<![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 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:04:05 -0400 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:04:05 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Daniels Could Be Headed to Europe]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:31:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483283511.jpg

We mentioned it briefly Thursday but DeAndre Daniels, the Raptors' second-round pick in last month's NBA Draft, almost certainly won't be on the bench for the big club this season. Instead, as often happens with young players who need more experience, he'll be shipped to a lower league to get playing time all while gaining confidence and getting physically stronger.

According to the Toronto Sun, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri "has indicated Daniels will be stashed in Europe for a year to get some much-needed playing time."

If you're new to "stashing" -- and we were until recently -- here's a quick primer, courtesy of SheridanHoops.com:

Since second-round picks usually are not guaranteed to make NBA rosters, teams can use Europe (or Australia, Asia and South America) as a viable option to develop their draft picks on someone else’s dime while still retaining the rights to the player down the road.

Typically, European players took this route to continue their development on their home continent, delaying their arrival stateside until they expanded their skills or had a more relaxed escape clause in their contract.

However, the D-League ‘s spartan rookie pay scale has made playing overseas a viable option even for American rookies, who despite being drafted may not want to risk getting cut in training camp and being forced to play for pennies in the minors.

There has never been any question about Daniels' athleticism or potential, but he struggled with consistency for much of his college career. That said, Daniels got hot late in the season and was a vital cog in the Huskies' championship run. A good showing in Europe this season could mean a place on the Raptors roster in 2015 -- or sooner.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[KML Looking Forward to Senior Season]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:25:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP116320717091%281%29.jpg

It's hard to believe that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is entering her senior season. It seems like it was three months -- not three years -- that the former high school player of the year was making her way to Storrs for the first time.

And yet here we are: two national championships later, one of the best pure shooters in college basketball is gearing up for her last go round. Along with Kiah Stokes, Mosqueda-Lewis is the only senior on the roster.

“There is definitely a lot more pressure, and a lot more responsibility,” she told SNY.com's Carl Adamec recently. “But the people on this team, they take care of themselves.”

That pressure is lessened considerably playing alongside rising junior Breanna Stewart, who also happens to be the best player in the country. Then there's point guard Moriah Jefferson, not to mention the highly touted incoming freshmen: Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse, and Gabby Williams.

But like the seniors that preceded her -- Kelly Faris, Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson, for example -- Mosqueda-Lewis will be counted on to provide veteran leadership.

“I’m excited for this year,” she said. “It’s a new year, we have a great team, and I’m excited to play with the freshmen. Yeah, we lost Stef and Bria, but I’m really excited about what this year is going to bring.”

Earlier this summer, coach Geno Auriemma admitted that he wanted Mosqueda-Lewis in better shape after an injury-plagued 2013-14 season. And Mosqueda-Lewis is doing just that.

“Personally what I am working on right now is just getting in the best shape that I can,” she said. “I would like to go back to trying to get to the basket more, get fouled more. I didn’t really go to the basket as much and get fouled last year.”

And as Adamec notes, there's also another reason: a big senior season will in all likelihood translate into a high-round pick in the WNBA Draft.

“There is still a lot of work I have to do," Mosqueda-Lewis conceded, "and Coach will probably be the first person to tell you that.”



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giffey Signs With German Team]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:20:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP269919261435.jpg

Niels Giffey went undrafted last month, but joined the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies summer league team before moving onto the Utah Jazz. And now he's headed back to Germany after signing a three-year deal with with Alba Berlin, his hometown EuroLeague team, the club's website reported.

The Connecticut Post's Kevin Duffy caught up with Giffey to talk about everything from the Huskies' championship run in the spring, to the Germans winning the World Cup last week, to Giffey's professional basketball travels over the last month or so.

"It's going to be different for me than for other players because I'm actually going back home, and a lot of people with the staff there already know me," Giffey said of returning to Germany, "but at the end of the day it's a little more business than college basketball."

On his brief NBA summer league experience. "There really was no chance for me because they had a couple of guys they drafted this year and in previous years that they wanted to see," Giffey said of his time in Memphis. "They pretty much just benched me. As I saw that happening, I knew there was interest from Utah, so I went out to Utah and started practicing with them."

Giffey went 3-for-14 from the floor -- including 1-for-5 from behind the arc -- during his Las Vegas summer league games.

On the Huskies' run to its second title in three years. "There was never the moment when we came into the gym and thought we were unbeatable," he said. "You really had to take each game at a time, but when we came to the Sweet 16 and started stopping these big-bodied guys -- that was always one of our weaknesses -- like Michigan State and Adreian Payne, when we did that, there was no doubt in my mind that we could win it."

And now Giffey returns to where his basketball dreams all started: home in Germany.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cochran Nominated for Good Works Team]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:56:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/casey-cochran-starter-smu.jpg

On the same day teammate Geremy Davis found his way onto the Biletnikoff Watch List, quarterback Casey Cochran was nominated for the 2014 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.

Details via the AFCA release:

The team recognizes players whose charitable involvement and community service contributions stand out among others. Since its establishment in 1992, the award has existed to pay tribute to the good in college football that extends beyond the wins and the losses. The final roster of 22 award recipients will be unveiled in September.

Cochran is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at UConn, which oversees community service projects for the entire University and also serves as a voice between student-athletes and the athletic department.

He has regularly spoken to students at the Stafford Springs (Conn.) Elementary School about athletics and academics. Cochran has also been part of a group of football student-athletes that visit elementary schools in East Hartford and Manchester, Conn.

Cochran has volunteered at the New London (Conn.) Community Meal Center helping prepare and serve food and as an Athlete-Reader at the New London Elementary Schools.

Cochran, who is in good position to win the starting job as the Huskies' quarterback in 2014, was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Academic team last season. In eight games -- including four starts -- Cochran led UConn to its only three wins, all while setting the school's single-game passing record (461 yards) against Memphis.

]]>
<![CDATA[Stewart, Moore Honored at ESPYs]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:31:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-nd-finals.png

Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore never played together at UConn but two of the best players to come through Geno Auriemma's program in recent years were both honored Wednesday night at the annual ESPYs.

Stewart, a rising junior, won Best Female College Athlete, and Moore, now with the Minnesota Lynx,was named the Best WNBA Player.

More details via the press release:

UConn has had a total of 16 ESPY winners since 1993, with seven coming since 2010.

Stewart, who averaged 19.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 2013-14 , becomes the first Husky to win the accolade since Moore won three straight from 2009-11. The 6-4 forward was tabbed as the AP, USBWA, and espnW Player of the Year following UConn's perfect 40-0 season.

The Syracuse, N.Y. native led UConn in scoring in 22 contests, scoring a total of 777 points in her sophomore year. The 2013-14 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Stewart joined Diana Taurasi as the only Huskies to earn Final Four Most Outstanding Player in two years after earning the honor in both 2013 and 2014.

Moore was recognized after leading the Minnesota Lynx to the 2013 WNBA title, earning the Finals MVP award. As a student-athlete, she led UConn to a 150-4 record over her four-year career, which included four Final Four appearances and two National Championships. She finished her career as the fourth-leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,036 points and was honored as the Capital One University Division Academic All-American of the Year and BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2010 and 2011.

The Huskies had a total eight ESPY nominations: Auriemma and Kevin Ollie were up for best coach; Shabazz Napier was nominated for Best Championship Performance; and Stewart and Moore also received nominations for Best Female Athlete.

]]>
<![CDATA[Daniels Talks About NBA]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:54:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483304153.jpg

DeAndre Daniels was a second-round pick of the Raptors last month, and like most other rookies, he's taking part in the NBA Summer League. The former UConn standout spoke recently about transitioning to the professional game.

On moving from power forward in college to small forward in the NBA. "That's what I've been working on since I was in high school," Daniels said, and I played (small forward) in college some a little bit ... but I'm just a basketball player. Whatever the coaching staff tells me to do I'm going to do it."

Lessons of facing much better competition from one game to the next. "It's definitely a learning experience, just learning how to play the game that's different from college -- different spacing and just trying to learn all the defensive techniques, guys helping and rotating. I feel like that's what we need to focus on more."

You can watch the entire interview below:



Last weekend, Daniels and the Raptors played in Las Vegas and in three games Daniels scored 7, 12 and 16 points. According to SB Nation's UConn Blog, Daniels could be shipped off to Europe to gain some much needed experience.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[6-10 Steve Enoch Likes Huskies]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:48:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

Steve Enoch, a 6-10 power forward, visited UConn recently and he doesn't shy away from the fact that he's a big Huskies fan.

Growing up I’ve always wanted to play at UConn and my family wanted me to,” he told SNY.tv last week. “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, it turns out, has a lot of scholarship offers. In addition to UConn, there's Memphis, Arizona State, Kansas State, Fairfield, Sacred Heart, VCU, Oregon, Boston College, Providence, Rhode Island and Drexel. And Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa and Virginia have shown interest in recent weeks.

“It’s not overwhelming,” Enoch said of the process. “I’m enjoying it because I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and effort into my game and into my skills so I’m just glad.”

As for the Storrs visit, Enoch says it went well.

