<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Dog House]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/blogs/dog-house http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:41:36 -0400 Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:41:36 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Boatright Gets Chance With Brooklyn Nets]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:16:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP156461816029.jpg

The NBA Draft didn't go like Ryan Boatright had hoped but after not hearing his name called Thursday night, the former UConn standout signed with the Brooklyn Nets. RealGM.com first reported the news.

While going undrafted wasn't a surprise to some, virtually every expert figured Boatright's path to the NBA would include proving himself this summer.

"I haven't gotten any promises," Boatright told the Chicago Tribune days before the draft. "… I just hope I can get into a good situation, where I've got a chance to play, whether it's by being drafted or signed [as a free agent]."

An anonymous scout said before the draft that the NBA summer leagues might be Boatright's best chance to prove himself.

"I think the prospects of second round are less than 50-50, but there’s a chance of him getting drafted," the scout told the New Haven Register's David Borges. "Even if he doesn’t, for sure he’ll be invited to summer league camps and get a strong look from multiple teams. He’ll be sought after." More details via the Hartford Courant:

[Boatright] could [also] spend time in the Developmental League, which even many first-round draft picks do, or play overseas, which can be very lucrative. His close friend and former UConn teammate, DeAndre Daniels, was picked in the second round, 37th, by the Raptors last year, and after playing in the summer league, he spent the season playing in Australia, while Toronto retained his NBA rights.

"At the end of the day, I'm going to make a lot of money playing basketball," Boatright told the Tribune. "My main goal and hope is to play in the NBA. I don't question myself or doubt my ability."

Now Boatright just has to convince everyone else that he belongs. But if the rest of the NBA is like UConn coach Kevin Ollie, it won't take long for others to catch on to Boatright's talents.

"Boat is gonna create his own chance," Ollie said, via the Register. "And if they're not gonna open the door, he's gonna kick it down."

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<![CDATA[Ollie Calls Team 'Talented Group']]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:12:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

Kevin Ollie spoke to reporters last week about the 2015-16 Huskies team and he called it "a talented group," according to the New Haven Register.

Hardly surprising, we know. Every coach, at least publicly, will offer a similar refrain this time of year, but you get the sense Ollie really does feel good about the roster, especially with the addition of three veteran transfers that provide some much-needed experience.

Speaking of which, Shonn Miller, in Ollie's eyes, is "rebounding magnet ... very cerebral, able to pick up on things quickly," while Sterling Gibbs is "just a basketball player. He plays at a pace you can't get him out of, which is something I love."

"He's not a Ricky Moore, as far as pushing the ball. But he's also a very smart player throwing the ball ahead."

As for the veterans currently on the roster, Ollie had this to say about junior Amida Brimah: "[He needs to] eliminate some of those foolish mistakes that he did. Some of them were trying to take charges, or illegal screens 35 feet from the basket ... It happens, but I think it happened too much for him. Freshman, sophomore year, I'll lay off, but junior year, you've got to eliminate some of those mistakes and stay on the court. I think he's heard that a lot from me, he's aggravated from me saying that -- which is a good thing."

Then there are Terrence Samuel and Rakim Lubin, who transferred this offseason.

"Sooner or later, it's gonna happen," Ollie said. "They felt they had a better situation playing a little more in another program."

"I thought Terrence played a lot of minutes. I stuck with him, but he stuck with me, too. He allowed us to win a championship. He played a pivotal role. You hate to see him go, because that team was something special to me. Not because we won the national championship, but that year prior, to stick by me in the lean times, I've got a special place in my heart for that team."

Oh, and there's the third transfer, Terry Larrier, who will sit out the upcoming season but be eligible for 2016-17.

"Wow. Ooooooh, he is so good," Ollie said. "Man, he is fantastic. He's long, he's athletic, he can shoot the ball, runs the court, great person to be around. His teammates love him."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ryan Boatright Goes Undrafted by NBA Teams]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 09:37:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP156461816029.jpg

UConn has a history of producing great point guards, and recent history have seen them go in the first round of the NBA Draft. That trend changed on Thursday when Ryan Boatright, who followed in the footsteps of Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier in Storrs, didn't hear his name called at the 2015 NBA Draft.

The development wasn't a huge surprise; unlike Walker, a national player of the year candidate, and Napier, the Huskies' most valuable player during their title run in 2013-14, Boatright was always considered undersized by NBA standards. That doesn't mean his professional dreams are crushed, he'll just have to find another onto an NBA roster.

"I haven't gotten any promises," Boatright told the Chicago Tribune days before the draft. "… I just hope I can get into a good situation, where I've got a chance to play, whether it's by being drafted or signed [as a free agent]."

Next up: Boatright will show what he can do during the NBA summer leagues, which is what an anonymous scout said might happen in the days leading up to the draft.

"I think the prospects of second round are less than 50-50, but there’s a chance of him getting drafted," the scout told the New Haven Register's David Borges. "Even if he doesn’t, for sure he’ll be invited to summer league camps and get a strong look from multiple teams. He’ll be sought after." More details via the Hartford Courant:

[Boatright] could [also] spend time in the Developmental League, which even many first-round draft picks do, or play overseas, which can be very lucrative. His close friend and former UConn teammate, DeAndre Daniels, was picked in the second round, 37th, by the Raptors last year, and after playing in the summer league, he spent the season playing in Australia, while Toronto retained his NBA rights.

