<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Dog House]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/blogs/dog-house http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:12:25 -0500 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:12:25 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[UConn's AAC Opponents Announced]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:27:22 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

The American Athletic Conference unveiled the league matchups for 2015-18 on Thursday. The 2015 season will be the first in the new 12-team, two-division format. The West Division will include: Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa. While the East Division will include: UConn, UCF, Cincinnati, East Carolina, USF and Temple.

More details via the AAC:

The conference schedule will include 48 regular-season games that will have each of the 12 teams in The American playing eight league contests annually. Each team will face the other five teams in its own division, as well as three teams from the other division, ensuring that each school will play every conference opponent at home and on the road at least once in the four-year cycle.

The East and West division winners, determined by final conference record, will meet in the first American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game, which will be played at the home site of one of the division winners.

Meanwhile, UConn's home schedule was also announced:

2015
Home: East Carolina, Houston, Navy, USF
Away: UCF, Cincinnati, Temple, Tulane
Does Not Play: Memphis, SMU, Tulsa

2016
Home: UCF, Cincinnati, Temple, Tulane
Away: East Carolina, Houston, Navy, USF
Does Not Play: Memphis, SMU, Tulsa

2017
Home: East Carolina, Memphis, USF, Tulsa
Away: UCF, Cincinnati, SMU, Temple
Does Not Play: Houston, Navy, Tulane

2018
Home: UCF, Cincinnati, SMU, Temple
Away: East Carolina, Memphis, USF, Tulsa
Does Not Play: Houston, Navy, Tulane



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Duke Slogs out 66-56 Win Over UConn]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:44:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconnj.jpg

UConn's toughest game of the season proved to be just that on Thursday night when they squared off against perennial powerhouse Duke. When it was over, the Blue Devils slogged out a 66-56 win on Tyus Jones' 21 points.

Duke's decisive edge in rebounding, 45-31, also played a part in the outcome; Amile Jefferson was responsible for 13 of those, while Kentan Facey led the Huskies with nine of his own. But UConn, which had lost three of its last four games, hung with the second-ranked team in the country. They trailed 30-25 at the half, and tied it 30-30 shortly after the break. It was enough to make Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski burn an early timeout.

"We were out to lunch. I mean, we were in La-La land," Krzyzewski said, via USAToday.com. "I had to take the timeout to get us back into it."

Jones added of Coach K: "It just shows the passion he has for the game. It shows how much the game means to him. He still has that passion. We weren't playing well and he let us know it. He still has that, depending on the situation. That's when he gets on us. We deserved that."

Not surprisingly, senior point guard Ryan Boatright led UConn with 22 points, a recurring theme this season as the young, new faces on the roster scramble to catch up and contribute.

"There are games within games and there are situations where we are not able to make plays," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "You can't keep blaming it on youth. We have to grow up and make those game-winning plays."

Not that it's any consolation, but Coach K came away impressed with Boatright's game.

"Boatright is the best guard we've played against thus far,"he said. "He has great heart, a winner. I thought we did a decent job on him and he still scored a lot of points."

The Huskies fall to 4-4. They face Columbia on Monday and Central Connecticut six days later, before hosting Temple on New Year's Eve in the first conference game of the season.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Edwards Transfer Not a Surprise]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:42:30 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-2014-recruits.jpg

Last week, Geno Auriemma announced that freshman Sadie Edwards will transfer just seven games into her Huskies career. But the coach later said that the decision to leave UConn wasn't a surprise.

“I said, ‘Hopefully you learned something while you were here and hopefully you have a better idea of what it is going to take to play college basketball at this level. If there is anything we can do to help you land the right place for you, certainly we are going to do that,’ ” Auriemma said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “It didn’t work. It didn’t work. ...

“You have to be all in. At this level you have to be all in, 100 percent, everything," he continued. "Everybody thinks it’s going to be a lot easier than it is. It always looks great from the outside, because what do you see from the outside? You see the crowds, the adulation, the Final Fours, the parades, all the All-Americans. What you don’t see is how all that comes about. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had an idea Edwards might leave.

“I’m not necessarily surprised that she left. I am surprised that it happened as quickly as it did,” she said. “She just wasn’t happy. You could tell she wasn’t happy that she wasn’t playing, and her demeanor just changed over the past couple of months. You could tell that it was deteriorating more and more the more she wasn’t playing.

“It takes a lot for people to stay here all four years. But it also takes a lot for someone to know when enough is enough and how much you can handle. And I think that she did the right thing by looking at what she can handle and what’s best for herself.”

Freshmen Courtney Ekmark, Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse remain from the 2014 class, and the 2015 class currently includes the nation's best high school player in Katie Lou Samuelson, and Napheesa Collier, De’Janae Boykin and Crystal Dangerfield are top-10 players. There's also Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

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<![CDATA[Chattanooga Will Be Stiff Test for UConn]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:37:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

Geno Auriemma has never been a proponent of soft schedules to prepare his team. As best we can tell, his thinking goes something like this: Iron sharpens iron. Put another way: You're not going to get better by playing a bunch of cream puffs.

That explains the early season matchups against traditional powerhouses Stanford and Notre Dame. This brings us to University of Tennessee-Chatanooga. Coach Jim Foster, who gave Auriemma his start in coaching, has led his team to wins over Tennessee AND Stanford in the last three weeks, and a season from now, UTC and UConn will begin a home-and-home series.

“Jim said they wanted to play us,” Auriemma said on Wednesday, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I told him to call (UConn senior women’s administrator) Deb Corum and they put it together. I think it’s great. It wasn’t my idea. I didn’t go up to him and say we should be playing. It was his idea. He wanted to do it and I’m glad it got done. ...

“He’s got a pretty ambitious schedule -- us, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee …,” Auriemma continued. “But they’re in a conference that’s usually a one-bid league. They’re doing the right thing. If something were to happen that they lose in their league tournament, they could have the kind of record or kind of resume that might still get them in the NCAA tournament. Chattanooga was always good when Wes Moore was (the coach) and Jim has picked up right where they left off.”

UTC is 7-3 this season. Auriemma is 3-3 lifetime against Foster.

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<![CDATA[Okafor Will Be a Problem for UConn]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:31:13 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

The Huskies face their toughest test of the season on Thursday night in New Jersey when they face Duke. The biggest obstacle -- both literally and figuratively -- between UConn and a huge win will be the Blue Devils' 6-11, 270-pound freshman Jahil Okafor, who averages 18 points and 9 rebounds a game.

“He can run the court. He’s got soft hands, he catches everything. He’s an outstanding rebounder,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said, via SNY.com. “Just skilled. He can go over both shoulders, pivot in the post with both pivots. I could go on and on. He seems like a great teammate, great person. He’s the complete package.”

Ryan Boatright added: "He moves like a guard, man," Boatright said. "He's got real good feet, he has a high basketball IQ, he has a face-up game, a back-to-the-basket game. He's a great player. He works extremely hard and he understands the game. Any time a big guy like that has great feet, he's pretty hard to stop."

That's the bad news. The good news is that the Huskies have their own big man, 7-footer Amida Brimah who is coming off a 40-point performance against Coppin State.

“You get 40 points, you’re going to have to feel good about yourself,” Ollie said. “The way he got it, moving without the basketball, catching it, finishing it, that’s what we need from him. We don’t need pump fakes, we don’t need him dropping the ball.”

Ollie likes to "rebound and run," which could mean more opportunities for Brimah.

“We always look for him at the rim,” Ollie said. “There was a lot more against Coppin State but that’s one of our plays, where he dives hard and we have shooters around him. If he dives or sprints to the rim we throw it up when we see his number or when he has an angle on his opponent.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Huskies Know Duke Will Be Tough Test]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:41:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

The Huskies headed for New Jersey after Tuesday's practice, as they prepare to meet powerhouse Duke University at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

It's a big game for UConn, not just because it's a good measuring stick for where they are but because until Sunday's win over Coppin St., they had dropped three straight. Either way, coach Kevin Ollie knows Thursday's game will one of the toughest tests his team faces all season.

“They are incredibly athletic, and when you get live turnovers which we had against Coppin State, they are going to convert them," Ollie said, via the Connecticut News. … "We have to limit the mistakes with the basketball, make sure we limit our turnovers and of course they are going to try to pound it in there (to freshman Jahlil Okafor). I mean I saw Jahlil get a steal last night and go coast-to-coast. They’re not going to take their foot off the accelerator. They are always going to push the ball.”

Rodney Purvis, who began his college career at NC State before transferring to UConn, is quite familiar with what it means to play Duke.

