Friday, December 2, 2016

Jim Boeheim's final visit to Hartford a few years ago

It's not a battle of Big East blood rival titans anymore. It's just a couple of struggling teams still trying to find themselves.

But it's still UConn-Syracuse, Monday night, Madison Square Garden. And that's still special.

Had a good (if brief) phone chat with Jim Boeheim today. He didn't want to get too much into UConn, since Syracuse plays North Florida (common opponent!) on Saturday. But here's what he did share:

Boeheim's last (and final?) visit to the XL Center came on Feb. 13, 2013 - a 66-58 loss to UConn. It was the last time the teams would ever meet as Big East rivals.

Boeheim was asked about the end of the rivalry and gave some interesting insight. But not before calling ESPN reporter Andy Katz an "idiot" and a "disloyal person" for reasons, at the time, that were unknown.

The two have apparently cleared the air since then. Still, it was a classic case of Boeheim bullying a reporter.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chronic shoulder dislocation, and how to remedy it

This from the Baylor College of Medicine, regarding shoulder dislocation injuries. Though it talks about football injuries, this is largely germaine to Alterique Gilbert's issues:

For high school football players who suffer from chronic shoulder dislocation, the end of the football season is the best time to treat the condition with arthroscopic surgery, according to a sports medicine expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

The first time that a shoulder dislocation occurs, it is usually due to a collision where the arm is forced backward, which makes the shoulder pop out of the joint. This is usually very painful and needs to be addressed by someone who is trained in popping the shoulder back into place.

“Once the shoulder has dislocated the first time, it’s very prone to come out again, and it’s easier each successive time,” said Dr. Bruce Moseley, an orthopedic surgeon at Baylor. “The first time it comes out, it takes a pretty violent trauma. The second time, not as much. The third time, even less.”

Moseley said that with rare exception, the issue does not turn into anything worse. The biggest downside is that dislocation becomes easier.

“For some people, they can roll over in bed and their shoulder will pop out,” he said.

However, through an arthroscopic surgery that involves three small incisions, surgeons are able to fix the ligament that stabilizes the shoulder. The procedure has a 90 percent success rate in preventing the shoulder from dislocating again.

Recovery involves keeping the arm in a sling for three weeks, after which patients are able to return to day-to-day activities. Then, it is recommended that they wait three months before returning to the weight room. At three months, athletes can return to all athletic activities other than contact and collision sports, for which it is recommended they wait until the six month mark.

The best time for a high school football player with shoulder instability to have surgery is at the end of football season, because this allows for the six-month recovery period without contact before next year’s football season starts.

“When the season is over and the shoulder doesn’t come out anymore, many players think the problem is gone, but it has not gone away, they’re just not playing football. The next time they play football again it’s going to come out,” said Moseley.

Moseley notes that surgery is the only truly effective treatment for athletes with recurrent shoulder dislocation. For contact sports, there is a harness that athletes can wear that keeps the arm from being put in the position that puts it most at risk, but it limits what they can do with their arm and is not 100 percent effective in preventing dislocation.

While rehab is an option, it only strengthens the muscles around the shoulder. Since the injury is in the ligament as opposed to the muscles, making the muscles stronger will not prevent re-dislocation.

However, there is luck for older adults who may dislocate their shoulder for the first time – statistics show that the older you are at the time of your first dislocation, the less likely it is for the shoulder to pop out again. So for those above the age of 40, Moseley suggests non-surgical management, including rehab to get strength and movement back in the shoulder. This can help patients get back to normal in one month to six weeks. If it pops out again, then the orthopedic surgeon will work with them to see if surgery is needed.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rodney Purvis reflects on loss of his "brother"; takes full accountability for his poor start

As we chronicled back in July, Rodney Purvis lost his longtime friend - the closest he ever had to a real brother - over the summer. Tyrek Coger, who had an enlarged heart, collapsed during the sweltering heat of offseason workouts and died at age 22.

Purvis had been relishing the chance to play against his "brother" at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, when UConn faces Oklahoma State on Monday night. Now, he can only wonder what would have been, as Coger never even got the chance to don the Cowboys' uniform.

"I'm just gonna go out and have fun, and just play like he was on the court," Purvis said on Saturday.

(Purvis also lost his foster brother, LaQuan Anderson, in August. Anderson was found murdered behind a Raleigh, North Carolina home).

Purvis wouldn't blame his slow start this season on the loss of Coger, though he admits he wishes he would have handled the situation differently.

In fact, he addressed his poor start to his teammates in a players-only meeting in Los Angeles the other day, assuming full responsibility.

"I told them myself, I have to play better, and they know that," he said. "I'm taking it like a man. People can say what they want to say, but I'm gonna play better. Trust me, I'm gonna play better."

We'll have a preview of the Oklahoma State game on Sunday.

Meanwhile, while the Huskies were out in Los Angeles for Thursday's bout with Loyola Marymount, assistant coaches Ricky Moore and Dwayne Killings took a look at some local players, including Class of 2018 shooting guard David Singleton, point guard Brandon Williams and 6-11 Fred Odhiambo.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Alterique Gilbert feeling better, doubtful for Maui tournament

Alterique Gilbert suffered a left shoulder dislocation Thursday night at Loyola Marymount, and his left arm is in a sling. Gilbert reported feeling much better today, however. He'll do light rehab for a few days with trainer James Doran in Maui, then see the orthopedic doctor who helped him rehab his shoulder over the summer when the doctor arrives in Hawaii on Sunday.

