<![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 Wed, 01 Oct 2014 16:22:05 -0400 Wed, 01 Oct 2014 16:22:05 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Team USA, Maya Moore Roll Angola]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:56:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

Team USA, coached by Geno Auriemma and currently competing in the FIBA world championships in Turkey, made easy work of Angola Tuesday, cruising to a 119-44 win. The Americans, now 3-0 in group play, were led by former UConn standout and current WNBA star Maya Moore, who scored 16 points.

On Friday, they will face the winner of the France-Brazil matchup.

“We know France. We just played them recently,” Team USA coach Geno Auriemma said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I really haven’t seen Brazil much. Our coaches have gone out to see them. Either way, when you get to this point, into the quarterfinals, you get to the medal rounds, it’s not like you can afford to lose a game, you can’t afford to play poorly. You’re looking at one bad night and you go home. So, our players understand that and whoever we play, whether it’s France or Brazil, we’ll be ready.”

The 75-point win was the largest in US history at the world championships, and the 119 points matches a previous high.

“If we had won by this much and we had played really poorly, I’d be a little disappointed,” Auriemma said. “But I thought we played really, really well. I thought our offensive chemistry was really good. The ball moved really well. We got the ball in the lane a lot.

“I like the old format where we had six games before the medal round. It gave us more of an opportunity to be together and play games. This new format I don’t think helps us as much as the other format, but it is what it is. We have to get good real quick, and I think we’re going to be okay.”

UConn junior Breanna Stewart scored 9 points and pulled 6 rebounds in 16 minutes of work.

<![CDATA[Edsall Donation Key for Jasper Howard Memorial Fund]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:55:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/032511+jasper+howard.jpg

UConn official said Tuesday that the fundraising goals have been met and the Jasper Howard Memorial will be unveiled November 1. And it was former UConn coach Randy Edsall's lead gift that helped achieve that goal.

"I want to thank everyone in the UConn family who made this memorial to the life of Jasper a reality," athletic director Warde Manuel said. "I especially want to recognize our friends Dan and Lisa Lowry, who came up with the concept for the memorial and worked tirelessly to raise the funds that will make it possible. In addition, we are very grateful to Randy Edsall and his family for their generosity towards this project."

Edsall, who led the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl after the 2010 season, left for Maryland a short time later. Howard, who played cornerback for the Huskies under Edsall, was killed Oct. 18, 2009, shortly after UConn defeated Louisville in its homecoming game.

"Jasper Howard represented everything that is good about college athletics," Edsall said, via the Hartford Courant. "He loved being a student-athlete at UConn. His tragic death had a bonding reaction with the entire UConn community that none of us will ever forget for the rest of our lives."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Manuel Hasn't Spoken to Michigan]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:41:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/warde+manuel_722_406.jpg

As was the case with the January rumors that Warde Manuel could be in the running for the Virginia Tech athletic director job, there's nothing to the recent report that the UConn AD had been contacted by the University of Michigan -- his alma mater -- about the same job there.

According to the Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs, Manuel told him Monday that there was no truth to the speculation and that he hasn't spoken to Michigan officials about the athletic director job.

Earlier in the week, CoachingSearch.com reported that the Wolverines were "gauging interest" from both Manuel, who once played for Bo Schembechler, and Boston College AD Brad Bates.

And while Manuel hasn't officially issued a statement on the recent speculation, we're guessing his previous remarks concerning the Virgina Tech opening hold here too.

"I am very happy as the Director of Athletics at UConn and look forward to continuing to work with President Herbst, my coaches, staff, student-athletes, donors and fans to enjoy a high level of continued success in athletics at UConn," Manuel said back in January 2014.

Basketball coach Geno Auriemma has previously stated that he's not surprised Manuel might be in demand.

First, it’s his background," Auriemma said shortly after Manuel issued the statement above. "At a place like Michigan means that he worked at a university where things are generally perceived to be done the way they’re supposed to be done. It’s a fantastic state university, the highest levels of academics, the highest level of athletics. So now you go to Buffalo which was a horrible situation when he got there and now all of a sudden it’s a great situation."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Jasper Howard Memorial to be Unveiled Nov. 1]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:06:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/032511+jasper+howard.jpg

A memorial statue honoring slain UConn football player Jasper Howard will be officially dedicated at the university’s Nov. 1 homecoming game at Rentschler Field.

According to the UConn Athletic Department, donations have been pouring in through grassroots fundraising efforts, as well as from fans, teammates and former UConn head coach Randy Edsall, who was leading the team when Howard was killed.

The 20-year-old football player was stabbed to death outside the Student Union after winning the season opener against Louisville on Oct. 18, 2009.

“Jasper Howard represented everything that is good about college athletics,” Edsall said in a statement Tuesday. “He loved being a student-athlete at UConn. His tragic death had a bonding reaction with the entire UConn community that none of us will ever forget for the rest of our lives.”

The design of the memorial statue has not been revealed, but UConn athletics spokesman Michael Enright said earlier this month it will likely be made of stone and will include Howard’s jersey number – six.

Eight people have been charged in Howard’s death, including John Lomax, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to 18 years behind bars.

You can donate online to the Jasper T. Howard Endowed Scholarship Fund, which is awarded every year to a UConn cornerback who embodies Howard’s qualities.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco: 'We're Disappointed But Not Crushed']]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:24:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-diaco-boise-state-sept.jpg

If Bob Diaco has grown tired of giving virtually the same press conference from one loss to the next, you wouldn't know it to hear him. Yes, he's clearly not happy with the results, but as he's alluded to -- and we've written time and again -- this is a process.

The Huskies were bad when he got the job in December and not much has changed in the nine months since. The latest proof came in Saturday's 36-10 loss to Temple. Afterwards, Diaco sounded a familiar tone, both in terms of what went wrong and why, ultimately, this thing will get turned around.

"We are taking turns with young guys doing bonehead things, which they will eventually stop doing," Diaco said. "They will stop doing this because we are going to stay the course and with love, care, diligence and respect in how we communicate, we are going to keep getting better. ...

"Some of the other facts of the game: 16 uncontested points make it impossible to win, period. When you look at it defensively, you have some exposure there that creates some of those circumstances. They had two scoring drives. We are unhappy with the four explosive-play passes because that is just not what we do. We don’t have our defense structured to give up explosive-play passes. So those four plays were disappointing. The other couple of field goals (produced by Temple) were plus-field setups. And then obviously 16 uncontested points.

"We are disappointed but not crushed," Diaco conceded. "The players understand what we are going to do. We have a bye-week so we are going to practice a bunch and get better. So we are resolute and our spirit is not cracked. The team and coaches are upset but we also know, big picture, where we are going."

The Huskies have the week off before facing Tulane on Oct. 11.

<![CDATA[Report: Michigan Gauges AD Manuel's Interest]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:59:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/warde+manuel_722_406.jpg

Back in January, UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel refuted rumors that he was in the running for the same job at Virginia Tech. Now, nine months later, Manuel is again at the center of a report, this time linking him to AD job at Michigan, where Manuel once played for Bo Schembechler.

According to CoachingSearch.com, the Wolverines are gauging interest from not only Manuel but Boston College AD Brad Bates.

Before accepting the UConn athletic director position, Manuel served six years as the athletic director at Buffalo.

Bates was also a part of the Wolverines football program under Schembechler. Bates holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Michigan, and a doctorate degree from Vanderbilt.

Before accepting the athletic director position at Boston College, he spent ten years as the athletic director at Miami (OH) University.

As SBNation notes, Michigan hasn't announced that current AD Dave Brandon has been fired.

Meanwhile, in January, Manuel sounded like he was content in his current role. "I am very happy as the Director of Athletics at UConn and look forward to continuing to work with President Herbst, my coaches, staff, student-athletes, donors and fans to enjoy a high level of continued success in athletics at UConn," he said at the time.

We'll have to see if that changes should the Michigan job come open.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Thanks Fans, Asks Them to Hang in There]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:18:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

First-year UConn coach Bob Diaco is trying to build something here but it's going to take time. Perhaps more time than fans will be willing to wait. In the hopes of buying as much time as possible, Diaco has gone out of his way to 1) ask fans to support a team that is admittedly struggling right now, and b) remind fans that he really appreciates their support through what has been some pretty terrible football.