“I visited UConn two weeks ago,” Enoch said. “It was good because a whole bunch of other players came to visit, too, Tyus Battle, Ray Smith, Tremont Waters were there. And my teammate Ian Gardner was there so we had a good time.”

Enoch, who says he's "built a really good relationship" with coach Kevin Ollie and the staff, also appreciates that the team is coming off a national title.

“I watched them win but I was just rooting for them,” he 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.”

But Enoch says he's in no hurry to make a decision.

"I think towards the end of my senior year, the spring, near May,” he said.

As it stands, the Huskies have a verbal commitment from Jalen Adams, but two players -- Will Jackson and Prince Ali -- have de-committed.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Davis Named to Biletnikoff Watch List]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:44:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geremy-davis-catch.jpg

Training camp is just weeks away, which means we're that much closer to seeing what first-year coach Bob Diaco has in store for the Huskies football program. And while much of the conversation centers around the quarterbacks (as it should), whomever ends up under center will have at least one big-play target: wide receiver Geremy Davis, who was named to the 2014 Biletnikoff Award Pre-Season Watch List Tuesday.

Details via the release:

Davis enters the 2014 season ranked ninth in UConn career history in receptions with 121 and is 10th in receiving yardage at 1,771.
He had one of the most prolific seasons for a receiver in UConn history in 2013, starting all 12 games and finishing with 71 receptions, 1,085 yards and three touchdowns. Davis was UConn's first 1,000 yard receiver in the FBS era and first since Carl Bond in 1998. The 1,085 yards rank sixth-highest in a season in UConn history and the 71 receptions place fifth. He had a single-game program-record 15 catches for 207 yards, fifth-most ever, and a touchdown against Memphis on Dec. 7.
The 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner will be presented live on December 11, 2014, on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show to be broadcast from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. on ESPN. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff will announce the 2014 winner on the show.

Davis was named to Phil Steele's Preseason American Athletic Conference first-team, and landed on Athlon had him on its second team.

]]>
<![CDATA[Napier Explains Unfollowing LeBron]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:57:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483308981.jpg

LeBron James was Shabazz Napier's biggest supporter in the weeks and months leading up to the NBA Draft. So it wasn't altogether surprising when the Heat made a trade to land Napier, presumably in the hopes of keeping James in Miami. But James eventually signed with the Cavs, which led Napier to unfollow James on Twitter.

But Napier, who joined Twitter on June 25, said he had no knowledge of unfollowing James.

"The whole thing about that is I don't know how to work Twitter yet and I'm not on my Twitter, so I don't know where that came from," Napier said, according to ESPN.com.

And tweets from Napier to James had also been deleted.

"I don't pay attention to it," Napier said. "It gets brought to me by family members, but I don't pay any attention to it. I just think it's how it is. Media wants something to bite on."

So there you go, mystery solved.

Meanwhile, Napier has more important things to concern himself with than social media. He's played inconsistently during summer league action, averaging 9.5 points and 4.3 assists to go along with 4.8 turnovers in eight games.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Purvis Looking Forward to 2014-15]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:57:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/rodney-purvis-ncsu-uconn-14.jpg

Rodney Purvis is a patient man. But after sitting out last season -- he transferred from NC State in the spring of 2013 -- the 6-4, 205-pound guard is ready to contribute on the court.

But watching the Huskies' title run wasn't without its benefits, chief among them: Learning from two of the best guards in the country, Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Napier is now in the NBA playing with the Heat but Boatright returned for his senior season and he'll be primarily responsible for filling Napier's shoes. But he won't be alone.

"Sitting out of basketball for a very long time is rough, but I've tried to make it worth it," Purvis told the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore. "I took advantage of everything, going up against guys like Shabazz and Boatright every day in practice, I was in Shabazz's ear all the time, in the room watching film with him, asking questions, and he gave me a lot of great feedback before he left."

One of the biggest takeaways for Purvis last season: The importance of sticking together.

"We stayed together no matter what. Any time you saw one of us, there was always five or six of us," Purvis said. "I don't think people understand how being close off the court carries onto the court. We're really brothers. We don't put on a front for Twitter or the media, we take our relationships seriously amongst each other. We're always there for each other and it carried onto the court. That's how we did it, we stayed together.

"Now, I'm in the guys' ears every day in the locker room, 'Let's stay together, let's do things together.' Me and Sam we're roommates. We go everywhere together, do things together. Same with [freshmen Daniel Hamilton and Rakim Lubin] — I don't want them to feel like outsiders because they're new guys. I'm real strong on brotherhood, that's how I was raised and I saw what brotherhood can do last season and we want that same thing this season."

Boatright and Purvis will be joined in the backcourt by sophomore Terence Samuel and Juco transfer Sam Cassell Jr. And while the group will have plenty of depth, we'll have to wait and see if they're capable of replacing Napier, one of the best players to come through the program in recent years.

]]>
<![CDATA[Another Player De-commits from UConn]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:53:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-2014.jpg

Days after the Huskies got a verbal commitment from class-of-2015 guard Jalen Adams, Will Jackson de-committed from UConn. He becomes the second player to do so after Prince Ali did it earlier this summer.

Jackson, from Athens, GA, has since made a verbal commitment to the University of Georgia.

“I’m going to UGA,” Jackson told Scout.com last week. “It’s close to home. I just feel like it’s a great fit with me, coach [Mark] Fox and the coaches and players.”

The 6-4, 215-pounder originally chose the Huskies over offers from Georgia, Florida, Memphis, Kansas, Georgia Tech and Alabama. So what changed?

“Here’s a guess: When you win a national championship, you get about anybody you want,” Jackson's coach at Athens Christian, Ron Link, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “So UConn might’ve gotten a point guard just as good or better (in Adams). Turtle (Jackson) keeps up with everything going on in recruiting.

“But he might’ve just had a change of heart, and just wanted to go to Georgia because all of his friends told him they want to be able to see him play in person. As long as he’s happy, that’s the most important thing. He’s the one who is going to be at college for four years, not all of his friends.”

Earlier this month, the 6-2 Adams made it clear that UConn was where he wants to be.

"I was sold on the program," he told the Hartford Courant at the time. "Once my parents came on campus and met the coaches and they were on board, it was pretty much a done deal. ...

 I've always liked UConn," Adams continued. "Seeing guards like Kemba, and a local guy from where I'm from go on to higher levels, I could see what the program did for them."

]]>
<![CDATA[Napier Struggling in NBA Summer League ]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:49:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/063014+shabazz+napier.jpg

First, LeBron James leaves for Cleveland weeks after calling Shabazz Napier the best guard in the NBA Draft, and now the former UConn star and Miami first-round pick has had an inauspicious start to his fledgling professional career.

Napier, who put the Huskies on his shoulders all the way to a national title this spring, has struggled in summer league play. He's been plagued by poor shooting and turnovers, something we rarely saw during his college days. He's averaged 9.2 points per game and 4.6 assists, but has 4.8 turnovers, an unthinkable number and just about any level. He also shot 27 percent from the floor and an anemic 15 percent from behind the arc. But again, this is summer league, which will be long forgotten by the time the season rolls around.

"I can't make all my shots," Napier told FoxSports.com last week after another substandard outing. "I've just got to prepare myself to make the shot, and if I miss it, it's human error. The biggest thing I've got to control is my effort and trying to slow down my turnovers. And I think I'm doing a better job from my first game and my second game."

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however. Napier played well in his first summer league game:

 

 



 

 


A lot can change in the coming weeks, but the expectation is that Napier will serve as the Heat's backup point guard behind Norris Cole.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NC State QB to Transfer to UConn]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:58:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

June and July are typically the slowest months of the year for UConn sports-related news. That hasn't been the case this year, what with the near-daily recruiting news and Monday was no different. Weeks after sophomore quarterback Kivon Taylor left the team, UConn found his replacement in NC State transfer Bryant Shirreffs.

Shirreffs (Jefferson, Georgia) played in nine games as a true freshman for the Wolfpack, but said last month that he was leaving because program was moving to more of a dropback style offensive system. Shirreffs is more of a mobile, play-making quarterback.

"Just looking at where the program was headed and me personally as a player with the new system being put in place, I felt like I could have better opportunities someplace else, and UConn popped up," Shirreffs said, via the Hartford Courant. "It just seems like a perfect opportunity right now. ... I don't think it's useful to stay in a place you can't succeed. And you can try as hard as you can, but if you don't feel like you can succeed, you're thinking about leaving, you're not all in or fully committed to that school ... so that's what I felt. I believe it wasn't good for me or the team for me to be there."

Due to NCAA rules, Shirreffs will have to sit out a season about will have three years of eligibility remaining.

The Huskies, meanwhile, have Casey Cochran, Tim Boyle and Chandler Whitmer on the depth chart, and all three started games last season. Cochran heads into training camp as the likely starter but that decision hasn't yet been made. Tyler Davis, who committed to UConn last month, will join Shirreffs in the 2015 recruiting class.

Shirreffs, an ACC All-Academic team member last season, picked UConn over Temple, Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, Yale and Penn. He also sounded impressed with the level of play in the American Athletic Conference

"The American is a good conference if you really look at it, Shirreffs said. "There are some really good teams in it, but I just think UConn is in a great location and with the new coaching staff, as a program, within the next couple years we'll make a run in the conference."