Doran is also hopeful of getting an X-Ray and MRI.

Apparently, Gilbert's injury had nothing to do with the surgery he underwent back in May. It was simply the way he got hit in Thursday's win over LMU that did the damage. Could've happened to anybody.

Gilbert is doubtful for any of the Maui games, but UConn will wait and see what the doctor's evaluation is.

Speaking of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, the Huskies have had great success in this tourney over the years, winning the last two times they entered and eight games in a row overall.

In fact, the Huskies' Hawaiian history overall is a pretty good one - though it didn't start that way. They're first visit saw an upset loss to Ohio that had Jim Calhoun walking back to the team hotel afterwards.

Finally, having landed in Hawaii earlier today - at almost the exact same time as UConn, though on a different flight - we present to you this old video from our "Yo! MTV Raps" days. (Can anyone name the now-famous rapper who is but a sidekick in this video?):

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A sort of (0-2) homecoming for Kevin Ollie, Vance Jackson

It'll be a homecoming for Kevin Ollie and Vance Jackson on Thursday night as UConn faces Loyola Marymount, an L.A. stopover en route to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational next week.

Hard to believe the Huskies are 0-2 heading into the game, but such is the case. Here's an advance on the game, and here's a game capsule.

As mentioned in the advance, Mamadou Diarra's knee is still bothering him quite a bit. Nothing's been decided yet, but Ollie brought up the word "red-shirt," noting it is a distinct possibility for Diarra this season.

The news was better on Christian Vital, who sat out Monday's loss to Northeastern with back spasms. Although Ollie said that Vital's participation in practice was limited, he has been cleared to play on Thursday night.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

UConn falls out of AP Top 25 after loss to Wagner

Not surprisingly, UConn drops out of this week's AP Top 25 after Friday night's loss to Wagner. The Huskies were the only team to drop out of my AP ballot.

UConn did receive some votes. Here's the actual AP Top 25:

                       Record   Pts Prv
1. Duke (58)            2-0   1613   1
2. Kentucky (1)         2-0   1508   2
3. Villanova (5)        1-0   1492   4
4. Oregon               1-0   1349   5
5. North Carolina       2-0   1347   6
6. Indiana (1)          1-0   1322  11
7. Kansas               0-1   1206   3
8. Virginia             1-0   1121   8
9. Wisconsin            1-0   1097   9
10. Arizona              1-0   1092  10
11. Xavier               1-0   1025   7
12. Louisville           1-0    811  13
13. Michigan St.         0-1    729  12
14. Gonzaga              1-0    725  14
15. Purdue               1-0    700  15
16. UCLA                 2-0    622  16
17. Saint Mary's (Cal)   1-0    593  17
18. Syracuse             1-0    551  19
19. West Virginia        1-0    392  20
20. Iowa St.             1-0    254  24
21. Rhode Island         1-0    250  23
22. Creighton            1-0    232  22
23. Texas                1-0    230  21
24. Cincinnati           1-0    120   _
25. California           1-0    109   _
Others receiving votes: Dayton 102, Maryland 100, Florida St. 95, San Diego St. 54, Florida 38, Miami 38, Wichita St. 37, Butler 26, NC State 23, Virginia Tech 21, Texas A&M 16, Notre Dame 14, Oklahoma 11, Ohio St. 9, UConn 9, Marquette 7, Monmouth (NJ) 7, Clemson 6, Seton Hall 6, Colorado 5, Mississippi St. 4, Ohio 2, Wagner 2, Yale 1, SMU 1, Princeton 1.

The season's not over, folks, and the Huskies are probably a little grateful they didn't have to sit on the Wagner loss for too long and get back into action tonight against Northeastern. The last time UConn lost to Northeastern, Jim Calhoun was head coach of the Huskies. The Northeastern Huskies. It was 1985, and you'd obviously expect UConn's string of success to continue tonight (though Alex Murphy will give UConn all it can handle).

Here's my advance story for tonight's game.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

No excuses, but Wagner was a bad matchup for UConn

There is absolutely, positively no excuse for UConn to lose to Wagner. Not at home. Not at Gampel. Not in the Huskies' season-opener. Not with a team full of high school McDonald's All-Americans and other top-rated recruits.

Except ...

Well, Wagner is a veteran team, with its top two scorers and eight of its key players returning from a squad that won the Northeast Conference (yeah, I know, not exactly a high-major league) last year and beat St. Bonaventure in an NIT game. Wagner also plays a methodical, control-the-tempo type of style.

In other words, the Seahawks were exactly the kind of team a young (albeit) talented UConn team would not want to face in its season-opener. The Huskies could hardly put a combination out on the floor on Friday night that had ever played together in an actual game.

Remember when Jim Calhoun refused to play Holy Cross nine years ago, instead making a last-minute switch to Buffalo, and even promising Buffalo a game at their place the following season (which the Huskies accommodated)? It was because Calhoun didn't want his team, which was coming off one of its worst seasons in a long while, to go up against a slow-it-down, veteran team like the Crusaders.

We'll repeat: there is no excuse for UConn to lose to Wagner on Friday night. But the Huskies couldn't have picked a worse mid-major matchup to open up their season against.

On the bright side for the Huskies: they received some letters-of-intent recently.