Monthly Archives: November 2009

UConn Pounds Syracuse, Become Bowl Eligible

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

Led by the running back duo of Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon, the UConn Huskies beat the Syracuse Orange easily, 56-31, in front of a sellout crowd at Rentschler Field. With the win, UConn improves its record to 6-5 on the year, and become bowl eligible for the third straight season.

Todman had 123 yards on 25 carries, a touchdown, and went over 1000 yards rushing for the season. Dixon also had a big day, with three touchdowns and 73 yards rushing. Reciever Marcus Easley was another offensive star for the Huskies, as he finished with 6 catches, 105 yards recieving, and 2 touchdowns.

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

While the score shows a Husky blow-out, it’s a little misleading, as the Husky defense had trouble keeping the Greg Paulus led Syracuse offense, contained. Syracuse had over 400 yards of total offense in their last game of the season. While the defense had some issues, linebacker Lawrence Wilson had an unbelievable game. Wilson, whose the Big East’s leading tackler, had a career high 17 tackles, as well as a sack.

The Huskies scored two non-offensive touchdowns, with Mike Lang returning a kickoff 80 yards in the first quarter, then cornerback Dwayne Gratz returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown with 8 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

UConn ends the regular season next Saturday when they host Big East foe, South Florida, at 8pm at Rentschler Field. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Husky fans are encouraged to arrive early to pay tribute to the UConn seniors who will be playing their last game at the Rent.

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

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From Being a Reporter to Becoming a Source: My UConn vs. Notre Dame Experience

Marcus Lynam on the field prior to the game

When UConn traveled to South Bend, Indiana this past weekend to take on Notre Dame, I got to tag along. Ok, I didn’t really “tag along,” but I was lucky enough to cover the game for UCTV(they were nice enough to pay for the expenses…thank you very much fellow students, your tuition made this possible).

So there I was, at Notre Dame Stadium, on the sideline, for what very may well be “the best win” in UConn football history, according to head coach Randy Edsall. It was an amazing and unbelievable experience. To be on the field for that game, had to be one of the top-5 coolest moments of my life. Totally amazing.

My view of the game...

At the game, a fellow reporter, Vito Leo from the Mansfield Today, was standing next to me for much of the game. During the fourth quarter and overtime periods, Mr.Leo and myself couldn’t contain our excitement, and couldn’t keep our husky pride inside. Yes, I know there is an unwritten rule that says reporters cannot be fans, but for a veteran reporter and a student reporter, we both didn’t care. We were both jumping up and down and cheering as they game got into the later stages. Once Andre Dixon ran in the game winning score, the elderly Mr. Leo and myself ran onto the field with our cameras, while at the same time celebrating the win with the Huskies. A very funny, great experience that I will never forget.

After the game, Mr. Leo wrote a piece on the experiences of different people who traveled to Notre Dame, and your’s truly was one of his sources. (CLICK HERE TO READ HIS STORY) I had no idea I would be used in his story, but I was willing to help a fellow reporter out and became a very good source for Mr. Leo.

I went to the game as a reporter, but I was also used as a source. Either way, covering UConn’s 33-30 double OT victory over Notre Dame, was an amazing experience and I am so thankful to have been able to be apart of this great moment in UConn history.

Marcus Lynam after UConn's win..

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UConn Silences the “Echoes”, Beats Notre Dame in Double Overtime

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

UConn came into South Bend with a 4-5 record and with a 3-game losing streak. The Huskies hadn’t won a game since October 17th when they beat Louisville at home. Since that win against the Cardinals, the Huskies lost a teammate and brother in Jasper Howard and three heartbreaking games. The Huskies needed something good to happen, and it finally happened this past Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

The Huskies finally pulled out a close victory, as they defeated the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, 33-30, in double overtime. It was the first win for the team since the murder of Howard, and it was a very emotional victory. Head Coach Randy Edsall started crying while being interviewed after the game.

“You’ve got to understand what this team has gone through,” he said. “A couple of close games, and then you lose a teammate, you lose a brother, you lose a son, and you’re trying so hard to honor him by winning on the field. We hadn’t done that.”

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant


Coach Edsall called the victory, “the best win” the program has ever had. “We’re just thankful that we were able to finally put together a win,” Edsall said. “So now we can take a game ball and send it down to … the Howard family because I know one thing — that little No. 6 was looking down on us today.”