"I want to thank all the Husky fans that came out today," Diaco said Saturday after UConn fell to 1-3 following a 36-10 loss to Temple. "When the buses rolled into the stadium ... to see that awesome tailgate scene, it was energizing to the group. It was a wonderful crowd, the stadium was energized and rockin', it's appreciated, Diaco said (via Sox and Dawgs).

"I know that we're all going to eat another late dinner and have our Sunday meals not taste quite as good as they would otherwise be after a win. And for that I'm sorry. But this is a young football team, and one that you can rally behind. There are names that you can cheer for that you're going to be seeing for the next three or four years.

"So keep coming please," Diaco continued. "You're going to see wins. We're going to turn this team. And again, I'm talking to the UConn Husky fans and UConn country. And I really appreciate the support and the team appreciates the support.

"And we're going keep fighting and be resolute and indomitable in turning this around. ... We appreciate you guys coming, it was a wonderful crowd."

It's important for Diaco to acknowledge the support and the team's struggles but fans, by definition, are fanatical -- and impatient. It'll be interesting to see how much losing they will put up with, particularly since this team has gone 5-7, 5-7 and 3-9 since 2011.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Jim Calhoun on Documentary: 'Its Surreal']]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:09:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP629438118385.jpg

The documentary "Born to Lead: Jim Calhoun" premieres Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Bushnell Theatre in Hartford. During a Thursday conference call, the Hall of Fame coach talked about the film.

"It's surreal, in the sense of seeing your life being depicted," Calhoun said, via the New Haven Register. "It's something different. As (UConn soccer coach) Ray Reid said, 'Who plays you?' It's a documentary. They had to use me, because they couldn't use Sean Connery at the time. I think it's kind of fun."

Calhoun conceded that he never thought about having a documentary made about his life but was approached about the possibility shortly after he retired in Sept. 2012 and eventually relented.

"I thought it would be good to talk about leadership, maybe be inspirational to some people," he said. "We have different parts of our lives -- we used to call it a Polaroid, now we call it a selfie -- different snapshots of our lives. If you look at me as a stone-cutter from Quincy, Massachusetts at 18, or on the podium getting a national championship ring, or the Final Four or Hall of Fame, all those things are a positive picture. ...

"When I'm watching clips of it, it's amazing how many memories come back," he added. And in case you're curious, Calhoun's done coaching.

"The good thing about it, when you stop coaching, you stop losing. The things that we’ve already done have been great."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Deshon Foxx Could Get Looks at QB]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:32:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/deshon-foxx-2013.jpg

We've typed these three words countless time the last month: It's a process. We were reminded of that once again Saturday as Temple came to Rentschler Field and easily handled UConn, 36-10.

"We are not crushed, players understand what we are going to do," first-year coach Bob Diaco said. "We have a bye week and we are going to concentrate on getting better."

Getting better might include mixing it up on offense, partly because there's nothing to lose by doing so. During the closing minutes of Saturday's loss, wide receiver Deshon Foxx ran the read option well enough to make you think we might see it again.

Specifically: Fox had ran the gal three times -- including a 26-yarder -- and he completed a four-yard pass to Noel Thomas. Also worth noting: According to the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller, Fox has quietly been taking snaps at quarterback since Casey Cochran announced his retirement in early September.

"If they feel like it will help the offense," Foxx said of continuing to get snaps at quarterback. "I know they will do whatever for our team to win they will do whatever they have to do."

And that includes possibly putting the ball in the air.

"I can do a little something, maybe one day we will see," Foxx said.If nothing else, that final drive enabled UConn to finish a game with more than 100 rushing yards for the first time this season.

And Diaco didn't dismiss the notion outright either.

"Foxx is a quarterback," the coach said. "He can throw too, he can throw down the field. He can throw the intermediate (routes), he can throw the ball shallow, he can move with the ball and throw on the run and we have a whole package of plays for him, runs and passes."

<![CDATA[UConn vs. Temple]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 21:21:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/181*120/UConn+Temple+-+04.jpg UConn took on Temple at Rentschler Field on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Calhoun Documentary Premieres Oct. 2]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:50:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jim-calhoun-be-careful.jpg

A documentary into the 40-year coaching career of Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun, the man responsible for making the Huskies basketball program what it is and bringing three national titles to UConn during his tenure, will premiere next week.

Details via the university news release:

"Born to Lead: Jim Calhoun", provides a unique inside look into the 40-year coaching legacy of one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history and one of Connecticut's most influential and colorful personalities.

Calhoun pushed and prodded players to exceed limits and self-imposed barriers to become champions. His motivational tactics and leadership styles are the stuff of legends. Relishing the role of the underdog and combining a relentless quest for perfection with a tough love commitment to his players, Calhoun won three NCAA titles in 12 years and elevated the UConn program to a place among the elite in the country.

This documentary also unveils a softer, more vulnerable side of the private Calhoun that fans and followers have yet to see or understand and that he hid from public view.

There are more than 30 interviews from coaches and star players -- including Ray Allen, Ben Gordon and Kevin Ollie -- as well as "never before seen childhood photos, a tour of Madison Square Garden (where UConn played some of its greatest games) and footage from the only time Calhoun wore a wireless microphone at practice."

The premiere is Oct. 2 at 7:30 pm, at The Bushnell Theater for the Performing Arts on 166 Captial Avenue in Hartford.

<![CDATA[Samuelson Resting Up for Sr. Season]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:50:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Katie+Lou+Samuelson.jpg

As Breanna Stewart prepares to represent Team USA in the FIBA Championship in Turkey next week, what Huskies' fans hope is the next Breanna Stewart -- Katie Lou Samuelson -- is wrapping up a stint with the national team this summer that included two gold medals and a bronze.

But Samuelson, who will take time off to rest her ailing ankle, has no plans on coasting through her senior season of high school before graduating to Storrs a year from now.

“Playing with these two USA teams allowed me to see so many talented players and how hard they are willing to work,” Samuelson said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “They also showed me my weaknesses. I really want to focus on being a better and quicker defender and on becoming more of an inside player.

“I need to be a better player and there are a lot of things that I need to do to be one. I know that I can’t slack off at all. I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Sounds exactly like something a self-motivated, highly skilled player headed for UConn would say. Which, along with coach Geno Auriemma, goes a long way in explaining the program's sustained success.

Samuelson is battling through an ankle injury that slowed her at times in recent month, but not enough keep her from starting six of seven games in the U-17 FIBA World Championships where she averaged 13.9 points per contest, including draining six three-pointers in a semifinals win over Hungary. Team USA would beat Spain to win gold.

“Being able to hold that trophy in the air was awesome and made it all feel real,” Samuelson said. “We knew it was going to be tough and to win it the way we did, in a close game, made it that much more rewarding. Getting that trophy and wearing the gold medal meant the world.”

A month later, she and her teammates won another gold, this time at the Youth Olympic Games, and won a bronze for a third-place finish in the Games' three-point shootout. Now, with her senior season closely approaching, the goal is to get healthy.

“I’m not in any rush. Our season doesn’t fully start until late November so I have time. I want my ankle to be at a point where I don’t worry about it again.”

Photo Credit: YouTube/Hoopher]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Men to Sport New Uniforms]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:34:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/basketball-generic2.jpg

When Sam Cassell Jr., one of the newest members of the Huskies' 2014-15 men's basketball team, takes the court for the first time later this fall he, along with his teammates will be wearing new new uniforms.

Cassell took to Instagram to Wednesday model the new duds:

If the look seems familiar it should; as CollegeBasketballTalk.com's Terrence Payne notes, "The new lettering and logo the school revealed in April 2013 is still the same, but the side of the jersey and shorts are similar to the uniforms worn by the 1999 and 2004 national championship teams. UConn switched up that style before the 2007-2008 season."

UConn opens its season Nov. 14 at Gampel Pavilion against Bryant University.

<![CDATA[Stewart Named to Team USA Roster]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:56:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-nd-finals.png

Team USA coach Geno Auriemma had until Sept. 26 to decide on which 12 players would comprise the group that would travel to Turkey Saturday to compete in the FIBA world championships. By Tuesday -- a full three days before the deadline, Auriemma knew who he wanted, and the final roster includes UConn junior Breanna Stewart.

Center Jantel Lavender was the final cut -- the announcement came after Tuesday's exhibition win over the Czech Republic -- and now Stewart will join 11 others on the roster. She also becomes the third Huskies player to represent her country while still in college (Maya Moore did it in 2010 and Kara Walters did it in 1994).