“It’s great," he said. "Playing against a team like Duke, they’re undefeated right now and we are kind of getting back on the road. It will be a great game. I’m 1-1 against Duke (at N.C. State), so it would be good to get another win against Duke.”

Senior point guard Ryan Boatright added: “We were playing those first few games on just pure talent, but now it’s getting into the heart of the schedule and we got to come together and a lot of other things like that. We are starting to play together a lot better and we’re starting to understand the game more.”

Boatright also knows Duke's all-everything freshman, Jahlil Okafor, who, like Boatright, is also from Chicago.

“We worked out this summer a few times together, we played pick up and stuff," he said. "I know him pretty well, I watched him in high school. … I know him, but just pick up, I’ve never played a competitive game vs. him.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie, Huskies, Spreading Christmas Cheer]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:31:00 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

Christmas is eight days away and coach Kevin Ollie and his team are doing their part to spread holiday cheer. On Saturday, they'll host Kevin Ollie’s Christmas For Hartford’s Children in the Harford's Blue Hills neighborhood.

Details via the university news release:

The event will take place at the Northwest Boys & Girls Club on Nahum Drive, where some 75 families, including about 200 people, will gather on Saturday afternoon. Coach Ollie and a few of his players will visit with two families who live near the club, bringing the joy of the holidays into their homes, while the rest of the team and staff head for the Boys & Girls Club.

Some team members will conduct numerous basketball activities for the older children, while other Huskies participate in arts and crafts with younger children. Then the team will reunite to listen to Coach Ollie address the parents and children. That will be followed by a pizza party for everybody, including gifts for the Hartford children and an autograph session with the Huskies.

Two days before the event, the Huskies will face Duke in Madison Square Garden in their biggest game of the season. On Monday, they'll host Columbia at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

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<![CDATA[Huskies Football Has Awards Banquet]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:26:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/deshon-foxx-2013.jpg

On Friday, the 2014 UConn football team held its postseason awards banquet. Senior wide receiver Deshon Foxx took home Offensive Player of the Year honors, junior Andrew Adams was named Defensive Player of the Year, and junior Junior Lee was Special Teams Player of the Year.

Details via the university's news release:

Foxx started all 12 games for UConn at wide receiver and also saw time at quarterback. He had UConn’s longest rush (68 vs. UCF), reception (88 vs. East Carolina) and punt return (72 yards vs. Stony Brook) during the season – all scoring touchdowns.

Adams started all 12 games at safety, leading UConn with four interceptions and eight pass breakups and finished second on the squad with 96 tackles. He tied a program record with three interceptions in a win over UCF on Nov. 1 and returned a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown vs. SMU (Dec. 6). He recorded double-digit tackles in three games.

Other awards: The Joseph M. Giannelli Newcomer of the Year Award went to redshirt sophomore Andreas Knappe (Slkeborg, Denmark).

The John L. Toner Scholar-Athlete Award went to redshirt sophomore safety Obi Melifonwu (South Grafton, Mass.).

The Kendall Madison Award for the most outstanding power player went to junior defensive tackle Julian Campenni (West Pittson, Pa.).

The Brian Kozlowski Award for the outstanding big skill player to junior linebacker Graham Stewart (Durham, Conn.).

The Jasper T. Howard Outstanding Skill Player Award went to senior wide receiver Geremy Davis (Lawrenceville, Ga.).

The Football Alumni Bleed Blue Award that goes to the player that best embodies a great teammate went to junior Dominick Manco (Lagrangeville, N.Y.).

The Look Team Player of the Year to sophomore defensive lineman Sean Marinan (Higganum, Conn.).

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<![CDATA[Huskies Gain 3 Commits, Lose 1]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:22:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

We've previously mentioned high school linebacker Kirk Livingstone's decision to commit to UConn, but the Huskies weren't done. They added two more players over the weekend: offensive tackle Nolan Ulizio and defensive end Dallas Parker.

Details via SBNation's TheUConnBlog:

Ulizio is commitment No. 21, and the fourth offensive line commit for the Huskies-- all at tackle. His only other offers were from FCS schools but he was drawing interest from FBS as well with Kentucky, Cincinnati and a handful of MAC schools all showing interest. He has a 2-star rating on Rivals. ...

Parker is listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. He was offered by UConn on December 10th and committed five days later. He had an offer from Lafayette and visited Florida Atlantic in the summer. Parker has a 2-star rating from 24/7.

Here's footage of Parker:

 

 

 

Despite adding three players, the Huskies lost one commitment. Defensive back Justice Pettus-Dixon took to Twitter to announce that he was decommitting but wanted "to thank everyone and the coaching staff for the opportunity."

 

As it stands, the Huskies have 22 commitments for the 2015 class.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Jim Calhoun Talks About Duke Rivalry]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:10:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jim-calhoun-be-careful.jpg

The Huskies broke their three-game losing streak on Sunday with a blowout win over Coppin State, but there's little time for celebration. For starters, that was a game they were supposed to win. There's also this: They have to face Duke this Thursday at 8 p.m. in East Rutherford, N.J.

On Monday, Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun took a break from his annual tradition of passing out holiday groceries to talk about the history between the two teams.

"It is a rivalry in this sense," Calhoun said, via the Hartford Courant. "The games we've played with them include the single most important game UConn ever played, in '99. You get the first [national championship], life changes. It's a rivalry because Mike [Krzyzewski] is a great coach, the best of our generation.

"[Despite what] people might think, I don't have any hatred. I have a love for the competition. I wanted to beat them, as much as I ever wanted to beat anybody in my life. We should be happy that in our rise, we were able to beat the best teams in our generation, because that puts us there with the best teams in our generation."

And Calhoun's right; UConn beat Duke in '99 for its first championship, catapulting the program into the national conversation.

Calhoun, now an analyst for ESPN, offered this scouting report of the Blue Devils after watching them play Michigan State earlier this season.

"They were just too good [for Michigan State]," Calhoun said. "The 6-7 forward [Justise Winslow], he's what they haven't had in a lot of years. Okafor is the real deal. I thought the [Tyus] Jones kid in the backcourt, and the other guards, are great. They're real good, a very talented team, enough blend of veterans. A very good basketball team."

"Very good" might be an understatement, but these are the games Ollie relishes because it cast the Huskies as underdogs.

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<![CDATA[Heat Sends Napier to the D-League]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:02:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP144808893745.jpg

LeBron James once called Shabazz Napier the best guard available in the NBA Draft. So it wasn't a surprise when the Heat took Napier in the first round, though it wasn't long before James had returned to Cleveland. And now Napier has been sent to the D-League.

Napier, who led UConn to a national title last spring, has scored just three points in the Heat's last four games, and now he's headed to Sioux Falls.

Details from the team:

Napier has appeared in 23 games with the Heat this season averaging 5.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 21.4 minutes while shooting 42.9 percent from the field. He previously scored in double-figures in six-straight games from November 16 through November 25, the longest such streak by a Heat rookie since Michael Beasley did so in eight consecutive games from April 1, 2009 through April 15, 2009.

But Napier's recent struggles -- coupled with the return of Dwyane Wade -- convinced the Heat that he needed more seasoning in the developmental league.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Commitment Called "Awesome Player"]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:31:21 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

UConn's 2-10 season might be over but coach Bob Diaco has been on the recruiting trail pretty much since that final whistle. On Sunday, the Huskies got a commitment from defensive end Kirk Livingstone (Stranahan High School, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida).

The New Haven Register's Jim Fuller spoke with Tally Adams, Livingstone's high school coach, who described the defensive end as "an awesome football player."

"An All-American," Adams told Fuller. "See how fast I answered that question. He could be an All-American, there is no doubt in my mind. As a freshman I have no question, I know he will go first-team all-conference. He is an awesome football player, the kid is special. UConn is getting a real steal, he can play at any level in college."

Incredibly lofty praise, and exactly what the Huskies and Diaco need as he tries to turn around a program that has been going in the wrong direction for some time.

Livingstone was set to attend UAB, but the school shut down its program earlier this month. Now the 6-4, 235-pounder is headed to Storrs.

"It was tough when he heard the news because he had his heart set on going to UAB," Adams said. "A lot of recruiters stayed away from him because he was solid (in his commitment to UAB). The program decided to go in a different direction and he had to go in a different direction as well.

"I think it (UConn) is the perfect spot for him. Kirk is very smart, he is not just an intelligent football player, he is an intelligent kid. He is A student in the classroom and outside of the classroom, he is just an all-around great person."