Connecticut running back Andre Dixon scores the winning touchdown in the second overtime period against Notre Dame during an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The Huskies were led by their running game. Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon both had outstanding games, and led the team to victory. Todman rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, but his biggest play came in the third quarter when he returned a kickoff 96-yards for a score. The touchdown tied the game at 17, and was the spark, the team needed for the comeback victory. Dixon had a great game as well, as he finished with 114 yards on 20 carries, and the game winning touchdown in the 2nd overtime.

“It’s a great feeling after all the games where we came up close and didn’t finish the game,” Dixon said. “I think this is the loudest I’ve ever heard a stadium get in all my time playing college football. It’s a great win.”

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

Quarterback Zach Frazer, who transferred to UConn from Notre Dame, played a solid game, as he finished 12 of 25 passing for 141 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Frazer said the win was big for him. “It means a lot to me and it means a lot to this university,” he said. “We won this one for Jazz.”

With the win, the Huskies improve to 5-5 on the year, with two games remaining. The Huskies need just one more win to become bowl eligible. The team returns home next Saturday, when they take on Big East rival Syracuse at the Rent, with kick-off coming at noon.

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UConn vs. Notre Dame Preview Video

Notre Dame Stadium

The UConn Huskies travel to South Bend, IN this Saturday(11-21-09) to take on the Fighting Irish, for the first time in school history. Head Coach Randy Edsall realizes that it’s a great opportunity for the program, but makes it clear that it’s just another game on the schedule. Marcus Lynam has more from Storrs, CT.

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UConn Squeaks By Colgate, Hofstra to Advance to NIT Semi’s in NYC

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

UConn lost AJ Price, Hasheem Thabeet, and Jeff Adrien from last year’s final four team. On Monday and Tuesday, It showed. Playing in the first two rounds of the NIT Season Tip-Off, UConn did not look like the dominating team they were last year. They didn’t look like the pre-season top-15 team they were made out to be. However, in the end Jim Calhoun and his Huskies found a way to beat, first Colgate, than Hofstra, to move on to the Semifinal’s of the tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City next week.

Hofstra made it interesting for UConn, thanks in part to a 43-39 rebounding advantage, and nine 3-pointers. It was the first time UConn had been out-rebounded all year. The Pride, led by Charles Jenkins, who scored a game high 25 points, held the lead as late as 4:15 left in the second half. However, senior Jerome Dyson took over from there, as he scored 9 straight points in the final 1:39 to secure the victory for UConn. Dyson finished with 23 points on the night, to go along with 4 assists. Kemba Walker, Stanley Robinson, and Gavin Edwards all scored in double-figures, with 16, 15, and 10 points respectively.

Courtesy of Hartford Courant


“I’ll classify this game as a good win, at a time when this team is still trying to find it’s identity,” said Calhoun. “We’re still looking for a leader. We need someone to step up.”

Connecticut avoided the upset to win its 29th straight game at Gampel Pavilion against nonconference opponents. The Huskies also stayed perfect (50-0) in November and December games at Gampel Pavilion.

The Huskies look to improve their offensive production in the half-court, rebounding, and perimeter defense. UConn will have to be better in these areas if they expect to win the NIT Season Tip-Off, which could come with a possible matchup against the eighth ranked Duke Blue Devils.

UConn will have over a week to prepare for its next game, as they don’t play until next Wednesday, November 25, when they take on LSU out of the SEC, in the semifinals.

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UConn Makes First Trip To Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium

Notre Dame Stadium

After a much needed bye week, the UConn Huskies are back on the field this week to prepare for their first ever meeting with College Football power house, Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish come into the game as losers of two straight, the last loss being to another Big East team in Pittsburgh. Notre Dame is always in the news, and this week is no different. After what can be looked at as a dissapointing season thus far, Head Coach Charlie Weis is under pressure and is in jeopardy of losing his job.
charlie-weis

Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis

UConn hopes that the Irish continue to struggle, as they themselves look for their first win since beating Louisville on October 17. Since that victory the Huskies have gone through a tough three and half weeks, with tragically losing a teammate and brother in Jasper Howard, losing starting quarterback Cody Endres for the rest of the year to a shoulder injury, and losing three straight games in heartbreaking fashion. Head Coach Randy Edsall has even pondered how much his team can take, “I just don’t know how much more we can take. We’ll just keep fighting, that’s all i know to do.”