“I think anytime a team is selected, you are always excited about who was picked and disappointed for those who weren’t picked,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “We knew it was going to be difficult. We are missing so many veterans from previous world championships and the Olympics, so it was a great opportunity for some younger players for some new faces to be added. I think they’ve done a great job. I think from what I can see, we’ve got a little bit of everything. We still have, obviously, some things that we have to work on. Brittney is going to get here, and this will be her first time through this. Odyssey’s first time. Breanna’s first time. Nneka’s first time. That’s a lot of new faces. I know our coaching staff has our work cut out for us, and we are excited to finally get the team together and get started.”

Along with Stewart, Team USA includes: Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Candice Dupree, Brittney Griner, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims, Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen.

<![CDATA[Diaco: Defense Showing Glimpses]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:42:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-diaco-boise-state-sept.jpg

Coach Bob Diaco's decision to abandon the passing game was the primary storyline coming out of Friday night's loss to USF, but that's not the only reason the Huskies continue struggle. We've talked about it several time in recent weeks and Diaco talked about the unit Tuesday, ahead of this weekend's matchup with the upstart Temple Owls.

"They're working at it, it's probably fair to say from a moving parts it's easier to move faster on defense than it is on offense at the beginning of the development phase," he said. "They're working hard, Coach Poindexter and company are doing a great job putting realistic plans together for them that gives them a chance to execute, keeps it simple. They're operating at much less than full speed from a book standpoint, from an installation standpoint. There's a lot of things that we would like to be doing that we can't yet. He and his staff are doing a nice job with installation and call patterns to those guys can execute to their full talent."

We'll repeat what we've said countless times in the last month: This is a process. Diaco knows this and he keeps reminding us just in case we forget. But that doesn't mean there aren't glimmers of hope.

"I'm so excited about (our young defensive players)," Diaco said. "Foley (Fatukasi) played his best game on Friday night, I'm looking forward to him participating more. Kenton Adeyemi, Cole Ormsby, these guys are going to be around here for a long time. Those three, plus Mikal Myers, Julian Campenni, Vontae Diggs played a bunch, Luke Carrezola played a bunch. Junior Joseph made a big impact on the game from inside linebacker. So it's exciting."

Temple comes to Rentschler Field this Saturday at noon.

<![CDATA[Former UConn AD John Toner Passes Away]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:55:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/john+toner+uconn.jpg

Former UConn Athletics Director John L. Toner died Tuesday morning in Savannah, Ga. He was 91. Toner devoted more than five decades of his life to college athletics, and he was responsible for hiring Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma.

“John Toner’s decision to leave his New England neighbors and move Connecticut into the Big East Conference changed UConn Athletics forever," Calhoun said Tuesday in a statement, via SNY.com. "John was a transformational figure on the national collegiate stage, including being a driving force in the late 1970s and early 1980s to add women’s athletics under the NCAA umbrella. Personally, John gave me a great start as head basketball coach at Connecticut and through the years he was always available to me for wise counsel and friendship.”

Auriemma added: “Obviously this is a really sad day for the college community, the University of Connecticut and me personally. I owe a debt of gratitude to John that can never be repaid. We became friends. I looked up to him and admired him and he’ll always have a special place in my heart and in my family’s heart. Everyone in the University of Connecticut, in the state of Connecticut and every single person in amateur sports owes him a debt of gratitude.

“Even more so, the growth of women’s sports in this country can be directly related to the work that John Toner did to help push forward the Title IX bill. So, I just can’t put into words … words at some point lose their factor, their meaning when you’re describing someone who was a giant in the world of amateur sports. My thoughts and prayers are with Claire and the rest of the family,” Auriemma told SNY.com.

More details of Toner's distinguished career, via UConn's website.

Toner came to the UConn in 1966 when he was named head football coach, a position he served in for five seasons until 1970. Toner's teams won Yankee Conference championships in 1967 and 1970 and had a five-year conference record of 17-6-2.

Toner was named Director of Athletics in 1969 and held the dual role as head coach and AD until 1970.

As Director of Athletics, Toner served until he stepped away from the post in June of 1987. He continued with the university as a Professor in the School of Education, Department of Sport and Leisure Studies until his official retirement from university service in 1988. He continued to hold the title of Athletics Director Emeritus.

During his nearly 20 years as UConn's Director of Athletics, Toner was the prime architect in the development of the intercollegiate athletic program. He added women's varsity sports to the intercollegiate offerings at Connecticut in 1974, he steered UConn from its days as a Yankee Conference member into the Big East Conference as a charter member in 1979, he vaulted UConn football into the Division I-AA ranks and he hired women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma (1985) and men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun (1986) and those two coaches would go on to become Hall of Fame head coaches, winning a total of 12 combined NCAA National Championships.

In addition, in his final years as Director of Athletics, Toner personally directed the planning, funding and design for Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, which opened three years after his retirement in January of 1990 and has become one of the country's most famous on-campus arenas.

"All of us have to continue to search and strive for ways we can all help to make the total collegiate athletic experience something to be proud of," Toner said in a 1978 speech about adding women's varsity athletics programs under the NCAA's purview. "We've got something very special and very unique in college athletics and all of us need to get involved in the process--because it works."

<![CDATA[Ollie's '15 Class Could Be Stacked]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:26:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

It's not uncommon to hear recruits talk about how comfortable they feel around UConn coach Kevin Ollie. He has a way about him that appeals to just about everyone, no matter their age, and it's an invaluable assets when trying to convince teenagers that the should spend the next 2-4 years playing basketball for you instead of playing basketball for someone else.

Ollie's rapport with his players had everything to do with the team's national championship run last season, and it will certainly play a role in future success for this program, starting with the fresh faces Ollie recruits to play at UConn. Which brings us to CBSSports.com's Jon Rothstein, who wrote last week about just how good the Huskies could next season (yes, we realize, we haven't yet started this season but it's never too early to look ahead).

Look at what Kevin Ollie has done already. The Huskies have commitments from two top-100 prospects in talented guard Jalen Adams as well as power forward Steven Enoch and they're in position to land a few more. UConn is still very much in the mix for two top-15 players in 6-foot-10 big man Diamond Stone and talented combo guard Isaiah Briscoe, as well as Philadelphia native Derrick Jones, a lanky 6-6 wing that is dynamite in the open floor. Many wondered how the Huskies would recruit post-Jim Calhoun in the American Conference but Ollie has answered the bell with flying colors.

Ollie, you could argue, might end up being a better recruiter than Calhoun. Of course, Calhoun's body of work stretches a quarter-century, so Ollie has a lot of work to do, but the man won a national title in his second season. At this point, we're not putting anything past him.

<![CDATA[Geno Talks Team USA]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:23:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-champion.jpg

Stefanie Dolson might have been cut from Team USA this weekend but UConn junior Breanna Stewart is among the 13 finalists.

She is competing for one of 12 roster spots -- which will determined by Sept. 26 -- with Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Candice Dupree, Brittney Griner, Jantel Lavender, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims, Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen.

“We’ve been trying to put everything together while using 15 players and that’s not ideal,” said Team USA coach Geno Auriemma (via the Connecticut News of the preparations for the FIBA World Championship in Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Turkey. “We haven’t been able to put enough time into one unit and get some kind of rotation down, and that’s all right. We’ve been trying to give everybody a fair chance to make the team and show what they can do. But we are down to 12 for the game in Prague, and that will tell us a lot more about what this team is. Then obviously we’ll have a couple of practices when we get to Istanbul that will be big as well. Slowly but surely we’re getting to where the team is, but it’s not been easy.

“The entire group was really, really good to be around," he continued. "They really did everything we asked them to do. This is not an easy selection process. It’s not easy on the committee, I’m sure. It’s not easy on the coaches to work with that. The players that are not going to be with us in Prague are all young. They’re young pros with not a lot of international experience and they’re all playing positions that are difficult to crack into the lineup," he told the Connecticut News.  "There was no case of not being good enough or not being able to be on the team. It’s just a matter of the experience factor for a lot of them, what fits best on this particular team with this particular group of players. I can’t find anything to complain about from the time we got together in Annapolis to today. It’s all been exactly what we wanted them to do and how we wanted them to do it. Every one of those players that weren’t chosen will be a huge part of USA Basketball going forward. It’s just like so many before them, this is not the right time.’’

