s win over Charelston but then left for a Rhodes Scholar interview over the weekend in New York. He was slated to return to the team on Sunday, but didn’t due to a death in the family.

*** The Huskies will remain in Puerto Rico on Monday for some sight-seeing and team activities, then fly back to Hartford on Tuesday. There is no school at Storrs all week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ryan Boatright, Bob Huggins: Don't look back in anger

No escalators at this Old San Juan castle:

As most of you know, Ryan Boatright once committed to Bob Huggins at West Virginia. Then, a few days later (after WVU also got a commitment from Jabarie Hinds), he de-committed. And a week or so after that, he committed to UConn.

And the rest is history.

On Sunday, Boatright faces Huggins in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament title game. It's not the first time the two have met since Boatright's de-commitment: Boatright played against WVU twice his freshman season, scoring seven points in a 64-57 win on Jan. 9, 2012 (then having to sit out the next three games as the NCAA renewed its look into his eligibility), and 10 points in a Big East tournament game on March 7. 2012 -- a 71-67 UConn win in OT.

That game was not only West Virginia's final one as a member of the Big East, it was also Jim Calhoun's final victory as a head coach.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Amida Brimah throws a block party, Rodney Purvis breaks out, and UConn nabs a victory

It wasn't perfect, but this was definitely UConn's best game of the young season. Came against a good team, in a somewhat hostile environment (Dayton fans probably outnumbered UConn fans by about two-to-one).

Ryan Boatright continues to be a leader and scored 20 points (but had the audacity to miss his first two free throws of the season). Rodney Purvis officially became a Husky, with 19 points in a terrific performance. Daniel Hamilton was strong again, with 14 points.

Amida Brimah finished with just six points and as many rebounds as fouls (three). But he had five blocks, three of them on one head-spinning sequence that absolutely changed the entire complexion of the game.

Some notes, quotes and video:


“I was very proud of my team. They focused and played very hard in the second half. To hold a great team like Dayton to 23 points and 28 percent shooting, it shows the focus that they have.”

(on Brimah getting into foul trouble)

“Sometimes on those drives, he tries to block everything. Sometimes, with those little guys, he needs to just stay vertical and let them shoot over him. Sometimes when he gets in trouble, he comes down and gets those cheap fouls. But he’s understanding to get use his length. I thought he did an amazing job the second half controlling the paint. We call the paint the ‘yard.’ He was a dominant force in the ‘yard.’”

(on whether the offense slows down when Boatright isn't in the game)

“I wouldn’t say that. Ryan’s got to sit down. Terrence comes in, and we’re just missing shots, and then we’re not getting back on defense. If we can get stops, we’ll keep the lead. I know good offense translates to good defense, but I think we have to come off the bench and be aggressive, understand what I want to do as a coach.”


(on Brimah's block party)

(on snapping a streak of 18 straight free throws to start this season)

“I know, man. I couldn’t believe I missed those two free throws! I hate missing free throws. It’s basketball, it happens. I just had to make the next one. I’m trying to shoot in the 90-percent range this year.”

“I shoot a lot of free throws when I go back to the gym every night. I make 10 in a row every day before I leave practice. Some days, I knock them out real quick. Some days, I’ll be there for about 20 minutes. I’ve got to hit 10 in a row before I leave, though.”

(on Purvis)

“I’ve been standing on him since preseason. He’s been a little down, he hasn’t been playing well. He’s been second-guessing his shot. I tell him, ‘You’re All-American, man. I can’t do it all myself, they’re gonna double me sometimes, I’m gonna need you to step up.’”

(on whether he sees the offense sputtering when he's on the bench)

“A little bit, at times. I think it’s just from K.O. with these NBA sets, and I don’t think they’ve run those type of sets in those situations, well enough yet. It’s loud, some people can’t hear. I think it just comes with maturity and my veteran (status). Terrence will get it. He’s trying his best, but it takes time.”

(on his de-commitment from West Virginia -- which is also in this tournament -- four years ago)

“No regrets, I don’t think about it at all. I’m glad I came to UConn. UConn made me the person that I am today. I became a man at Connecticut. All the respect to Coach Harris and Coach Huggins. I’ll shake their hand when I see them, but once we step between the lines, it’s all business.”


“When I get into foul trouble, like in the first half, I always get a little bit worried. In the second half, I’m very comfortable and ready to play defense.”

Boatright interjected, regarding Brimah's foul troubles:

“That’s our fault, though. We’d be getting beat off the dribble too much, and he’d be trying to save us and getting into foul trouble. That’s our fault, we’ve got to help him out there.”


(on staying positive through some early-season struggles)

“I thank Boat for that, he just stayed on me. So did all my teammates. He just told me to stay patient and everything was going to come. I never try to force anything. I’m just happy to be on this team, and happy we got this win today.”

And now, it's on to West Virginia and old friend Bob Huggins, for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tourney title on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Here's what Huggy Bear had to say about UConn on Friday after his team's win over Boston College:

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Daniel Hamilton mature beyond his years; Richard Hamilton offers some sage advice

Notes, quotes and video from UConn's 65-57 win over College of Charleston in a Puerto Rico Tip-Off tourney game on Thursday.