Livingstone had 14 sacks in eight games this season.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Brimah Scores 40 in Win]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:22:28 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/482962317.jpg

Sophomore Amida Brimah arrived in Storrs a year ago as a player with boundless talent but little experience. He hadn't played basketball that long and, frankly, he was raw. But his enthusiasm and athleticism were evident as a freshman, and he was a key cog in the Huskies' championship run.

On Sunday against Coppin St. in a game UConn needed to win if for no other reason than to prove they could, Brimah scored a career high 40 points. The Huskies cruised to a 106-85 victory, which snapped a three-game winning streak.

“I was just feeding of the play of my teammates," Brimah said afterwards, according to UConnHuskies.com. "They found me and helped me be able to make easy shots.”

Senior Ryan Boatright added 22 points, while sophomore Kentan Facey had 15 and freshman Daniel Hamilton had 11. Transfer Rodney Purvis finally looked healthy after suffering an ankle sprain last month. He played 21 minutes, scored eight points and pulled four rebounds.

"Just for him to get back in the swing of things, especially going into Duke, he needed a game like this," Boatright said. "Get his rhythm, get his sweat going. It's a different tempo than practice, and once we get out there with Duke it's going to be a hot, intense game."

The win, while expected, was still nice, especially after the Huskies have struggled on both ends of the court in recent games.

“I’m very proud of my guys," Ollie said. "We came out and established ourselves from the start and played very well. I like our fast break. We got out on the break and then we established Amida. He did an awesome job getting 40 points and 12 rebounds, and Daniel getting a double-double with assists was great. Our ball movement was great. We had the most rebounds, I think, for this year.

"The thing that I didn’t like the most is points off turnovers. We’ve got to cut down our turnovers."

Things don't get any easier as the end of the calendar year approaches; the Huskies have to face Duke this Thursday at 8 p.m.

"Once again, we’ve got to get back in transition and we’ve got to stop threes," Ollie said. "Especially against Duke. You’ve got to do those two things because they’re a great three-point shooting team, they’re a great transition team. ... We’re going to take this win and we’re going to build off of it."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Football Attendance Hits All-Time Low]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:03:49 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/rentschler-field-2012-umass-uconn.jpg

First-year coach Bob Diaco might have high hopes for the UConn football program, but as it stands, they're not very good. That's evidence in their 2-11 finish, which was worse than the back-to-back 5-7 seasons Paul Pasqualoni had in his first two seasons.

But Diaco has a plan. In the meantime, however, fans are voting with their feet. Specifically: They're staying away from Rentschler Field until the product on the field improves. Attendance during the 2014 season was the lowest ever seen, according to the Hartford Courant. University numbers show that some 192,000 tickets were distributed this season, which is roughly 24,000 fewer than last season.

"Our falling numbers this year are a concern that all of us at UConn have," UConn spokesman Mike Enright told the Courant in an email. "We are working on a number of ways to make sure those numbers increase in the future and back to what they were in earlier seasons at Rentschler. We are very confident that as Bob Diaco heads into his second season fans will be pleased with the product they see on the field."

Enright pointed to factors beyond actual football that may have affected attendance.

"Last Saturday’s game vs. SMU was played in front of the worst weather conditions we ever had in the history of the stadium," he said. "The November 22 game vs. Cincinnati had a later kickoff at 8 p.m. We also did not have a home game in the month of October, which is usually the height of college football attendance nationally."

The hope, of course, is that as Diaco turns around the program, the fans will return.

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<![CDATA[Alex Mateas Top CFL Prospect]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:51:10 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

UConn didn't have a player on the American Athletic Conference, but center Alex Mateas now the No. 2 prospect in the latest Canadian Football League Scouting Bureau's ranking of the top 20 prospects for the 2015 CFL Draft.

The top five players include UNLV offensive lineman Brett Boyko, Mateas, Western University defensive lineman Daryl Waud, Yale University running back Tyler Varga and University of Manitoba receiver Nic Demski.

Mateas, a redshirt senior from Ottawa, Ontario, started all 12 games at center for the Huskies this season.

Earlier this month, Mateas spoke to the New Haven Register about how far UConn's offensive line had come in coach Bob Diaco's first season.

"I am very proud to see the improvement," Mateas said at the time. "You can feel the improvement in every game and every week in practice but it is always nice to see it on the board a little bit. I am really happy with the guys and trying to soak in the experience.

"Every part of the equation is helpful. Coaches start off everything by teaching us the schemes, the way they plan out the game plans and we just try to do what they tell us to. We are really enjoying it. They are going to be in great shape, they are a great group of guys and work really hard and are really hungry. The ceiling is tremendous for them. I would like to think that Gus (Cruz) and I have tried to do all that we can, help the guys out as much as we can. I have really enjoyed working with the young guys and finishing off my senior year with Gus Cruz has been a pleasure."

And Mateas is excited about the prospect of playing professionally in Canada.

"That would unbelievable, it would be just a dream come true," he said. "I am going to take everything I learned here, apply it to whatever happens to the future."

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<![CDATA[3 Huskies Named to Naismith Watch List]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:41:48 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/stewart-uconn-creighton.jpg

Three members of back-to-back champion Huskies have been named to Naismith Trophy Women’s 50 Watch List, which was announced this week: Junior forward Breanna Stewart, junior point guard Moriah Jefferson and senior shooting guard/small forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. The group was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top-30 as well.

More from SoxandDawgs.com:

In the history of the Naismith Trophy, six Huskies have earned the award in eight different seasons. Rebecca Lobo first took home the honors for Connecticut in the 1995 season after winning the program’s first National Championship.

In 2002, the Naismith Award was bestowed on Sue Bird after UConn’s first of three consecutive National Titles. Diana Taurasi followed on Bird’s heels as a back-to-back recipient in 2003 and 2004. Tina Charles earned the honors in 2010, in between Maya Moore’s two seasons as the Naismith Award winner in 2009 and 2011.

Last season, Stewart was selected as the winner of the prestigious award, becoming just the seventh player to win the Naismith Trophy in both high school and college.

According to NaismithTrophy.com, The Naismith Trophy was first presented to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1969. Old Dominion’s Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women’s Naismith Trophy in 1983.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jessica Hill]]>
<![CDATA[Jalen Adams Looks Up to Shabazz Napier]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:02:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sports+Illustrated+cover+Shabazz+1200.jpg

UConn has had a rocky start to the 2014-15 season, and even coach Kevin Ollie admitted "We're on the bottom right now" after home loss to Yale last week. And while there's plenty of time to right the ship, there's encouraging news from the high school ranks.

Particularly, Jalen Adams, the standout guard who signed his letter of intent to attend UConn last month.

Napier was a freshman when Kemba Walker led the Huskies to that improbable national title, and once Walker left for the NBA, Napier made this his team. Ollie would be more than grateful if Adams could do the same.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[No Huskies on AAC All-Conference Teams]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:00:57 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-diaco-boise-state-sept.jpg

Good news: Defensive backs Andrew Adams and Jhavon Williams received honorable mention nods from the College Football Performance Awards.

Bad news: The American Athletic Conference released its all-conference steams on Wednesday and no one from UConn was recognized. In fact, the Huskies were the only team in the conference not to put a player on the all-conferences squad.

Memphis had six players on the first team -- and 10 overall -- while ECU and UCF had nine players each recognized.

Here's the complete list of awards and winners (via the New Haven Register):

2014 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE FOOTBALL AWARDS AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina (Sr., Houston, Texas)

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Jacoby Glenn, CB, UCF (So., Prichard, Ala.) Tank Jakes, LB, Memphis (Sr., Phenix City, Ala.)

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Jake Elliott, K, Memphis (So., Western Spring, Ill.)

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Marlon Mack, RB, USF (Fr., Sarasota, Fla.)