]]>
<![CDATA[Jalen Adams Commits to Huskies]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 08:25:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

The defending national champion Huskies added a big name to their 2015 commitments: 6-2 guard Jalen Adams. And like a UConn guard who had everything to do with the team's recent successes, Adams hails from the Boston area (Roxbury, Massachusetts, to be specific). He orally committed to the program on Monday.

"I was sold on the program," Adams told the Hartford Courant. "Once my parents came on campus and met the coaches and they were on board, it was pretty much a done deal."

It didn't hurt that the Huskies have a legacy for turning out some of the best point guards in the country.

"I've always liked UConn," Adams continued. "Seeing guards like Kemba, and a local guy from where I'm from go on to higher levels, I could see what the program did for them."

As for what Adams brings to a table, his AAU coach offered this:

"He's a dynamic player, is the word I use," Vin Pastore told the Courant. "He's athletic, he's got speed. He can score in a multitude of ways. He's 6-2, but he has a 6-6 1/2 wingspan, so he can defend that position."

Adams joins Will Jackson, a 6-3 guard from Athens, Ga., as the 2015 UConn commits.

]]>
<![CDATA[Cassell Jr. Happy to Be at UConn]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 08:19:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconnj.jpg

Sam Cassell Jr., one of three members of the Huskies' 2014 recruiting class, has been on UConn's campus for several weeks now getting acclimated to life at UConn.

But the point guard, who arrived in Storrs after a stint at junior college, knows that expectations are high, not just because the Huskies are defending national champs, but because of the position he plays.

"I'm fine with [the expectations]," Cassell told the Hartford Courant Monday. "People say I have to carry something. I want to. I have shoes to fill. I'm happy there's pressure, I want the pressure. That's what makes big-time players, hopefully I can be a big-time player."

The son of that Sam Cassell, the Florida St. and NBA point guard, Cassell Jr. led Chipola College (Florida) to a 26-6 record last year, averaging 18.7 points in the process. And to hear him tell it, the juco stint was exactly what he needed to get better.

"I improved a lot mentally, physically," Cassell said. "I'm smarter, I can handle the ball better, shoot the ball better. I'm playing defense better. My footwork is better. My overall game has gotten way better. I graduated with a 3.0 — I made myself proud and my mother proud."

So why UConn?

"It just felt like home," he said. "When I first got here, I texted my dad and my mom – this is the place for me. They told me to finish my visits, but I knew deep down I wanted to be a Husky."

Cassell Jr. joins freshmen Daniel Hamilton, Rakim Lubin and NC State transfer Rodney Purvis in UConn's 2014 recruiting class.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Samuelson Leads US U-17 Team]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:23:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Katie+Lou+Samuelson.jpg

We've seen the future and it includes Katie Lou Samuelson playing like one of the best players on the court. The UConn commit, and the No. 1 high school player in the country, came off the bench Saturday to score 22 points for the U.S. Under-17 national team in their opening FIBA world championship match against China.

The U.S. went on to win 69-41.

“It felt awesome,” Samuelson said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “It’s been such a long time because I had to sit out our exhibition games. It’s just a great feeling to finally get out on the floor.

Samuelson has battled injuries and illness in recent weeks but was healthy enough to contribute in the opening game.

“I just was trying to score within the flow of the game without forcing anything," she said. "My teammates got me the ball. I was hitting in the second half, and they really found me. I think I can give the credit to them for finding me and coach leaving me in the game.”

A day later, Samuelson again led the way, this time as the U.S. revenged an exhibition loss to France, beating them when it counted Sunday, 88-40.

The Americans never trailed in the game and Samuelson, who wasn't available for the exhibition because of illness, added 17 points. Asia Durr, considered the other No. 1 high school player in the class of 2015 -- and one who is on UConn's recruiting radar -- added 14 points.

“It feels good,” Durr said. “We came out, we fought hard and we played our butts off and we won by 48. So it was a great feeling.”

The U.S. will play Mali Tuesday, the final game in Group D.



Photo Credit: YouTube/Hoopher]]>
<![CDATA[Geno Talks, NCAA Rules, Recruiting]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 08:31:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

We've talked a lot about recruiting in recent weeks, and almost all of it had to do with the UConn football team going from zero commitments for the 2015 class to 11. It's an impressive achievement but we all know it won't mean much if the players don't pan out on the field and in the classroom.

Which brings us to Geno Auriemma and the women's basketball team. Fresh off national championship No. 9, the Huskies aren't resting on their laurels. The staff continues to beat the bushes and continues to out-recruit every other program. The 2015 class includes the nation's best player -- Katie Lou Samuelson -- as well as two others in the top 10: Napheesa Collier and De’Janae Boykin. There's also Kia Nurse, a member of the Canadian national team, and Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

According to NCAA rules, recruits can take just one official visit to a school, but the Huskies were unconcerned about having all four of their big-time targets on campus early in the process.

“We’ve always been pretty good at identifying who we think we can get and then working really hard to get them up to school and get them involved here,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “For us, once we get them on campus and once they’ve spent enough time around our players the rest is not that difficult.”

There's a new NCAA rule that allows high school juniors to make official visits beginning April 1 of their junior year. It's a rule the Huskies have taken advantage of, and it allowed them to land some of their top targets early.

“Some people took advantage of it and some people didn’t,” Auriemma said, regarding the rule change. “Some people thought it was a great idea and some people didn’t think it was a great idea.

“To me, the biggest advantage of the rule change is that you can have contact with the kids earlier. You can find out at an earlier age whether there’s an interest or not. You’re not wasting all this time recruiting someone then find out at the last minute that it was for nothing. Now you find out right away — I want this kid or I don’t, or this kid wants us or doesn’t want us.”

]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Football Lands 3 More Commitments]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:10:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

The list of players committing to the UConn football team for 2015 continues to grow by the day. In the last few days threes names -- and recruits Nos. 9, 10 and 11 -- have pledged to play for the Huskies: Linebacker Nazir Williams, and cornerback Aaron Garland and John Robinson.

Williams (New Jersey) is listed at 6-4, 225 pounds.



Garland (Oak Park, Illinois), 6-0, 185 pounds, had nine scholarship offers, and is the first Bob Diaco recruit outside UConn's "recruiting footprint," which stretches from Buffalo to Boston and down throughout the northeast.



Robinson (Englewood, New Jersey), 6-2, 185 pounds, is the fifth commitment from the state of New Jersey.

 

Williams, Garland and Robinson join a 2015 class that runs 11 deep and includes commitments from TE Ian Campbell, TE Aaron McLean, QB Tyler Davis, DT Kevin Murphy, OLB Connor Freeborn, DE Phillipe Okunam, S Marshe Terry and TE Ben Hartwick.

]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Calls Napier 'My Favorite Player in Draft']]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/482978125.jpg

In the days leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft, there were rumors that the Miami Heat, fresh off a Finals defeat to the San Antonio Spurs, would trade up to select UConn point guard Shabazz Napier.

"I’m not really worried about that," Napier said on Wednesday of the speculation. "The only thing I can worry about is playing basketball."

And now, after the Heat swung a deal with the Hornets to move up from No. 26 to No. 24 ... Napier is not only headed to Miami, but has the full support of the best player in the game.

"I know LeBron tweeted something out in the NCAA [tournament] about him," Heat president Pat Riley said after the draft, via ESPN.com. "Why not. If LeBron and I have the same taste in talent, so be it. But he didn't call me on the phone, or he didn't make a point to me about it."

Either way, Miami lands one of the nation's top point guards.

"He's a very competitive person," Riley continued, "and I think competitive without a huge ego, too. He's a winner. He's talented and he's skilled. You just have to watch him play the game and you can see the competitive level we all like."

Hopefully landing Napier means that James, who recently opted out of the final year of his contract with the Heat, will stay in South Florida.

"I would hope so," Napier said. "He's one of the best players in the world. So if me going there helps him come back, it just betters our chances of being a complete team."

For now, Napier just wants to prove he belongs, a road he went down early in his Huskies career on his way to leading the program to a national title as a senior.

"No, the chip never leaves my shoulder," he said. "It will never leave my shoulder. That's what makes me who I am. And I was saying that not to belittle any other point guards. There's a reason why they're here. But I was just saying that because that's who I am. I wouldn't be Shabazz Napier if I wouldn't have said that. I believe it, and I'm going to prove it.

"What I always learned was that whatever you put in is what you're going to get out. If I don't put in the work, it's not going to show. So there's always a chip on my shoulder to prove to myself that I'm the best, and to do that, I've got to work hard."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Charlotte to Trade Napier to Miami]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483308615.jpg

It's been nearly three months since Shabazz Napier helped lead the Connecticut Huskies to a national title. On Thursday night, the point guard who reached just about every milestone in college, took the next step in his basketball career.

With the 24th pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, Napier was selected by the Charlotte Hornets, a move that would reunite him with former teammate Kemba Walker – but word on the street is that Napier will be traded to the Miami Heat.

