For DeAndre Daniels, It’s About Maturity, Confidence …

by Categorized: Big East, DeAndre Daniels, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, Rip Hamilton, UConn men's basketball
Date:

 

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 shoulders when he makes a mistake,” and the purposefulness he sees in the weight room. Daniels, 6-foot-8 and 195 pounds, started at power forward last year and, though it seems at first as if he’d get pushed around in the Big East, he more than held his own. He clamped down on some of the league’s best players, and by the end of the year he was scoring 20 points consistently. He averaged 12.3, with 4.5 rebounds and NBA scouts were paying attention.

“There was a break through,” Daniels said. “As the season went on, I became more confident in myself and my abilities, and my teammates were giving me the ball and telling me to take over and play the way I play. It’s just a mental thing with me. When I have confidence in myself, I can do everything on the court. And every game, I’m just telling myself, ‘I’m the best player on the court.’ I just had to go out there and make it happen.”

 

Last week, he decided, like Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier, to return to UConn.

 “My third year will be a lot better than my first and even second year,” he said, “because of my experience. I know what it’s like. Just the confidence I have in myself right now and the work I’m putting in every day. … It kind of feels like I’m closer to my dreams, but I’m not there yet. I still have a lot of work to do to get better.”

After the first summer session of classes is over, Daniels plans to go to his home in Los Angeles to train and work out. He wants to improve his ball handling. He says he has put on about eight pounds since the end of the season, but he is taking some of Calhoun’s recent advice on that.

“Mostly my focus was on putting on weight,” Daniels said. “He told me it doesn’t matter how much you weigh, all that matters is how strong you get. Look at guys like Rip Hamilton – they don’t weigh a lot, but look how strong they are. You get stronger and the weight will come.”

The Courant is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on courant.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.

4 thoughts on “For DeAndre Daniels, It’s About Maturity, Confidence …

  1. Marcus

    Agreed. Ballhandling and muscle, mix in a bit of a mean streak, and young Mr. Daniels has himself a bright future.

Comments are closed.