Tag Archives: Basketball

UConn to the Big Ten???


Since Mid-February rumors have been spreading about the Big Ten and it’s desire to expand. The Big Ten currently has 11 teams(I know, it doesn’t make sense), and is looking to expand to at least 12 teams, possibly more.

The Big Ten, which is a history rich league, has a few schools on its radar that they might be looking at for expansion. Let’s take a look at a few of the schools:

– The number one school that is on the conference’s list is of course Notre Dame, who makes the most sense, but Notre Dame refuses to give in and join a conference. The Fighting Irish have been independent and can afford to do so due to their lucrative television contract with NBC. Their national following puts them at a different level then other schools. My guess, along with many experts, is that Notre Dame doesn’t give in, and remains independent.

-The next few schools all offer similar things to the Big Ten. Rutgers, Syracuse, and UConn all have a Northeast following, which is something that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wants. All three schools would give the Big Ten a New York and New England following. The main reason Delany and the Big Ten want the New York and the New England markets is because of their own television network(The Big Ten Network), which they are expecting to grow. Rumors say that if Notre Dame says no, the Big Ten’s next choice would be to add all three Big East schools.

– The University of Missouri is another school that is also in the mix to be added. Their Kansas City fan base would be a prize possession for the Big Ten.

Ok, so you might be asking why UConn would leave for the Big Ten. The school has been a part of the Big East for almost 30 years, and have a rich history within the conference. While this is true, no school would be able to turn down the money that the Big Ten would offer. It would be like your boss offering you a 200% raise at work. Would you decline? Probably not.

UConn is a good school for the Big Ten to choose because of its top tier basketball programs, as well as their up-and-coming football program. UConn has a large alumni base, which even extends into the midwest(Big 10 country). Another key that might help bring UConn into the Big Ten, is the President of the university. Mike Hogan, who has been at UConn for three years now, came from the Big Ten and the University of Iowa before heading to Storrs. His connections to other Big Ten administrations could help the cause.

So as a UConn fan, I would root for the Huskies to join the Big Ten. Yes, the Big East has a great tradition, but the Big Ten is going to take at least one Big East school, maybe more, and whoever is left behind is going to see a depleted Big East. While the basketball side of the Big East won’t take a huge hit, the football side will suffer a major loss if one of the eight football playing schools leave.

UConn to the Big Ten might sound crazy, but it might just be the right move for both the Huskies and the Big Ten.

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With UConn in NIT, NCAA Tournament Not the Same

The NCAA Tournament will always be a special event. It is an event that has brought a lot of glory to many schools over the years, including here at the University of Connecticut. But for this Husky fan, the NCAA Tournament just isn’t the same without Fightin’ Jim Calhoun’s taking part. Now I get that the reason UConn is not in the tournament is their own fault. When you lose your last four games of the season, including being trounced by lowly St. Johns in the Big East Tournament, you can’t expect to go dancing.

Last season’s run to the Final Four brought so much excitement to the UConn campus and to the state of Connecticut, just like it did back in 1999 and 2004. Everyone was talking about UConn and the team’s trek to Detroit for the Final Four. Excitement was abundant all over campus and the NCAA Tournament was even more exciting because it was our school who was not only a part of it, but was a leading contender to win it.

So this year’s NCAA tournament is really exciting, just as it is every year. But for UConn country it’s just not the same. It’s hard to get excited about our team playing in the NIT against Northeastern, when the previous year the team was playing in front of 75,000 people against Michigan State in the National Semifinal. Jim Calhoun and his players might not say the same thing, but they gotta be thinking it.

As a basketball fan I’ll continue to watch March Madness, but with less effort, anticipation, excitement, and overall interest. Let’s just hope our UConn Huskies can rebound next season and get back to the NCAA Tournament, cause I need my Fightin’ Jim Calhoun’s in the big dance.

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Calhoun Retirement Rumors Hurting Recruiting

From the Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. — Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun says it’s been difficult to convince players to come to Connecticut when other people are telling them he’s about to retire.