Napier arrived in Storrs as a fresh-faced kid out of Roxbury, Mass., and had a front-row seat as Kemba Walker but the team on his back on the way to a title. That experience served Napier well in subsequent seasons, through the lows (NCAA sanctions, players leaving for the NBA or other programs, Jim Calhoun's retirement) and the highs (Kevin Ollie's arrival, 2013-14's improbable run). And now he begins a new journey, one he's been eyeing for a very long time.

"I worked my tail off to accomplish this since I was a freshman," Napier said earlier this week. "I always believed in myself to be able to be in this position, so to be here now is just a special feeling with my family.

“When we play basketball we all have aspirations to play in the NBA. And especially being in the green room, being in the green room and shaking the commissioner’s hand. It’s something that I always looked forward to, but it took a lot of hard work. You have to dream big but you have to work harder.”

Earlier this month, Ollie spoke glowingly of Napier, telling The Hartford Courant, "Shabazz is going to handle everything, because he's a great leader, and NBA teams will see that.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Expects Much From Boatright]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300509.jpg

By Friday morning, the Shabazz Napier era at UConn will officially be over. One of the most consistent, clutch players in school history will have been drafted into the NBA and the mantle of team leader will fall to rising senior Ryan Boatright. On Wednesday, coach Kevin Ollie talked about that responsibility and what it entails.

"He has to (take on that leadership role)," Ollie said, via the New Haven Register. "Not only for UConn, but for his basketball future. He has to take over that leadership role …

"I think Boat is going to do that," the coach continued. I see a lot of great qualities in Ryan. A lot of attention was given to Shabazz, but Ryan wants it. He has a great competitiveness about him. He competes at everything, and he wants to be great. He’s not going to settle for good. That’s the one thing I love about Boat. He’s never missed a practice. The guy just wants it. If a guy has a vision and he wants it that bad, yeah, we have to mold and change his approach sometimes, and he has to change his approach sometimes. But I think he’s going to get it. I think he’s already got it already. It’s for me to bring that out a little bit more, but it’s for him to give that gift away everyday – that leadership gift he’s got.”

One of the biggest questions heading into next season: team chemistry in the absence of not just Napier but Niels Giffey, DeAndre Daniels and Tyler Olander.

“We’re not going to have DeAndre, Niels -- that stretch forward we had last year," Ollie admitted. "I think Amida (Brimah)’s going to be a tremendous asset for us. I think Kentan (Facey)’s going to give us a different dynamic, where he can shoot the ball. Probably not off the 3 like Niels and DeAndre did -- I know he’s working toward it, but those guys were exceptional shooters for us. Kentan brings us a guy running and jumping and getting rebounds. He’s working on his game very, very hard.”

Ollie also expects Omar Calhoun to bounce back from a tough sophomore season.

"He’s a highly-motivated person before this happened," the coach said. "I think this is not going to destroy him, I think it’s going to open up room for him to get to the next level. I just believe in the kid, believe in the hard work he puts in. Results follow hard work. For him, last year was tough. But he grasped that, he embraced that, he was like a coach on the bench for me. That spoke volumes, because a lot of kids say, ‘I’m not in the spotlight,’ and they go away from team-oriented stuff. But he involved himself even more. I was like, ‘Wow.’ That shows me something, the growth in him. That’s what special people do.”

And it's going to take a special effort from everyone for the Huskies to consistently play at the level they did in 2013-14.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: UConn to Host Package Recruits]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

While coach Kevin Ollie continues to recruit for the 2015 class, it's never too early to look ahead. And according to the ZagsBlog, Derryck Thornton and Tyus Battle will visit UConn on Thursday -- as a package deal.

Other schools in the mix for the Thornton-Battle combo include Michigan, Kentucky and Florida (all have offered the duo scholarships).

“I still want to see them play together and they sound like still want to play together,” Tank Thornton, Derryck’s father, told SNY.tv earlier this week. “And after speaking to Gary (Battle, Tyus' father) and Tyus, it sounds like they want to play together as well.”

Derryck, however, was more practical about the recruiting process.

“We talked about (playing together), but if it happens it would be great, if it doesn’t, then it won’t," he said.

Meanwhile, ZagsBlog.com reports that wing player Ray Smith will also visit Storrs. After cutting his list of schools to 10 in May -- a list that didn't include the Huskies -- he's now reconsidered.

“UConn is on my list now,” Smith said.

]]>
<![CDATA[Napier Just Looking Forward to Draft]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sports+Illustrated+cover+Shabazz+1200.jpg

When the NBA Draft gets underway in a few short hours, it won't matter, but for now Shabazz Napier's professional fate remains unknown. And he's OK with that because, whether he wants to admit it or not, he appears to be a first-round pick. (Why else would he accept an invitation to attend the draft in person?)

So where does Napier think he might go?

"I’m not really worried about that," he said on Wednesday during a pre-draft press conference. "The only thing I can worry about is playing basketball. I don’t get into media, I don’t get into it. I actually just got on Twitter this morning. I don’t do a lot of internet stuff to look at where I am at.”

Based on the myriad pre-draft predictions, the Heat seem like a popular choice. And now there are rumors that Miami wants to trade up to grab him.

“Oh I don’t know," Napier conceded. "I just kind of heard about it today. It’s definitely cool to hear the talk, it’s definitely (a) blessing, but I’m just out here to enjoy myself. Thursday when it comes we’ll find out.”

And while the NBA Draft is the culmination of a lot of work, Napier reminds us that his is the beginning, not the end of the journey.

"I worked my tail off to accomplish this since I was a freshman," he said. "I always believed in myself to be able to be in this position, so to be here now is just a special feeling with my family.

“When we play basketball we all have aspirations to play in the NBA. And especially being in the green room, being in the green room and shaking the commissioner’s hand. It’s something that I always looked forward to, but it took a lot of hard work. You have to dream big but you have to work harder.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Freshmen Excited to Be on Campus]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

Geno Auriemma took a break from his annual "Fore the Kids" golf tournament earlier this week to talk to the media about his freshman class and what they'll need to do to help keep the Huskies' (seemingly) unstoppable basketball machine fully operational.

"You know, I really haven't done all that much with them, which might be a good thing," he said, according to the Hartford Courant. "I haven't paid that much attention to them at all. I'm not one to spend a lot of time in the summer concentrating on every little thing they do. Right now, they are here to get used to going to school. They are working with Amanda Kimball [strength and conditioning coach]. They get out on the floor occasionally with the assistant coaches to work on things. We're just trying to get them involved."

But as we get later into summer, involvement will be critical because Auriemma has to replace Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, who are now in the WNBA. It's something the freshman understand too.

"When every one of us walks into the gym with the same goal, it makes it a lot easier for all of us because we are all working as hard as we can," Sadie Edwards said.

Another freshman, Courtney Ekmark added, "It's pretty crazy to think back to how long ago it was when I committed to UConn and now to realize that I am finally here. But it's also great. I am really loving it. I feel very accustomed to the program and close to my teammates."

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the rising senior who has been an integral part of the back-to-back championships, talked about what it meant to be a fresh-faced rookie in Auriemma's system.

"It's interesting," she said. "They really don't know about anything other than to do all they can to keep everyone happy. They are working as hard as they can and whatever you say [as upperclassmen] they immediately say, 'OK, we will try to do that.'

"It's nice to be able to have the chance to teach them the UConn values, mold them into great UConn players," Mosqueda-Lewis continued. "It's clear they are interested in doing whatever they can to meet those expectations."

]]>
<![CDATA[Huskies Land One Player on Preseason AAC List]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+introduced.jpg

Well, it's ... something. Athon Sports has released its American Athletic Conference preseason team and a single, solitary Husky found his way onto the first team: Tight end Sean McQuillian.

It's an interesting choice if for no other reason than Phil Steele's AAC preseason squad had just one UConn first-teamer, but it was playmaking wide receiver Geremy Davis. And in recent weeks we've heard a lot about cornerback Byron Jones, whom first-year coach Bob Diaco has called "one of the best players in the country"

Like Steele's list, Athlon named Jones to its second team along with defensive tackle Julian Campenni and the aforementioned Davis. Meanwhile, Jones' secondary mate, safety Obi Melifonwu. garnered third-team honors.

Diaco has high expectations for Melifonwu, the 6-4, 215-pounder who earned his way into the starting lineup last season.

“Obi, in time, will be the best or one of the best safety prospects in the country,” the coach said. “He has unbelievable skillset, crazy. I’ve been around some great safeties. He’s the most talented safety I’ve ever been on a team with physically. Just talent. (Notre Dame) had a first round draft pick, a pro bowl safety in Harrison Smith. From a talent standpoint, (Melinfonwu) the most talented safety I’ve ever been around.”

If Melifonwu emerges as that type of talent, no one will remember these preseason lists other than to mock them.

Athlon also has the Huskies finishing 5-7 (which was their record in their first two seasons under Paul Pasqualoni before falling to 3-9 last season) and 3-5 in the AAC. That would be good for sixth place.

