STORRS – Was up at Gampel watching the pick-up action Monday afternoon. The Huskies went pretty hard last week, so the Thursday pick-up game was called off to give bumps and bruises a chance to heal.
They were back at it. A few notes, quotes, thoughts …
… Was watching with Jim Calhoun, and he, like the other coaches, has been impressed with what he has seen from freshman Terrence Samuel so far – the size, the toughness and true point-guard skills.
… At one point, Shabazz Napier looked over at Niels Giffey and said, ‘He’s baaack.” Giffey, back from Europe, did some shooting afterward. He’ll join in the pick-up stuff soon. Giffey says he’s sticking with his beard. “I want a rougher look this season,” he said.
… Omar Calhoun, who had surgery on both hips last spring, was out there and looked to be moving pretty well.
… No word on Kentan Facey’s status regarding the NCAA review. A few asked on Twitter. These things, as we know, move slowly.
… First Night is not really going to be first night this year. The NCAA will allow teams to begin practicing earlier, with more days off mixed in. UConn’s first practice will be Sept. 27, with First Night scheduled for Oct. 18.
“I think it will help,” Shabazz Napier said, “at the first practices, you’re figuring things out, feeling each other out. You’re not getting up and down the floor. Now, when we get to First Night we’ll be able to when we get it going.”
Ryan Boatright, who played a handful of games in the Nike league in Chicago this summer, thinks the extra time would be more beneficial to a younger team, but expects Kevin Ollie to make good use of the new rules. “He knows what he’s doing,” Boatright said. “And he’ll have a plan. He’ll take care of us.”
Last year, with the NCAA penalties in place, UConn could practice five days a week instead of six. It turned out to be a blessing, especially late in the season, when all the injuries hit. “If we were able to play in the tournament, we might not have had a team,” Boatright said.
The new format should save on wear and tear, though players tend to be in the gym on their days off anyway. “That’s different,” Napier said, “when you come in on an off day, you’re just sharpening up things you think you need to sharpen up. I think there will be less wear and tear on our bodies.”