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR

Justin Fuente, Memphis *

ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM

  • WR Breshad Perriman UCF Jr. 6-3 214 Lithonia, Ga./Arabia Mountain
  • WR Justin Hardy * East Carolina Sr. 6-0 188 Vanceboro, N.C./West Craven
  • OT Eric Lefeld 1 Cincinnati Sr. 6-6 310 Coldwater, Ohio/Coldwater
  • OT Al Bond Memphis Sr. 6-4 305 Memphis, Tenn./Southwind
  • OG Parker Ehinger Cincinnati Jr. 6-7 315 Rockford, Mich./Rockford
  • OG Rowdy Harper Houston Sr. 6-5 295 Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow
  • C Taylor Hudson East Carolina Sr. 6-5 285 Greenville, S.C./Mauldin
  • TE Alan Cross Memphis Jr. 6-1 245 Millington, Tenn./Millington
  • QB Shane Carden East Carolina Sr. 6-2 221 Houston, Texas/Episcopal
  • RB William Stanback 2 UCF So. 6-1 225 Hempstead, N.Y./Uniondale
  • RB Marlon Mack USF Fr. 6-0 195 Sarasota, Fla./Booker
  • K Jake Elliott 1 Memphis So. 5-10 165 Western Springs, Ill./Lyons Township
  • RS Deion Sanders Jr. SMU So. 5-7 183 Atlanta, Ga./Atlanta Sports Academy
  • DL Terrell Hartsfield Cincinnati Sr. 6-3 246 Raleigh, N.C./Copiah-Lincoln CC
  • DL Terry Williams East Carolina Sr. 6-1 353 Loganville, Ga./Grayson
  • DL Joey Mbu Houston Sr. 6-3 310 Richmond, Texas/Foster
  • DL Martin Ifedi 1 Memphis Sr. 6-3 275 Houston, Texas/Westside
  • LB Terrance Plummer 1 UCF Sr. 6-1 236 Orange Park, Fla./Orange Park
  • LB Jeff Luc Cincinnati Sr. 6-1 256 Port St. Lucie, Fla./Florida State
  • LB Tank Jakes Memphis Sr. 5-11 227 Phenix City, Ala./Holmes CC
  • LB Tyler Matakevich 1 Temple Jr. 6-1 235 Stratford, Conn./St. Joseph's
  • CB Jacoby Glenn 1 UCF So. 6-0 186 Prichard, Ala./Vigor
  • CB Bobby McCain Memphis Sr. 5-11 195 Oxford, Ala./Oxford
  • S Clayton Geathers UCF Sr. 6-2 208 Georgetown, S.C./Carver's Bay
  • S Adrian McDonald Houston Jr. 5-10 190 Lawton, Okla./Eisenhower
  • P Mattias Ciabatti USF Jr. 6-0 189 Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough

* unanimous selection

ALL-CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM

  • WR Deontay Greenberry 1 Houston Jr. 6-3 200 Fresno, Calif./Washington Union
  • WR Keevan Lucas Tulsa So. 5-10 198 Abilene, Texas/Abilene
  • OT Torrian Wilson UCF Sr. 6-3 305 Miami, Fla./Miami Northwestern
  • OT Ike Harris East Carolina Jr. 6-7 304 Irmo, S.C./Dutch Fork
  • OG J.T. Boyd East Carolina So. 6-4 302 Fort Mill, S.C./Nation Ford
  • C Kyle Friend Temple Jr. 6-2 305 Carlisle, Pa./Cumberland Valley
  • TE Bryce Williams East Carolina Jr. 6-6 250 Winston-Salem, N.C./Marshall
  • QB Paxton Lynch Memphis So. 6-7 230 Deltona, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy
  • RB Kenneth Farrow Houston Jr. 5-10 218 Hurst, Texas/L.D. Bell
  • RB Brandon Hayes Memphis Sr. 5-8 198 Chicago, Ill./Scottsdale CC
  • K Andrew Gantz Cincinnati Fr. 5-9 158 Dayton, Ohio/Centerville
  • RS Keiwone Malone Memphis Sr. 5-11 155 Memphis, Tenn./Alabama
  • DL Jaryl Mamea UCF Sr. 6-1 283 Fagasa, American Samoa/Chabot College
  • DL Thomas Niles UCF Jr. 6-2 270 Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville
  • DL Matt Ioaniddis Temple Jr. 6-4 285 Ringoes, N.J./Hunterdon Central
  • DL Praise Martin-Oguike Temple Jr. 6-2 250 Woodbridge, N.J./Woodbridge
  • DL Derrick Alexander Tulsa Jr. 6-2 270 Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington
  • LB Zeek Bigger East Carolina Jr. 6-2 228 Gastonia, N.C./Ashbrook
  • LB Brandon Williams East Carolina Sr. 6-1 230 Rock Hill, S.C./Hargrave Military
  • LB Efrem Oliphant Houston Sr. 6-`1 220 Houston, Texas/Langham Creek
  • CB William Jackson Houston Jr. 6-1 185 Houston, Texas/Trinity Valley CC
  • CB Lorenzo Doss Tulane Jr. 5-11 187 New Orleans, La./St. Augustine
  • S Brandon Alexander UCF Sr. 6-2 195 Orlando, Fla./Evans
  • S Sam Scofield Tulane Sr. 6-1 186 Lafayette, La./St. Thomas More
  • P Spencer Smith Memphis Fr. 6-1 175 Newnan, Ga./East Coweta

ALL-CONFERENCE HONORABLE MENTION

  • QB Gunner Kiel Cincinnati So. 6-4 208 Columbus, Ind./Notre Dame
  • LB Nick Temple Cincinnati Sr. 5-10 224 Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central
  • WR Andre Davis USF Sr. 6-1 205 Tampa, Fla./Jefferson
  • C Austin Reiter USF Sr. 6-3 296 Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch
  • CB Tavon Young Temple Jr. 5-10 174 Oxon Hill, Md./Potomac
  • LB Nico Marley Tulane So. 5-9 200 Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay
  • CB Parry Nickerson Tulane Fr. 5-11 179 Terrytown, La./West Jefferson
  • P Dalton Parks Tulsa So. 6-3 202 Kansas City, Mo./Staley
     

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<![CDATA[Diaco Upbeat Heading Into Offseason]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:49:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+pumped.jpg

Even after a season in which the Huskies won just two times and lost the final game to the previously winless SMU Mustangs, coach Bob Diaco sees good things in the program's future.

Of course, he's remained both upbeat and realistic since he arrived in Storrs 12 months ago, but the big difference between now and then is that the players seem to be buying in too.

"Coach Diaco calls it the new team, with all the guys that are coming back next season,” quarterback Tim Boyle said, via UConnHuskies.com. “We are all ready to go and attack the offseason. We are going to try and hang on to this feeling and let it motivate us.”

“There are so many areas that are changing and improving, which is what would lead me to say the tide is on the way back in,” Diaco said. “We just still have a few habits that need to be eradicated. You can’t change a bad habit. You can’t change habits. You just replace them. We have replaced a bunch, we’ve got a few more to go and we will. And the team, which we are now, is resolute to getting that done and we will get it done. No question."

These are just words, of course, and critics might point to the team's two wins -- even Paul Pasqualoni went 5-7 in his first two seasons.

“You can look at the schedule, you can look at the record- I’m sure most people will,” Diaco said. “But we are going to look at the reality of how the games are being played, how the players are growing, how the units are performing and go from there. ...

“The foundation is strong. It is here to stay forever and we are putting and prepared to put layers on it,” he continued. “I’m not just blowing smoke to say that we are at the bend. We are at it. Whether we have turned the corner or not, you might argue that, but we are at that corner. We were a million miles away from it 12 months ago, but we are at the corner now. We are going to begin to take the next step and talk about that next level of winning football games.”



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Morgan Tuck Named National Player of the Week]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 15:56:55 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/morgan-tuck-title.jpg

Ten months ago, Morgan Tuck was sidelined with a knee injury that forced her to miss most of the season. On Sunday, she dropped 25 points on Notre Dame in the Huskies' blowout win. By Tuesday, she had been named the Ann Meyers Drysdale Women’s National Player of the Week as selected by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Tuck had already wrapped up American Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors.

"Morgan didn't do anything I didn't think she could do," coach Geno Auriemma said after the Notre Dame win. "Morgan might be the best basketball player on our team. (Breanna Stewart) Stewie is Stewie, obviously. But because Morgan is a little stronger, she makes a big three, she drives it to the basket, she is a pretty good passer, she's a good defender, she rebounds, she talks a lot on defense."

Two weeks ago, as the Huskies began their season, Tuck was just happy to be playing again.

"I definitely think that I’m going in the right direction, which feels good,” she said. “It feels good to play pretty well, but I do want to get better. I think I am getting into a good rhythm, but I still need to finish better."

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<![CDATA[UConn to Face Maryland in 2015 Jimmy V Classic]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 15:26:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

Kevin Ollie's Huskies will play in the 2015 Jimmy V Classic, the foundation announced this week. UConn will face Maryland on Dec. 8, 2015 in Madison Square Garden. Virginia and West Virginia will square off in the other matchup. Proceeds from the two games, which will air on ESPN, will go to benefit The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

UConn's only other appearance in the Jimmy V Classic came in 2012 when they lost to NC State, 69-65.

“We at UConn are honored and proud to again be asked to participate in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden,” Ollie said. “First and foremost, we are pleased to be able to help the V Foundation, which does such an outstanding job funding research to move us closer to someday wiping out this terrible disease.

Secondly, we are looking forward to playing against another great program in Maryland, and in such an exciting basketball atmosphere as Madison Square Garden, where our fans always give us such tremendous support.”