And all this brings us to the point we make every offseason, where it seems fitting to end with a quote from former Huskies coach Randy Edsall. In 2010 after the Huskies were picked fourth in the Big East, Edsall had this to say: “My reaction is the same as it was last year. Who cares? We don’t get excited about preseason polls. It’s all about what you do on the field.”



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Football Adds 8th Commitment to '15 Class]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

Days after getting a commitment from 6-6 receiver Aaron McLean, the Huskies bolstered their passing-catching corps with another big target, 6-5, 225-pound tight end Ian Campbell of Pequamnock Township (Pompton Plains, N.J.).

Campbell visited UConn earlier this month, and he also visited Rutgers, which is close to his New Jersey home. Ultimately, he settled on the Huskies because first-year coach Bob Diaco and his staff did such a great job of selling Campbell on the school and the program.

"I liked the school and campus," Campbell said, via the Hartford Courant. "The coaching staff at UConn was great, they made me feel welcome. They really wanted me there. The facilities, the weight room, locker room, were really impressive."

Campbell now joins a 2015 class that runs eight deep and includes commitments from TE Aaron McLean, QB Tyler Davis, DT Kevin Murphy, OLB Connor Freeborn, DE Phillipe Okunam, S Marshe Terry and TE Ben Hartwick.

]]>
<![CDATA[ESPN Ranks Ollie No. 10]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-shabazz-napier-13.jpg

Two years ago, Kevin Ollie was still an assistant coach under Jim Calhoun. Now he's the coach of the defending national champion Huskies, has signed a deal that will keep him in Storrs after NBA suitors were lining up for his services and, according to ESPN.com, he's the No. 10 coach in the country.

Pretty heady stuff, and it just goes to show you how quickly things can change (if nothing else, this should give us all hope for the UConn football team).

Via ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan:

Ollie ranks No. 10 on our ESPN Forecast top 50 coaches list, and you might argue that he should go higher. After all, we have just a two-year sample size, and has anybody done a better coaching job the last two years?

Think about it: Last season, his first as a head coach at any level, Ollie inherited a team that knew from the start of the year that it wouldn't go to the NCAA tournament. Because of things the UConn coaching staff did long before any of those players arrived in Storrs, the entire unifying competitive principle of college basketball no longer applied to Ollie's squad. If ever there was a team that had good reason to take a year off, it was that one. We all would have understood.

Ollie ranked ahead of legendary coaches like Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim and that's after just two seasons. Which brings us back to our favorite point from the ESPN.com piece:

"What's crazy is that I'm not sure which season was my favorite coaching job," Brennan gushed. "Ollie was magnificent in the tournament, his team a picture of collective confidence and, you know, UConn won the whole thing. But I can't help but feel like it was his first season that was his true masterpiece, in similarly understated ways. Two seasons, two very different kinds of successes."

]]>
<![CDATA[Tuck Happy With Recovery]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/morgan-tuck-title.jpg

Geno Auriemma hosted his "For the Kids" golf tournament Monday, and several Huskies were there for the event. Perhaps one of the biggest offseason story lines no one is talking about involves Morgan Tuck, who was sidelined with a knee injury in January but whose recovery appears to be coming along well.

With Stefanie Dolson now in the WNBA, Tuck's health -- along with Kiah Stokes' continued development -- will be critical to the Huskies' success in the paint.

“I always wish the process could go faster," Tuck told the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "Anyone who is hurt always does. I am happy with where I am. Rosie [Ragle, UConn’s athletic trainer] tells me I am right where I need to be. So now the next step for me will be to sprint and do the full conditioning workout aside from the treadmill. I can’t tell the difference between the knees when I run. But I do get tired because I am not in shape. My knee feels better than it has in a very long time.”

Meanwhile, Auriemma admitted he's not completely happy with another player who battled injury last season: rising senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, arguably the best shooter in college basketball. She's working to get herself back into shape but Auriemma said she's not yet where she needs to be.

"There’s no reason she can’t be one of the best players in the country.” the coach said.

Mosqueda-Lewis added: “I’m trying to get into the best shape I can for the season. My goal is to do whatever I can accomplish and whatever helps me feel that I can perform at my best.”

And if that happens, the Huskies will be fine.

]]>
<![CDATA[Report: UConn to Play at Gillette Stadium in '16]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/rentschler-field-2012-umass-uconn.jpg

The UConn football team will face UMass at Gillette Stadium, the home of the NFL's New England Patriots, during the 2016 season, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

The game is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2016 and a return game will be played at Rentschler Field.

The Huskies and Minuteman used to regularly face each other when both teams were in the Yankee Conference. UMass leads the all-time series 36-24-2 but UConn won the last meeting, 37-0, back in 2012, the Minumtemen's first game in the FBS.

This will be the latest addition to the Huskies' future schedule that includes:

2014:

  • August 28, BYU;
  • September 6, Stony Brook;
  • September 13, Boise State;
  • November 8, Army (Yankee Stadium)

2015:

  • September 5, Villanova;
  • September 12, Army;
  • October 31, at BYU

2016:

  • September 10, UMass
  • September 17, Virginia


2017:

  • September 9, Holy Cross;
  • September 16, at Virginia


2018:

  • September 8, at Boise State


2019:

  • September 7, Illinois;
  • September 21, at Indiana


2020:

  • September 12, at Illinois;
  • September 26, Indiana
]]>
<![CDATA[No Prince Ali, but UConn Prepares for Two Recruit Visits]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:38:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

Prince Ali, the prized recruit for the class of 2015, may have de-committed from UConn earlier this month because he doesn't want to rush his decision on where he will ultimately play in college, but that doesn't change coach Kevin Ollie's mindset. He's forever beating the bushes for players.

With that in mind, the New Haven Register reports that 6-9 power forward Steve Enoch (Norwalk, Conn.) will visit Storrs Thursday.

"UConn is high on him," his AAU coach, George Matthews, told the Register. "Others that haven't officially offered are high on him. VCU is very high, Virginia has been high, Providence has been calling a lot, UCLA, Seton Hall... it's been getting hectic."

Matthews added: Enoch "likes UConn, but he wants to know what the pluses and minuses are, how he'd fit in."

The Register adds that another class of 2015 player is visiting UConn. Chance Comanche, a 6-10 power forward from Los Angeles, is expected in Storrs Monday.

The Huskies have previously been mentioned as having interest in several guards in the class of 2015, including Derek Jones and Donovan Mitchell, who we wrote about several weeks ago.

]]>
<![CDATA[Predictions for Napier, Daniels in the NBA Draft]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:48:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483308981.jpg

The NBA Draft is three days away and two Huskies will almost certainly hear their names called: Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels.

If you can't wait until the actual draft, below (via the Hartford Courant), are the latest mock-draft projections for both players.

Shabazz Napier

  • ESPN ranking: No. 22 overall, No. 6 PG, Projection: mid-first round
  • NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper (6/19): No. 26 to the Miami Heat
  • DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony (6/20): No. 24 to the Charlotte Hornets
  • ESPN's Chad Ford (6/19): No. 19 to the Chicago Bulls
  • ESPN's Jeff Goodman (5/29): No. 24 to the Charlotte Hornets
  • SI.com's Chris Mannix (6/18): No. 26 to the Miami Heat
  • Sheridan Hoops' Joe Kotch (6/19): No. 29 to the Oklahoma City Thunder
  • NBADraft.net (6/19): No. 20 to the Toronto Raptors
  • NBA Draft Insider (6/19): No. 42 to the Houston Rockets
  • NetScouts' Carl Berman (5/23): No. 19 to the Chicago Bulls
  • Fox Sports' Reid Forgrave (6/16): No. 17 to the Boston Celtics
  • Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman (6/15): No. 26 to the Miami Heat
  • CBSSports.com's Zach Harper (6/19): No. 26 to the Miami Heat
  • SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell (6/18): No. 24 to the Charlotte Hornets
  • HoopsHype (6/20): No. 20 to the Toronto Raptors
  • Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears (6/17): No. 26 to the Miami Heat
  • MyNBADraft.com's Corey Hansford (6/19): No. 25 to the Houston Rockets
  • MyNBADraft.com's Consensus Mock (6/19): No. 27 to the Phoenix Suns

Napier scouting report: “I think he’s a first-round pick,” a scout told the New Haven Register's David Borges last season. “First of all, he’s got the ball on a string, great ball control, great understanding of the game. He’s got tremendous confidence, he’s a knockdown shooter from the perimeter. And he’s got a big heart. ... He understands who to deliver the ball to. When you’ve got a $15 million player, that player gets the ball first. I think (Napier) gets it."

