Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Juwan Durham commits to UConn

UConn got another nice commitment on Tuesday.

A national four-star recruit, he's another talented addition to the Huskies' Class of 2016 crop, joining Alterique Gilbert and Mamadou Diarra. More to come.

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Breaking down UConn's 2015-16 schedule

Here's a quick breakdown of UConn's 2015-16 schedule

Sun., Nov. 1 Tampa (exhibition) at Gampel, 2 p.m.
Division II program whose facilities UConn borrowed prior to USF game last year

Sat., Nov. 7 New Haven (exhibition)  at XL Center, 1 p.m.
Huskies will look to avenge football team’s loss to Chargers in 1992! First time programs have met in a major sport since.

Fri., Nov. 13 Maine  at Gampel, 7 p.m.
Black Bears coached by former Providence assistant Bob Walsh.

Tues., Nov. 17 New Hampshire at Gampel, 7 p.m.  
Wildcats may be UConn’s toughest low-major foe this season.

Sat., Nov. 21 Furman  at Gampel, TBD
Clearly an excuse to get RI native, Furman grad Brad Faxon over to a UConn game. Or not. This is a Battle 4 Atlantis "subregional" game.

Wed. Nov. 25 vs. Michigan at Imperial Arena, Bahamas, 9:30 p.m.
After disappointing 2014-15, John Beilein-coached Wolverines should be tourney team again. 

Thur., Nov. 26 vs. Syracuse or Charlotte  at Imperial Arena, Bahamas, TBD
A date with ex-Big East rival Orange sure would be delicious.

Fri., Nov. 27 vs. TBD  at Imperial Arena, Bahamas, TBD
Final game of Battle 4 Atlantis; could be first of two meetings with Texas.

Wed., Dec. 2 Sacred Heart  at XL Center, 7 p.m.
Pioneers went 9-9 in Northeast Conference last season.

Tue., Dec. 8 vs. Maryland at MSG, 9:30 p.m. 
The Diamond Bowl: Huskies go up vs. frosh Diamond Stone, who rejected UConn for Terps. Maryland should be a preseason national top-five team across the board.

Sat., Dec. 12 Ohio State at Gampel, noon 
First of home-and-home with Buckeyes, who lost NBA lottery pick D’Angelo Russell, several others.

Sun., Dec. 20 UMass-Lowell at XL Center, 4 p.m.  
Last of three America East foes on Huskies’ schedule.

Wed., Dec. 23 CCSU  at XL Center, 12:30 p.m.
Huskies face former assistant Howie Dickenman’s crew for second straight season.

Tue., Dec. 29 at Texas  at Erwin Center, 9 p.m.
Longhorns welcome Shaka Smart as new head coach after canning underachieving Rick Barnes; Sterling Gibbs returns to the school at which he started.

Sat., Jan. 2 at Tulane  at Devin Fieldhouse, TBD
With Sugar Bowl night before, New Orleans will be hoppin’ for Huskies’ AAC season opener.

Tue., Jan 5 Temple at XL Center, 8 p.m.
Owls were NCAA tourney’s top snub last year, but won’t make as convincing a case this season.

Sat., Jan. 9 Memphis at Gampel, 7 p.m. 
Austin Nichols transferred to Virginia, but Tigers welcome McD’s All-America brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson.

Thu., Jan. 14 at Tulsa at Reynolds Center, 7 p.m.
Golden Hurricane have every player back from last year’s second-place AAC squad. Literally, everyone.

Sun., Jan. 17 at Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion, 2 p.m.
Hofheinz Pavilion a house of horrors for UConn, who are 0-2 there in AAC play.

Tue., Jan. 19 Tulane at XL Center, 7 p.m.
Green Wave welcome deepest, most talented recruiting class in years.

Sat., Jan. 23 Georgetown at XL Center, noon  

Beginning of home-and-home with Hoyas, who will be strong, led by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and a top recruiting class that includes former UConn target Jessie Govan

Thu., Jan. 28 Cincinnati at XL Center, 7 p.m.
Bearcats have just about everyone back, including coach Mick Cronin, who missed most of last season with health issue.

Sun. Jan. 31 at Central Florida at CFE Arena, TBD
Two of AAC’s top frosh last year, B.J. Taylor, Adonys Henriquez, lead the way.

Thu., Feb. 4 at Memphis at FedExForum, 9 p.m.
Big man Shaq Goodwin played very well while Nichols was sidelined by injury last season.