UConn is 4-2 all time against Maryland, which will make its first Jimmy V Classic appearance next December.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sadie Edwards Will Transfer]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 12:30:22 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-2014-recruits.jpg

UConn's 2014 recruiting class was among the best in the country. Hardly a surprise given the program's success, and coach Geno Auriemma's ability to get the most out of his players. But just seven games into her freshman season, Sadie Edwards will transfer, Auriemma announced on Tuesday.

“Sadie is a great kid who will be missed by the coaching staff and her teammates,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com. “Getting to know Sadie and her family has been a pleasure but she has voiced her desire to play more and we have come to the mutual agreement that this can best be accomplished at a different school. I wish Sadie nothing but the best in the future.”

Edwards, who played 29 minutes this season, appeared to understand before the season that playing time would be hard to come by.

“It’s very challenging, but that is what makes you a tougher person and a better basketball player," she said. "It shouldn’t be easy. If it is easy, then you are not going to get better the way that you want to. So it’s good that I’m challenged. I need to be challenged so that I can be the best player that I can be.”

Freshmen Courtney Ekmark, Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse remain from the 2014 class, and the 2015 class currently includes the nation's best high school player in Katie Lou Samuelson, and Napheesa Collier, De’Janae Boykin and Crystal Dangerfield are top-10 players. There's also Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

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<![CDATA[Ollie: 'We're on the Bottom Right Now']]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:06:31 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP569834851424.jpg

Ryan Boatright and Rodney Purvis may have played Friday, but the defending national champions still lost at home to Yale in an ugly affair, 45-44.

A day later, the outcome wasn't any easier to swallow.

"Like I said, we're at the bottom right now," coach Kevin Ollie said, via the Hartford Courant. "But I'm not going to give up on my team; I'm not going to give up on myself. I'm going to keep fighting and my team will keep fighting. I've just got to find the guys that are going to stick together and not think individually, but think as a team."

Ollie's players echoed similar sentiments.

"When we come apart, we have to stick together," junior college transfer Sam Cassell Jr. said.

Sophomore center Amida Brimah added: "I don't think the chemistry of the team is what it was last year. Until we get that together, it's going to be tough for us," he told the Courant.

Despite the latest setback, Ollie remains upbeat -- perhaps because he has no choice. "We can do two things," he said. "We can stick together as a group and fight and try to get a win over Coppin State, or we can point fingers and make excuses and separate. When I come back to practice, I'm going to find the guys that are going to stay in the middle of the ring with myself and my coaching staff."

The Huskies play again Sunday when they host Coppin St. Then, next Thursday, they face Duke -- in New Jersey.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tuck, Stokes Key Huskies Blowout Win]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 12:14:05 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kiah+stokes_1.jpg

Usually, any conversation about a big win begins with Breanna Stewart's performance. Against Notre Dame on Sunday, the best player in college basketball had 15 points in UConn's 76-58 win, a game that saw the Huskies trailing by 10 points midway through the first half before Kiah Stokes and Morgan Tuck put the team on their backs down the stretch.

Stokes had 18 rebounds in 24 minutes and Tuck scored a career-high 25 points.

"I think the most significant outcome is people stepped up since the Stanford game, Kiah and Morgan's performance. They are capable of doing this every single night," said Stewart. "That's what we need as a team and we'll use that going forward."

Coach Geno Auriemma then dropped this interesting nugget.

"Morgan didn't do anything I didn't think she could do. Morgan might be the best basketball player on our team," he said, via the Hartford Courant. "Stewie is Stewie, obviously. But because Morgan is a little stronger, she makes a big three, she drives it to the basket, she is a pretty good passer, she's a good defender, she rebounds, she talks a lot on defense..."

After pausing, Auriemma then spoke about Stokes.

"What Kiah did today, I've seen her do a lot in practice once a week. Now, the thing is, a game like today, does that make her want to do this every day in practice and every game she plays from here on out? If she does, we're a completely different team."

To hear Stokes tell it, she certainly thinks she can be consistent from one game to the next.

"I knew when I went in there I needed to block shots and rebound, especially defensively," she said. "I know that is one thing I can do. (Early in the game) they kept getting a lot of layups. I'm like why don't we just block shots? Second-chance points and easy layups, they are two things I know I can stop," she told the Courant. "I know one thing our guards are looking for is for me and Stewie to give some help in the lane so they can pressure the guards. ...

"I like the way I feel right now," Stokes continued. "Coach is happy with me. It's a great feeling. I've got to take this moment and next time we practice bring the same thing. It can't be now and again. I've got to repeat it and repeat it and repeat it."



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco: 'We've Built a Team']]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 12:08:14 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-diaco-boise-state-sept.jpg

Bob Diaco's first season couldn't have gone much worse; UConn finished 2-10, and on Saturday, it lost to the previously winless SMU Mustangs.

The last time UConn lost 10 games? 1977. The Huskies are officially in the offseason and there's arguably more work to do now than when Diaco arrived 12 months ago. But as has been the case for months, Diaco remains upbeat in the face of a never-ending wave of adversity.

"We've built a team," the coach said Saturday, via the Hartford Courant. "There was not a team here. And like I said in the past, it doesn't represent the tradition and history. The tradition and history is rich with great teams and bleed blue and great alumni, but for a while here we've had a collection of individuals, maybe some position pride and they forged a bond. But as a whole as a team, that has actually just recently jelled. Even after 12 months, it has just recently jelled where I felt like not that we've turned the corner, but we were definitely at it. Even right now with a loss, I feel that way."

It's a start, but for the Huskies to be taken serious in the AAC and beyond, turning the corner will be integral. Diaco understands this, of course, just like he understands that rebuilding is a process.

"We've come a long way in how the players play during the plays, the energy and effort and passion they play with," Diaco continued, explaining how the team has improved this fall. "We've come a long way in respect, respect for each other, respect for our home, respect for our academics. There are so many areas that are changing and improving which is what would lead me to say to the tide is on its way back in," he told the Courant.

"We just still have a few habits that need to be eradicated. You can't change a bad habit. You just replace them. We've replaced a bunch. We've got a few more to go, and we will. The team which we are now is resolute to getting that done. We'll get it done. There is no question. The future is bright. I have no doubt. No one on the team has a doubt."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boatright Wants to Play]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 13:03:45 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ryan+boatright+injured_uconn.jpg

At the beginning of the week, Ryan Boatright, Rodney Purvis and Omar Calhoun were all battling injuries that could affect their availability for Friday's matchup with Yale. By Thursday, all three had practiced this week.

"I'm trying to get back and stop the bleeding," Boatright, who has an ankle injury, said via the Hartford Courant. "We need to get back on the floor and on the winning side of things. We dropped two straight; we can't afford to drop three."

Boatright tweaked the ankle in the closing seconds of Sunday's loss to Texas.

"When I woke up [Monday], I was anticipating it was going to be crazy, super-stiff," Boatright said. "But, I don't know, my mother and my grandmother must've sent some prayers up there. When I got up, I could walk and it was feeling better than the day it happened."

And it sounds like it'll take more than a turned ankle to keep Boatright down.

"I can hardly take Ryan out of practice," coach Kevin Ollie said. "He's going to get out here and play. This is his last year. He's pretty much given everything he has to this program. So Ryan is not going to sit out. I'm going to have to drag him out of a game. ...

"He's probably 85 percent. He'd never missed a practice, and that's just amazing, with him always going so hard and we're asking him to do so much. But he knows his body and he does a great job with [athletic trainer] James Doran and [strength coach] Travis Illian, getting his body ready. And that's what a professional does."

Not surprisingly, Boatright doesn't sound like he plans on missing the game.

"I feel like I can play," he said. "But it will be a game-time decision. If I wake up and it's super-stuff, I'll try to warm it up. We'll see how I feel at 6 o'clock."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Next Up: Diaco Hits Recruiting Trail]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:59:15 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

The season might officially end this weekend when the two-win Huskies host the oh-for-2014 SMU Mustangs, but coach Bob Diaco knows that the real work begins after the final whistle.

That's where rosters are built -- on the recruiting trail. The plan is to add five more players to a class that already numbers 20.

"There's a lot of issues, manpower is one of them," Diaco said, via the Hartford Courant. "We should be at 85 [players]. We're at 60, 65, five of them are redshirting, but that number will be bolstered in February and we'll get back to a functional level of manpower that will still be on the younger side.

"We're going to put this next coat of paint on; it's going to be conversations about 'okay, so you're a second-year player, I got that, but you played a thousand plays. You're ready. You're not a rookie anymore. You played 850 plays. Here we go.' As we turn the page, that's where we're going."