(on hitting consecutive 3-pointers, from opposite corners, to turn a five-point UConn lead into 11 midway through the second half)

“It felt great. The whole time, the little struggles I had early on, I knew something good was gonna come out of it. I never got down on myself. I’m just thankful for my teammates and coaches for always believing in me.”

(on advice he got from Richard Hamilton after the game)

“He was just saying how it took him, like, five games to get his feet wet. He was saying how, basically, I’m like a freshman all over again. I sat out a whole year. So, I’m still getting my feet wet and things like that. He told me to stay with it and it’s all gonna come.”

(on getting advice from Hamilton and Jim Calhoun over the past week or so)

“You have those two guys pulling you aside, I think that’s a great sign of them seeing something great in you. I just take it all in, listen to those guys, because Rip, I’m trying to follow in his footsteps and get to where he got to. And Coach Calhoun, he can pull me to the side anytime. I can always hear from him.”


“I’m gonna take this win. I thought it was a good effort from my guys. I really like our rebounding ... just a couple of defensive breakdowns that we can clean up.”

“All in all, it’s a good win.”

(on 11 second-half turnovers)

“We just can’t do that, against any team.”

(on Daniel Hamilton)

“He plays with a lot of poise and a lot of maturity. He knows the game, he can play on all three levels. He can shoot from 3, which we’ve seen; he can get to the rim, he’s got great ball-fakes, great footwork. And he can pass the ball. He threw a couple of lobs to Amida (Brimah), one of them Jeff Anderson called a charge. The other was a great pass. He’s like another point guard out there for me.”

“I think he gambled a couple of times and got us out of our principles where we had the help and we got lucky on a couple of missed shots by (Canyon) Barry. It’s a learning process for him, but he’s very coachable. That’s the one thing I love: I can instruct him on something, and he’ll go out there and do it.”

(on Richard Hamilton addressing the team)

“They know Richard. Just to see another great UConn player come out and support him, I think that makes them feel better inside. That’s what our alumni do, whenever they have an opportunity. They come out and support us very, very well.”

(on Purvis's two big shots)

“The shot doesn’t go in, or does go in, we’ve still gotta play good defense. And he started playing some real good defense. That gets you energized. To see those two 3’s go in, I know it felt good for him. You could see the exuberance on his face, the energy that he had. Hopefully, we can keep finding him for 3’s, because we need to shoot better.”

(on Dayton)

“I was looking at the score (of Dayton's game against Texas A&M), I was like, ‘Man, is that just the first five minutes? And I saw it was halftime. That’s how these games are gonna be, early. They have some great players, not a traditional 7-footer or 6-10 four-man, they got 6-7, 6-8, they’re very interchangable. Lotta down screens, backdoors. They execute their offense, and we’ve got to get back in transition.”


“I was getting in a rhythm. I’ve been shooting pretty bad preseason. At shootaround, we’ve got to take that seriously, because those are going to be game shots. I try to take as many shots as I can in shootaround, and when they came my way, I just wanted to knock it down.”

“Coming in, I can’t think of it like I was a freshman. I’ve just got to come in and be a huge impact to the team. Whatever coach wants me to do, I’ve got to come in and do it -- if it’s passing, scoring, rebounding, defending, whatever it is. I want to be out on the court and contribute as much as I can.”


(on UConn's propensity to start strong but let opponents back into the game)

“I think we’re just losing focus. We’re having some careless turnovers. I think we get a little winded sometimes ... We’ve got to get better at that. When we play better competition, we can’t afford those lapses.”

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some notes, quotes and video from Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Greetings from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where UConn will be playing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament this week, starting Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (EST) vs. College of Charleston.

A few early notes, quotes and videos from today's goings-on (we'll have many more updates later, after UConn's shootaround which ends at noon (EST):

*** This is the second season in a row Charleston will play against a defending national champion. The Cougars opened up the 2013-14 season at Louisville and were thrashed, 70-48.

“It’s always fun going out and playing some great competition like the defending national champion," said senior guard and leading scorer Anthony Stitt. "UConn has a great team, we watched some tape on them. They’re really good in transition, they’ve got some good guys. We’re looking forward to take the challenge.”

Head coach Earl Grant: “We’ve got some older guys. I’m sure they’ll look forward to the challenge. We know it’s a challenge, but that’s why you play the game -- you like to be challenged.”

*** If you remember, Grant was hired back in early September after a month-long coaching search. Also interviewed in that search? UConn assistant Karl Hobbs, who could have been coaching against UConn, not for them, on Thursday had things played out differently over the summer.

*** Along with UConn, fellow Big East expatriates West Virginia and Boston College are here. Of course, Ryan Boatright once committed to Bob Huggins at WVU, only to de-commit a short time later when he found out Jabarie Hinds had committed a day later.

Asked about the (granted, ancient history) on Wednesday, here's Huggins' classic Huggy-Bear response:

*** Charleston sophomore Canyon Barry is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry. Like his dad, Canyon shoots free throws underhanded. He's yet to go to the foul line this season, but here's hoping he gets to the stripe on Thursday. I really want to see this, for some reason.

