Monday, September 29, 2014

ESPN will broadcast UConn's Midnight Madness festivities Oct. 17

ESPN will tip off the 2014-15 college basketball season with Midnight Madness coverage from 11 campuses, including seven men’s programs in ESPN.com’s early top 25, on Friday, Oct. 17.ESPNU Midnight Madness (6 p.m. ET) will combine studio and remote coverage to bring fans a three-hour start of the season celebration which involves six schools, including the 2014 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I National Champion UConn Huskies. The ESPNU special will also involve five more teams from the 2014 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship: Arizona, Florida, Gonzaga, Kentucky, and San Diego State. This is the ninth year ESPNU Midnight Madness has provided coverage of the annual college basketball tradition.

ESPN3 will also provide Midnight Madness coverage on Friday, Oct. 17, carrying six college basketball programs’ Midnight Madness celebrations in their entirety. In addition to UConn’s “First Night” at 7 p.m., ESPN3 will have Harvard’s “Crimson Madness” (6 p.m.), Mercer’s “Mercer Madness” (6:10 p.m.), Kentucky’s “Big Blue Madness” (7 p.m.), NC State’s “Throwback with the Pack” (8 p.m.) and Florida Gulf Coast’s “Dunk City after Dark” (9 p.m.). A week prior, ESPN3 will also carry Kansas’ “Late Night in the Phog” on Friday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m.

SEC Network’s SEC Now (9 p.m.) will show portions of Kentucky’s “Big Blue Madness”. ESPNU Midnight Madness will re-air at midnight on Friday, Oct. 17, and all of ESPN3’s content is available on-demand.

Additional schools Midnight Madness programs may be added at a later date

ESPNU Midnight Madness Highlights:

Studio Coverage: Andy Katz, host of Katz Korner, will anchor studio coverage along with college basketball analysts Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams. The studio team will preview the 2014-15 season and interview various head coaches throughout the telecast.

Head Coach Perspective: Katz, Greenberg and Williams will be joined in-studio by Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who has led the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament in nine of the last 10 seasons.

All-Access: ESPN commentators and analysts will be on-location, providing viewers a first-hand insight into the various Midnight Madness activities:
Arizona: Miles Simon (analyst), won the 1997 National Championship at Arizona and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player
Kentucky: Sean Farnham, former UCLA basketball player, Kara Lawson, former Tennessee standout, WNBA Champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist (analysts), along with Dave O’Brien (host)
UConn: Rebecca Lobo, won the 1995 National Championship at UConn, 1996 Olympic gold medalist and was a standout player in the WNBA, Tim Welsh, earned more than 200 wins as a head coach (analysts) along with Kevin Connors (host) and Jeff Goodman (reporter)
Florida, Gonzaga and San Diego State: Coach Donovan (Florida), Coach Few (Gonzaga) and Coach Fisher (San Diego State) will be wired for sound

Social Media: Fans can join the conversation throughout the night by tagging tweets with#MidnightMadness.
Programming Details: ESPNU’s Midnight Madness (October 17 at 6 p.m. ET)
LocationCommentators
ESPNU’s Studio CoverageAndy Katz (Host), Seth Greenberg & Jay Williams (analysts), Villanova head coach Jay Wright (guest)
ArizonaMiles Simon (analyst)
KentuckyDave O’Brien (host), Sean Farnham & Kara Lawson (analysts)
UConnKevin Connors (host), Rebecca Lobo & Tim Welsh (analysts), Jeff Goodman (reporter)
Florida, Gonzaga, San Diego StateCoach Donovan, Few and Fisher will be wired for sound to brings fans unique perspective

UConn's "Evening with Champions" to be held on Oct. 14 at Oakdale Theater

The UConn Alumni Association will host “An Evening With Champions” featuring women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma and men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Conn.

The event will be hosted by former women’s basketball All-American and National Player of the Year Rebecca Lobo, who is now a broadcaster for ESPN and a member of the UConn Board of Trustees.

This event will offer a rare glimpse into the Basketball Capital of the World as Ollie and Auriemma will give a behind-the-scenes look at UConn’s historic dual championships and their perspectives into the upcoming season.