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco: Temple to Be Tough Test]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:56:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+pumped.jpg

UConn (1-3) returns to Rentschler Field Saturday to face upstart Temple (2-1), a matchup that might have at one time looked like a gimme on the schedule but will be anything but once the game starts. The Huskies have dropped games to nationally recognized BYU and Boise St. while the Owls have a win over SEC school Vanderbilt.

First-year head coach Bob Diaco knows Temple can't be taken lightly, especially since he's been preaching for months that the Huskies are in the middle of a rebuilding process that won't happen overnight. Put another way: Every opponent presents a challenge and the Owls are no different.

"They have some good, physical guys," Diaco said of Temple, via the Hartford Courant. "The defensive front is a physical front and they play good, rugged football. They're fundamentally sound. You can see that in how they play, so this is a well-coached bunch of guys that look like a good group of tough, hard-nosed guys that like to play football and they're believing right now."

How good is this group? In addition to the Vandy win, Temple skunked Delaware St. 59-0 last week, holding them to 93 yards in the process. Linebacker Tyler Matakevich, a Stratford native, has a lot to do with that unit's success.

"He is the heart and soul of our defense," Temple coach Matt Rhule said. "You couldn't coach a better kid. He's a leader, he's selfless, he a motivator."

If you're looking for something to watch Saturday, here you go: The irresistible force of UConn's struggling offense versus the immovable object of Temple's defense.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Stresses That Rebuilding Will Take Time]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:32:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+pumped.jpg

Bob Diaco is, among other things, a realist. He knows the Huskies are in the middle of a rebuilding process, and the players who will help turn things around may not even be on the roster.

A microcosm of this process was on full display Friday night during a rain-soaked evening in Tampa against USF. Diaco made the decision early on to abandon the passing game, primarily because he saw very little chance it would work.

"I shut down the passing (game)," Diaco said on a Sunday afternoon conference call, via the New Haven Register. "Watch our first four passes, I was concerned the game would have been 35-0. I was more inclined to play ping pong and win games on special teams and defense, that is why the play pattern started to tilt, as abysmal as it was looking on offense, we still had a chance to win the game at the end of the game."

Again, this program won't be fixed in a few months. This is a long-term process.

"Our whole organization understands how much work needs to be done, how far away this program was or is nobody is under false pretenses," Diaco conceded.

"I see coaching taking root. (Personnel) change, we are not going there. We are taking over a downtrodden, losing program, we're working on winning and it is going to take some time. There's a long way to go."

Part of becoming a competitive program means avoiding unforced mistakes.

"Very disappointing," Diaco said of the pre-snap penalties. "Three instances of third down and short turn into third down and long, We are 0 for 9 on third down and have the opportunity at the end of the game to win the game, Those are things the guys needs to see, A high level of detail and discipline at tight end position in particular needs to be hallmark in how we play."

Next up: UConn hosts Temple next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Team USA Loses to France, Dolson Cut]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:30:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-2014-recruits.jpg

Sunday was a tough day for both current and former Huskies who were representing Team USA in Paris. The team, led by coach Geno Auriemma, fell to France, 76-72, at the 2014 France International Tournament.

And if that weren't bad enough, after the game, USA Basketball announced that Stefanie Dolson, who played for the Huskies from 2010-2014 and now is a member of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, had been cut along with ex-Notre Dame All-American guards Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride.

“We’ve been trying to put everything together while using 15 players and that’s not ideal,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “We haven’t been able to put enough time into one unit and get some kind of rotation down, and that’s all right. We’ve been trying to give everybody a fair chance to make the team and show what they can do. But we are down to 12 for the exhibition game in Prague, and that will tell us a lot more about what this team is. Then obviously we’ll have a couple of practices when we get to Istanbul that will be big as well. Slowly but surely we’re getting to where the team is, but it’s not been easy.”

Team USA led by as many as 18 against France.

“We talked to the players about how difficult all this is going to be,” Auriemma said. “Sometimes maybe we think this is going to be easy, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s not easy to beat a really good team on their home floor if you don’t shoot the ball well, if you don’t make shots. The way we started in the first quarter, I thought we started the right way. Our defense was really good. Our offense was going. And then when we got into a little bit of a lull. They deserved to win tonight. No question about that.”

Meanwhile, UConn junior Breanna Stewart continues vie for a roster spot.

<![CDATA[Diaco Shuts Down Passing Game vs. USF]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:27:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-diaco-boise-state-sept.jpg

George DeLeone, the offensive coordinator during the first two years of Paul Pasqualoni's tenure, regularly was criticized for his inability to put points on the board. His worst day was nothing to UConn's offense we saw Friday night against USF.

But there's a reason for that; first-year coach Bob Diaco, presumably fed up with turnovers, sacks and negative plays, abandoned the passing game and relied on a running attack, even if the results ended in another loss.

When it was over, the Huskies fell to the Bulls, 17-14, and did it with 132 total yards. Quarterback Chandler Whitmer finished 6 of 9 for 88 yards (1 TD, 0 INT) and Max DeLorenzo, Arkeel Newsome and Joshua Mariner accounted for 85 rushing yards (though Whitmer's minus-44 rushing total brought the average-yards-per-carry down from from 4.5 to 1.6.

"We have a chance to win the game at the end after all that, we didn't convert a third down (in the game) and we had nine penalties, a turnover sets up a score right at the beginning and we have a chance at the very end to win the game at the very end so there are a lot of encouraging issues so right out of the chute it was 14-0," Diaco said after the game.

Whitmer didn't disagree.

“It’s hard," he said. "You got to run the plays that are called and you try and execute as best you can. We couldn’t turn the field, backed up a lot, and we couldn’t get anything positive going."

Things will probably get worse before they get better, but this isn't news to Diaco.

<![CDATA[USF, UConn Football Have Much in Common]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:32:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/willie-taggart.jpg

The University of South Florida and UConn are separated by more than 1,200 miles but the football programs -- which will square off Friday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN have plenty in common. Namely: Both teams have new coaches trying to breathe life back into programs that at one time were in the national conversation.

Since playing in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2010 season, the Huskies have gone 13-23. And the Bulls, which didn't have a football program 20 years ago, ranked No. 2 in the country during the 2007 season.

''You hear a lot about No. 2, No. 2, No. 2. That's not fair to our guys right now to compare them to No. 2. We're not that team right now,'' said USF coach Willie Taggart, via the Associated Press. ''We're trying to build that foundation and get it back to that.''

Like UConn, USF is 1-2 this season, and Taggart sounds many of the same tones we hear from Bob Diaco when he talks about rebuilding what once was.

''Our football team is still fragile. ... We need to continue to find as much success as we can and be as positive as we can, keep going in that direction,'' Taggart said.

That's right out of the Diaco playbook.

'This whole year is building. We can't do anything to compromise our development. We can't do anything to compromise our ability to get better,'' Diaco said. ''We need to get batter as a team every week. We need to get better as a team at the end of the season. 'That has to happen. That will happen.''

Interestingly, one of the best chances for a win -- for both teams -- will come when they face off Friday night.

<![CDATA[Diaco Looking for More From Offense]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:49:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+bob+diaco+stony+brook.jpg

It's been a recurring theme since Paul Pasqualoni took over for Randy Edsall before the 2011 season: The lack of offensive firepower put immense pressure on the defense to keep games close, a unplanned strategy that has gotten progressively worse with each passing season.

But first-year coach Bob Diaco is going about the arduous task of changing ... well, everything -- from the players' mindsets, to their on-field performance to, ultimately, the outcome. It won't be quick or easy, but Diaco has a plan and given all that's transpired in the last three seasons, it's a start.

But all the positive thinking can't change the reality that UConn's offensive line just isn't very good right now. They've given up more sacks than any other FBS team (15), rank last in the country in tackles for loss (32) and the team's leading rusher is quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who didn't even start the first game.

“Too many negative plays,” Diaco conceded earlier this week, via SNY.com. ” Too many plays we can not get started properly because people are in the backfield. We understand it’s a work in progress, but it needs to be addressed at a higher level. Sacks and TFLs. It’s hard to get going when you are behind the chains or players are being harassed before they get started.”