The 67-year-old Hall of Famer says that’s why he issued a statement last week reiterating what he’s been saying since December — that he and the school are on the verge of signing a multiyear contract, and that he plans to continue coaching at UConn.

“The reason that we announced something that we already knew is that we were getting killed on the recruiting trails,” Calhoun said Monday. “Nothing drastically has changed. I’m just waiting to get a copy back of the signed contract.”

NIT Tournament Bracket
Following the road to the NIT championship on April 1 at Madison Square Garden. NIT Bracket

A story in New York last week cited people close to Calhoun as saying he would retire at the end of the season. Calhoun said there was no truth to it, but recruits had told him they were hearing the same tales.

“During the year kids are being told that I wasn’t going to come back, they all knew this,” Calhoun said. “I had one guy tell a kid that I told them, and I don’t even speak to the guy.”

Calhoun has won two national championships at Connecticut and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.

Several off-the-court issues had prompted questions about Calhoun’s future last year, and questions were raised again after he took a medical leave of absence in January, missing seven games with an undisclosed condition.

Calhoun said he doesn’t talk to recruits about any other coach’s personal issues, but knows that some others don’t play by the same rules.

“Do I like it? No,” he said. “Do we do it? I hope that no one on my staff has ever done that. That’s not how we recruit.”

The Huskies (17-15) lost last Tuesday in the first round of the Big East tournament, and will play Northeastern on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT.

Sophomore guard Kemba Walker said he doesn’t believe the rumors affected the team’s play. Still, he said he’s glad the coach has put the issue to rest.

“I knew he was coming back,” Walker said. “Having him say he was coming back was big especially for recruits. Of course, it’s good for us. That’s the guy we committed ourselves to, so yeah, it’s a good feeling to know he’s coming back.”

Walker said he will sit down with Calhoun after the season is over and discuss whether he should play another year at UConn or declare for the NBA draft.

“He’s going to let me know what the best possible choice is for me,” Walker said. “Coach Calhoun has told guys when to leave and when not to, and from guys [in the NBA], it’s turned out for the best, so I’m going to listen to him.”

UConn will lose seniors Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards to graduation this season. The program has signed two players for next season — center Michael Bradley and guard Jeremy Lamb.

The Huskies have a verbal commitment from highly touted small forward Roscoe Smith.

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UConn is NIT Bound

The UConn Huskies have had a disappointing season to say the least, but the team still has a chance to end on a positive note. After being left out the NCAA Tournament, just one year after making the Final Four, UConn will face the Northeastern Huskies in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament. UConn finished the season at 17-15 overall and 7-11 in the Big East. The Huskies lost their final three must win regular season games and then lost in embarrassing fashion in the first round of the Big East tournament to St. John’s.

The NIT is not what the Huskies or its fans had hoped for at the beginning of the season, but the NIT Tournament has a special place in UConn history. In 1988, when UConn was rarely in the conversation for either tournament, it did get an NIT bid, two years after Calhoun took over the program. They won that year and captured the imagination of the state of Connecticut, if not quite the nation, and established a culture of winning that led eventually to three Final Four appearances and two national championships.

The Huskies will host Northeastern on Tuesday March 16 at 7pm on ESPN2.

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UConn Student Section…Don’t Be Like West Virginia

It’s always been known that West Virginia fans get a bad rap for being poor fans, especially the students. Well, as this ESPN article explains, it may have gone to far.

                                                                        

VS.


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Student Reaction Video To Jim Calhoun Taking A Medical Leave of Absence

ESPNU Campus Connection video:

UConn Head Coach Jim Calhoun is taking a medical leave of absence from the team. His doctor is worried about his health and wants to make sure Calhoun is healthy before he coaches again. Marcus Lynam has more from Storrs, CT.