*** Boatright said he's got "about 16" family members and friends arriving for the tournament.

*** Boatright and Rodney Purvis talked about the tournament and what they expect on Thursday:

*** The court at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente features double-rims, but that won't be a big deal, according to Kevin Ollie.

“It’s alright. That’s what we had in the park. It’s fine. It’d be a problem if we just had to shoot on the double-rims, but everybody’s got to shoot on them.”

Ollie seemed interested that Boatright had mentioned the double-rims to reporters.

“I’ll make sure I note that with the guys tonight," Ollie said. "No excuses.”

*** Purvis noted that Jim Calhoun pulled him aside in practice last week and told him to slow down a little bit and "just be ready to make a play, just be ready to catch and shoot, things like that."

Noted Ollie: “That’s the luxury of having Coach there, because he knows so much about the game, and how to get to players. I’m just glad that he’s there if they need him. It’s just another that’s got my players’ backs, and I welcome it every day.”

*** Ollie on Calhoun's ESPN debut Tuesday night: “He did a real good job. He explained things very, very well, right to the point. It was real good.”

*** Omar Calhoun didn't practice on Wednesday and would appear to be unlikely to play against Charleston.

*** UConn will stay an extra day and take part in some team activities on Monday before flying back home Tuesday morning.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

My first AP Top 25 poll of the season

A win is a win is a win ...

Only one change from my preseason Top 25 ballot to this week's: Harvard, obviously. The Crimson, who at least one national college hoops expert picked to reach the Final Four, got popped by Holy Cross on Sunday. I was leery of the Crimson as Top 25, anyway (they lost some key players from last year's team), but had them at No. 21 preseason. No more.

In their place is Oklahoma, who I didn't have ranked in my preseason poll. A lot of other people did, however, and the Sooners really intrigue me now that Houston transfer Ta'Shawn Thomas, one of the best players in the AAC last year, has been cleared as fully eligible to play this entire season. Great news for Oklahoma. Had Thomas (and Danuel House, who's now at Texas A&M) stayed at Houston under Kelvin Sampson, the Cougars would have NCAA tournament hopes this season.

Otherwise, nothing changes, even if some ranked teams weren't overly impressive in their opening-weekend wins. Like UConn. I fully expect the Huskies to have some early-season struggles, probably lose a game or two that we didn't expect them to lose. It's Kevin Ollie's job to meld the considerable talent he has here into a cohesive unit by the time February and March roll around. Here's betting he gets the job done.

Are the Huskies the 12th-best team in the nation right now? Probably not. But no sense moving them down based solely on a relatively lackluster opening-night win over Bryant. UConn's not alone. Did you see where Kentucky trailed Buffalo at halftime on Sunday, at Rupp Arena? Did you see where Villanova struggled to get by Lehigh? Some good teams are going to struggle early. No sense shuffling things around just yet.

1. Wisconsin
2. Kentucky
3. Arizona
4. Duke
5. Kansas
6. North Carolina
7. Louisville
8. Texas
9. Wichita State
10. Iowa State
11. Villanova
12. UConn
13. Florida
14. Gonzaga
15. Virginia
16. SMU
17. San Diego State
18. Michigan State
19. Virginia Commonwealth
20. Michigan
21. Oklahoma
22. Ohio State
23. Stanford
24. Syracuse
25. Memphis

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

After stuffing stat sheet Friday night, Ryan Boatright has one thing to improve on -- body language

It's gonna take some time, folks. It's a process, as Kevin Ollie once again pointed out Friday night, following UConn's too-close-for-comfort (the Huskies were down nine points early in the second half) win over Bryant in its season-opener.

UConn struggled early, looked a bit disjointed. Sort of like a team full of newcomers that hasn't had a chance to jell as a unit yet. The Huskies played much better in the second half, when it mattered most, clamping down on defense and relying heavily on Ryan Boatright's Herculean effort (24 points, eight boards, five assists, four steals).

In short, this may have been a microcosm of UConn's upcoming season, if that makes any sense -- early struggles, probably a few unexpected losses along the way, but the talent coming together at the right time in the latter half of the season. And Boatright leading the way.

We'll see how it all shapes out, but the first part seems virtually certain -- UConn will have some struggles early. Fans need to be patient. It's a process, one that Ollie hopes his team falls in love with along the way.

A few odds and ends:

Boatright's mom, Tanesha, surprised him by flying in from Aurora, Ill., for the game.

“I didn’t know she was coming," he said. "I’m in the warm-up line, I hear somebody screaming my middle name. Nobody calls me by my middle name. I’m like, ‘it’s gotta be my mom.’ She surprised me, I’m glad she was there. She’ll be able to take the ring back home.”

Kentan Facey had a game-high, career-high 11 rebounds. Ollie on the difference between Facey this year and last year.

“He’s on the court. He wasn’t on the court last year, because we had DeAndre and Niels, who were two great players for us. His energy was great, he went after every rebound. We want Kentan to be a ball-hunter.”