"At the end of the day, I'm going to make a lot of money playing basketball," Boatright told the Tribune. "My main goal and hope is to play in the NBA. I don't question myself or doubt my ability."

Other notable players who were on the bubble and ultimately didn't get drafted include Cliff Alexander, Christian Wood, Jonathan Holmes, Aaron Harrison and Chris Walker.

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<![CDATA[Auriemma Talks Transfers]]> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:53:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-nat-champs.jpg

Kevin Ollie's Huskies have welcomed three transfers to the program this spring, and Geno Auriemma's team has Natalie Butler, the former Big East Freshman of the Year from Georgetown, set to take the court this fall.

There has been a run across the game on players leaving their original college teams for playing time elsewhere -- Brianna Banks and Sadie Edwards departed UConn for playing time elsewhere -- and Auriemma knows that even the three-time defending national champs aren't immune.

“I’m sure we’re as susceptible as anyone else,” he said Monday, according to SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “That’s why I laugh when people talk about the kids who have transferred from our place like it’s the end of the world. I don’t begrudge anybody if they go to another school and say, ‘Hey look, I made a mistake.’ That’s not a negative. We make mistakes in recruiting. Kids make mistakes in picking schools.

“What has happened is we have a little bit more access to these kids earlier. One of the results of that is that kids commit earlier, and maybe the coaches and the players haven’t gotten a chance to know each other very well during the recruiting process. And maybe some promises were made along the way, and then you can’t deliver on those promises. Then it all kind of comes to a head. I’m not there so I don’t know.”

And that's the thing: When you're the best program in the nation, naturally you attract the best players -- none of whom are not accustomed to sitting on the bench. So when they get to college, and everyone is just as good as they are it can be a shock -- especially if it cuts into their playing time. Still, Auriemma's ability to retain players has been good during his tenure.

“I’m proud of the fact that in the 30 years that we have been doing this, very, very, very few kids that start and play 30 minutes decide that this isn’t the place for them,” Auriemma said. “I’m kind of crossing my fingers and hoping that trend continues.”

The old saying, "winning fixes everything" certainly doesn't hurt.

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<![CDATA[UConn Lands Recruit No. 3, DB Eddie Hahn]]> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:50:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

Commitments seem to come in bunches, and certainly holds this recruiting season. The Huskies landed two high school players for the 2016 class last week -- quarterback Donovan Williams and wide receiver Keyion Dixon -- and got a third when defensive back Eddie Hahn announced Wednesday that he had committed to UConn.

Hahn, a 3-star recruit according to Rivals.com, played quarterback and safety at Red Bank Catholic High School in New Jersey. His relationship with coach Bob Diaco dates back to Diaco's time as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator.

"Coach Diaco recruited (former teammate) Quentin Nelson when he was at Notre Dame," Hahn told Scout.com before he committed to UConn. "So he was here for a long time recruiting Quentin, and I was able to get a good relationship then and just be able to say 'Hi' and talk football."

Hahn, who had offers from Buffalo and NC State, called Diaco "One of the most honest coaches that has recruited me." That's a great sign for a team in desperate need of good players as Diaco tries to refashion them into a legit FBS program.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Samuelson Ready to Work Hard for Huskies]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:59:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Katie+Lou+Samuelson.jpg

Katie Lou Samuelson could be the next great player to make her way through UConn. Recently, there's been Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart, who enters her senior season, and Samuelson is the next logical choice to carry that torch.

The freshman is already in Storrs for her first summer sessions and, of course, a little basketball.

“It’s a big advantage being here now just to get to know the campus, take some classes, and do workouts,” Samuelson told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “You figure out how to balance all that. There’s going to be a lot more going on during preseason this fall, so to do a little bit now will help a lot.

“I’m on the bottom of the totem pole as a freshman coming in. I knew that from the beginning that nothing’s handed to me and I’ve got to work for everything. I’m just trying to learn from all the older girls and just really get to know them and get to know how they play.”

In theory, sure, Samuelson's at the end of the proverbial bench, but the reality is that she'll have a chance to contribute in her first season; Stewart, who struggled early as a freshmen, came on strong during the Huskies' title run three years ago. And Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who graduated last month, also provided valuable minutes during her first season in Storrs. And then there's Kia Nurse, now a sophomore, who started 36 games last year.

Of course, none of this is lost on coach Geno Auriemma.

“Katie Lou has a lot of advantages that a lot of other kids don’t have that are great shooters,” he said said. “She’s 6-3 and then she’s got a quick release and she’s a smart basketball player. And she has a huge advantage of being really, really well coached in high school. Those guys, like Napheesa (Collins) was and Katie Lou was, can compete immediately at the college level. The kids that didn’t have really good coaching in high school are the ones who struggle the most. Tina Charles had great coaching. Sue Bird had great coaching in high school. You see some of these kids that come out … If they have the right background, the right make-up mentally, and they’ve got the talent and the heart, anything’s possible.”