Back in June, Diaco explained his recruiting game plan.

“We are going to recruit our footprint like it’s our home state,” he said at the time. “New York, all five boroughs. Massachusetts completely, Eastern Pennsylvania to Northern Virginia — a round semi-circle, portion of Virginia, D.C. and up to Baltimore then Delaware and straight up the coast, which is whole state of New Jersey.”



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Geno, McGraw Still Aren't BFFs]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:50:45 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw probably don't exchange holiday cards. The UConn-Notre Dame rivalry is real, and much of that is a result of the Fighting Irish all but owning the Huskies in recent seasons, up till the last two Final Fours, when UConn bounced them from the tournament.

But with Notre Dame now in the ACC, the rivalry has waned, though it might be hard to tell when these two teams meet Saturday in South Bend. So it's not altogether surprising that both coaches downplayed any perceived animosity between them.

"We saw each other over the summer and we have no issues, no problems," McGraw told reporters, via the Hartford Courant. "It's business as usual for both of us."

And Auriemma, after hearing that some of his players aren't particularly fond of the Fighting Irish, added this: "I think hate is a strong word. I don't advocate it. I think that is a sign of respect for Notre Dame. Why would you hate someone who wasn't any good that you can easily beat by 100 points? The fact some of (players) said that tells me they have a lot of respect for Notre Dame and they understand that if they are not careful, we may go up there and get our butts beat. I like that way of thinking."

The last time these two teams met was in the NCAA championship game last April. The Huskies cruised to a 77-58 win.

"I don't think I need to say anything or do anything to motivate my players. You don't want to harp on what's happened in the past [in the rivalry]," Auriemma said. "Players aren't stupid; they know what has happened. And teams change.

"I also don't believe the Notre Dame kids need any special motivation. We wouldn't need it if they were playing in Connecticut. I don't think I need to work very hard to get my players fired up and I don't think Muffet needs to say much, either."

Auriemma also pointed out that his relationship with McGraw has no bearing on how either team plays.

"People want to make a big deal out of (our relationship), at least it was at the Final Four last year," he said. "I don't get caught up in that stuff too much. It's not like way before the Final Four that Muffet and I were good friends that went to dinner and shared things together.

"I saw her this summer and talked about some things. I don't think it's any different than it was before. I believe there's a misconception in sports that you are supposed to have an intense rivalry that is good for the game and yet remain (friends) off the court. I don't know that to be the case in any sport. I really don't.

"I would say that in the last five years, all the people that were my close friends are still my close friends. All the ones that weren't, still aren't. And I don't think I've made any new friends and I've probably lost some along the way."

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<![CDATA[Geno: December Games Are Different]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:36:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

One of the worst things about the conference reshuffling in recent years is that we lose rivalries like Notre Dame-UConn. There was a time when the Huskies dominated those meetings, but in recent years, the Fighting Irish have been the only team in the country to regularly have Geno Auriemma's number.

Now in the ACC, Notre Dame doesn't face UConn twice a season and fans are robbed of some truly great basketball. The consolation prize comes Saturday when the two teams meet in South Bend as part of the Jimmy V Classic. UConn is ranked No. 3 and the Fighting Irish are No. 2. The last time they met: in the NCAA title game eight months ago. The Huskies cruised to a 79-58 win, Auriemma's ninth national championship at UConn.

But there's a huge difference between April and December basketball.

“There is a big difference between playing in the Final Four and playing a regular season game in December,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I have always treated them completely different. I have always said that a game in December doesn’t decide where you are going to have a chance to win a national championship.

"For us, we have beaten them the last two times in the Final Four. I don’t know that I had to say anything or come up with anything to motivate our guys based on what had happened in the past. I don’t think you want to harp on that. Players aren’t stupid. They know what happened. Plus, teams change every year. A couple of the guys we played in the Final Four two years ago aren’t there. A couple of guys who were on last year’s team are not there. So it is not necessarily the same team.

“And I don’t think the Notre Dame kids need any extra motivation or any special motivation just like we wouldn’t either if they were coming to play this game at our place," Auriemma continued. "If they were coming to play this game at Gampel on Saturday, I don’t think I would have to work really hard to get my guys fired up. I don’t think Muffet (Notre Dame coach McGraw) has to say one word to those guys. I don’t think she has to say, ‘You guys need to get fired up for Connecticut.’ I don’t think that is necessary.”

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<![CDATA[Ekmark Looking to Get Healthy]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:31:52 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn+Courtney+Ekmark_1200.jpg

Freshman Kia Nurse has made the transition from high school to big-time college basketball with little trouble. In fact, she was named the AAC Freshman of the Week last week after averaging 14.3 points in three games and shooting 60 percent from the field. Some of that success can be attributed to playing with the Canadian National Team and facing the best players in the world.

For other freshmen, the transition can take more time, and for myriad reasons. For Courtney Ekmark, it's an injury. Specifically: a stress fracture in her right foot.

“I hate missing practice, it’s like my biggest thing,” Ekmark told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. ”I hate being out so badly. I wish I could practice so badly. I wish I could play in the games so badly. The worst thing? It’s probably not being able to help my team win. But everything happens for a reason and you try to make the best of it. Hopefully it heals fast and I’ll be back soon.”

When the Huskies face Notre Dame on Saturday, Ekmark will again be sidelined, the fifth time this season. There's no timetable on her return but the freshman hopes it's no more than four weeks. For now, all she can do is rehab and keep her spirits up.

“Right now, I’m doing strengthening exercises to keep my leg strong and I’m doing swim workouts in the pool, bike workouts, and upper body workouts,” Ekmark said. “Hopefully next week I can do the elliptical and then after that start putting more pressure on it and getting back.”



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: UConn’s Funny Holiday Video]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:22:57 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn+holiday+video.JPG

UConn is wishing students, families, supporters and fans happy holidays through a funny video sent out today.

It starts with the national championship winning Coach Geno Auriemma knitting by the fireplace (yes, knitting) until Coach Kevin Ollie comes in and places the NCAA men’s basketball championship trophy on the mantle.

From there, it’s game on, with several national championship teams filling up that mantle.

The video includes cameos by Jonathan the Huskie mascot, who is filling out his New Year resolutions, complete with taking a perfect selfie; and the real Jonathan being adorable.

Then UConn shows off some high-tech as students use a 3-D printer to make a dreidel.

Enjoy!
 


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<![CDATA[Boatright Named to Naismith Watch List]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:16:09 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP558842148611.jpg

Ryan Boatright may be battling an ankle injury which could affect his availability for Friday's game against Yale, but the senior point guard remains the most important player on UConn's roster, and one of the best players in the country.

On Wednesday, he was named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List, along with 50 other players. The James A. Naismith Trophy is presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the College Player of the Year.

More details via UConn's website:

Boatright is one of just two players from the American Athletic Conference who made the list, the other being Nic Moore of SMU. Boatright, an All-Final Four selection last season as he helped the Huskies capture the NCAA Championship, has also been named to the watch lists of the John R. Wooden Award and the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award.

Boatright currently leads the American Athletic Conference in scoring at 20.8 points per game is also averaging 6.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He was the AAC Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 16-23 and has made the league’s weekly Honor Roll the other two weeks of the season. He was named the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s coaches.

The Naismith Trophy list will be shortened to a Midseason 30 on Feb. 2, cut to 10 semifinalists on March 6, down to four finalists on March 22, and the winner will be named on April 5.

Through five games, Boatright is averaging 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4 assists a game.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mosqueda-Lewis, Stokes Could Be 1st-Rounders]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:18:04 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP116320717091%281%29.jpg

The 2015 WNBA Draft is months off, but the scouting process is well underway. Not surprisingly, the Huskies have several possible first-round picks on the roster.

Specifically: seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes.

According to the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla, both players could hear their names called early on draft night, particularly since the Connecticut Sun have the No. 3 and No. 4 overall picks.

"I believe the consensus right now is that the two Connecticut players, because of the schedule they play and the fact they play for Geno [Auriemma], are in my mind considered first-rounders and perhaps top five picks," Lin Dunn, the former coach of the Indiana Fever who now serves as a consultant for the franchise, told Altavilla.

But Sun coach Anne Donovan wasn't quite so willing to commit to the two players, at least not this early in the evaluation process.

"What I think is that there's a lot of research to be done," Donovan told Altavilla. "It certainly won't be as easy as it has been in the past. There is no clear 1 through 5. But I am glad we have a couple of picks [in the first round] and I am glad we have them early."