I've never seen a ball-hawking defender quite like Providence's John Linehan some 15 years ago. But Boatright was a reasonable facsimile thereof on Friday night, pick-pocketing four steals, three of which led to fast-break dunks (two by him).

As well as Boatright played last night, there's still one area where Ollie wants him to improve.

“We still want to work on his body language," the coach said. "But he’s being what a leader’s supposed to be. He’s seen what Shabazz did. He’s learned. He’s gonna have some up-and-down games, like everybody, but we need him to stay connected, being a leader.”

Body language as in not showing up the refs? Not sulking when the team makes freshman mistakes? Neither of the above, according to Boatright.

“He knows that I put a lot of pressure on myself and I want to be excellent," Boatright said. "When I make bone-head mistakes, I just get down on myself, shake my head, stuff like that. Nothing extremely negative, but he just tells me I can’t get down on myself, I’ve just got to keep playing and know everything is gonna be OK.”

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ryan Boatright: "I tell (Purvis), 'You're lucky it's only one game!"

Some notes, quotes and video from UConn's practice, prior to Friday night's season-opener vs. Bryant.

As you likely know by now, Rodney Purvis must sit out the game after having played in more than one summer league this past summer.

"He's just got to wait 40 more minutes, and he’ll be alright," said Kevin Ollie.

Ryan Boatright, who had to sit out nine games as a freshman due to eligibility issues, had perhaps the best line.

“I tell him, ‘You’re lucky it’s only one game. I sat out, like, 13.’ So, he’ll be alright," Boatright said.

Yes, nine, not 13, but still a good line.



“We’re playing a real good team. They have a lot of shooters on the court, they shoot a lot of 3’s, they do a lot of ball screens. We’ve got to be great on our ball pressure, we’ve got to communicate very, very well, and we’ve got to attack on offense.”

(on whether Omar Calhoun will play)

“(No), unless James (Doran) did a miracle back there. But he is progressing. I don’t think he’ll be ready to play, but you never know. He’s been shooting, he’s been looking real good ... but the way I got the word today, he probably won’t play.”

“You play with the guys that you’ve got. Those guys work hard all summer, they look at it as an opportunity to play more minutes. Hopefully, they stay hungry and they have the attitude to go out there and take care of that opportunity. We want a win, whether we play with five guys, eight or 10.”

“We’ve got a lot of guards. Take Rodney out, we’ve got another guard. You know the roster. There’s no adjustment. All our guys are interchangable. Everybody can play the 1, everybody can play the 2, play the 3, Daniel (Hamilton) can play even the four.”

“He’s here, he’ll deal with it, and he’ll be ready to play in Puerto Rico. He’s gonna come out and have a great season.

(on the purpose of the NCAA rule)

“I have no idea. Your guess is better than mine. I guess to keep guys out from playing three or four of them, but I have no idea.”

(on Terrence Samuel)

“I’ve seen some good things, and I’ve seen some things he needs to work on. He definitely needs to keep his man in front of him a little better. He’s been able to get broken down too easy. We’ve been working on that, watching a lot of film. I think he did a better job the second game. Last year, he changed the pace. He came in and got steals, defensive pressure, pushed the ball. So, we need him to play that way. He’s definitely improved on his shot, but he has to be a force out there when he gets in the game. The tempo’s got to change. Hopefully, he understands that. If he’s in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, his mentality should not ever change.”

“We’ve got eight guys, so everybody’s got more minutes. That’s what it is. You look at it as an opportunity. I think he’s going to come out there and play hard, gotta stay out of


“I’m probably gonna have a few more shot attempts than I normally do."

“We’ve been waiting on this day for a long time, to be able to beat up on somebody else rather than on each other. I’m excited, and I think the team is excited.”

"Winning a national championship, you’re gonna get everybody’s best shot. But just going to UConn, you’re gonna get everybody’s best shot. I think whatever school you go to, when you see UConn on the schedule, you’re like, ‘That’s UConn.’ You’re gonna get everybody’s best shot.”

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Rodney Purvis suspended for Bryant game

Redshirt sophomore Rodney Purvis will miss the University of Connecticut men's basketball season openerFriday against Bryant University while serving a one-game suspension.

Purvis participated in more than one league during summer league competition, which is not allowed under NCAA rules. He played in one Greater Hartford Pro-Am game this summer after having played in games in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C. already. Working with the NCAA, the university determined that the single game in which he played in the second league necessitated the one-game penalty.

Following the game against Bryant, Purvis will be fully eligible.

The university will have no further comment on the matter.


You can pre-order my book on UConn's run to the 2014 national title now, if you'd like!

The excitement of a new season is upon us, as UConn kicks off its 2014-15 season on Friday at Gampel against Bryant University. Hard to know exactly what to expect from this group of Huskies, as there is plenty of talent and some championship experience, but also a lot of newcomers, a lot of youth, and no Shabazz Napier.

Either way, it should be a fun season to chronicle. But before we get too invested in this season, I want to let people know that I've written a book about UConn's run to its fourth national title, beginning with Kevin Ollie's September, 2012 hire and running right through last April's championship and the events of the ensuing summer.