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Jim Calhoun Taking Medical Leave of Absence

From UConn spokesman Kyle Muncy:

University of Connecticut Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun will take a medical leave of absence from his head coach position, effective immediately, it was announced Tuesday.

The following is a statement from University of Connecticut Health Center physician Peter Schulman, M.D., Jim Calhoun’s primary care physician:
“It is my recommendation that Coach Calhoun take a medical leave from his coaching position to address some temporary medical issues, none of which involve any previous medical conditions that he has dealt with.”

The following is a statement from UConn Director of Athletics Jeffrey A. Hathaway:
“Our primary concern is Coach Calhoun’s health and his complete recovery. We will do everything possible to support Coach during this time. Jim and I both know that the men’s basketball program is in very capable hands under the leadership of Associate Head Coach George Blaney.”

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UConn Basketball Still Struggling

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

For the first time since the end of the 2006-2007 season, the UConn men’s basketball team has lost three games in a row. Sunday’s loss to unranked Michigan droped the Huskies record to 11-6 on the season. That’s right, UConn already has 6 losses. They had 4 all of last year. The losses to Pittsburgh and Michigan have led to the Huskies being unranked in this weeks AP Top 25 Basketball Poll. It’s the first time all season the Huskies haven’t been ranked.

The Huskies’ six losses have all been close games(expect for the Duke game), but UConn puts themselves in a hole that they can never get out of. The same things keep hindering the team: poor free-throw shooting(especially at the end of games), lack of execution in the halfcourt offense, lack of rebounding, and the lack of scoring from the frontcourt players(with the exception of Gavin Edwards).

Courtesy of the Hartford Courant

“We’ll play anybody tough,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “We’ve won close games, and now we’ve lost some close games. We’ll compete with anybody in America. I said [last week] I have no question about the heart of my team. None. I have at times, questions, about if they truly understand some of the ways in which we need to change.”

The Huskies need to change, and they need to change fast. With only 14 games remaining on the year, UConn needs to start picking up wins just to secure a NCAA Tournament berth.

“There’s a chance that we could not make it into the [NCAA] Tournament,” Gavin Edwards said. “The team has to regroup and refocus. Everybody has to figure out what they have to do to get the team to win. It’s not even just the players. It’s the coaches, everybody. It’s a joint effort.”

UConn hopes to figure stuff out this week with two big games on the schedule. On Wednesday, St.Johns comes to the XL Center in a Big East Conference game, then on Saturday the number one team in the nation, the Texas Longhorns, comes to Gampel for a nationaly televised game. The Huskies need two wins this week with each game becoming more important.

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Big Day For UConn

What a day it was for the University of Connecticut. The UConn Huskies had two(well three, if you count the Women’s Basketball team’s 91-24 blowout win over Seaton Hall) huge victories on Saturday. The men’s basketball team defeated Big East Rival Notre Dame 82-70, for their first conference win of the year. Led by Stanley Robinson, who finished with 22 points and a career high 16 rebounds, the Huskies were able to beat the Fighting Irish for the third straight time. Robinson had some help from Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker, who both added double-doubles(each had 10 assists).

The second big victory of the day came all way down in Birmingham, Alabama. The UConn football team ended their season with a 20-7 victory over South Carolina in the Papa Johns.com Bowl. The Huskies had a dominating performance as they controlled the clock and the game. Senior Andre Dixon had 126 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries and was named the games MVP. The UConn defense also had a big day as they had countless big hits and sacks on the day, and held the Gamecock offense in check.

UConn head coach Randy Edsall made it clear that this was a huge victory for the Huskies, especially considering all they have gone through this year. “I couldn’t be more happy and thrilled for the players and the assistant coaches,” Edsall said. “We did an excellent job and got the kids to go out and execute and do the things we need to do and we came away with an outstanding victory. I couldn’t be more proud of those young men.”

The Huskies ended the season with an 8-5 record, and will head into next season with a lot of support and even higher expectations. The team returns the majority of their starters and will be heavily considered a preseason top-25 team and Big East favorite.

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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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