HARTFORD – Jim Calhoun was speaking at the Greater Hartford Alumni Dinner on Monday night, the 27th year in a row he made it to the event. It’s one of those events he loves, and he’s at his best at the podium.
In his early years, the state banquet circuit was one of the platforms he used to sell his program, and preview the upcoming season. The retired coach has been at a few practices, including Monday at Gampel, and has seen enough to take his audience one more of his patented virtual tours of his team.
It’s a lightning round. We jotted down as much as we could:
“… Our four guards can match up with anybody. Shabazz [Napier] is smarter. He has to understand that everything he does impacts the entire team, he has that kind of personality.
“… Ryan Boatright missed nine games last year – we don’t expect him to miss nine games this year.
“…’ Omar Calhoun, who happens to have a great last name, has a chance to join the list of great players we’ve had at UConn. He’s about 6-foot-6, and physically he’s not like a freshman.
“… You talk about gifts. Glen Miller came up to me last spring and said ‘remember that kid who scored  points against us from Holy Cross? He wants to come here. I talked to R.J. Evans on the phone, and he said he always wanted to play for UConn. I said, ‘you are now.’ His father played in the NFL for the Jets, and he kind of plays that way, which is good. We call him ‘Bull, b-u-l-l.'”
“… One kid I think is going to have a great year, and I hope he does because he’s one of the best kids we’ve ever had, is Neils Giffey. He has to make more shots, but we like every other part of his game.
“Another kid we think and hope will have a better year is DeAndre Daniels. He’s a gifted offensive player. Sometimes, you watch him in practice and if he misses a couple of shots, he looks like, ‘it’s not happening.’ He has to get over that.
“Tyler Olander is going to have a good year. He’s up to 6-10 now, 240 pounds, he looks the best I’ve ever seen him.
“Phil Nolan, a very good offensive player, we really need him to be a factor this year as a freshman, not a big factor, but he has to be a factor for us. … And Leon Tolksdorf, he’s maybe the best shooter we have. … Enosch Wolf has improved a great deal, he has to improve more. He has to stay out of trouble, if he does, at 7-1, he’s going to cause some problems for the other team.”
“… We can’t get hurt, because we’re thin. … But, two or three practices in, I think we’re going to be better than people think.”