The book is called Rebound!: The Incredible Story of UConn Basketball's Comeback from Defeat to Dominance, and it is available for holiday pre-orders here and here. (And yes, I get the irony that one thing the Huskies have struggled with the past two seasons has been their ability to "rebound." It's about rebounding from the NCAA tourney ban, recruiting setbacks, Jim Calhoun's retirement, etc., and responding with a title. Get it?)

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Big day for UConn recruiting on Thursday; Jalen Adams, Steve Enoch, Tremont Waters, Omari Spellman in New Haven next week

Thursday is a big day for UConn on the recruiting front. Isaiah Briscoe, Derrick Jones and Tevin Mack, all coveted Husky targets, will be announcing their respective collegiate decisions.

Ultimately, it could be a day of disappointment for UConn. All signs point to Briscoe signing with either Kentucky or hometown St. John's. Jones seems to be leaning towards UNLV, though UConn and Auburn are very much in the mix, while Mack is down to VCU and UConn.

But even if the Huskies lose out on all three recruits -- and it's no sure thing that they will -- it doesn't necessarily mean all doom and gloom in Storrs. Diamond Stone, one of the top-rated big men in the Class of 2015, is expected to make his commitment next week, right after the early signing period expires on Nov. 19. Stone, a Milwaukee native, is down to UConn and hometown Wisconsin. From everyone I've talked to, it's really 50-50, but it appears Stone might be UConn's best shot of the above-mentioned recruits.

And if Stone commits to UConn, that could re-open the path to Malik Newman heading to the Huskies, as well. Newman, the No. 3-rated player in his class, per, stated last spring that he and Stone would be a package deal. Since then, both players have wavered off the package deal talk. But if, say, Briscoe goes to Kentucky, and Antonio Blakeny does, as well, there might not be room for Newman at UK. Could that open the door for Newman to reconsider that "package deal" and join Stone, if Stone chooses UConn?

A lot will be decided Thursday evening.

*** As for Class of 2015 players who we already know WILL be heading to UConn next season, local fans can see two of them in action at the 2014 National Prep Showcase Nov. 21-23 at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven.

The team to see at this event will be Brewster Academy, which features a backcourt of UConn-bound Jalen Adams, Donovan Mitchell (Louisville), Justin Simon (Arizona) and David Crisp (Washington).

"That's probably the best backcourt in high school basketball," said ESPN recruiting analyst Adam Finkelstein. "I think that's fair to say."

Add to that a front line of Marcus Derrickson (Georgetown), Alex Illikainen (Minnesota) and Jarred Reuter (Virginia), and Brewster is must-see entertainment.

Brewster begins play on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 4:30 p.m. against St. John's NW Military Academy (Wisc.). Brewster's second game is on Sunday, Nov. 23, against New Jersey's Coastal Academy at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, fellow UConn pledge Steve Enoch will lead St. Thomas More into action. St. Thomas More will face Elev8 Academy (Fla.) on Friday, Nov. 21, at 3:30 p.m., and Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 9:30 a.m.

There will be some other players with offers from UConn, including New Haven's own Tremont Waters, a Class of 2017 guard who plays at South Kent Prep, and Omari Spellman, a 6-foot-9, 270-pound  Class of 2016 power forward out of MacDuffie School near Springfield, Mass.

South Kent plays Fishburne Military Academy on Friday at noon, then Vermont Academy on Sunday at 3:15 p.m. MacDuffie's lone game is on Friday at 1:45 p.m. against Hargrave Military Acadmy.

Other top-rated prospects in the event will be New Hampton School's Tyler Lydon (Syracuse); Our Savior New American big man Cheick Diallo; Vermont Academy's Tyrique Jones of Bloomfield and Bruce Brown; Elev8 Academy's Travon Reed; IMG Academy's JaQuan Lyle; and Hargreaves' Daniel Purefoy, KeJuan Johnson and Justin Goode.

For those not heading to Puerto Rico to watch UConn play, here's the schedule, with games featuring Adams, Enoch, Waters and Spellman in bold:

Friday, November 21st

10:30a.m. Fork Union Military Academy (VA) vs. Notre Dame Prep (MA)
12:00p.m. Fishburne Military Academy (VA) vs. South Kent (CT)
1:45p.m. Hargrave Military Academy (VA) vs. MacDuffie (MA)
3:30p.m. ELEV-8 Academy (FL) vs. St. Thomas More (CT)
5:15p.m. Lee Academy (ME) vs. Northfield Mount Hermon (MA)
7:00p.m. IMG Academy (FL) vs. Putnam Science Academy (CT)
8:30p.m. Our Savior New American (NY) vs. Cushing Academy (MA)

Saturday, November 22nd

9:30a.m. St. Thomas More (CT) vs. Fork Union Military Academy (VA)
11:15a.m. Notre Dame Prep (MA) vs. Fishburne Military Academy (VA)
1:00p.m. Northfield Mount Hermon (MA) vs. Hargrave Military Academy (VA)
2:45p.m. vs. New Hampton School (NH) vs. ELEV-8 Academy (FL)
4:30p.m. Brewster Academy (NH) vs. St. John’s NW Military Academy (WI)
6:15p.m. Bridgton Academy (ME) vs. West Oaks Academy (FL)
8:00p.m. Lee Academy (ME) vs. IMG Academy (FL)