The immediate problem: Reinforcements aren't on the way. As the old coaching bromide goes, it is what it is, and for Diaco, right now it isn't very good. Even the always-positive coach was realistic about this.

"There are only a couple of guys who played some, guys that we are really counting on like a Richard Levy, Andreas (Knappe), Dalton (Gifford), they never really played let alone (Tyler) Samra, (Trey) Rutherford, (Ryan) Crozier," he said.

"They need a lot of work. They are working, they are trying. We need to be more sensitive as a whole team to their needs than we have been. We have been working hard but I think it even needs another layer of care. That might be with the daily structure, that might be daily assistance. Maybe we really inspect the installation so we aren't a jack of all trades and master of none. We ave a chance to maybe master a few jobs, maybe we decrease some of the run menu and give them a few things that they can really sink their teeth into. It is not a play selection issue, it is play execution issue. Every play looks bad when every play looks like they are storming the castle."

The next test comes Friday night when the Huskies face USF.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Announces Series With Missouri]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:55:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/diaco+with+uconn+team_1200.jpg

The UConn football program announced Thursday a home-and-home series with the University of Missouri that will begin on Sept. 19, 2015, when the Huskies visit Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri, and the Tigers will return the favor on Sept. 23, 2017 when they come to Rentschler Field.

"We are very excited about playing a football series against Missouri as we continue to build a competitive non-conference schedule for our team and an exciting one for our loyal fans," UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel said in a statement. "Our future football schedules have a number of games from various leagues around the country and I am happy to add Missouri and the Southeastern Conference to those contests."

Missouri joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012 and in that time appeared in one bowl game, beating Oklahoma St. in last year's Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Huskies, meanwhile, are 2-2 against SEC schools, including a win over South Carolina in the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl and a 1-2 record against Vanderbilt.

UConn's future non-conference games include (via UConnHuskies.com):

2015: September 5, Villanova; September 12, Army; September 19, at Missouri; October 2, at BYU.
2016: September 3, Maine; September 10, at UMass (Foxborough, Mass.); September 17, Virginia.
2017: September 2, UMass; September 9, Holy Cross; September 16, at Virginia; September 23, Missouri.
2018: September 8, at Boise State.
2019: September 7, Illinois; September 21, at Indiana.
2020: September 12, at Illinois; September 26, Indiana.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Stewart Looks to Seize Team USA Chance]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:39:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-nd-finals.png

Team USA made their way to Paris Wednesday ahead of three exhibition games with Australia, China and France. Coach Geno Auriemma, in only the way he can, talked about the team's preparation for the upcoming games.

"We sat around a lot on the bus trip yesterday,” Auriemma said, via USA Basketball. “We sat around a lot on the plane. Then we got here and we were stuck in traffic. So there was a lot that can make you sluggish and stale a little bit. We came out here today to get our legs back, and I thought they were great. Everybody really wanted to move. Lindsay Whalen just said that, ‘It was good to get our bodies moving.’ And we got some things done. We got a little better as a team, and tomorrow we’ll get a couple new guys in, throw them into the mix. We’ll get a little better tomorrow and then we’ll play Friday.”

One player very familiar to Auriemma trying to make the national team is the 2014 collegiate player of the year, Breanna Stewart. She arrives in Paris after scoring nine points in Team USA's 76-51 win over Canada.

“I’m much more comfortable,” Stewart said at the time, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “We’ve been with each other for a week and each day you can tell in practice or like tonight when we’re in a game that the chemistry is growing.”

Meanwhile, Stewart leaves behind her UConn teammates, who have started the fall semester.

“I’m keeping up pretty well so far," Stewart said of her schoolwork. "I’m making sure I get things in by the due date. I met with my academic advisor in Bridgeport and she helped me stay organized. I think the biggest thing is making myself do the work. There’s no one else here making sure I do the work besides me.”

It also doesn't hurt to have the ear of someone who's been through this all before: Former Huskies great Maya Moore.

“The advice Maya has given me is basically making sure you stay on top of it,” Stewart said. “Once you get behind, you’re always going to be behind in your schoolwork.”

<![CDATA[Omar Calhoun Ready for 2014]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:38:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/omar-calhoun-napier.jpg

Omar Calhoun had a very good freshman season -- averaged 32 minutes and 11.1 points a game -- one that has been all but forgotten after he was buried on the bench as a sophomore. A slump saw his playing time -- and production -- slip to 13 minutes and 3.8 points. It was a tough six months for the shooting guard, even as the Huskies were on their way to winning a second national title in three years.

But now, fully healthy and with the full support of coach Kevin Ollie, the junior sharpshooter has regained his confidence and hopefully his form -- and minutes -- follow.

"It was definitely a tough year," Calhoun said last week, according to the Hartford Courant. "I knew I wasn't 100 percent from the start of the season, but I feel like I learned a lot throughout the season, what it takes to be a champion. I feel like it happened for a reason; maybe this year is supposed to be the year I'm supposed to lead the team to another one."

Ollie has faith that Calhoun, who had surgery on both hips heading into last season, will be ready to go both mentally and physically this time around.

“He’s healthy, springy, even more explosive,” Ollie said in August. “He’s shooting the ball great, in workouts he is leading, working hard. I expect some great things for him this season. Him not giving up, staying with the team throughout his battles, not shooting the ball well, he never gave in, he was always a great teammate. That’s what I really, really enjoyed seeing because a lot of kids give up in certain situations like that, when it gets tough. It shows me that he‘s got a mind-set that he’s going to be a team player and he’s going to get better from that.”

Meanwhile, Calhoun has been working -- in the gym, with a trainer -- pretty much since the Huskies won the national title in early April. It started with a "let's put everything on the table" talk with his father.

"We sat down to re-analyze everything," Calhoun said. "Where are we going to go from here? I was going to come back stronger than ever. I've gotten a lot stronger in a lot of different areas. Coaches see that. My father's message was, 'Just dedicate myself, whatever happens in the future is what I put into it.' So every single day, every single second, I'm always trying to do something to better myself."

And that will go a long way in helping the 2014-15 Huskies. who are officially in the post-Shabazz Napier era.

<![CDATA[USA Assistant Coach Recalls Beating Geno]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:36:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

There are grand total of two schools that can claim a winning record against Geno Auriemma. One no longer exists -- U.S. International of San Diego, which is now Alliant International University ... and doesn't have a basketball team -- and the other is LaSalle.

U.S. International of San Diego is 1-0 against UConn after a 96-88 win back in November 1986. LaSalle, meanwhile, holds a 3-0 lead over the Huskies and Auriemma, the last meeting coming in December 1989.

Such obscure facts might remain obscure if not for Cheryl Reeve serving as a reminder. She's an assistant on Auriemma's Team USA staff who played at LaSalle from 1984-1988.

“I was on the bench and I remember it well, like it was yesterday,” Reeve told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I remember Kelly Greenberg got hurt, tore her eardrum, near the end of the game. We came back and won.

“I actually go back a little further with Geno. In 1986, UConn came down and played in the La Salle tournament we had. I was a player and we beat them. I let him know about it. Not that many people can say they were on a team that beat Geno’s team. But that was before UConn was UConn.”

Reeve's line from the '86 game: six points, three assists, four turnovers.

Auriemma's response upon hearing this?

"She reminds me of it all the time,” he told Adamec. “Four turnovers? We’ll be talking about that.”

<![CDATA[QB Tim Boyle Showing Growth]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:42:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

The plan was for Tim Boyle to redshirt the 2014 season. He was thrust into the lineup as a freshman in 2013, five games into a season that had already been lost. The results were predictably disastrous. But first-year coach Bob Diaco wanted to bring Boyle along slowly, a luxury he had with Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer ahead of him on the depth chart.

But that all changed when Cochran retired from football earlier this month. Boyle was elevated to No. 2 quarterback and saw action in last Saturday's loss to Boise State. And while his numbers don't jump off the page -- 6-of-9 for 33 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions -- there are reasons for optimism, and most of them came during the Huskies' final offensive drive when Boyle was able to move the ball down the field.

"It gave me a lot of confidence," Boyle said afterward, via the New Haven Register. "I know it wasn't their starting defense but any time you play a Boise State team their backups aren't going to be a bad backup group so it definitely gave me confidence in my leadership ability because I definitely was in control of that series. It was slower this year than it was last year for me, it came to be a lot easier. Seeing defenses, getting the play call in, the substitutions and all that kind of stuff. It was definitely s confidence booster for the next couple of games and I want to keep building on it."