Attendees will enjoy dinner and a cash bar prior to an “Inside the Actor’s Studio”-style question and answer session moderated by Lobo.

Tickets are $85 per person and table sponsorships are available. Net proceeds will support scholarships for UConn students.

“This is an exciting and unique opportunity for true blue Husky fans,” said Mo Cotton Kelly, executive director of the UConn Alumni Association. “Through the support of loyal Huskies, the UConn Alumni Association continues to provide scholarships to UConn students in need. What better way to celebrate our dual championships than enjoying a night of camaraderie while helping other Huskies? It’s a winning combination.”

For more information, please call the Alumni Association at 860.486.2240, or email Debra Crary at debra.crary@uconn.edu. You can also RSVP at UConnAlumni.com/EveningWithChampions.

*** Meanwhile, here's my story on UConn commit Jalen Adams, who'll be prepping as a postgrad this season up at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Jim Calhoun starring in new documentary, will also work at ESPN this season

 A new documentary on Jim Calhoun will premier at the Bushnell Theater on Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Born to Lead: Jim Calhoun chronicles Calhoun's life, from childhood through his 26 seasons as UConn's head coach, and all its successes. Here's a preview clip of the documentary.

"It's surreal, in the sense of seeing your life being depicted," Calhoun said in a conference call Thursday morning. "It's something different. As (UConn soccer coach) Ray Reid said, 'Who plays you?' It's a documentary. They had to use me, because they couldn't use Sean Connery at the time. I think it's kind of fun."

Calhoun said there were some particularly poignant, surprising moments in the film, including one where Jake Voskuhl said he very nearly left the program. He said he had never really thought about having a documentary made on his life, but had been approached by film makers shortly after he had retired in September, 2012. After a while, he eventually caved in.

"I thought it would be good to talk about leadership, maybe be inspirational to some people," he said. "We have different parts of our lives -- we used to call  it a Polaroid, now we call it a selfie -- different snapshots of our lives. If you look at me as a stone-cutter from Quincy, Massachusetts at 18, or on the podium getting a national championship ring, or the Final Four or Hall of Fame, all those things are a positive picture."

*** Meanwhile, Calhoun also announced that he has signed a contract to do in-studio work for ESPN this college basketball season. It remains to be seen just how much work he'll do.

"I look forward to it. Seth Greenberg is a good friend, Rece Davis is a good friend. I'll be talking about something I love."




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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jim Calhoun on John Toner

Here's a statement from Jim Calhoun on the passing of John Toner:

“John Toner’s decision in May of 1979 to leave his New England neighbors and move Connecticut into what would become the Big East Conference changed UConn Athletics forever. John’s vision 35 years ago paved the path for the University of Connecticut to win 18 NCAA Championships in four sports during the past four decades.

John Toner was a transformational figure on the national collegiate stage, including being a driving force in the late 1970s and early 1980s to add women’s athletics under the NCAA umbrella.

Personally, John gave me a great start as head basketball coach at Connecticut and through the years he was always available to me for wise counsel and friendship.”

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Steve Enoch commits to UConn

As expected, Steve Enoch has committed to UConn. The 6-foot-10 power forward from Norwalk announced his commitment on Twitter on Saturday night.


Enoch, who starred at Norwalk High the past few years but will be playing this season at St. Thomas More, grew up a UConn fan. 

“Growing up in Connecticut I was surrounded by a major amount of Huskies fans, including my parents, so the team has always been in the atmosphere,” Enoch told the Register back in July. “Yes, I’ve been a fan of UConn and glad for the entire organization’s success.”

He really burst on the scene back in early June at the Pangos Camp out in Long Beach, California, where Enoch more than held his own against one of the top Class of 2015 big men in the country, Stephen Zimmerman. While out on that visit, Enoch stayed with Drummond, who had been coached by Enoch’s AAU coach, George Matthews, since he was 9 years old. 

“He’s someone I look up to,” Enoch said of Drummond, back in July. “I don’t get to see him often because he’s always on the grind but every time I see him it’s like family. I make the most of every time we hang out, whether it’s him giving me good tips and mentoring on and off the court, or getting scraped in a 1-on-1.”

