LOUISVILLE – Got to town in time for the Cardinals interview opportunities. Louisville honors its own exceptional senior class on Saturday, so the focus was on Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Stephen Van Treese and Tim Henderson.
But Pitino took a moment to talk about UConn and about his long relationship with Jim Calhoun.
The Cardinals have won eight of the last nine against the Huskies, the only loss coming in the Big East Tournament in 2011. They have beaten Kevin Ollie’s teams twice by double-digits, including 76-64 at Gampel on Jan. 18. With Louisville joining the ACC next year, this marks the last UConn-Louisville conference game … for now.
“It’s not me having success, it’s the players having success. I haven’t scored a bucket in 12 years I’ve been here.
We’ve had great games against them.They’ve got a great backcourt, we have a great back court. They have a center [Amida Brimah] that, I said earlier, has really gotten a lot Continue reading
HARTFORD – Grrrrrrr. As in grind, grit, gutting it out. All those G-words applied to UConn’s win over Cincinnati, a physical game, a guy thing. The Huskies have proven their mental toughness, here they showed mental and physical toughness (for the most part).
I’m not into style points or worrying about who plays how many minutes or the various stats at this time of year. You just need to put wins in the bank, and especially against a ranked, first-place team like Cincy, the Huskies need to win any which way they could.
They got it done. They’re 23-6. You know, things just aren’t that bad. Here’s the game story for the Sunday Courant.
Raspy voice and all, here is the full 10 minutes of Kevin Ollie, unplugged:
“Great game by us, not offensively, but defensively, which is what we hang our hats on. I told the guys, there are going to be droughts in the game, but you can’t have droughts on defense in your energy or effort. If you watched the game, there were no let-ups.
… I pretty much told them it was going to be 90 percent punches and 10 percent plays. There weren’t going to be a lot of X’s and O’s, there were going to be a lot of punches Continue reading
NEW YORK – Okay, quite a night for the Huskies. If you were not a believer in this group, there is more evidence now to support the notion that this could be a special season.
UConn 59, Indiana 58. Brand names. Heavyweights at The Garden, and UConn, which won an NIT and seven Big East tournaments in this arena, showed they still belong among the nation’s elite programs, regardless of the fortunes of conference realignment.
It’s past midnight here at The Garden, lots of stuff for you to chew on …
Others have had their nights. This was all Shabazz Napier. “He’s just too good,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said, “he’s got one of those un-teachable abilities to make big shots at crucial times.”
Shabazz, the 2K Classic’s MVP, scored 27, putting UConn ahead again and again down the stretch. The comparisons to Kemba Walker, by New York reporters who covered the Big East Tournament in 2011, were inevitable.
“That’s my big brother,” Napier said, “I try to emulate everything he does in a sense, and put my type of Continue reading
UConn was ranked 18th in the preseason AP Writers’ Poll, which came out Thursday, one slot ahead of where the Huskies ranked in the USA Today/Coaches poll last week.
The Huskies, who open the season against Maryland at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next Friday, were again one of three American Athletic Conference teams to be ranked. Louisville was No. 3, and Memphis No. 13. Cincinnati was in the “others receiving votes” category, getting one 25th-place vote.
The “new” Big East has one ranked team, Marquette at No. 17, though Creighton, Villanova, Georgetown and St. John’s received votes. An indication that the AAC is strong, but top-heavy, and the new Big East, like the old, is good top to bottom.
In any event, UConn will start the season in the Top 20 in both polls, not a bad jumping off point.
Here is the complete AP Poll
MEMPHIS – The first AAC Media Day is in the books. A few notes, quotes and thoughts …
This league should really be pretty good – this year. Once Louisville leaves, there will be a gap in power and brand recognition, no question. And when Larry Brown, 73, moves on, SMU will lose the most compelling thing about its program.
This is something the teams will have to address, and UConn, too, by scheduling better and better non-conference opponents. But for now, a coaching dais that includes Rick Pitino, Larry Brown, Fran Dunphy, Kevin Ollie, et al, is fairly glittering, and the inaugural AAC season should have its share of ranked teams.
Here’s the main story on our website and for the Thursday Courant. Lots of coverage, video, photos, etc., there.
I know they only picked first and second teams, but I feel like DeAndre Daniels should have had a Continue reading
Here is our coverage from the main website on Tyler Olander’s reinstatement.
NEW YORK – Continuing with interviews from the Jimmy V Classic event this week, I caught up with Josh Pastner, the Memphis Tigers coach.