Sunday, November 23rd

10:00a.m. Coastal Academy (NJ) vs. Brewster Academy (NH)
11:45a.m. West Oaks Academy (FL) vs. New Hampton School (NH)
1:30p.m. St. John’s NW Military Academy (WI) vs. Bridgton Academy (ME)
3:15p.m. Vermont Academy (VT) vs. South Kent (CT)
5:00p.m. Blair Academy (NJ) vs. Tilton School (NH)
6:30p.m. Mt. Zion (MD) vs. Wilbraham & Monson (MA)

I'd love to be there myself, but I'll be with the Huskies in Puerto Rico.

*** On a final note, Craig Austrie will be inducted into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame's UConn wing on Thursday night:

The Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame has announced its next class of honorees to be recognized in the Hall of Fame’s University of Connecticut wing, which pays tribute to athletes from the county that went on to stellar careers at the state university. The UConn wing is housed at the UConn Stamford Campus.

Three natives of Stamford will be recognized November 13 at 6 p.m. at the Stamford campus: Craig Austrie (men's basketball), Bruno Giordano, (cross country and indoor/outdoor track) and Rick Robustelli (football). With the induction of its three newest members, the UConn Wing now has 27 athletes enshrined.

Austrie played four seasons for the men's basketball team (2005-09). He played a key role in leading the Huskies to a spot in the Final Four his senior year. He was the starting point guard for the first 24 games of his freshman season, after a standout scholastic career at Trinity Catholic, where he was the state Gatorade Player of the Year in 2005.

Giordano, the former mayor and parks and recreation superintendent of Stamford, was an All-American cross country runner and a star on the indoor and outdoor track teams as a one and two mile distance standout . He attended UConn from 1947-51 and was the captain of the cross country squad his junior and senior years. He finished sixth at the national collegiate meet in 1951 to earn his All-American status.

Robustelli was a quarterback for the UConn football team from 1968-70 and is still in the top ten in school history in completions, yards passing and touchdowns (31). He was named to the All-Yankee Conference team in 1970. As a high school senior he earned All-State and All-American honors in leading Stamford Catholic to an undefeated season in 1966 as the Crusaders won the FCIAC and state championships.

The UConn wing of the Hall of Fame was started in 2007. Here is the list of the previous inductees: 2007 -- Moira & Tara Buckley (Trumbull, women’s soccer), Chris Smith (Bridgeport, men’s basketball), Brian Usher (Stamford, football); 2008 – Nick Giaquinto (Stratford, football), Paul & Tim Hunter (Westport, men’s soccer); 2009 – Rashamel Jones (Stamford, men’s basketball), Joe Markus (Trumbull, football), Tom Penders (Stratford, baseball and men’s basketball), Rita Williams (Norwalk, women’s basketball); 2010 – Mary Schmidt (Stamford, women’s swimming), Bob Staak (Darien, men’s basketball); 2011 – Donna Fagan (Norwalk, softball), Gregg Hutchings (Ridgefield, men’s ice hockey), Sean Mulcahy (Westport, football), Ken Murphy (Westport, men’s soccer); 2012 - Ryan Equale (Wilton, men's ice hockey), Rocco Murano (Greenwich, football), Robert Ross (Norwalk, men's soccer), Christine Vorvis (Fairfield, women's tennis); 2013 - Alison Hirsch (Stamford, softball), Mike McKay (Bridgeport, men's basketball), Jim Penders (Stratford, baseball).

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Kevin Olllie, Earl Grant talk Puerto Rico Tip-Off

There was a teleconference today for the coaches of teams participating in next week's Puerto Rico Tip-Off. UConn faces College of Charleston in its first game on Thursday, Nov. 20, then will play either Dayton or Texas A&M the following day.

With most teams beginning their seasons this Friday (including UConn, against Bryant University), and some with two games to play before heading to Puerto Rico, most head coaches haven't extensively looked at tapes of their opponents for the upcoming tourney. Still, Kevin Ollie and first-year Charleston coach Earl Grant weighed in on a few things.


(on some things the Huskies need to improve on after their first two exhibition games)

"We shot free throws very, very well last year. The past two games, I think we missed nine in the second game and 11 in the first. We definitely want to correct that. When someone makes a mistake fouling us, we want to convert. We want to push the pace more, and continue to rebound."

(on Charleston)

They’re a good team. I know Coach Grant is coming in, he inherited a team and he's putting his imprint on them. We don't know what that imprint is yet, but I know they’re gonna be a defensive-minded team, the things he brought over there from Clemson. We’re gonna have to have all our hands on deck and be ready to play a full 40 minutes.”

(Ollie was asked to define one of his favorite new catchphrases, "Falling in love with the process")

So many people fall in love with the prize at the end. There’s always a process, some up’s and down’s, things you’ve got to tend to through season. But you can’t be distracted by the prize at the end. 'I’ve got to play my type of basketball, UConn type of basketball.' There’s gonna be some up’s and downs’, but if we fall in love with that, get better every day, improve and grow, and we're gonna be a successful team – not only on the floor but off it."

