Category Archives: Lasan Kromah

UConn Men Vs. Iowa State: Setting The Scene At The Garden

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, DeAndre Daniels, Kevin Ollie, Lasan Kromah, NCAA, Niels Giffey, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Tim Abromaitis, UConn men's basketball
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NEW YORK – We are looking live at the Mecca of Basketball, the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden. NCAA Sweet 16.

It has been home of some of the greatest events of the 20th and 21st Centuries, and tonight it is home for UConn men’s basketball. The Huskies and Iowa State are about 45 minutes away, and we set the scene. The players had a shoot-around here earlier today, and were just on the floor warming up. They’re back in the locker room now.

The UConn Pep Band is making its way into the arena and to their seats, to a round of applause

I was in the city today, but I’m told trains from New Haven on into Grand Central were packed and loud. The arena is teeming with New York media big wigs – or, to quote Mel Brook’s line from The Producers, “the toast of society is burning tonight.” I passed Jim Calhoun and John Thompson on the way to my courtside seat.

Thanks to Joe D. for having me on the WTIC-AMm 1080 pregame show, always a pleasure.

The Huskies will stay with the lineup they’ve used since March 13: Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, Continue reading

On To The Garden To ‘Take Care Of Business;’ Wrapping Things Up In Buffalo

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, DeAndre Daniels, Jim Calhoun, Kentan Facey, Kevin Ollie, Lasan Kromah, NCAA, Niels Giffey, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Terrence Samuel, UConn men's basketball
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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Snowing like a son-of-a-gun as we pull out of town on the Amtrak early Sunday morning.

 It’s a good time to be getting out of Buffalo.

It’s especially a good time if you’re the Huskies, who came, saw, survived and advanced to New York.

“We call The Garden our second home,” Ryan Boatright said, “because when we go there, we take care of  business.”

The business will be difficult, no matter who UConn finds in the Sweet 16, but there will be plenty of time to talk about that. Right now, they can bask in the glow of a job well done.

The 77-65 win over Villanova was a truly impressive performance in every way. UConn’s defense kept the Wildcats tossing up three pointers, and the offense got it done. Shabazz Napier, despite the foul trouble, was 9-for-13 and scored 25 points in 25 minutes. “Napier was just awesome,” Jay Wright said.

The 16-1 run while Napier was on the bench was as impressive as anything the Huskies have done all year, and the rebounding and ball-hawking were outstanding, after a tentative first few minutes.

Villanova, on the other side, really turned out to be a paper tiger. If the old Big East were intact they would not have had anywhere near the 29-4 record they did, or the seed they got.  UConn outplayed them, outscored them  68-46 over the last 30 minutes or so.

Due to the lateness of the game, your newspaper has our first version of the game story, with no quotes. The final version went online about 2 a.m. – here it is.

Now, on to Kevin Ollie at the podium.

“Great game by our guys.  They showed some resiliency.  They showed toughness, and they just played with a will. When Shabazz went out, guys stepped up, and that’s what a team is all about.  Then in the second half, he scored 21 points for us. But everybody was strong.  Everybody rebounded the basketball, and we just played together.  It was a gutty win. We’re going to the Garden.  We just love to plant seeds.  We’re going to keep planting seeds there.  We’re going to keep playing together and keep caring for each other.”

“I’ve seen a lot.  I’ve seen us being great for three.  When we called great for three, it’s not enough to go two slots.  We have to go the third slot.  They was penetrating and going out and getting easy threes.  So we wanted to run them off the three?point line.
“I think when Shabazz got his foul, his second foul, we started really turning up the defense another notch with him on the bench.  It’s nothing against Shabazz, it was just we got to take this moment.  The game is right now.
I think once they took Shabazz out on this last play and he hit three and was up nine, we went on a 16?1 run.  It was just a great run by us with our leader on the bench.  But that just shows you what kind of team we’re made out of.
“Everybody talks about we’re not deep, we’re not this, we’re not that, but we’ve got heart.  Every guy that comes in on the court, they stay positive, and they stay productive.
I’m going to keep saying the same thing.  That’s what our guys do.  That’s how we’re built.  We’re UConn made.  We’re UConn made through and through.  And every day we come out there and play with that toughness and play with that heart.”

 

“[Napier’s] just tough?minded.  A lot of things he’s been through in life made him that way.  His mother Carmen is one of the toughest ladies around, and he’ll be the first to say that, how he was raised and what she had to do to keep their home together, and I think he gets that toughness from her.
“He goes out there and plays.  I told you on many occasions he does whatever we need to win.  If that’s scoring a scoop shot, that’s being my unpaid coach for 12 minutes, you know, that’s what he does.”