Boyle admitted that his freshmen season was a whirlwind that extended beyond football to to everything regular freshman have to deal with too.

"Being a true freshman coming in and four weeks in college of still trying to know where my classes are, figuring out what book is for what class and trying to learn an offense and manage an offensive line where the oldest guy was 23/24 years old so I think the big picture scared me last year," Boyle told the Register. "I just had to let the game come to me, take a deep breath and everything is going to work out."

Boyle now has a year under his belt and is becoming more comfortable in the offense, which will hopefully translate into more consistency on the field.

"I think it was more confidence in myself, I knew I could do it but it is unfortunate it wasn't being done on the field," Boyle said to the Register. "The ball is definitely coming out a lot easier this year, I am not forcing anything and that has worked well for me."

The Huskies are still 1-2 and a long way from the 2010 team that won the Big East and played in the Fiesta Bowl. But for the first time in a long time it appears UConn has a plan. And that's a good start.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[UConn's Men's Team Announce Staff Additions]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:41:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-2014.jpg

With the college basketball season just a few weeks off, Kevin Ollie's Huskies announced several changes to the coaching staff Tuesday. David Sevush has been named Director of Scouting-Video, and Dan Griffin has been named Director of Player Development.

Details of their responsibilities via the university's news release:

Sevush, 28, has assumed his new position following two seasons as a graduate assistant coach. He will be involved in practice and game planning, player workouts, opponent scouting, film breakdown and on-campus recruiting. ...

Griffin, 43, will be working primarily on the off-court development of the student-athletes, dealing with their roles as productive, positive forces within their communities. He will have close interaction with the UConn players and assist them as they progress through college.

"Dave has contributed a lot to our program as a grad assistant the last two years and he will be even more involved as a fulltime member of the staff," Ollie said in a statement. "We're pleased that he is going to remain part of our team."

On Griffin, Ollie added: "I think it's important for us to have someone who can focus on the players' development off the court. Dan will be able to help them become more well-rounded people, which will help them succeed no matter what they do after they leave college."

<![CDATA[Ollie Meets With 2 NJ High School Players]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:37:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

Days after UConn landed a commitment from 6-10 Steve Enoch Kevin Ollie was back on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, the coach of the defending national champion Huskies met with the two best high school prospects in the state of New Jersey: Tyus Battle and Isaiah Briscoe.

Battle is a 6-5 guard from Gill St. Bernard's who will graduate in 2016; Briscoe is a 6-3 guard from Roselle Catholic and will graduate this spring.

“Ollie is one of the best young basketball minds in the country,” Gary Battle, the player’s father, told SNY.com. “Coach is so smart and he has so much wisdom.”

The Huskies aren't alone in recruiting Battle; we're just two weeks into September and already this month he has hosted Louisville's Rick Pitino, Villanova’s Jay Wright, Rutgers’ Eddie Jordan, Michigan’s John Beilein, Ohio State’s Thad Matta and Florida’s Billy Donovan. By the end of the week, Virginia's Tony Bennett and Kentucky's John Calipari are expected to stop by.

Meanwhile, Briscoe's coach echoed Gary Battle's comments.

“We had a great meeting this evening with Kevin Ollie and Glen Miller,” coach Dave Boff told SNY.tv. “They did a great job of explaining how Isaiah’s style of play and his strengths would fit in well in the UConn system.”

Briscoe is expected to take an official visit to Storrs on Sept. 26.

<![CDATA[Diaco's Defense Coming Around]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:34:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/diaco+with+uconn+team_1200.jpg

The Huskies are 1-2. There's no getting around that, and first-year coach Bob Diaco isn't trying to. That's the reality of rebuilding, but Diaco has a plan, one that will take time to implement. The good news is that we've seen glimpses of what will be, even if the scoreboard doesn't fully reflect it.

We say "fully" because UConn's 38-21 loss to Boise St. Saturday comes with some bright spots. Chief among them: The defense played relatively well. You're first reaction might be that allowing 38 points isn't much to hang your hat on those numbers, on the surface, are misleading.

"Fourteen uncontested points, where the defense or the special teams is not on the field, against any opponent we are going to play, it becomes impossible to win the games," said Diaco. "When you factor in another plus-field turnover, you're talking about 21 points."

So, back to that improved defense.

"Hopefully the people that were there saw our DNA and what we are going to be," Diaco said of the unit. "Hopefully they can gain some pride in that, look to the future and tell a friend because it's a heck of a way to spend an afternoon."

We mentioned it Monday but the Huskies were able to slow all-everything running back Jay Ajayi and an explosive Broncos offense, limiting the former to just 39 rushing yards and the latter to 292 total yards.

"It shows the work that we have put in," safety Obi Melifonwu said, via UConnHuskies.com. "Boise State is a great offensive team. I think there are a lot of positives that we can take away from the game."

The recent success isn't anything more than execution, which is encouraging news going forward.

"The defense, playing basically the same system they played in week one, looked nothing like it looked in week one. So the defense is moving its game forward," Diaco said. "I'm proud of the way that they played today."

And Melifonwu added: "It is great to be able to get off the field. We would love to create more turnovers and help out field position but limiting them on third down is definitely a key."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Commit Napheesa Collier Draws Praise]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:29:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

Over the weekend, Sue Bird talked up incoming Huskies freshman Kia Nurse, who also plays for the Canadian National Team. Now it's Dawn Staley's turn to talk about future Husky, 2015 commitment Napheesa Collier, who played with Staley, the South Carolina coach and national team assistant, on the United States' U-18 squad that won gold at the FIBA Americas tournament this summer.

“Napheesa was great,” Staley told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “She’s relentless. She plays hard all of the time, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a game or if it’s practice. She sets the tone for how the game should be played. She sets a great example for others.”

Collier averaged 14 points a game as the US went 5-0. At 6-1, her versatility is what sets her apart. She averaged 8.6 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from behind the arc.

“She’s probably one of the most efficient players on both of the sides of the ball,” Staley said. “She made stuff happen. She’s a magnet for the ball, a great offensive rebounder that can knock down open shots from inside and outside the 3-point line. She picked up things well and was a pleasure to work with.”

The scary news for UConn opponents is that the 2015-16 Huskies could be better than this year's version, which is loaded. The 2015 recruiting class includes the nation's best player in Katie Lou Samuelson, and Collier and De’Janae Boykin are both top-10 players. There's also Nurse and Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

<![CDATA[Cochran Speaks About Leaving Team]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:45:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/cochran_speaks_out_091514.jpg

The Huskies began the post-Casey Cochran era Saturday against Boise State.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback retired from football following a Week 1 concussion against BYU – he has suffered multiple concessions in his career – and on Monday, he spoke with the media for the first time since leaving the game.

"Talking to my parents, talking to the medical staff and everyone there was a consensus this is the decision that needs to be made," he told the New Haven Register. "It is tough and it will be tough for a while but it makes it a lot easier that I played the way I did and I left everything on the field and I played for my teammates so I wouldn't have any regrets."

That doesn't mean Cochran won't miss what he had.

"There were times in came or times in the spring when I would sit back and think, 'This is awesome. I am a D1 football player. I am having fun, playing a sport and going to college for free.' Having those thoughts, taking a step back and appreciating what I had made this decision easier because I didn't have to sit there and think, 'Well, maybe if I had done this, it would have been easier,'" Cochran said.

"I play a certain way, went about thinks a certain way. All my support staff has been unbelievable. My parents, my family and friends, people I haven't even talked to for years have reached out to me. The staff has been unbelievable with me. I appreciate the job they do for me and will continue to do with me, the opportunities they have given to me," he added.

"It was a tough decision, but I literally have no regrets," Cochran reiterated. "I want to be healthy, not just now, but in 20 years, in 40 years, in 60 years from now, and to live a long and happy life. I'm happy right now, I'm happy with my new roles."

Cochran is set to graduate next summer and will attend graduate school after that. He could pursue a coaching career like his father, but he's also considering sports broadcasting. Whatever he does, he will no doubt be successful.

"He was selected to quarterback the team because of his leadership and his intangible component," coach Bob Diaco said. "And the ability to continue that and continue to add that to the team is a positive, and he did that."