Here’s what is meant by everything being relative. While fans of former Big East schools, such as UConn, may lament the demise of the old conference, Memphis couldn’t be more excited to be leaving Conference USA for a league, the American Athletic Conference, that includes strong brands like UConn and Cincinnati – and, for one year, Louisville.
Pastner, 36 and very youthful, and he exudes enthusiasm for the AAC:
“Mick Cronin has done an amazing job at Cincinnati,” Pastner said, “he’s been awesome. Kevin Ollie, what he did last year, was terrific and [UConn’] loaded. I look at them as two elite programs, UConn and Cincinnati, two well-coached programs. Their names are strong, not only within the Region but nationally. Very strong, as strong as any other teams out there.”
“… I think the league’s really good. I personally think it’s the best basketball league, or we’re right darn there, in the country. When you’re talking top to bottom, there’s going to be a lot of good teams.
I think UConn’s going to be really good. I know coach Ollie has done an amazing job there. It wouldn’t surprise me if some people picked them as a sleeper pick to win the league. I know Continue reading
Phil Nolan is back from the Four Nations Cup in Tallinn, Estonia, where his team, the East Coast All-Stars, finished 2-1, losing the final game to Estonia, 88-79.
I asked coach Guy Rancourt how Nolan did:
“Phil did a great job,” Rancourt said. “His energy and effort on the offensive glass gave us much-needed second- and third-chance opportunities throughout. He was a very good free-throw-shooter as well, he made two cluitch shots form the line with under a minute to play in our three-point victory over Belarus.”
Nolan played 7 ½ minutes in the last game, got two rebounds and hit his two free throw attempts. In Continue reading
Pairings have not been officially announced for the Y2K Classic, but ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that UConn will play Boston College in one of the semifinal games at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 21.
UConn, BC, Indiana and Washington are the four “host schools” of the 12-team field, and they are guaranteed games in The Garden on the 21st and 22nd, though they will also play two preliminary round games at their home sites. The remaining eight teams have not yet been announced.
If UConn plays BC on the 21st, the Huskies would then play either Indiana or Washington the next day. If UConn and Washington decide to complete their home-and-home commitment this season with a game at Seattle, it could mean they would play twice. That does not appear to be a concern.
Obviously, UConn vs. BC has a little juice to it, with acrimony between the programs since BC left the Big East. They have not played since 2005.
Here is more info from the Y2K Classic’s website.
UConn’s other non-conference opponents include Maryland at the Barclay’s Center on Nov. 8, that’s official, a home game against Florida Dec. 2 (not yet officially announced) and home games against Stanford and Harvard and the road game at Washington, not yet official.
The new American Athletic Conference, which has 10 teams, will play an 18-game league schedule, with each team playing the other nine home and away, so UConn will play defending national champion Louisville twice in the regular season. The AAC says it won’t have “travel partners” per se, but will try to make the travel burden easier, so you could see UConn playing, for instance, at SMU and Houston on one swing.
Omar Calhoun had two off-season surgical procedures to address discomfort in both hips, a UConn spokesman confirmed.
Calhoun had surgery to address femoral acetabular impingement (FAI) on his left hip in March and his right hip in April. The surgery involves shaving bone to alleviate discomfort, and hopefully avoid future discomfort. Recovery time is three to four months, so Calhoun, who will be a sophomore next season, should be 100 percent by mid-August. If he was considering trying for Team USA this summer, this injury would eliminate that.
Calhoun averaged 11.3 points and 3.9 rebounds last season, playing at small forward in all but the last game. He was hampered by a wrist injury late in the season.
Word of Calhoun’s surgeries was first reported via twitter by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.
STORRS – Had the chance to sit down and do some interviews at Gampel on Monday and I’ll be offering parts of them through the week here …
DeAndre Daniels’ first year at UConn was a struggle. He appeared in 31 games and started many, but didn’t play starter minutes. He averaged just three points, 2.1 rebounds and frequently drew the ire of coach Jim Calhoun. Before his sophomore season, when asked about the new coach, Kevin Ollie, Daniels often said he “wasn’t as mean.”
Daniels had a break-through during this past season, and it was a break-through in many ways. For instance, he now understands what Calhoun was trying to do and their relationship has become a solid one.
“I talk to coach [Calhoun] every day,” Daniels said, “every time he comes in we have a conversation about life and basketball. He’s had confidence in me since day one. He tries to instill it in me. My freshman year, when I didn’t have confidence in myself, he was just trying to make me tougher, trying to tell me what to do, how to carry myself.
“It’s tough love. But everything he does, he means it with love. He really cares about all the guys on the team.”
Calhoun, at the State Capitol last week, was raving about the change in Daniels, how he no longer “slumps his Continue reading