Enoch made an unofficial visit to UConn in late June. He battled a thigh injury later in the summer after taking a knee to the thigh during a game, causing a contusion that kept him from playing in some of other top camps.

Enoch had been coveted by programs like Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia, Providence, UCLA, Seton Hall and URI, but it seemed a near-lock all along that he would eventually take his talents to Storrs.

Enoch joins Roxbury, Massachusetts point guard Jalen Adams as the Huskies’ two Class of 2015 commits so far. UConn will have at least one more scholarship to fill for next season.

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Rakim Lubin here for rebounds (and assists?); Steve Enoch here, too; Ryan Boatright gives history lesson



UConn's players were at the football game on Saturday morning, signing autographs prior to the game during FanFest festivities (yeah, those are my kids getting autographs and posing for a picture with Ryan Boatright above). Here's some of what we got.

*** Had a chance to speak with Rakim Lubin for the first time today. Impressive young man, and certainly an impressive physical specimen.

"I'm here to grab at least double-digit rebounds -- at least," he said. "If I don't do anything else, I've got to grab double-digit rebounds. That's all that matters right now, doing what the team needs."

"That's what I'm looking to bring, as far as my whole package right now. As of right now, I'm not looking to score the basketball or do anything else, but get rebounds and assists. That's all."

Assists?

"Yeah, I gotta get assists to my big men down low. But right now, just straight rebounding."

Lubin says he checks in at 6-foot-8, 265 pounds, which is where he's trying to stay for the season.

*** Steve Enoch was at the game and is in the midst of his official visit to UConn. He didn't want to speak with reporters, saying good-naturedly, "I'm just here to enjoy the game."

*** Wrote a Sunday feature on Daniel Hamilton, who had a tumultuous (and ultimately triumphant) senior season at St. John Bosco High in California that went through mass player and coach exodus and lots of controversy, but ended with a Division II state championship.

Asked Ryan Boatright how much of an impact Hamilton can have this season.

"Huge. Like I said, he's a natural-born scorer. He can score in all aspects of the game -- mid-range, he's tall, he can finish at the rim, he has a great 3-point shot. He's got to stay confident. He has some off days where he puts his head down. I just told him to stay confident, and we need him to be that scorer."

Boatright also talked about the basic tenor of practices and pick-up games so far.

"Extremely, extremely, extremely competitive," he said. "We probably fight almost every day. It's just real competitive, man. Everybody wants to win, everybody wants to get better, we're pushing each other."

"I tell them all the time, everybody's chasing us, we have a target on our backs. But we're chasing something bigger than us. We're chasing history. To win back-to-back, it's only been done one time, and that was Florida."

(OK, so his history lesson doesn't extend past the late 2000's and forgets UCLA. But you get the point)

Asked Boatright if he's ready to be our go-to guy this season -- meaning the media's go-to guys for quotes.

"You know I'm ready, I've been waiting on it for three years."

He may have thought I meant go-to guy, as in the guy to get the ball to in crunch time on the court. Either way, hope he remembers all that when we're still asking him questions come February.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Steve Enoch visiting UConn this weekend, expected to commit

UConn lost out on a highly-touted big man Djery Baptiste, a 7-footer who pledged to Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

But the Huskies are likely to get much better news this weekend when Norwalk's Steve Enoch makes his official visit to Storrs.

Enoch, a 6-foot-10 Class of 2015 center, is expected to commit to UConn during the visit, according to a source. And it's very possible he may not even wait around until Monday to make his pledge.

UConn has long been Enoch's "dream school." His family is UConn fans. He was slated to make some trips out West and to some other major programs, but put them off. He was slated to visit URI, but that's been cancelled, as well. The Rams, apparently, don't want to waste an official visit on a kid who almost certainly is heading to UConn.

So, UConn fans can expect some good news by Monday. Or even Sunday. Or Saturday.

Elsewhere, it appears Kevin Ollie had a good in-home visit with Derrick Jones on Thursday. And UConn is apparently back in the Isaiah Briscoe sweepstakes now. Briscoe, who broke his foot out in Las Vegas in July and missed the rest of the summer AAU season, is expected to make an official visit to Storrs on Sept. 26, per Adam Zagoria.


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