After a week off to relax, clear their heads and get back to just playing football, the Huskies can go out and not only compete, but come through with a victory at Notre Dame. It will be the Huskies first ever football game against Notre Dame, even though all other UConn sports compete against the Fightin’ Irish in Big East Conference competition.

One of the big story lines in this week’s game is that UConn quarterback Zach Frazer will be looking for some redemption against his former team, as he transfered to UConn from Notre Dame. Frazer was one of the nation’s top quarterbacks coming out of high school, and chose to play for Charlie Weis. However, his stay was short lived, as he transfered after his freshman year when it became clear that he wasn’t going to be the guy under center for the Irish (that job of course went to the blond-haired, Southern California raised, prized recruit, Jimmy Clausen). Frazer hopes to play well against his former team, and bring home a victory for UConn. He just needs to play relaxed and try and not get caught up in all the “hoop-la,” that is Notre Dame.

Jimmy Clausen

Notre Dame Quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

The Huskies, lead by Frazer, hope to silence the “echoes” and keep Touch-Down Jesus on their side this weekend. The game will be nationaly televised on NBC (just as every Notre Dame home game is), with Kick-off at 2:30pm ET.

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2009-2010 UConn Huskies Season Preview

uconn-west regional-champThe UConn Huskies are coming off a 31 win season, which included the program’s third final four appearance, Jim Calhoun’s 800 career victory, and two players, in Hasheem Thabeet and AJ Price, being drafted into the NBA. Last season could be considered the third most successful year in program history. This year’s team will have a different look, but overall should still be a national title contender.

Most teams wouldn’t know where to start if they lost AJ Price, Jeff Adrien, and Hasheem Thabeet, but head coach Jim Calhoun is well prepared to reload. The Huskies come into the season with a host of experienced veterans, a couple highly-touted recruits, a few solid role players, a Hall of Fame coach leading the way, and a whole lot of optimism. The team will have a lot of work to do to get back to the Final Four, but they have the talent and chemistry to get there. With the first regular season game being this Friday, November 13th, I decided it’s the perfect time to unveil my season preview with position breakdowns.

Point Guard:
Kemba Walker UConn lost their captain, leader, best shooter, and best clutch performer in AJ Price, however, the team’s best player this year may be the new starting point guard. Kemba Walker takes over for Price, and will be the floor general for the Huskies this year. Walker came off the bench as a freshman to begin last year, but after the injury to Jerome Dyson, he saw himself in the starting lineup. Down the stretch Walker was unbelievable and one of the main reasons UConn reached the Final Four. This year, the team will be in his hands, and Jim Calhoun is pretty excited about that. “Kemba is our leader, and we have full confidence in him,” said Calhoun. Jerome Dyson also likes what he sees from Walker. “I think Kemba learned a lot from A.J., from the leadership aspect and the point guard aspect,” Dyson said. “He got a lot of experience last year with me going down. He got a lot of minutes, which is going to help us this year. He’s been through a lot and he’s got a lot of game experience. The difference between those two is Kemba is a lot quicker. He’s probably the quickest guy I’ve ever played with.”

Behind Walker, the Huskies will have two players competing for time as the back-up, in junior Donnell Beverly and freshman Darius Smith. Beverly has not played a lot over his first two years, but in the time he has gotten on the floor, he has shown he is a capable ball-handler, defensive player, and even a pretty good scorer. He will look to improve his outside shot, decision making, and overall effectiveness of running the point this year. Smith, a freshman out of Chicago, has been really impressive in the pre-season. He has shown he is a very good defender and a solid offensive point guard, but is still getting use to the college game, which will come with a learning curve for him. “Darius still makes high school plays but he also makes some very good plays because he’s so quick,” Calhoun said.

OVERALL POSITION GRADE: A-, Walker is one of the nation’s best point guards, and has depth behind him, but that depth is mostly untested.