DeAndre Daniels

  • ESPN ranking: No. 47 overall, No. 11 SF, Projection: Second round pick/undrafted
  • NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper (6/19): No. 41 to the Denver Nuggets
  • DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony (6/18): No. 47 to the Philadelphia 76ers
  • *Sheridan Hoops' Joe Kotch (6/19): No. 26 to the Miami Heat
  • NBADraft.net (6/19): No. 39 to the Philadelphia 76ers
  • NBA Draft Insider (6/19): No. 38 to the Detroit Pistons
  • NetScouts' Carl Berman (5/23): No. 31 to the Milwaukee Bucks
  • CBSSports.com's Zach Harper (6/19): No. 38 to the Detroit Pistons
  • MyNBADraft.com's Consensus Mock (6/19): No. 34 to the Dallas Mavericks

Daniels scouting report: "He just scares me because I don’t know what you’re getting,” an NBA scout told SNY.com's Adam Zagoria back in April. “If Connecticut wins the NCAA championship and he plays great two nights in a row, he’ll be at another level. Right now, he’s a giant question mark. ... To me, he has to be tougher, more consistent. He’s very talented. Kids like him are very difficult to assess because their production level in the game varies so much. He has very good physical tools, length, the ability to run and jump, but he’s not strong enough. He has the body that can turn into an NBA body. ... Inconsistency has been this theme. He’s very talented.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Napier to Attend NBA Draft]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:39:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sports+Illustrated+cover+Shabazz+1200.jpg

In six days, Shabazz Napier will know his NBA fate. The draft will be held on Thursday, June 26, but it appears that the former UConn point guard -- and the man largely responsible for the team's national title run last season -- is moving up draft boards. So much so, in fact, that he'll be at the Barclays Center, which will host the event.

Details via this tweet from Yahoo.com basketball writer : "As further proof of how far Shabazz Napier's stock has risen: He's accepted an invite to green room for NBA Draft, source tells Yahoo."

The NBA doesn't typically invite players to the draft that don't have chance to be taken high.

So where might Napier end up?

A quick look at the recent mock drafts have him going 24th to the Hornets (DraftExpress.com, SBNation) and 26th to the Heat (SI.com, Bleacher Report, CBSSports.com).

 

One way or the other, we'll know definitely next week.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Announces Kickoff Times for 3 Games]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:39:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/rentschler-field-2012-umass-uconn.jpg

Bob Diaco's first season now less than three months away, and on Thursday the school announced the kickoff times for three of those games.

Details via the press release:

UConn's game at Rentschler Field vs. Boise State will kick off at 12 p.m., while the USF match-up will begin at 8 p.m. and the contest at East Carolina will kick off at 7 p.m.

The Huskies and Broncos will square off at The Rent on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 12 p.m. with the contest televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. It will be the first ever meeting between the two squads.

UConn's visit to familiar conference rival South Florida kicks off each team's 2014 American Athletic Conference slate. The contest from USF's Raymond James Stadium begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19 on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Connecticut's first trip to East Carolina's Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23 on ESPNU. ECU is one of three new members of The American for the 2014 season.

UConn's opener against BYU takes place at Rentschler Field on August 29. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. ET and it will be televised on ESPN.

]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Kivon Taylor No Longer With Team]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 09:25:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

Last summer, the Huskies had three incoming freshman quarterbacks: Timmy Boyle, Kivon Taylor and Richard Lagow.

By August, Lagow had left the program and transferred to Oklahoma State. And on Thursday, it was reported that Taylor was no longer with the team nor was he enrolled at UConn.

The reason, according to the Hartford Courant: "A series of off-the-field issues led to the parting of ways."

Taylor, an athletic 6-4 playmaker, redshirted his freshman season. According to the New Haven Register, he ran into off-field trouble during the spring and was suspended indefinitely. He was later reinstated and expected to compete for playing time with Casey Cochran, Chandler Whitmer and Boyle.

As is stands, Cochran, Whitmer and Boyle -- who all started last season -- are now the only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.

Earlier this month, Tyler Davis, a quarterback from North Bellmore, N.Y, committed to the Huskies' 2015 class.

]]>
<![CDATA[Another Day, Another '15 Commitment]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:01:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

This could become a daily feature: Two weeks after not having a single player committed to the class of 2015, the UConn football program has been on a roll. The latest: Linebacker Connor Freeborn (Wilmington, DE) made an oral commitment Wednesday.



The 2015 class now has six members. Freeborn joins Marshe Terry (New Jersey), who can play wide receiver and defensive back; Kevin Murphy, a defensive lineman from West Chester, Penn.; Tyler Davis, a quarterback from North Bellmore, N.Y.; tight end Ben Hartwick (Mahwah, N.J.) and 6-5, 260-pound defensive end Philippe Okounam (St. Paul's School -- N.H.).

Freeborn, like the five previous commitments, fits first-year coach Bob Diaco's recruiting footprint.

“We are going to recruit our footprint like it’s our home state," the coach said recently. "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.”

So far, so good.

]]>
<![CDATA[Recruit Boykin Playing With US U-17s]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:59:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

Much has been made of Katie Lou Samuelson's decision to attend UConn next year, but she's not the only big-name talent in her recruiting class. Samuelson will be joined by De’Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier, and Georgetown transfer Natalie Butler, the 2013-14 Big East Freshman of the Year.

Not only will Boykin be her future Huskies teammate, the two are playing together this summer, representing the United States in the FIBA U-17 World Championships. First, there are exhibition games in France followed by the tournament, which takes place in the Czech Republic from June 28-July 6. And Boykin seems relatively pleased with how she's played this summer.

“It’s been pretty good,” she said Tuesday, according to SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I’m trying to do the things that will help our team. The coaches want me to be versatile and I’m trying to do that for them. The camp was great and very intense. It was an opportunity to learn about each other and to play with each other. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. ...

“I’m looking forward to trying the food,” she said. “I’m usually not someone that tries different things, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Boykin already has a gold medal, however. She picked one up earlier this spring when she and another future teammate, Napheesa Collier, along with Arike Ogunbowale and Natalie Chou won the U-18 3x3 tournament on June 1.

“The 3×3 tournament helped me a lot,” Boykin said. “It’s a whole different kind of game with a lot of movement and things. It was good.”

And in a year's time, Boykin will make her way to Storrs to begin her college career. And like so many before her, she will arrive with basketball experiences that players for most other schools never get.

]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Talks About 2014 Class]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 09:28:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+travelers.jpg

Kevin Ollie took part in the Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am Wednesday, but the Huskies' coach seemed more excited about the upcoming basketball season. And for good reason: UConn is two months removed from a national title and the 2014 recruiting class is a good one.

In addition to transfer Rodney Purvis, the class includes Rakim Lubin, Daniel Hamilton and junior college transfer Sam Cassell Jr.

“Kids are coming up next week and I’m getting excited,” Ollie said of the new players (via the Connecticut News). “Daniel Hamilton texted me his plane ticket, so I was real excited about that. I was real, real excited when I saw that. ... I’m looking forward to (them). Seeing Rakim, he likes to be called ‘Rock,’ but he’s going to have to get a couple rebounds before I call him Rock.”

Purvis was a high school All-American out of Raleigh, North Carolina, who transferred from NC State last year. Hamilton is considered the Huskies' highest-profile recruit, but Lubin, at 6-8, 250 pounds, could make an impact first. Then there is Cassell, who has basketball in his veins; his father is former Florida St. and NBA standout Sam Cassell Sr.

But in recruiting, there is no rest for the weary, which is why it won't be long before Ollie and his staff are again beating the bushes.

That said, there are no plans to add another player to the class of 2014.

“Probably not,” Ollie said of the possibility. “I want to save those scholarships unless something (happens). We’re always working.

“There’s always something that could happen, an Andre Drummond signing. We’d be welcome with him. I’m not really looking to add anybody, but we always have our ears to the concrete and see what’s shaking.”

As it stands, guard Willie Jackson is the lone 2015 commitment after Prince Ali de-committed earlier this month.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Katie Lou Samuelson Ready to Go]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 09:13:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Katie+Lou+Samuelson.jpg

The last we heard of Katie Lou Samuelson, the top player in high school and UConn commit was recovering from an ankle injury.  Now, several weeks later, the 6-3 forward is ready to compete in the United States' Under-17 training camp.

I haven’t had any problems,” Samuelson said Tuesday, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I get it taped up a little extra now and that allows me to keep going. ..

“We’ve been having two-a-days and it’s definitely been tough,” Samuelson said. “We’ve been working hard and working to play as a team. I think it’s going really well but I think we’re looking forward to leaving tomorrow.”

So what happens tomorrow? Samuelson and the national team will head to France to compete in exhibition games against China, Canada and France, then it's on to the Czech Republic for the 2014 FIBA U-17 world championships, which take place June 28-July 6.

As for what the U.S. needs to do better in the coming days, Samuelson says it's pretty simple.

“We have to share the ball more,” she said. “There have been times that things will break down and we’ll go one on one. We know that we have to play together and trust each other. And we do have to play solid defensively. We have to be able to lock teams down.”

In addition to Samuelson, the Huskies' 2015 recruiting class includes De’Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier, and Georgetown transfer Natalie Butler, the 2013-14 Big East Freshman of the Year.



Photo Credit: YouTube/Hoopher]]>
<![CDATA[Another Day, Another 2015 Commitment]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 09:09:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

First-year coach Bob Diaco wasn't kidding about that recruiting footprint. After offering up details earlier this month, the Huskies have gone out and signed five players, all within the geographical borders of the aforementioned footprint.

The details, via Diaco: “We are going to recruit our footprint like it’s our home state. 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.”

The latest addition: 6-4, 190-pound Marshe Terry, a New Jersey native who can play wide receiver but it being recruited as a defensive back, according to SNY.com's John Silver.