But Donovan conceded that Mosqueda-Lewis has special skills. "Every team needs a shooter [like Mosqueda-Lewis] and it is not something you can find very often," she said.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Boatright in Walking Boot]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:12:14 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ryan+boatright+injured_uconn.jpg

Ryan Boatright injured his ankle late in Sunday's loss to Texas and it remains unclear if the senior point guard will be ready to go when the Huskies host Yale this Friday.

According to the school, Boatright has been diagnosed with a sprained left ankle and was in a walking boot on Tuesday. X-rays taken Monday were negative for any structural damage. He's being evaluated daily though his status for Friday's game remains undetermined at this time.

Rodney Purvis missed Tuesday's practice as he recovers from a high-ankle sprain. He could practice Wednesday, and depending on how that goes Thursday will determine if he's available for Friday's game.

Finally, Omar Calhoun, who sprained his right knee before the season, is expected to practice Wednesday and Thursday. If all goes well, and the knee checks out, he could play Friday after missing the Huskies' first five games.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Talks Seniors, SMU]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 12:49:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+pumped.jpg

UConn hosts SMU Saturday on Senior Day, in the final game of a season that has had more valleys than peaks. No one knows that more than first-year coach Bob Diaco, who met with the media Tuesday to look for the bright spots in the Huskies' last game, a 41-10 loss to Memphis, before looking ahead to SMU matchup.

"There were some really strong performances (last week)," Diaco said, via the school's website. "I don't want to leave anyone but I said last week I thought Andreas [Knappe] played his best game and I thought this week he played his best game. He played even better than he did last week. He's starting to look like a real offensive tackle. I thought Ron Johnson played well, ran the ball hard. I thought Geremy Davis was finally back to feeling good and feeling full-speed. He is back, you had an opportunity to see him running around and looking like he looks. He's a talented player and a weapon. ...

"On defense, Andrew Adams played an excellent game. Julian Campenni continues to be a force inside, very hard to deal with for the opponent. Graham Stewart had a nice game. Jamar Summers had a lot of pressure on him for a true freshman and I thought he performed really well."

SMU comes to Rentschler Field with an 0-11 record (0-7 in the AAC). It will be the last chance for UConn's seniors to get a win, something that has happened infrequently this season.

"It's been a long season but it's been an appropriate season for us in that the three bye weeks have allowed for extended practice time which we need," Diaco explained. "It's been good to have this season be as long as it is so we're excited to have three more practices and another game. We do focus in our process as we always have, but there is that extra little heartbeat for the seniors. The team wants to be sure that these guys end their careers at home on a day of celebration. Everybody is working appropriately towards that goal.

"[SMU] has some talented players. The punter has been performing well, Deion Sanders, Jr. is a talented returner with a lot of skill. The quarterbacks pose a problem, especially Matt Davis who runs the ball like a running back. That's a challenge where this guy is going to be running all over the place and getting him contained and corralled is an issue. He's got a talented wide receiver corps led by Der'rikk Thompson, a talented player who is hard to cover. And then a strong front, I think led by the nose guard I think but they have two real good linebackers in [Stephon Sanders] and [Jonathan Yenga]. They have a couple of good, young defensive linemen who give great effort."

A win would give UConn three on the season, matching their total from a year ago when they started 0-9 before winning three in a row.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie: Don't Get Exposed on National TV]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 09:46:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconnj.jpg

The defending national champion Huskies continue to find themselves after a tough loss to Texas on Sunday. The always optimistic Kevin Ollie like to accentuate the positives, but he also understands that this team isn't the same one that got hot down the stretch in March and April and imposed their will on any team that got in their way.

"It can't just be the two hours of practice," Ollie said, via the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore. "I told the guys, 'You've got to get in the gym. You've got to live over at the Champions Center. If you're not doing academics, you've got to be in there working on your game, because you don't want to be exposed on national television.' "

By pep-talk standards, that's a pretty good one. Nothing like the threat of having friends and family -- stationed all over the country -- seeing you on the receiving end of a nationally televised beatdown to get you working harder.

Of course, this is a young Huskies team without Shabazz Napier, who is now in the NBA. It's also early in the season and the struggles -- particularly from behind the arc where UConn is misfiring at a 28.9 percent clip -- will hopefully right themselves as players become more comfortable in the system.

"You have no choice but to be concerned," said senior point guard Ryan Boatright. "We're shooting the ball terrible, 3-for-16 from the three-point line, 30 percent from the field, and we were still up by two [with 4.4 seconds left]. That tells you how hard we played, but we've got to shoot the ball better. If we shot 40 percent, we would have been up by a lot more than two on them."

Freshman Daniel Hamilton added: "I think we have to get in that gym and make shots. If we just make a few more shots, we'll be all right."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Huskies Get Hot in 2nd Half]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 09:47:25 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

The Huskies may have back-to-back national titles to defend, but every year is different. And for coach Geno Auriemma, that means finding players to replace the production and leadership lost when Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley graduated. So far, it's been a process, but no one's feeling sorry for UConn, which has nine championships under Auriemma.

But even though the Huskies fell to No. 6 Stanford in the second game of the season, the team has shown glimpses of that ability to take over games, to dominate down the stretch, most recently during Sunday's matchup against Wisconsin-Green Bay in the Gulf Coast Showcase championship game.

The score was 26-25 with just over five minutes left in the first half and Auriemma knew it wasn't in Wisconsin Green-Bay's nature to roll over.

"They are not going to go away and lose," he said, via the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "That's not who they are. That's not what their culture is."

And then the Huskies got to work.

"I've only seen [playing at a high level] in glimpses in practice," Auriemma said. "It's not something I thought the team had completely embraced to this point. So I'm thrilled we were able to come out that way in the second half. And it happened quickly; it was an eight-point game and then it was a 20-point game."'

When it was over, the Huskies outscored the Phoenix down the stretch, 63-27, and cruised to a 89-53 victory.

"For sure, I believe our defense got a lot better this weekend than it was earlier this season," Auriemma said. "And offensively, we are getting better production from more people than we were two weeks ago. … We are a much better team right now than we were on Friday."

Good thing, too. UConn faces No. 2 Notre Dame on Saturday.

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<![CDATA[Kevin Ollie: 'Texas Is a Great Team']]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 09:15:40 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ryan+boatright+injured_uconn.jpg

Even if coach Kevin Ollie preached togetherness and teamwork and the Husky Way in recent weeks and months, he had to know that life after Shabazz Napier would make for tough sledding, at least early in the season as a relatively young UConn group found its way.

We saw that in Puerto Rico after the Huskies fell to the West Virgina, and we saw it again Sunday when Ollie's crew fell to sixth-ranked Texas, 55-54, thanks to a last-second three-pointer from Jonathan Holmes.

There's no shame in losing to the Longhorns, but there are no moral victories in big-time college basketball and the reality is that the Huskies are 3-2 after five games.

"They just executed a good play at the end," Ollie said afterwards. "We called a time out. We wanted to switch everything and guard in the corner. I think (Ryan) Boatright rolled his ankle and couldn’t get out to Holmes, and Daniel (Hamilton) got caught. A great execution play by them.

"Texas is a great team," Ollie continued. "They play hard on defense. Everybody knows that. But I thought our guys fought. Being in the game when we’re shooting 30 percent tells you what our guys have built upon."

As only he can do, Ollie tried to spin some positives from the loss.

"Our guys our resilient," he said. "We played hard. We had the game. We needed to get one more stop. We just came up a little short today. We can’t expect to win games shooting 30 percent. A valiant effort by our guys, but we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to knock down some shots."

UConn plays again on Friday, Dec. 5 when they host Yale. Hopefully, the Huskies will have Boatright, their senior leader and best player. He scored 24 points and had seven rebounds, but injured his ankle on the final play.

"I’ve got to talk to our trainer James (Doran)," Ollie said. "He was limping pretty bad…. He hates missing practice. That’s one guy I’m not going to be worried about getting back on the court."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Saw Good Things From Boyle]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 09:30:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tim-boyle-2014-uconn.jpg

Another loss, another week spent trying to highlight the positives. In that sense, first-year coach Bob Diaco has become very good at the sunny disposition in the face of substandard football, while always keeping the long view in perspective.

Following Saturday's 41-1 loss to Memphis, Diaco explained that he saw some good things from sophomore quarterback Tim Boyle (12 of 24 for 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), who has struggled for much of his short career.

"I'm pleased with Tim Boyle," Diaco said. "Tim Boyle could have easily changed his demeanor and gone in the tank, and he didn't. He came back out there and he executed. And I told him, `Listen, this is going to be like Tin Cup. I'm just going to keep teeing the ball up and keep trying to hit it over the river. So get your mind right and let's go do it, because you're not coming out.' And he was like, `Yeah, let's go.' He went back in there and he executed the plays and ran the offense and threw a few nice balls."