(on Jim Calhoun's new gig at ESPN)

"I know Coach likes to talk. He’s not a person that shies away from his opinion. That’s great for ESPN. He’s got a wealth of knowledge. Anybody that’s spent two minutes with him … I think he’s gonna do an excellent job."

(on Amida Brimah)

"He's a worker bee. You try to kick him out of the gym and he sneaks in the back door."


(on how things have been since taking over the program)

"It’s been great. It’s been a whirlwind. But I’ve enjoyed it. A lot of my enjoyment is from having quality people to work with and unbelievable kids that I deal with on a daily basis ... We're trying to implement a new system, but we've got to be patient."

(on UConn)

"I know UConn is a really good team. Obviously, I respect what Kevin Ollie has been able to do. My assistant coaches are looking at UConn. I'm more concerned with our first game, Furman ... I really haven't had a chance to worry about UConn at this point."

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Looking back on Amida Brimah's season-saving play

Does UConn win its fourth national title and second in four seasons without Amida Brimah's conventional 3-point play on March 20 in its "second round" NCAA tournament game against St. Joe's?

Maybe. But probably not. Most say definitely not, including Ryan Boatright.

"I'll say every day for the rest of my life," Boatright said, "Amida saved our season last year with that play."

Talked to Boatright, as well as St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli; Brimah's legal guardian, Nana Baafi; Brimah's high school coach, Juan Hernandez; and others for a story on that fateful play. We also look ahead to what Brimah's sophomore season could bring for both him and the team.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Video, notes and quotes off UConn's exhibition win over Assumption

Video, notes and quotes off UConn's somewhat "logey", 68-59 win over Assumption:

Daniel Hamilton on his impressive game:

(on team's overall energy on Sunday)

“I think we could have had better energy throughout the whole game. It’s just been up and down. I think we’ve just got to keep the light switch on, because when we play good teams, that’s not gonna be able to happen.”

Kevin Ollie:

“We had a couple of guys that played UConn basketball, and a couple of guys that didn’t.”

(on Rodney Purvis, who had five turnovers in 16 minutes and scored just six points)

“I think he was trying to go through too many people, he had a couple of charges, didn’t finish a couple of plays. That’s something we can correct ... He hasn’t played in 20 months. He’s gotta keep practicing, be coachable, work hard, let the game come to him a little bit.”

(on Hamilton's ability to pass the ball, see the whole floor)

“The first time I saw him play, I knew he had it. He has a point guard mindset, he can make passes. A couple of those lobs to Amida after spin-dribbles, he just has vision. He’s a great rebounder, a great player. Once he starts settling down and being more consistent on the defensive end ... I can’t fault in his game for the last two games, because his energy has been so great. He does a couple of freshmen mistakes that I can see. But other than that, his effort, his energy, the way he’s connected to his team, it’s wonderful to watch. He’s just gonna keep getting better and better, because he’s kind of obsessive about improvement. He’s in the gym every day, energy every day. That’s what we want from our basketball players.”

(When asked about Sam Cassell, Jr.'s ability to come off the bench)

“Who said he’s gonna be on the bench? How he’s playing, he’s gonna be in the starting ro’ soon.”

Ryan Boatright:

“I think the intensity wasn’t there, the aggression wasn’t there in the beginning. I don’t know if we see Assumption in front of us and we just can’t get up, or it’s an early game. I don’t know what it was, but we can’t have any excuses.”

(on Hamilton)

“He’s impressive every time we suit up. He plays extremely hard on both ends of the floor, and that’s all we can ask for. If you come to UConn, you play real hard, you’re gonna stand out.”

(on Purvis)

“I mean, I don’t really know ... it’s only two games, I can’t really judge him off that. I’m gonna talk to him. From what I see, I think he’s just pressing a little too much and he’s thinking a little too much out there, instead of just laying. I think he’s down on his confidence with his shot. He’s passing on wide-open shots to take harder shots, or he’s taking a charge. He just needs to relax and play basketball like he knows how to play basketball.”


“I’m just trying to play my game. Starting lineup or coming off the bench, I’m not worried about it. As long as we win games, that’s all I’m really worried about.”

“When I come off the bench, I just get myself going in the layup line.”

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Husky HerOes cereal available, starting today

There's a new cereal commemorating UConn's dual national championships, with Kevin Ollie on one side and Geno Auriemma on the other. Seriously.

Here's the press release:

The 2013-14 basketball season was one to remember for both the UConn Women’s and Men’s basketball programs. To help commemorate the championship seasons by both programs, PLB Sports is proud to introduce “Husky HerOes” cereal featuring Coach Geno Auriemma and Coach Kevin Ollie. “Husky HerOes” cereal is a LIMITED EDITION, honey nut toasted oats cereal that comes packaged in a 14 oz. “2-sided” cereal box. Coach Auriemma is on one side of the box and Coach Ollie is on the other side.