Shooting Guard:
Jerome Dyson hadn’t played in a real game since February 11 of last season when he tore his ACL, but in Sunday’s exhibition game against UMASS-Lowell, he looked as if he hadn’t missed a game. Dyson scored 32 points in the blowout win, which is a great sign for the Huskies. Dyson is the team’s best scoring threat and best perimeter defender. His aggressive play is his trademark, but his consistency on both ends of the floor could make him UConn’s most dangerous player. He can shoot, drive to the hoop, grab rebounds, run, play defense, and he brings leadership to the court. As long as he stays healthy then he could be an all Big-East selection come seasons end. Coach Calhoun is happy to have Dyson back on the floor, “It’s great to have him back. Defensively, he makes a difference. He’s healthy. This should be a nice coming out party for him in many ways because we’re trying to feature him and Stanley (Robinson). They are two guys we expect to score in the high double-figures.”Jerome Dyson

Backing up Dyson will be a combo of guards, with freshman Jamaal Trice, freshman Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, and even junior Donnell Beverly. Coombs-McDaniel is a player that the coaches have loved since he was a sophomore in high school. He’s 6-7, and might just be the best shooter on the team, which is why he has a good chance to be the first player off the bench. When asked to compare Coombs-McDaniel to Trice, Calhoun said “He’s a very good shooter. He’s probably not as good defensively as Jamaal Trice, but he’s a good shooter and probably a more willing scorer than Jamaal Trice.” Trice will compete for playing time and will rely on his defensive intensity and ability, to get himself into the rotation.

OVERALL POSITION GRADE: A, Dyson could be in the running for Big East Player of the Year, and Coombs-McDaniel could be a real spark plug for the Huskies this year.

Small Forward:
stanley_robinson_dunks_on_marquetteAt the end of the last year, Stanley Robinson may have been the best player in the nation. He became one UConn’s best scorers, rebounders, defenders, and overall players in the final few games of the year. Robinson was mostly inconsistent during his sophomore and junior years, which saw him play brilliantly in some cases, terrible in others, and for the first semester last year, not play at all (he took the semester to work at a steel plant in Connecticut to refocus and mature). The Huskies are hoping they get the Robinson that played down the stretch last year, not the inconsistent one from years past. Robinson is a freak athlete, as he stands 6 feet – 9 inches tall, can jump out of the building, and with a successful year this season could find himself in next year’s NBA Draft Lottery. Jim Calhoun said NBA scouts have already been stopping by UConn to see Robinson.

“I think (the scouts) have been surprised by how hard he works in practice,” Calhoun said. “This is the most productive he’s been. He’s been good. … He’s making shots.”

Backing up Stanley, will probably be Coombs-McDaniels, who is similar to the type of player Robinson is. Coombs-McDaniels might be a better shooter, but Robinson is a better finisher, rebounder, and defender. Robinson could be a good mentor for Commbs-McDaniels this season.

OVERALL POSITION GRADE: A-, Robinson has a lot to prove this year, but if he plays like he did at the end of last season, the Big East will need to be ware.

Power Forward:
Right now senior Gavin Edwards is starting at power forward, but once Ater Majok is cleared to play in the middle of December, that might change. Edwards has come off the bench in his three previous seasons, while seeing more playing time as each year went on. Edwards is big man who can block shots, run the floor well, and does a solid job of getting to the foul line. He is no Jeff Adrien though, as he is not a real physical or aggressive player. “(Gavin) keeps it together,” Coach Jim Calhoun said. “I would like him to be a little more aggressive, finish plays. But he’s a consistently good player.”

gavin edwards For now Edwards is starting, but Ater Majok might take that position over when is finally eligible to play after the first semester is over. We have heard a lot about Majok; however we haven’t seen him in a game situation so it’s hard to predict what kind of player he will be. One thing that is for certain is that Majok has the potential to be an unbelievably good basketball player. He stands 6feet-10inches tall, but handles the ball like a point guard. He can run up and down the court very well, and is a capable shot blocker. Majok just may be the hidden gem that propels UConn to a Big East Championship this year.

OVERALL POSITION GRADE: B-, Edwards is consistent, but he’s never started and has never been asked to play a great deal of minutes before. Majok has talent, but he’s still a question mark because we haven’t seen him in game action yet at UConn.