Now 2-9, the Huskies have one game left -- a Saturday meeting with SMU -- before Diaco's first season is officially in the books. But the message remains positive -- and more importantly, realistic.

"Listen, everybody is disappointed," Diaco said. "We play these games to win the games. The preparation was good. We love these guys. I understand Husky nation, and it's got a rich, rich tradition of excellence. Right now, we have a lot of work to do. It's just a moment in time, and it's going to take some time, so everybody is going to need to have some patience -- the players, the coaches, everyone. We have a lot of work to do.

"We're going to get the work done. I'm excited about the problem. The identification process is done, and a plan of action, an action plan, a real one to address the issues, is in place and is full steam ahead. We've made so many strides in so many areas. Even fundamentally tonight, you can see, if you're looking, if you want to look at the glass a little half full -- I'm trying to and hopefully it doesn't irritate everyone at home -- we ran the ball with authority. We haven't been able to do that.

"We threw our strike passes down the field," Diaco continued. "That looked good. The defenders can block, destruct and tackle. They really weren't getting, until the very end, their runs going. We just have some young guys on the perimeter that were exposed a little bit. But they fought and they battled."

Diaco even pointed to Memphis as proof that change can take place.

"There were a lot things, a lot of areas to look to and say, `Hey, we're developing.' You can look at Memphis. Look at that model and say, `Hey, three years ago this was where this team was at. Now they're in year three, and through the adversity and through their stick-to-itiveness, and the execution of their model, they created a champion.' It's awesome, just awesome. And that's what we're going to do. There's no doubt.

"There's so many new things that the players are experiencing that are winning that I wish I could involve everyone in Husky nation and all these spectacular stories. Because that's what you need, because you're not seeing it on the scoreboard, and I feel terrible about that, I really do. And so does the team. Husky nation deserves to see it on the scoreboard. But the alumni that wore that uniform, and the alumni Huskies, that not too long ago were champions, they had 100 percent success and no attrition - nobody washed out of that program. There was all this great, bleed blue mentality. We're going to get back there. We're on our way."

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<![CDATA[Few Bright Spots in Latest Loss]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 09:04:18 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+bob+diaco+stony+brook.jpg

We're at the point in the proceedings where there's not much to be excited about beyond individual efforts and hopes that this somehow all comes together next season. For now, the Huskies are a bad football team, even by AAC standards, and there's no easy fix.

First-year coach Bob Diaco is well aware of this, though he sounds like has a plan to again make UConn relevant. The biggest question, of course, is when.

The latest setback came Saturday when Memphis throttled UConn, 41-10.

But there were bright spots. Like the Huskies didn't allow a sack against the conference's most aggressive defense.

"(Quarterback) Timmy (Boyle) kept some of the plays alive, that one I wish he didn't keep alive that was a downright game changer right there, the fumble," Diaco said, via the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller. "He kept a nice play alive, slid to his left and slipped it to Max (DeLorenzo) at the end. It was really nice to see. The offensive line is improving, they are getting better and better. I think Andreas (Knappe, the starting right tackle) played his very best game and now that is two weeks in a row that he looks like a dude, he looks like a real guy out there so that is exciting."

So there's that. And until late in the game, things were relatively close.

"It was really, through seven minutes to play in the third quarter, 13-3," Diaco said. "It was a football game. The plan was good, and for the most part, the execution of the plan was good in terms of targeting and blocks destruction and the fits. What plagues a young team is penalties and ball security issues. We had penalties that were moving the ball closer to our goal line and penalties that moved the ball farther away from our goal line. We had some long runs that came back on penalties, and we had some defensive plays where we had them stopped and the drive was kept alive. The one drive in the second half to get the 13 points to 20 points, we had a few penalties on that drive that ended up setting them in close. And then we went turnover, turnover, and that's how the thing to 34," Diaco told the Register.

About those penalties...

"They were basically aggressive penalties so it is young players trying to finish," Diaco said. "You think about the game-changing (penalties). Right out of that chute Ronnie rips off that run (on UConn's third drive) and we get a hold. You watch the play and you watch Tommy (Myers), Tommy is blocking that guy and really giving him the business, finishes him into the ground. It is that finish that they flagged the hold on. That was a game-changing play, independent of whether we scored or not, the fact of the matter is that the exposure for our defense has been so great, in particular the last few weeks that is the main issue there from a point-production standpoint. The inability to get the field flipped in a problem early in the game."



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Geno Not Worried About Stanford Loss]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:21:55 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

Perhaps the person least concerned by the Huskies' loss to Stanford last week is coach Geno Auriemma. It's such a rare occurrence that people come out of the woodwork to tell the nine-time NCAA champ exactly what went wrong. Auriemma finds this all very amusing.

"It's like, when you lose a game [in the regular season] it's 'Oh crap, there goes the title, there goes the national championship.' That is absolutely crazy," Auriemma said, via the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla.

"But at the same time, I don't think it was a great game to play for us, this early, on the road [in terms of preparedness]. It's a tough game to play, the second game of the year, when [your team] is not all there. We were all there last season and Stanford wasn't [UConn won by 19 at Gampel on Nov. 11, 2013].

"Imagine if we had won that game [at Stanford]? We would have come home and the players would be saying, 'Right coach, stick that up your butt. Seriously, that's exactly how it is these days. … Sometimes, some teams need to be reminded of things.

"Look, some teams don't deserve to lose. If someone told me the 2009-10 team needed a loss to prepare it for the NCAA tournament, I would have said no. If that team lost, the NCAA tournament should have been canceled. That's how good they were, just like the 2002 team.

"But there are other teams … The more games they win, the more they are allowed to think how good they are, it's not good for them. They needed that. And that Texas beat Stanford a few days later just made it harder for them. They were like, 'Really, come on.' "

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<![CDATA[Tuck Happy to Be Healthy, Contributing]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:18:07 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/morgan-tuck-title.jpg

Morgan Tuck is a key cog for Geno Auriemma's team, even if she's not customarily a starter. She was forced into that role against Creighton because Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was under the weather, but the redshirt sophomore is happy to embrace any role that helps the team.

“I definitely think that I’m going in the right direction, which feels good,” Tuck told SNY.com's Carl Adamec after scoring 15 points in 30 minutes on Sunday. “It feels good to play pretty well, but I do want to get better. I think I am getting into a good rhythm, but I still need to finish better."

Tuck is averaging 12 points a game this season, a welcome development after she missed most of 2013-14 with a knee issue.

“It is just great to see her back and the fact is that she is being aggressive,” said junior forward Breanna Stewart. “That’s how Morgan plays. She hasn’t really had an opportunity in her career to really come out and be consistent like that, and I am excited to have that on our team.”

Going forward, Tuck's role remains fluid, which is fine with her.

“If Coach sees me as a starter, I’m OK with it. And if he sees me as a sixth or seventh man, I’m OK with that as well,” Tuck said. “I’m OK with whatever Coach sees me as.”

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<![CDATA[Diaco on the Fans: 'They Deserve Better']]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:16:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+pumped.jpg

Another Tuesday, another Bob Diaco press conference explaining that the UConn football program will improve ... but it will take time.

This time, Diaco delivered the message days after a 41-0 loss to Cincinnati in a game that served as a microcosm for a tough season.

"One of the greatest disappointments for me and the team, we really feel bad that the record is the way it is for UConn country," Diaco said, via the New Haven Register. "That hurts. That hurts that our Husky fans are not enjoying these Saturdays like they should be, need to and will be. Then we have this whole collection of former players and former athletes at the school that have created this incredible force of success and tradition.

"They deserve better, they should not be worrying if they will be putting their letterman coat on or not. They should feel like 'yes, I am going to the water cooler today like a peacock.' "I am looking for more, I am looking for more with the team and we are going to get it solved. The problem has been identified. I am not a problem identifier, I would like to think I am a problem solver so we have enacted an action plan to solve it. That is why I was brought here by Warde (Manuel) to get it done. I am going to get it done and I am excited about getting it done."

The Register's Jim Fuller asked Diaco if he's seen the same growth in himself that he expects out of his players as the season progresses.

"I have," the coach said. "The guy who showed up in the middle of December is not the guy who is standing here now. Hopefully in May I can say the same thing for the guy standing here. Every day you learn something new in that chair, every day a new thing is presented to you. It is exciting. I don't mean it in a disparaging way. It is a job I am really loving and enjoying. I am growing, just like Andreas (Knappe) at right tackle, I am growing in the same way."



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>