“We’ve been telling Terrence [Samuel] and all of our guys, you’ve got to recover quickly.  For me, I’ve got to be positive over there because they’re looking at me, and I have to have the right body language when he makes a mistake. That’s what I try to do with Terrence.  He’s going to be a great player for us.  He’s maturing right now.  Like I told him, once he stepped on the free?throw line the last game, he’s not no freshman no more.  You’re all sophomores.  This is the big stage, and they’re stepping up and playing wonderful basketball.”
“Things you don’t see.  I keep telling you.  They work hard in practice.  Kentan [Facey's] working hard.  You don’t see it, but he’s working hard.  All our guys have that passion and that want to get better.  We tell our guys, every time you step on the court, Try to do something better.
Terrence is maturing, and he’s a great competitor, but he’s also a great teammate.  He’s going to be a great basketball player for us and a great student?athlete for the University of Connecticut.”

“I just explain, we plant seeds.  We plant seeds every day in practice.  Sometimes you’re not going to see them growing the first day or first two days, but sooner or later, they’re going to grow.  That’s what they do each and every day.”
“Lasan [Kromah] has been working hard.  He does different things for us to win.  You know, against Saint Joe’s, he played tremendous defense on Galloway that last possession.  We just want our guys to be solid, just continue to play their role, be solid, and just contribute in so many different ways.”
“You don’t have to be a great player all the time, but you can always be a great teammate.  That’s what we try to strive for all our guys to be great teammates on and off the basketball court.”

“[When Shabazz went out], I just believed in my team.  I’m hurting for him because I don’t want him coming out of the game.  But like they just said, we’ve been hurting a lot, but we stayed here.  We’re hurting, but we’re still here.  That’s our motto.  We’re going to be here.  We’re going to stand up.  We’re going to say I’m present.
If Shabazz is on the bench, we’ve got to keep going forward for him, and we got to uphold each other.  I think that’s what we did.  Then Shabazz got back in.  I knew he’s a tough player.  He’s going to get back in there, and that’s what he did, and he led us to victory. “
“He was just unbelievable that second half.  You know, 21 points, crucial threes, dagger threes.  You know, it looked like he was 30 feet out and just making them with all the utmost confidence in the world.  Great game by him.
But it was a great thing, when he’s on the bench, our other players can step up and provide a great spark for us.”

“I just want to keep riding Uncle Mo.  That’s the momentum.  Wherever it takes us, it’s going to take us.
We got to stay together as a team.  We can’t get drunk off success.  We got to make sure we understand we go back to work on Monday.  Give the kids the day off and then go back to work.  We see who we’re playing, and we’ve got to prepare.  That’s what we need to do, and whatever happens is going to happen.
We’re going to write our own story.  We’re not going to let anybody write it for us.  We’re going to continue to learn and grow and appreciate this journey that we’re on.”

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Here is Jeff Jacobs take on the game, and pics from Steve Dunn.

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Some player quotes, from the podium and the locker room, which was fun to work at 1 a.m..

From Shabazz Napier

On his injury:   I was trying to get open for the ball, and I think it was Hilliard was playing me aggressively.  I just tried to make a move, and he kind of kicked me or kneed me in my shin area.  The pain was just excruciating.  I couldn’t really put pressure on it.
Continue reading

UConn 89, St. Joseph’s 81 (OT) Wrapping Things Up At First Niagara

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, DeAndre Daniels, Harvard Basketball, Kevin Ollie, Lasan Kromah, NCAA, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Terrence Samuel, UConn men's basketball
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First things first – UConn will play Villanova on Saturday in the late game at Buffalo. Syracuse vs. Dayton is at 7:10, Huskies-Wildcats will be after the conclusion, or about 9:30 p.m.

BUFFALO, N.Y – A reporter from Buffalo asked Phil Martelli if he ever stopped to think what a great basketball game he was involved in.

“I appreciate that,” Martelli said, “and if I worked for the network and I could care about viewership, I’d be cool about that. But it wasn’t so great.”

Reminds me once that the Raiders lost a close game on Monday Night Football, and after ward, Howard Cosell approached John Madden and said, “John, you gave us a great show …”

Madden responded, “A great show? A great show? That’s a game we just lost. Laverne and Shirley – that’s a show.”

The point being, the NCAA Tournament is filled with great games, games like Dayton-Ohio State and UConn-St. Joseph played at First Niagara on Thursday. The local folks got a great show for their money.