Sun., Feb. 7 East Carolina at Gampel, noon
Huskies won’t visit ECU this season as part of AAC unbalanced schedule. Thank God, because last year's trip was a snowy, icy, flight-delayed nightmare. And not just for the writers.

Thu. Feb. 11 at Temple at Liacouras Center, 7 p.m.
Owls will always be dangerous as long as Fran Dunphy is their coach.

Sat., Feb. 13 Tulsa at Gampel, 8 p.m.
There aren’t many better all-around guards in league than James Woodard.

Thu., Feb. 18 SMU at XL Center, TBD
Led by reigning AAC player of year Nic Moore, Larry Brown’s Mustangs will vie for second straight league title.

Sat., Feb. 20 at Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena, TBD
Gary Clark, Octavius Ellis form possibly AAC’s top front line.

Thu., Feb 25 at South Florida at Sun Dome, TBD
Orlando Antigua will get this program turned around, but not this season.

Sun., Feb. 28 Houston at Gampel, TBD
Lots of people like Kelvin Sampson-coached Cougars as sleeper team in AAC. I don't quite see it yet.

Thu., March 3 at SMU at Moody Coliseum, 9 p.m.
Only thing that could hold Mustangs back this year is ongoing NCAA investigation.

Sun., March 6 Central Florida at Gampel, 2 p.m.
Coach Donnie Jones could be on hot seat if Knights don’t show improvement.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

A few key UConn dates to remember

For those counting the minutes 'til the start of the season, here are a few noteworthy dates coming up for UConn:

Monday or Tuesday, Aug. 31 or Sept. 1: AAC expected to release its conference schedule. It could be a day or two later. UConn will then follow suit by releasing its schedule in entirety.

Wednesday, Sept. 30: The annual Husky Run is scheduled.

Friday, Oct. 2: Teams can officially being to practice, however ...

Saturday, Oct. 3: ... UConn will likely have its first practice on this day.

Friday, Oct. 15: First Night festivities are scheduled.

Tuesday, Oct. 27: AAC Media Day in Orlando.

Sunday, Nov. 1: UConn's first exhibition game, against Tampa.

Friday, Nov. 13: Huskies begin their regular season at home against Maine.

Saturday, Jan. 2: UConn begins its American Athletic Conference schedule. Jambalaya!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

RIP, Darryl Dawkins

Darryl Dawkins, aka "Chocolate Thunder," passed away. We remember him as a powerful big man with a great personality. And, of course, this Wheaties commercial from the early '80's:


Monday, August 24, 2015

A sneak preview of previews

Tired of college football already? I am. Here's a sneak preview of a few previews -- of UConn and the AAC -- to help bide you some time 'til hoops season. (And yes, i realize there's a guy named Malik Morgan listed as one of UConn's losses. That will be corrected):

Thursday, August 6, 2015

UConn to face Michigan in opening tourney game; Syracuse could be on-deck

UConn will face Michigan in its first Battle 4 Atlantis tournament game -- with the possibility of a Thanksgiving Day treat against Syracuse the following day.

The Huskies will meet Michigan in their opening game on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at the Atlantis resort’s Imperial Arena on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The UConn-Michigan winner and loser will meet the Syracuse-Charlotte winner and loser on Thanksgiving Day.

The other two opening-day battles will be Gonzaga vs. Washington and Texas vs. Texas A&M. Game times will be set at a later date, with all games televised by either ESPN, ESPN2 or AXS TV. The UConn-Michigan game will be on AXS TV.

The three-day tournament ends on Friday, Nov. 27. All teams will play three games.

Michigan holds a 2-1 all-time edge over UConn. The Wolverines won the most recent meeting: 68-63 on Jan. 17, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Huskies had defeated Michigan the prior season, 69-61, on Feb. 7, 2009 at Gampel Pavilion. The only other meeting between the programs was back on Dec. 18, 1939 -- a 62-45 Wolverine win.

Michigan struggled last season, finishing 16-16 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten. However, the Wolverines have just about all their key players back, led by Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin and Kameron Chatman -- Daniel Hamilton's former AAU teammate and a one-time UConn target.

UConn defeated Syracuse 66-58 on Feb. 13, 2013 -- the last time the teams would ever meet as Big East rivals. Syracuse joined the ACC the following season, while UConn’s league became known as the American Athletic Conference. Syracuse holds a 54-37 all-time advantage over UConn.