Terry joins Kevin Murphy, a defensive lineman from West Chester, Penn., Tyler Davis, a quarterback from North Bellmore, N.Y., tight end Ben Hartwick (Mahwah, N.J.) and 6-5, 260-pound defensive end Philippe Okounam (St. Paul's School -- N.H.).

Silver previously explained Diaco's recruiting strategy:

"UConn has taken the approach to offer players, but not pressure into commitments," Silver wrote. "UConn wants the players if they commit now, or in January, and don’t want a player that feels trapped to commit early."

The Huskies are targeting tall and long players who have athleticism, something head coach Bob Diaco stressed he wanted when he took over the head coach job in December."

And the first five commits to the 2015 class reinforce that plan.

]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Could Have Stars in Secondary]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:02:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn-ucf-loss.jpg

Expectations have wavered between extremely low and nonexistent when it has come to the national media and the 2014 UConn football team. It's understandable given the Huskies' ineptitude in recent seasons, but if you're looking for a bright spot, just keep an eye on cornerback Byron Jones.

First-year coach Bob Diaco has gone out of his way to praise the 6-1 senior from Washington, DC.

"I think he will be one of the best players in the country,” the coach said last week, via SNY.com's John Silver. “Everyone will see it eventually when they put him in those compression shorts (at combines). You will see a tall, long, lean and fast and explosive and athletic player. His numbers, with our developmental process, you are going to see at the end of the day one of the best tangibly gifted cornerback players in the country.

Then you factor in this incredible resume socially, academically, he’s an ‘A’ student and on all the committees. At that position, he has some intangible traits that are an incredible commodity.”

Diaco also had high praise for another member of the Huskies' secondary: strong safety Obi Melinfonwu, who struggled at times last season, his first as a starter. But at 6-4, 215 pounds, there's a lot to like about Melinfonwu's upside.

“Obi, in time, will be the best or one of the best safety prospects in the country,” the coach said. “He has unbelievable skill set, crazy. I’ve been around some great safeties. He’s the most talent safety I’ve ever been on a team with physically. Just talent.

“(Notre Dame) had a first round draft pick, a pro bowl safety in Harrison Smith. From a talent standpoint, (Melinfonwu) the most talented safety I’ve ever been around.”

Smith, it's worth noting, earned Pro Bowl honors with the Vikings in his second NFL season.

As for the Huskies, they're going to need Jones, Melinfonwu and everybody else to elevate their game if they're going to be competitive in the American Athletic Conference.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Huskies Adds 2 More Commitments]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 16:36:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

That didn't take long. Last week, first-year coach Bob Diaco talked about the 2015 recruiting process. Then, in the span of a few days, he landed his first two commitments -- Kevin Murphy, a defensive lineman from West Chester, Penn., and Tyler Davis, a quarterback from North Bellmore, N.Y.

And now we can add two more names to the list: 6-6, 215-pound tight end Ben Hartwick (Mahwah, N.J.) and 6-5, 260-pound defensive end Philippe Okounam (St. Paul's School -- N.H.).

"My mom and I visited [last week] and we spoke with Coach [Bob] Diaco and all the coaches, and we just really liked them," Hartwick said, via the Hartford Courant. "We liked what we saw in what they're trying to do with the program, and it really just felt like home."

It was Hartwick's first offer.

Okounam, who was born is Russia, picked UConn over Yale, Dartmouth and UNH. "I thought the campus was nice and I want to study business; They have a great business school," he said. "I want to be a football player. I think right now this is the place for me."

And Davis, who committed last week, added this: "Their energy is contagious, really," he said of the coaching staff. "I love it and absolutely want to play for coach [Diaco] and the UConn Huskies."

SNY.com's John Silver points out that this is all part of Diaco's recruiting plan.

UConn has taken the approach to offer players, but not pressure into commitments. UConn wants the players if they commit now, or in January, and don’t want a player that feels trapped to commit early.

The Huskies are targeting tall and long players who have athleticism, something head coach Bob Diaco stressed he wanted when he took over the head coach job in December.

It's an interesting strategy but ultimately all fans care about is winning. And we'll know more about that in the coming months.

]]>
<![CDATA[USA Today Has Little Faith in Huskies]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 09:19:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/casey-cochran-starter-smu.jpg

We've seen it already: The pre-training camp preseason predictions haven't been kind to the Huskies football team. We understand why -- the 2.5 years of the Paul Pasqualoni era were mostly forgettable --  and we won't know what first-year coach Bob Diaco has to work with until midway through the 2014 season. So for now, the UConn football program is left to take punches from the media until they can prove the doubters wrong.

Next up: USA Today's Sports on Earth's Michael Weinreb, who wrote recently about one team in each FBS conference that he'd "least like to be a fan of at this juncture of my existence."

Yep, that's right, the Huskies got the nod in the American Athletic Conference.

"Hey, remember when the Huskies made four straight bowl games under Randy Edsall -- including the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, where they were summarily mauled by Oklahoma? Yeah, I don't really, either," Weinreb wrote. "Three years of Paul Pasqualoni did a pretty solid job of obliterating any sense of optimism in Storrs. Perhaps new coach and baking enthusiast Bob Diaco can alter the attitude here, but he can't shift the unfortunate fact that Connecticut is a basketball school in a basketball region whose best all-time player is a former backup running back for the Indianapolis Colts."

Yes, UConn is a basketball school in a basketball region but the truth -- and Geno Auriemma has made this point before -- is that the football team will be the impetus for any success the school has. It's the reason all the conference reshuffling didn't include UConn; their football program was ... well, lacking.

Now it's up to Diaco and his staff to change that.

]]>
<![CDATA[Duke to Face UConn at IZOD Center in 2014]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 09:19:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/coach-k-duke-uconn.jpg

Duke will face the defending national champion Huskies on Dec. 18, 2014, at the IZOD Center, which is part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J., it was announced Monday.

“We are very much looking forward to playing against Duke at the IZOD Center this December,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said in a statement. “Our series against Duke includes some of the most exciting and most meaningful games in UConn basketball history and we have the utmost respect for Coach Krzyzewski and his program. Plus, it will be wonderful to return to the IZOD Center, where UConn has a long history. It not only gives our fans in the New York-New Jersey area a chance to watch us play, but is close enough to allow our great fans from Connecticut to come and support us.”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski echoed similar sentiments.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to play Connecticut at the IZOD Center next season," Coach K said. "We have a strong fan base in the New York/New Jersey area and I am sure Connecticut will have great fan support as well. It is always special to play in front of terrific crowds and it should be an outstanding game between two talented teams. Connecticut is obviously coming off a championship season and has excellent personnel returning. Coach Ollie has done a terrific job running the program and we look forward to the challenge."

More details via the press release:

UConn and Duke have met just nine times on the basketball court with Duke leading the series 5-4, but the Huskies have won four of the last five. One of their most memorable games took place at the Meadowlands in the 1990 NCAA East Regional Final with Duke winning 79-78 in overtime. UConn defeated Duke, 77-74, to capture the 1999 National Championship and the Huskies nipped the Blue Devils, 79-78, in the 2004 National Semifinals on their way to their second national crown. ... The Blue Devils are 20-1 all-time (10-0 in NCAA Tournament games) at the Meadowlands, while UConn is 12-8 at the venue, 1-1 in the 1990 NCAA East Regional and 11-7 vs. former Big East rival Seton Hall.

The two teams last met in the 2009 NIT Tip-Off Championship Game, which took place at Madison Square Garden. Duke won, 68-59.

This season's game is set to tip off at 8 p.m. ET.

]]>
<![CDATA[QB Tyler Davis Commits to UConn]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 11:45:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

And just like that, the Huskies have another commit to its 2015 class. Days after landing Kevin Murphy, a defensive lineman from West Chester, Penn., UConn has received a commitment from Mempham High (North Bellmore, N.Y.) quarterback Tyler Davis, according to SNY.com's John Silver.

More details, via Silver:

Davis is 6-foot-4, 215-pounds and is an athletic prospect who can also move out of the pocket. He had an offer from Old Dominion and some local FCS schools with other high FBS interest. It’s so early in the recruiting process, the Huskies wanted to lock down their recruiting target and in Davis got the No. 1 target for 2015 at QB.
The Huskies locked down their QB before the summer and don’t have any others on the radar right now. The Huskies have a lot of youth at quarterback with Casey Cochran, Tim Boyle as sophomores and Kivon Taylor a redshirt freshman. Chandler Whitmer is a senior and Davis would replace that scholarship slot.

And here's the Instagram proof:



First-year coach Bob Diaco was asked last week about his recruiting philosophy, one that appears to be more liberal with scholarship offers than his predecessor, Paul Pasqualoni.

"You are going to sell a car, how many people are you going to talk to about buying it?" Diaco said. "If you want to sell one car, you have to talk to about 20 people so the recruiting board is full of guys we would really like to have. We may only have one spot so first one in ... Everybody understands the landscape, the PSA (prospective student-athletes) understand the landscape, the guardians understand the landscape and the coaches understand the landscape. This is all over the country, not just at UConn."