But those who participate are all about the winning and the losing, because a loss and it ends the season, a career if you are a senior.

“When you work hard for something and it goes down the drain, that saddens me,” Shabazz Napier said, after the Huskies finally outlasted the Hawks in OT. “I’m glad I came out on the other end of it. I just wanted to go [to St. Joe’s seniors] and show them my respect.”

Nice gesture by Napier, and a nice snapshot of what the NCAA Tournament is about. It’s dramatic, it’s emotional and Thursday in Buffalo was a good day, unless you were part of the Ohio State or St. Joseph camp. … Here is the game story for the Friday Courant.

Now, about the Huskies … They were outplayed pretty badly for much of the game, and they were outworked for rebounds and loose balls much of the time. But St. Joe’s had no bench, got into foul trouble and the players were out of gas. UConn was relentless down the stretch and in OT, and  earned the win.

“They’re not a 10 seed, and I don’t think we’re a 7 seed,” Kevin Ollie said. “But at the end of the day it’s about planting seeds …”

Yep, new Ollie-ism.

Here’s more of the coach’s take at the podium:

“First of all, I thought it was a great game by both teams.  Unfortunately, someone had to lose.  I’m just glad we came out on top.
The guys right here [Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels], they played hard.  They played with grit.  They played with grind.  At the end of the day, we wanted to outwork our opponent.  It took a little longer than I thought, but fortunately, we got it done at the end.
We started making plays.  It’s all on my players, and I thank them for having a great game for this great university.

“… It was a great win.  It’s for the university.  I love this university.  Those players right there, that’s what kept this university alive.  They could have transferred.  They could have done anything.
Like I said, they have even now faith.  Even now we’re going through a dark time, we’re Continue reading

UConn 72, Memphis 53: Wrapping Things Up At The Forum

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, Kevin Ollie, Lasan Kromah, Niels Giffey, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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MEMPHIS – It’s on. Shabazz Napier and UConn , Sean Kilpatrick and Cincinnati in the rubber match.

They’ve split two grueling defensive games, and they’ll go at it Friday night in the AAC semifinals … With a little intrigue.

As Shabazz Napier was receiving the AAC player of the year award on Wednesday, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin and Kilpatrick both were clear in expressing their sentiment that Kilpatrick, who led the league in scoring for the regular-season co-champs, should have gotten the award. Kilpatrick vowed to make things “20 times tougher” on opponents in this tournament.

He scored 21 points Friday as the Bearcats struggled to get past No. 9 Cincinnati 61-58, a typical Cincinnati game. Cincy coach Mick Cronin casually referred to Kilpatrick as “the player of the year in the conference.”

After UConn’s impressive 72-53 win over the host Memphis Tigers, Napier was asked if he looked forward to facing Kilpatrick.

“… I don’t really care about him,” Napier said. “… He cares so much about the MVP. I don’t care about that, I mean, if he wants it, he can have it. I’m not into I’m not into individual accolades. I’m not looking to play Cincinnati just to play Kilpatrick, I’m here for my team.”

 

So, there you go. Going to be interesting.

Now, about this game …

Great win for UConn. You don’t need me to tell you that. Those of you, and there are many, who have called for Niels Giffey to get more shots can say “we told you so.”

Giffey was left open, and he caught and shot with authority. He made 9 of 11, and that was your ballgame right there. He demolished his previous career highs with 24 points and nine rebounds.

Napier, need we say, was a little more pointed. “It’s the way they play defense. They double Boatright and myself on the pick and rolls and leave shooters open. It’s kind of astonishing, Niels is one of the best shooters in the country. We’ll take those all night. Those are like warm-up shots for him.”

Ollie’s goals were 15 assists, which UConn got, and better transition defense. Memphis blew past the Huskies for 20 fastbreak points in Hartford, but had only eight in this game. UConn outrebounded Memphis 36-35, but the Huskies dominated in the paint, 30-18.

Even Amida Brimah had three assists.

Memphis just played terrible, offensively and defensively.

 

Kevin Ollie:

“The game was played at a high speed and I thought our guys came in with the right mind?set and that mind?set is togetherness.  We shared the basketball.  We put on the Continue reading

UConn vs. Louisville: Setting The Scene At YUM! Center

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, AP Top 25, DeAndre Daniels, Kevin Ollie, Lasan Kromah, NCAA, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Terrence Samuel, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
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LOUISVILLE – Looking out on the court at KFC YUM! Center, where the Huskies are out shooting about 45 minutes before the game. We set the scene:

Louisville’s Senior Day ceremonies will start about 1:45. The game is scheduled to tip at 2:06 p.m. on CBS. There’s a football press conference going on down the hall.