Center:
The loss of Hasheem Thabeet will be hard to replace this year for the Huskies. Not so much his offensive game, but his defensive presence. Thabeet was the two-time National Defensive Player of the Year. That will be hard to replace, and the man who will have the burden of filling the big hole left by Thabeet, will be freshman Alex Oriakhi, who just so happens to be wearing Thabeet’s old number 34. Oriakhi was a five-star recruit, and had been committed to UConn since his sophomore year of high school. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Oriakhi. “I’m just so happy to be here, and excited to start competing.” He’s a big player, standing 6feet-9inches tall and weighing close to 250 pounds. The strong point to his game is his rebounding ability, as he’s shown in the first two preseason games where he collected 30 total rebounds. He is a better offensive player than Thabeet already, and can really run the floor well. The Huskies will need Oriakhi to have a big year if they want to head back to the Final Four.

OVERALL POSITION GRADE: B-, Oriakhi has a lot of potential and could be a very good player in the Big East, but he’s a freshman and untested. If he improves his defense and continues his offensive consistency he could be a pivotal part to the Huskies’ success this year.

Jim Calhoun
Overall the Huskies look to be a top-15 caliber team. With Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun leading the way, the UConn basketball team looks to have another successful year. If the Huskies can stay healthy and merge the experienced players with the talented freshman, then a Big East title and even a national title could be within reach.

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Kemba Walker Talks About The Huskies Off the Court: ESPNU VIDEO

kemba walker2

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

UConn point guard Kemba Walker and the rest of the Huskies, are stars on the court, but Kemba tells us what the team is like off the hardwood.

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Calhoun Is Already A Fan Of Freshman Alex Oriakhi: ESPNU VIDEO

Alex oriakhi

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

Alex Oriakhi may be just a freshman, but he’s already found himself in the starting lineup for the UConn Huskies. Jim Calhoun is happy to have such a talented freshman starting for his team.

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Comeback Comes Up Short: UConn Falls To Cincinnati in Heartbreaker

Kasihif Moore and Jordan Todman after Cincy loss

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

In trying to recap UConn’s 47-45 loss to #5 Cincinnati, I feel I could write the same story I’ve written four previous times this year. The Huskies lost for the third straight week, for the fifth time this year, and once again in heartbreaking fashion.

Trailing 30-10 heading into the second half, the Huskies began the comeback. UConn scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter as running back Jordan Todman scored a touchdown on a 46-yard run and senior cornerback Robert McClain had an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown. After another Cincinnati score, the Huskies were down 37-24 at the start of the fourth quarter, but two more Todman touchdowns put the Huskies within two at 40-38. UConn went for two, but quarterback Zach Frazer was sacked. Still down two, the Huskies forced the Bearcats into a fourth down with around two minutes to go in the game. Instead of kicking a short field goal Cincinnati elected to go for it. Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead broke free from the UConn defense to run in a 14-yard score putting Cincy back up by nine with just 1:52 remaining in the game. However the Huskies weren’t done yet, as they drove down the field and scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Frazer to reciever Marcus Easley with 13 seconds to go. The Huskies tried an onside kick, which was recovered by Cincy, ending the game.

Zach Collaros

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros was the difference maker as he thew for 480 yards and accounted for three touchdowns.

The Huskies showed once again that they can compete with anyone on their schedule, even the top-5 rated Cincinnati Bearcats. The heart and effort shown by the Huskies was something special, however they couldn’t get over the hump once again to get the victory. The Huskies pulled off several big plays that took the game down to the closing minutes, just like all of theirs this season. UConn’s five losses have come by a combined 15 points.

“It never gets easier to take,” Todman said. “We’re going to have to deal with it. It’s been a tough, tough year. We have to learn to finish.”

Jordan Todman vs Cincy

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

Todman had a career day for the Huskies, as he had a career best four touchdowns to go along with 162 yards, also a career high.

Frazer, who made just his third start of the season after taking over for the injured Cody Endres, played efficiently. He threw no interceptions and completed 19 of 32 for 261 yards and a touchdown.

UConn, now 4-5 on the year, and 1-4 in the Big East, has the week off. They return to the field November 21st, when they travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Coach Randy Edsall and his entire staff have to be proud of the way the team fought till the end. After the last three weeks, which included three heartbreaking losses and the loss of Jasper Howard, the Huskies are still looking for their first victory since the tragedy.

“I’ll tell you, this team showed grit, determination,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “You can use any adjective you want but we just came up short. I’m running out of things to tell them after games like this.”

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