Of course, before they face each other again, they’ll both either have to win (or lose) their opening Battle 4 Atlantis games.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Kevin Ollie on Amida Brimah, Sam Cassell, Jr., transfers, recruiting ... and Dave Kaplan's hole-in-one!

Kevin Ollie spoke with the media today, prior to his annual golf tournament, which supports sport and recreational opportunities for people with disabilities.

First, the lead story of the day: UConn assistant director of athletics-video services Dave Kaplan scored a hole-in-one on a the 184-yard, par-3 18th hole on Monday and won a Honda Pilot. Not bad for a self-professed "hacker."

"We can say that sets the tone for the season," Ollie quipped.

Here's why that particular charity means so much to Ollie:

“It’s special to my heart because of (former UConn teammate) Steve Emt first. That’s why I got into the Tolland Fund. What we did for him, and what he went through in his car accident -- but he’s doing great now. Helping athletes with disabilities -- and I don’t even say disabilities. 'Disabilities' comes from your mind. These kids and young adults that we help, they’re striving for greatness. We want to give them a shot to compete -- on a national level, or just around here, recreationally.”

(on how recruiting has been going)

“It’s been going well. We’ve been making some good contacts with a lot of great players. Just sitting down and making sure your staff is getting seen -- that’s pretty much what it is. We’ve already evaluated the guys we like. It’s pretty much just making sure they see us. With social media, it’s a different environment now with recruiting. With all the different tournaments, it’s kind of hard sometimes. But that’s why we get down i the ‘situation room’ and prioritize and go after the guys we really want. Sometimes we win some, sometimes we lose some, but eventually it works out if you have the same creed in mind -- getting great UConn student-athletes, not just athletes.”

(on UConn tapping into the fifth-year senior market so successfully)

“The landscape of collegiate sports now. I believe it’s up to 700 transfers now, which is out of control. But you have to look at it in your recruiting portfolio as something that you have to do and understand and navigate. We start early, we had some great players to come to us this year. Hopefully, they play a vital role in a great season.”

“When R.J. (Evans) gets a master’s degree in one year, that pretty much helps everybody. Lasan (Kromah) did a great job, he’s gonna be finishing up. Everybody can’t be R.J. R.J. was our first fifth-year (senior) (since) I became the head coach. For him to do it in one year was really amazing. He really set a tone. Lasan came in and did a great job, helped us win a national championship but also did an amazing job in the classroom. Everything I’m getting from Sterling (Gibbs) and Shonn Miller is that they’re doing amazing in the counseling program they’re involved in. It’s going amazingly well.”

(on Amida Brimah)

“Last year he was out with the soulder injury, couldn’t really work like he wanted to work. Anybody who knows Amida, he still worked. But to the capacity he’s able to do it now is great. He just went to adidas Nation, got some great reviews on him there.”

(on whether this year we'll see "the real Sam Cassell")

"The real Sam Cassell? Yeah. I thought the real Sam Cassell was there. I touch him everyday, he’s breathing. As a player? Yeah, he got hurt, so he couldn’t really show the real Sam Cassell. But what he did do -- which was phenomonal -- was he stayed with the team. I felt like Sam was still working out, he was always around the guys, encouraging the guys. Sometimes, somebody gets an injury and they withdraw. He actually started coming in even more. That’s the real Sam for me. Everybody looks at the basketball, but I look at the totality of the man. For him to still involved himself with team activities, being hurt, really shows a lot about his character. That’s what we thought about with Sam coming in -- that he has a high character. I love him, and hopefully he has some more opportunities this year to go out and -- I guess -- show the real Sam Cassell. But I see the true man. And the true man has been there ever since.”

(on last season)

“I thought we had a season of up’s and down’s last year. But like I tell everybody, we had a character-building season. I had a character-building season as a coach. It’s not going to always be a national championship. We’re gonna have to go through some valleys. But in the valleys, that’s where you get stronger. I think we got stronger as a team, and we’re looking forward to 2015.”

(on whether UConn has definite plans for its 13th scholarship)

“Not yet. Hopefully a 7-footer parachutes down, and I’ll be right there to catch him. But I don’t know if that’s gonna happen. I look up all the time, hopefully he’s coming down soon. But if he doens’t come down, we’ll have that extra scholarship, and I’ll look at possibly a walk-on filling it. But it’s still open, there are still some activities around there. We’ve still got our antennae up, like always, checking and seeing what’s happening through the wire. So if you all hear something, make sure you put it on your Twitter account, OK?”

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