New York falls in the middle of Diaco's recruiting "footprint," which stretches from Boston to Buffalo and all the way down to Northern Virginia.

]]>
<![CDATA[Jim Calhoun Charity Game Set for Aug.]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 11:40:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jim-calhoun-be-careful.jpg

The annual Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game is slated for August 8, and according to the press release, it will be chocked full of Huskies All-Stars spanning nearly 20 years. Ray Allen, who starred at UConn from 1993-1996 and is currently a member of the Miami Heat, is expected to attend, along with NBA guard Kemba Walker and soon-to-be NBA-er Shabazz Napier.

More details via the presser:

Many of Coach Calhoun's greatest players will return for the seventh Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Basketball Game. It will be a special night in Connecticut basketball history when stars from four national championship teams take the floor and compete against each other. Ray Allen, Kemba Walker, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, Caron Butler, Kevin Ollie, Donyell Marshall, Khalid El-Amin, Doron Sheffer, and Rudy Gay among others, have played in past charity games at Mohegan Sun.

The game will be played at 7:30PM at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, August 8, 2014. Proceeds from the game and the entire Mohegan Sun / Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic will benefit The Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health. ...

Since 1999, the Mohegan Sun / Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic has raised more than $6.5 million for cardiology research and life-saving care at The Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health.

“Once again, I'm excited about bringing the Connecticut Basketball family back together for this game," Calhoun said in a statement. "It is a great way for me to reconnect with many of my former players, and I know they look forward to gathering together and playing in front of their longtime fans. As important, I'm so pleased that proceeds from the game will go to fight America’s number #1 killer – heart disease.”

]]>
<![CDATA[Men and Women to Play at Stanford in '14-'15]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 18:15:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kevin+Ollie+and+Geno+Auriemma+2.jpg

Both the Huskies men's and women's basketball teams will travel to California to face Stanford next season. Geno Auriemma and the defending champs will face the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion on Nov. 17, according to MercuryNew.com. And Kevin Ollie and his defending champs will come to town two months later, on Jan. 17.

Both games will be shown on ESPN.

More details via Stanford's website:

One of the greatest rivalries currently in women’s basketball, Stanford and two-time defending national champion Connecticut have met 10 times over the past seven seasons with four of those matchups occurring at the NCAA Final Four. In one of the most significant moments in college basketball history, the Cardinal ended Connecticut’s NCAA-record 90-game winning streak in front of a packed Maples Pavilion and a rapt national-TV audience on Dec. 30, 2010, as Jeanette Pohlen produced 31 points, nine rebounds and six assists in Stanford’s 71-59 victory.

On the men’s side, Stanford’s 53-51 upset of No. 10/10 Connecticut last December in Hartford represented a signature victory for the Cardinal, which was the only non-conference opponent to defeat to the Huskies on their way to a national title. Stanford, which finished 5-2 against top-25 competition, notched its first road win over a top-10 team since beating No. 9/9 Washington State 67-65 in overtime on Feb. 2, 2008. Trailing 43-30 four minutes into the second half, Stanford limited Connecticut to just 5-31 (16.1 percent) shooting over the final 20 minutes. Connecticut had won 54 straight home games against non-conference foes dating back to 2007.

This is where we point out that the UConn women beat Stanford twice last season, including in the Final Four -- and on their way to their ninth national title.

]]>
<![CDATA[Geno Talks UConn's Athletic Future]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 18:15:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

Women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma has never been shy about sharing what's on his mind. During a stint on WTIC radio Wednesday, he spoke frankly on a number of topics, most of them having to do with the university or the surrounding area.

Near the end of this appearance, he was asked about the future of UConn athletics, which has hit some rough waters in recent years, what with being ignored by the big conferences and left to fend for itself in the AAC.

“We have already been affected by it [conference realignment]," he said, via the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "We used to be a part of the best basketball league that ever existed [the Big East]. Go back two or three years and the Big East provided the best [college] basketball ever played, men and women.

“But football has taken the lead and the big five power conferences want to do their own things, separate from the NCAA, if possible, and have their own rules to do whatever they want, whenever they want and however they want. UConn had a choice. We could have moved forward without football and end up where the Big East is now, which I don’t know where that is. Or we could go with football and try to maximize it and create enough interest [in the school] that the [power] conferences might include us.

"How do you do that? Well, just winning at football isn’t enough. It’s the interest level [in the program that's important]. How many fans or viewers can you bring to the conference. If [admission] was just based on the success of a universities athletic department, how do you take Rutgers over Connecticut in the Big Ten if it was just about success?

“They tell you its academics, this and that. It’s about nothing but how many people in that area will watch the conference on television and are you [the school] in an area a conference wishes to expand. We had some issues that prevented us from getting into the ACC; there were some things we did back in the day, like suing the conference. We did a lot of dumb things that are still haunting us.

“But the only thing we can do now is this –- be the best athletic program we can be, the best university we can be and win the most games we can in every sport while selling out every stadium and venue we have. That will let everyone else in the country know that whether you like us or don’t like us, you are going to have to compete against us. That is the only thing we have control over.”

The men's and women's basketball teams are doing their parts. The big question is whether first-year football coach Bob Diaco can turn around a program that has floundered in recent years.

]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Says Mother Doing Well]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 10:10:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483304481.jpg

Kevin Ollie's mother, Dorothy, was with her son Tuesday night when he was presented with the St. Francis Award. In November, Dorothy was diagnosed with breast and lung cancer but two surgeries and several months of chemotherapy has her close to her previous form.

“She’s out of the house, so that’s a good thing,” Ollie, smiling, said via the Connecticut News' William Paxton. “She was excited to come here. This is probably her third time out of the house, so this is a great place for her to come with all this Franciscan life and just everybody who’s here and what this stands for. I think it will be a wonderful night for her. ...

“She looks great. That’s where I get my toughness from. She had a couple tough days, but she got through it. She’s a tough lady and she’s full with faith. It’s great to have her getting back to her old self.”

Dorothy, 80, lived with Ollie while she battled cancer, but the coach was able to keep his personal life separate from his professional one.

“It was difficult, but at the end of the day life is not built on feelings,” he said. “It’s built on principles and I made a commitment to UConn and whatever I go through, I have to do my job. We ask our guys to do the same thing, so if they have a bad day or a family (thing), they have to come in and practice and play the right way. I try to live my life the same way, so I came in and that’s kind of my sanctuary to get away from everything for two or three hours. Just really concentrate on making them better basketball players and better people.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Only One Husky on Steele's Preseason List]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 11:52:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geremy-davis-catch.jpg

First-year coach Bob Diaco has made it clear that he aims to change the culture of losing that has plagued the football program in recent years.

"Everything needs a ton of work," the coach said back in May. "We're way behind having a chance to think about, talking about how we're gonna win games. Right now we're talking about how not to lose."

And while every new coach speaks in similar tones, Diaco's task is daunting because he'll have to do it with very few proven playmakers.

Case in point: Phil Steele's annual American Athletic Conference Preseason team features a whopping one player -- on offense, defense and special teams -- on the first team: wide receiver Geremy Davis.

The senior is certainly deserving of the honor; last season, Davis had 71 receptions for 1,085 yards and three touchdowns in an offense that could kindly be described as inconsistent. With running back Lyle McCombs no longer with the team, Davis' role becomes even bigger.

Center Alex Mateas earned fourth-team honors and cornerback Byron Jones was named to the second team.

Jones has flown under the radar in recent years because he's played alongside some really good players. But 2014 could be his breakout season. "Byron Jones is gonna be one of the best corners in America," Diaco said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "Not one of the best corners on our team, one of the best corners in the country."

And he's going to have to be if UConn is going to be competitive in Diaco's first season.

]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Presented With St. Francis Award]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 11:46:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

It's been a pretty good week for UConn coach Kevin Ollie. On Monday, he along with his team, were honored at the White House by President Obama. On Tuesday night, he was at the Aqua Turf Club for the Franciscan Sports Banquet in Southington, where he was presented with the St. Francis Award for community service and charity work.

Ollie was accompanied by his mother, Dorothy. She was diagnosed with breast and lung cancer last November, but two surgeries and several months of chemotherapy, she was looking like her old self.

"That's where I get my toughness from," the coach said, via the Hartford Courant. "She's had a couple of tough days, but she got through it. She's a tough lady. She's filled with faith."

Dorothy, 80, is also an ordained minister. After her son spoke she also shared a few words.

"I want to thank you all for the love and passion that you've shown for my son," she said, "I can feel that love, and I want you to know when you embrace him, and you have confidence in him, it's just like you're embracing me."

It was a tough fall for Kevin Ollie. Two months before his mother's diagnosis, Ollie lost his father-in-law.

"It was difficult," the coach said, "but at the end of the day, life is not built on feelings, it's built on principles. I made a commitment to UConn, and whatever I go through, I've got to continue to do my job. We ask our guys to do the same thing. They have a bad day, a family issue, they've got to come in and practice and play the right way. I try to live my life the same way.

"That was kind of like my sanctuary, to get away from everything for two or three hours and concentrate on making them better basketball players."

]]>