<![CDATA[Kia Nurse Relishes International Experience]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:55:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+kia+nurse_1200.jpg

Kia Nurse spent part of her summer training with the national team. But unlike many of her teammates, it wasn't the United States squad. Instead, Nurse was the point guard for Team Canada, an experience that can only help her as she prepares to begin her freshman season with Geno Auriemma and the Huskies.

On Sunday, however, Nurse and her countrymen were on the court scrimmaging against the Americans, which included 33-year-old Sue Bird.

The advice I would really give her is to take it one day at a time and try to get better," Bird said of Nurse, according to SNY.com's Carl Adamec. "Be a good teammate and everything will probably fall into place for you.

“As far as international play, that’s different because her role will be different. Even at UConn though you’re a freshman and you’re young, the oldest player is only three years older. You go on the international stage, like with me, 17 years is the difference. It’s a much more physical game.”

Nurse, meanwhile, is seizing the opportunity to not only play against some of the best players in the world, but to use her UConn connections to pick the brains of these players.

“It’s really exciting to play against some of the players that I watched growing up,” Nurse said. “Some of the things they do are just crazy to me now. But to think that one day I’ll be able to do them … It’s just so much fun.

“I’m really lucky to have this opportunity. These are great players that will expose my weaknesses and show my strengths and you can’t ask for anything better than that.”

Auriemma was asked about Nurse's unique predicament. “Kia’s in kind of a difficult situation,” the coach said. “There are a lot of veterans on their team and they’re trying to incorporate a lot of youngsters. When you’re 18 and playing with pros, it’s not the easiest thing in the world. She holds her own out there. She doesn’t look intimidated. She doesn’t look like she’s overwhelmed. But this was only a scrimmage. We’ll know more Monday night.”

Not surprisingly, the Huskies' 2014 class is formidable. In addition to Nurse, it includes Gabby Williams (5-11, Nevada), Sadie Edwards (5-9, New Jersey) and Courtney Ekmark (6-0, Arizona).

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[6-10 Steve Enoch Commits to Huskies]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:28:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-2014.jpg

Steve Enoch, the 6-10 big man from Norwalk who spent last season at St. Thomas More prep, committed to UConn Saturday as expected.

“I will be playing College Basketball at The University of Connecticut as of next season," Enoch tweeted.

Over the summer, Enoch didn't hide the fact that he wanted to play for the Huskies.

“Growing up I’ve always wanted to play at UConn and my family wanted me to,” he said at the time, via SNY.com. “And they’ve all been fans of UConn. Now that I have [a scholarship offer] I gotta take it slow because I really have to study their program.”

Enoch was on his official visit this weekend, but he has previously made several unofficial visits and built a good relationship with coach Kevin Ollie. Also not hurting: that national title.

“I watched them win but I was just rooting for them,” Enoch said. “I didn’t have anybody special that I was really rooting for. It was really good that they won and I’m happy for them.”

Not long ago, Enoch wasn't even on the national recruiting radar, which means that he's still growing as a player.

“I think I can get way better,” he said. “I’m just coming off a [thigh] injury and I’m feeling good out there. My wind is up and my motor is running, so just have to keep pushing.”

<![CDATA[Diaco: "I'm Excited About the Team, Future"]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:35:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+pumped.jpg

It's a process. We have to remember that when evaluating the 2014 Huskies. That was on display again Saturday as the Huskies hosted the Boise St. Broncos. And while the results weren't as one-sided as the season-opening 35-10 defeat to BYU, it was a loss nonetheless. And at this level, even when coaches admit they are in full-on rebuilding mode, there are no moral victories.

"I would say we are further ahead than I thought we would be," Diaco said after the game, via the Hartford Courant. "I'm very excited about the team and the future. Not only the future years ahead, but the future of 2014. As we move from the preparation, and there isn't one person in that huddle that feels good [about the loss], there also isn't one person who isn't better than we were three weeks ago. Coach or player."

Put another way: Despite being on the wrong side of the 38-21 outcome against Boise St., there are reasons for optimism -- even if they're not readily apparent to the casual observer. The Broncos' all-everything running back Jay Ajayi came into Rentschler Field averaging 152.5 yards a game (5.8 yards per carry), and his 305 total yards was good for sixth best in the country. On Saturday, he was held to 39 yards on 18 rushes, good for 2.2 yards per carry.

"There are some moments we can hang our hat on, sink our teeth into, and say, 'Yes, this is something we have accomplished," Diaco said. "The defense, playing basically the same system they played in Week 1, looked nothing like Week 1. I'm proud of the way they played today."

Still, there's work to be done.

"Fourteen uncontested points, where the defense or special teams are not on the field, against any opponent, it becomes impossible to win the games," Diaco said of turnovers early in the game. "Let alone a nationally branded powerhouse. When you factor in another plus-field turnover, you're talking about 21 points. That has to get solved."

Next up: The Huskies start their conference schedule Friday when they travel to South Florida.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Takes On Boise State]]> Sat, 13 Sep 2014 19:09:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+boise+cheerleader.jpg UConn came up short against Boise State on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[UConn's Freshman RBs Impressing]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 12:53:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/arkeel+newsome+run_uconn.jpg

There seemed to be little concern when coach Bob Diaco parted ways with running back Lyle McCombs this offseason. Partly because the former freshman All-American had struggled in recent seasons, but also because Diaco was excited about the other backs on the roster

Max DeLorenzo entered the season with the most experience but it's two rookies -- Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson -- who could prove to be the most exciting. The stats don't completely tell that story -- not yet, anyway -- but we've seen glimpses of just how good this duo can be.

Newsome ripped off a 22-yard run against Stony Brook and added a 18-yard reception against BYU the week before.

"He is a great back, very explosive and he is quick on his feet and he is a very special player, UConn wide receiver Deshon Foxx told the New Haven Register. "I like how he gets the ball and he goes vertical, he doesn't believe in dancing and when he gets the ball he is running."

Johnson, meanwhile, eschews the quickness that makes Newsome so dangerous for sheer power and will. The 217-pound back has yet to have a signature carry but it's only a matter of time.

"They are two great young backs," offensive tackle Dalton Gifford told the Register, "Arkeel is explosive, Ron is a huge dude who can run people over. It is like a perfect little duo of running backs, one coming down on you to take you out and the other is going to run right past you."

A reliable running game is a quarterback's best friend. And with Chandler Whitmer now the starter after Casey Cochran's retirement -- and Tim Boyle as the only other scholarship quarterback on the roster -- a solid ground attack becomes even more important.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Hoping for Fan Support at The Rent]]> Sat, 13 Sep 2014 19:42:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+sideline_1200.jpg

First-year coach Diaco knows this is a team in transition, one that's become accustomed to losing. In the last three years, the Huskies are 13-33, which is what a punchless offense and a porous defense will get you. But Diaco, who comes to Storrs by way of South Bend, where he served as defensive coordinator under Brian Kalley at Notre Dame, a program used to sustained success, knows UConn can't do it alone.

During last Saturday's game against Stony Brook, 23,500 fans showed up at Rentschler Field. That's the third-smallest crowd ever in the building. So while Diaco has his hands full with improving the on-field product, supporters can do their part by, you know, supporting their team. "I don't want to come across as berating in any way of people that were not there [Saturday]," Diaco said, via the Hartford Courant. "The fact of the matter is, we're so honored and pleased to have all of the Husky fans that were in the stadium cheering hard however many there were, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, whatever so thank you for coming. We're honored to have you there and we were pleased to share in that experience with you.

"And, to the people that didn't come, I understand," he continued. "I got it -– but please come. It's not a money deal. It's surely not for us. It's about the engagement. It's about a state engagement, a university pride. It's about an awesome thing to do on an afternoon, cheer on your state school and a great contest. We hope more will come engage and the more games we win, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the fans come and the team won or did the team win and the fans came? We have to have a great product out there and we're going to so please come."

Of course, winning fixes just about everything, including attendance. What better time to start than now: the Huskies host Boise St. this Saturday in a nationally televised game.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Byron Jones Knows He Has to Get Better]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:24:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn-ucf-loss.jpg

Just like BYU in the season opener, Boise State's reputation precedes them. Another week, another high-powered offense, which means that the Huskies defense will have to play at an uncomfortably high level if they're going to have a chance (Vegas doesn't seem too worried; they have the Broncos favored by 16).

One of UConn's best players, cornerback Byron Jones, knows that there is virtually no room for error Saturday, and that starts with him.