UConn fans, alumni and students can order their very own boxes of “Husky HerOes” starting November 6th. Orders can be placed online There is no better way to start a UConn basketball game day than with a bowl of “Husky HerOes” cereal.

There are only 25,000 boxes of this LIMITED EDITION Collector’s Box. Fans are encouraged to get their orders in early!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kevin Ollie wasn't happy with UConn's narrow exhibition game win

Some video and quotes from UConn's 70-62 win over Southern Connecticut in its exhibition opener Tuesday night:

Kevin Ollie wasn't pleased:

“Got the first one out of the way. Southern came out and played a real good game, defensively. They played real well. We forced a lot of shots, didn’t finish a lot of layups, but that’s why you call it exhibition. We’ll get better from it and make sure we come out and play a little harder against Assumption.”

Asked if he "expected more" from his team, Ollie was incredulous:

“I want to shoot better. I mean, I don’t even know what that question’s about. I don’t want to shoot 36-percent (from the floor) or 58-percent (from the foul line). But, it happens, you move from it and you learn from it.”

“I think the guys will be a little bit more coachable. They haven’t been bad, but you can coach ‘em a little harder now, after this kind of performance.”

Sam Cassell, Jr. was a highlight, scoring 17 points and hitting a trio of 3-pointers in 31 minutes off the bench.

Said Ollie:

“Sam was good. He hit some 3’s. We still have to be better defensively. But, Sam can play. He’s gonna be a spark for us. He can stretch the defense out. I’d like to see him penetrate on a couple of his 3’s. But, he knows how to play. Very crafty, can shoot it with the best of ‘em. He’s gonna be a good player for us.”

A reporter pointed out to Ryan Boatright that Cassell doesn't play like a young player.

“He ain’t a young player," Boatright responded. "He’s older than me! But Sam played great. We’ve all got to get better on the defensive end, but he shot the ball great. I was trying to find him as much as I can.”

Indeed, Cassell was born in May, 1992; Boatright in December, 1992.

Rodney Purvis on Cassell:

“He’s a very poised guy. He’s not gonna wow you with any dunks or anything like that, (but) he can make any shot -- contested shot, it doesn’t matter -- he can shoot the ball.”

It was a tough night for Purvis, who shot 2-for-12 from the floor and finished with seven points. Funny thing is, his shots didn't look bad, for the most part -- they just didn't fall.

I’ve never been the type of guy to make excuses. I’m gonna get back in the gym, probably tonight or tomorrow. I’ll be back. I don’t have any worries about missing shots.”

“Every shot felt great, I felt like every shot was going in. But, you have those days. It’s the game of basketball. I’ll be back, I ain’t worried.”

Ollie was pleased with Daniel Hamilton's play, saying he "played at a Level-5, energy-wise."

Hamilton and Kentan Facey each grabbed nine rebounds. Amida Brimah had a double-double (12 and 11) and Boatright led the Huskies with 19 points.

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Mike Aresco re-affirms AAC's stance on Division 1 governance structure

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco's statement regarding the NCAA Division I governance structure following Tuesday's business meeting in Orlando:

The American Athletic Conference strongly supports initiatives that contribute to the health, welfare, and enhanced college experience of our student-athletes. We look forward to evaluating the proposed autonomous legislation when released in December. However, our member schools have long provided and continue to provide a number of benefits which have been deregulated under NCAA rules, including extended opportunities for degree completion, scholarship protection, medical support, and meeting the nutritional needs of student-athletes. The American and its members remain committed to funding student-athlete scholarships up to the full cost of attendance if and when such legislation is adopted.

“Our Conference has been in the forefront of the initiatives designed to address the needs of our student-athletes. I am proud of our schools, which have taken a leadership position in committing to fund athletic scholarships up to the full cost of attendance, and which have supported reforms in many areas which will contribute to student athlete health and well-being,” said Commissioner Michael Aresco.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ryan Boatright's had a compelling career at UConn. And it's not over yet.

I ask this not knowing the true answer: Who's had a more compelling, four-year career at UConn than Ryan Boatright?

It started with an NCAA investigation and was highlighted by an NCAA championship. In between, there's been strife with his star backcourt mate, Shabazz Napier; the death of a beloved relative; sometimes spectacular athleticism; occasionally explosive (sometimes erratic) offensive play; the stingiest defense you'll ever see in last year's NCAA tournament run.

Heck, Boatright was a major story before he ever even stepped foot in Storrs, committing to Tim Floyd at USC at age 13; de-committing a few years later after Floyd resigned; committing to Bob Huggins at West Virginia early in his senior year of high school; de-committing a few days later when he learned another speedy guard (Jabarie Hinds) had committed the same day Boatright had.

I'm sure there have been wilder rides, and I'm all ears to hear from fans who've followed the Huskies far longer than I've covered them. A.J. Price comes to mind -- nearly died of a brain hemorrhage; suspended for a season for stealing laptops; tearing his ACL his final game as a junior; rebounding as a senior to lead UConn to the Final Four. (And yes, I know it was a five-year career for Price, not four).

But Boatright's story has got to be up there. And, of course, it's not over yet, as he's returned for his senior season poised to add one final chapter.

Here's his story thus far.