Anticipating the regular UConn lineup – Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, Lasan Kromah and Amida Brimah.

Will be interesting to see how Kevin Ollie manages his rotation today. Daniels and Boatright have been spending more time on the bench the last few games, Niels Giffey has been out there more and, against Rutgers, got off a few more starts. Terrence Samuel has been trusted with more quality minutes, too. … Wonder of Tyler Olander will play more today.

The Huskies are trying to get the third seed in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, and will need to win today to do that. Both teams are ranked in the AP Poll, UConn No. 19, Louisville No. 11. UConn, in the most recent RPI rankings released by the NCAA, is 29th,

 

The refs for today are Joe DeRosa, Tom Eades and Mike Sanzere.

Lot of scouts here today, as there were when these teams played at Storrs on Jan. 18. The Lakers, Spurs, Bulls, T-Wolves, Pacers and Nets have seats reserved for their talent assessors.

Louisville’s seven-game winning streak over UConn in the regular season is the longest such Continue reading

UConn vs. Rutgers: Setting The Senior Night Scene At Gampel

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, DeAndre Daniels, Lasan Kromah, Niels Giffey, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
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STORRS – Looking live at Gampel Pavilion, the start of Senior Night Festivities about 15 minutes away, the start of the Huskies game against Rutgers about 40 minutes away. Both have been on the floor shooting, the UConn Pep Band is killing it.

… Hearing the seniors will start for UConn tonight – meaning Niels Giffey, Lasan Kromah, Tyler Olander and Shabazz Napier, with DeAndre Daniels.

It would be just a few minutes, of course, before Ryan Boatright and Amida Brimah check in for Giffey and Olander.

Your officials tonight: Bryan Kersey, John Gaffney, Brian O’Connell.

UConn has made the live stream of the festivities free for all on uconnhuskies.com.

Houston clinched the sixth seed in the AAC Tournament, so if the Huskies can move up to No. 3 they would play the Cougars in the first game.

Here is our story from the Wednesday Courant, and our capsule look at the matchup.

Jeff Jacobs and I will be tweeting all evening from  the festivities, so follow us on Twitter @AmoreCourant and @JacobsCourant.

Updated: How To Watch Senior Night Festivities; No Subscription Needed

by Categorized: Lasan Kromah, Niels Giffey, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
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Just a quick note from UConn … Here is the link to see the Senior Night festivities beginning at 6:35 p.m.

Note: At 5 p.m., UConn announced the live streaming on uconnhuskies.com will be free, no subscription needed..

There will also be video available on YouTube, roughly by halftime.

Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander, Niels Giffey and Lasan Kromah will be honored.

 

Kevin Ollie On The Class of 2014: ‘We Needed Those Guys To Stay’

by Categorized: Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, Lasan Kromah, Niels Giffey, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
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STORRS – Here are Kevin Ollie’s thoughts on the seniors who will be honored before UConn’s game vs. Rutgers on Wednesday night at Gampel.

Their loyalty, what they showed staying with the program through adversity, the character, the leadership they showed when we were in a difficult time. It means a lot to me, and, I can’t speak for Coach Calhoun but I’m sure he has the same sentiment.

We needed those guys to stay, and they stuck with us. They won a national championship, two NCAA tournaments, 95 wins in their career and a few more to go, if they could that century mark it would be terrific.

It’s been a pleasure to be around them. I came in t he same time they came in, I was kind of a freshman in the [coaching] profession. All of us have grown together.

Adversity always molds you. The character you show in those times is going to mold you, you’re probably not going to see the benefits til after their career here, when life hits you. How to continue to stay with it and not give in, understand that you have to embrace pain. There was a lot of pain around here, but everybody who was in this program embraced it and then success came.

They’re the beneficiaries. Leadership is not just in words, they showed it with their actions and these  other guys are better leaders for it, too

I think Tyler [Olander] has learned since his four years being here, national champions, starting, not playing a lot, going through the mistakes on and off the basketball court. … I think Tyler would be a hell of a coach. I observe everything. I’m a point guard so I observe everything. The way he’s treating the other guys that are pretty much taking his minutes – I’ve been in that role before – and for him to embrace them and teach them the little nuances of the game has been great.

Niels [Giffey] is my rock, I tell you all that all t he time, a typical UConn basketball player, an ambassador for our program. Playing, not playing, he’s like ‘coach what do I need to do, how can I get better?” I’ll love him for that always.