"There's been good play here and there but overall I think I need to step it up," Jones told the Hartford Courant. "Being as athletic as I am, I have to apply that to the game of football. There's no reason to be in a good position and not get an interception or not bat the ball away and make the tackle."

Before the season, first-year coach Bob Diaco called Jones one of the best cornerbacks in the country. We haven't seen it through two games but Jones remains focused.

"I'm working on it every day," he said. "I talked to Coach multiple times. We're on it together. He's down my back. I'm down my own back. I was frustrated with the play but you have to roll with the punches and keep playing. I couldn't crawl into a corner."

Diaco, speaking in more general terms about his team, says getting better from one week to the next is a mindset.

"It's a focus. It a winning focus," he said. That's the difference.e I've tried to articulate it. I haven't necessarily done a great job of it but it has nothing to do with winning and losing or not wanting to win or not wanting to lose. ... It's all about winning the day today. That's where we have a disconnect. We're interested in winning today; the process. ... That's the part our program. That's the phase we're in right now."

And if Jones can flash some of those "best cornerback in the country" skills, that wouldn't hurt either.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SEC: No Comment on Mo'ne Davis Infraction]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:30:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Geno-and-Mone.jpg

The plot, as they say, thickens. Earlier this week, there was a report that Tennessee, which has a long, storied rivalry with UConn, didn't complain to the NCAA that Geno Auriemma's two-minute phone call with 13-year-old Little League World Series star Mo'ne Davis constituted a recruiting violation.

The NCAA said the phone call was an "infraction," but didn't identify the school or conference that initially notified them about what Auriemma and UConn considered an innocuous, congratulatory conversation.

Another report said that the responsible party weren't associated with the AAC or ACC either. Then later, the Big12 announced they didn't make the complaint. But on Wednesday, according to the Hartford Courant, "A spokesman for the Southeastern Conference would not comment when asked if one of its members was responsible for filing the complaint."

No comment isn't an admission of guilt, but it's interesting nonetheless that other conferences have made a point to distance themselves from the story.

Last week, Davis said Auriemma did nothing wrong when he called to congratulate her on a great season.

“I heard about [the NCAA violation] this morning, and it’s sad,” Davis told the Associated Press Friday. “There wasn’t anything about recruiting in the call, he was just congratulating me.”

In the NCAA's eyes, that's still a violation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Byron Jones: 100% Behind Cochran's Decision]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:27:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn-ucf-loss.jpg

Senior cornerback Byron Jones had two brothers play for Jack Cochran, Casey Cochran's father, at New Britain High School, so he knows just how much that family loves football. This week, Casey retired from the game after suffering his latest concussion but will remain with the Huskies to pursue his next challenge: coaching.

And while UConn is losing its starting quarterback, it's gaining someone who is wildly passionate about the game.

"He's been a guy who has given it 100 percent," Jones said, according to the New Haven Register. "We are 100 percent behind his decision. You use it as motivation because anything can be your last play. ...

"It is tough to see a guy up there who has been around football for so long and probably didn't think for one second, this is going to be my last game to go down like that," the cornerback continued. "It is just one of those unfortunate moments, people get inured and don't come back. We will 100 percent support his decision, no doubt about it.

"He is a very high-quality person, a leader and a person who does everything at 100 percent. He is definitely going to be missed with the football team but he is still going to be a part of us in a coaching capacity."

team captain Marquise Vann added: "You just see a very strong person. He was strong with it, very confident. He wasn't crying, he was very excited tat he was going in a new direction with his life. We are all backing him and he is still going to be around. It wasn't a hard time, it was an exciting time for Casey because we saw how great of a man he was, how great of a leader he was so."

And tight end Sean McQuillan took to Twitter to echo similar sentiments: "Casey Cochran is one of the best kids I know and never gave anything but his best in everything he did, unbelievable teammate and friend."

Which is why no one will be surprised if Cochran's wildly successful in his next endeavor.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cochran Didn't Want Suffer Long-Term Effects]]> Sat, 13 Sep 2014 19:42:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Casey+Cochran+1200.jpg

Casey Cochran's college career may have ended abruptly this week when the redshirt sophomore retired from football after suffering a concussion in the season opener, but he won't ever be far away from his teammates.

When coach Bob Diaco announced that Cochran's playing career was over, he added: "A silver lining in this matter is that Casey has an interest in pursuing a career in coaching. We can now accelerate his development in that area as he transitions from a player role to a mentor role as he continues to serve the team."

Diaco added to those comments Tuesday when talking about Cochran's role as a mentor.

"Casey is excited about playing a role with the team, and is excited about learning how to be a coach," Diaco told reporters. "We can immediately get started with his development in that area, give him a few jobs and a few roles. He has no change in his scholarship, all that still pertains and the requirements are still during this time period 20 hours, and out of season eight hours. He's still working in some kind of role."

Casey hasn't yes spoken with the media but his father, Jack Cochran, says his son "made the best of his opportunity when he came up," adding: "As he told me, he has no regrets. He had a great career; it's time to move on."

Jack Cochran also couldn't speak highly enough of Diaco's decision to help Casey jump-start his coaching career.

"From the first second he learned of this, he put my son's well-being ahead of what might be better for the success of the team," the father told the Associated Press. "Without this, who knows what Casey would be doing with all his time. I applaud coach Diaco. I really owe him for that."

Cochran's decision to quit playing football didn't come lightly, but it was made easier in light of recent concussion research.

"He just didn't want to be one of those people who were affected by it long term," Jack said. "He knew his age group can live another 60 to 70 years if healthy and wanted to have a strong mind and a strong body for those years."

<![CDATA[UConn Men Release Home Schedule]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:32:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

The defending national champion UConn men's basketball team announced its 15-game home schedule Tuesday that will include visits from Texas and Memphis to Gampel Pavilion and Cincinnati and SMU to the XL Center.

Details via the school's announcement:

"The 2014 National Champion Huskies will play seven home games on campus at Gampel Pavilion and seven home games at the XL Center, as well as an exhibition game at each venue. In addition, UConn will return to Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport for the second straight season to play one home game."

The home schedule now stacks up like this:

* Nov. 4: Southern Connecticut, Gampel (exhibition)
* Nov. 9: Assumption College, XL Center (exhibition)
* Nov. 14: Bryant College, Gampel
* Nov. 30: Texas, Gampel
* Dec. 22: Columbia, Webster Bank Arena
* Dec. 31: Temple, XL Center
* Jan. 10: Cincinnati, XL Center
* March 1: SMU, XL Center
* March 5: Memphis, Gampel

Additional AAC opponents coming to the XL Center include South Florida (Jan. 25), Tulsa (Feb. 12). AAC opponents headed for Gampel: Central Florida (Jan. 22), East Carolina (Feb. 4) and Tulane (Feb. 19).

The Huskies have previously released their full conference schedule, and their non-conference schedule.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Women Unveil Home Schedule]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:31:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

The defending national champion UConn women's basketball team announced its 13-game home schedule Tuesday that will include a visit from non-conference powerhouses Duke and South Carolina.

Details via the school's announcement:

"The 2014 National Champions will play six games at Gampel and six games at the XL Center. Connecticut will also return to the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. for a home game against DePaul on Dec. 19."

The home schedule now stacks up like this:
* Nov. 2: West Chester, Gampel (exhibition)
* Nov. 9: Post University, XL Center (exhibition)
* Dec. 19: DePaul, Webster Bank Arena
* Dec. 21: UCLA, Uncasville
* Dec. 27: SMU, XL Center
* Dec. 29: Duke, XL Center
* Jan. 7: Tulsa, XL Center
* Jan. 14: Temple, Gampel
* Jan. 18: USF, Gampel
* Jan. 28: ECU, XL Center
* Feb. 3: Cincinnati, XL Center
* Feb. 9: South Carolina, Gampel
* Feb. 14: Tulane, Gampel
* Feb. 17: Houston, XL Center
* Feb. 28: Memphis, Gampel

Meanwhile, The 14-game non-conference slate includes seven opponents that qualified for the 2011 NCAA Tournament and four opponents that finished the season rated in the top-six of the RPI," the school said in an announcement. "In addition to the 14-game non-conference schedule, the Huskies will also play a pair of exhibition contests."

The second annual AAC Tournament will be March 6-9 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.