And ‘Bazz [Napier] is just an incredible person. He’s going to pass me on assists in a little bit, eighth in scoring. I think his name will be following Khalid [El-Amin] soon up in the rafters. He deserves all of the accolades he’s gotten. A tremdenous person on and off the court, how he’s grown as a leader. He’s been great.

Lasan [Kromah] coming in for the one year here, he’s made a mark on this program and I appreciate his hard work also.

The  game [against Rutgers] is very important. We’ll get through that [emotion and ceremony] and then play basketball. We’ve been talking about hangovers. We understand you can’t have hangovers, we had a great win against Cincinnati, but now we’re moving on.

[Napier’s] legacy is going to be great. He’ll be first one to say he only wants to win, and he’s won a lot of games here. He’s done a great job understanding leadership from the inside out, going through tough times as every leader does, showing his vulnerability, showing that’ I don’t know it all. I need help from my teammates. I can’t do it by myself, I can’t separate myself from my team.’ All the different things he’s learned in his four years here will help him immensely outside of basketball. That’s the thing I’m so proud about.

“Tyler … awesome. He was in Florida [on the video], rapping … he’s not doing that stuff anymore. He’s just grown. His being on time, the different things – we know what he had to do to get reinstated and he did it it. And what he’s doing now, being a selfless leader, not getting all the accolades, not getting all  the minutes, but he’s right there coaching the guys on. I believe in second chances, I got a lot of second chances in life. He’s made the most out of his second and third chance.

“All of them are going to graduate on time. It’s tremendous, especially with the APR situation we had. They endured. It speaks volumes of them as student-athletes. Shabazz has a big time load, two labs that he’s doing,. But he wants to get that paper. He wants to walk across that stage to his mother and say ‘I graduated.’ Kudos to him and all the guys. Niels is probably taking one or two classes now, he has done his work. Tyler has done his work It’s just a great class. There’s going to be a lot of tears shed. I’m going to miss those guys a lot.”

*****

It would not be complete, writing about this senior class, without talking to Jim Calhoun, who shared his thoughts with me from home on Tuesday night. That will be included in our main advance for the Wednesday Courant.

And here is our capsule look at the UConn-Rutgers game.

 

UConn at USF: Setting the Scene in Tampa

by Categorized: Amida Brimah, Lasan Kromah, Niels Giffey, Prince Ali, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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TAMPA, Fla. – Greetings from Tampa. The Huskies are out shooting around at the Sun Dome, about 30 minutes to game time.

Everybody appears healthy for UConn. Would assume the same lineup, Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, Lasan Kromah, Amida Brimah. Will update if there’s a change.

Will the Huskies find a way to get Niels Giffey open and get him the ball? Easier said than done, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea. South Florida doesn’t have the length SMU had, the penetrate-and-kick-out game should be more effective tonight.

Was on The Bower Show this afternoon, and with Joe D. on the pregam show. Thanks to both for having me. One topic was how badly the Huskies need at least one more win to assure a tournament berth. If they were to lose all their remaining games, and in the first round in Memphis, they would be 21-11 – and I’m not sure that would do it. I think they need one, maybe two more to really be sure. That places serious importance on tonight’s game vs. the Bulls, and maybe March 5 vs. Rutgers.

UConn commit Prince Ali scored 22 points and had seven rebounds to lead his school, Sagemont, to a win in the state semifinals here Tuesday night. Ali came right back with 20 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday as Sagemont (33-0) beat Tampa Prep for the Class 3A title. Karl Hobbs has been out in Lakeland watching Ali play.

Here’s a recap from the Lakeland Ledger.

UConn vs. SMU: Setting Things up at Gampel

by Categorized: Amida Brimah, DeAndre Daniels, Jim Calhoun, Lasan Kromah, Rip Hamilton, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
Date:

STORRS – Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. … Let’s set the scene at Gampel, with the start of UConn vs. SMU just a few minutes away.

Same lineup for the Huskies: DeAndre Daniels, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Lasan Kromah, Amida Brimah.  … Seems like everybody’s healthy and available.

Refs for today: James Luckie, Michael Stephens, Tim Nestor.

Looks like a near sell-out crowd, but not quite.

Was up in the lobby talking to some of the members of the 1998-99 championship team, which is being honored at halftime. Rip Hamilton is back at Gampel for a game for the first time since ’99.

“I’ve been in Hartford for games,” he said “but Gampel is special.”

Hamilton has been out of the league this season, but has been talking to teams about returning for the playoff push. “I could’ve made a decision before the season,” he said, “but want to see how the Continue reading