Samuelson joins a stacked freshman class that includes the aforementioned Collins and De’Janae Boykin. There's also Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.



Photo Credit: YouTube/Hoopher]]>
<![CDATA[Transfer Larrier Hopes to Learn By Watching]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:54:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

Terry Larrier is one of three UConn transfers. And unlike the other two, Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs, he'll sit out the 2015-16 season. Which means he's getting advice from his new teammates about how to deal with a year of watching from the bench.

"Me and Terry had a long talk," Gibbs told reporters on Tuesday, via the Hartford Courant. "I told him that when you're sitting out, you want to really take advantage of being able to be in the gym 24/7. He has been going up against Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis and the starting squad, and he's going to be playing against a top 20 team every single day — there's no better practice than that. When Terry starts playing next year, he's going to be one of the best players in the country."

Purvis certainly knows the drill. The former NC State standout left Raleigh after his freshman season, and sat out during UConn's title run in 2013-14. Last season, he found himself in the backcourt with Ryan Boatright. And after a slow start, Purvis came on strong down the stretch.

Like Purvis, Larrier was heavily recruited by coach Kevin Ollie before ultimately deciding to start his college career elsewhere. In his case, that meant going to VCU and playing for Shaka Smart, who left the program earlier this year to take the Texas job.

"Shaka Smart started recruiting me a lot sooner than [Ollie] at UConn," Larrier said. "When K.O. got into the picture, it was just a matter of my relationships with the two head coaches and I really felt much closer to Shaka. This time around, it came down to UConn and Maryland and my relationship was much closer with K.O. than with Mark Turgeon. I like what [Ollie has] done with the program, the style of play fits me better and I feel I can excel here."

Not surprisingly, Larrier would love to play now but he understands that sitting might be in his best long-term interests.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Huskies Announce 13-Game Non-Conference Schedule]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:28:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

The men's basketball team released its non-conference schedule on Tuesday and Kevin Ollie's Huskies will play 13 games, including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament and renewing an old Big East rivalry with Georgetown.

Here's the complete schedule, via the school's website:

UConn 2015-16 Non-Conference Schedule

  • Sun., Nov. 1 Tampa (exhibition)
  • Sat., Nov. 7 New Haven (exhibition)
  • Fri., Nov. 13 Maine
  • Tues., Nov. 17 New Hampshire
  • Sat., Nov. 21 Furman
  • Wed., Nov. 25 at Battle 4 Atlantis
  • Thurs., Nov. 26 at Battle 4 Atlantis
  • Fri., Nov. 27 at Battle 4 Atlantis
  • Wed., Dec. 2 Sacred Heart
  • Tues., Dec. 8 vs. Maryland (MSG)
  • Sat., Dec. 12 Ohio State
  • Sun., Dec. 20 UMass-Lowell
  • Wed., Dec. 23 Central Connecticut
  • Tues., Dec. 29 at Texas
  • Sat., Jan. 23 Georgetown

The Huskies will spend Thanksgiving on Paradise Island, The Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis tourney, and will face Maryland at Madison Square Garden 11 days later. There are also matchups against traditional Division I powerhouses Ohio State, Texas and Georgetown.

The American Athletic Conference schedule will be released later this summer. The Huskies will have home-and-home matchups against UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, and Tulsa, and one game each against East Carolina (only at home) and USF (only on the road).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boatright Facing Long Odds to Get Drafted]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:29:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP803544363154.jpg

A year ago, the talk was about how high Shabazz Napier would go in the NBA Draft. He eventually was a late first-round pick, taken by the Miami Heat. In the days leading up to the 2015 NBA Draft, no one is talking about Napier's former UConn backcourt mate in similar tones. Ryan Boatright was an outstanding college playmaker and a huge part of the fleeting success the Huskies had last season.

But it's unclear if Boatright, who almost left school early for the NBA last summer, will be drafted at all.

The New Haven Register's David Borges spoke to three NBA scouts in recent days to get their assessment on the undersized Boatright.

"I think the prospects of second round are less than 50-50, but there’s a chance of him getting drafted," one scout told Borges. "Even if he doesn’t, for sure he’ll be invited to summer league camps and get a strong look from multiple teams. He’ll be sought after."

Another scout was more optimistic about Boatright's chances.

"I wouldn’t be shocked if he went somewhere in the second half of the second round ... He's a tough guy, he competes ... Good kid, works hard, got a pretty good resume."

And a third scout was even more convinced Boatright will hear his name called during draft night -- though he'll have to wait a while.

"I think he's gonna be taken in the second round," he said. "He’s a tough guy. His size is against him, but he’s got plenty of fight and aggressiveness. Anyone who’s seen him in big games, he comes to play, always competes. Tremendous competitor."

Being 5-11 and 170 pounds is nothing new for Boatright, and neither is having to outwork everyone for the same chance.

"When you're this size, all you have to have is a lot of heart," Boatright said back in May. "You have heart and pride and have understanding of the game of basketball, and you'll be all right."

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<![CDATA[UConn Lands First 2016 Commit, QB Donovan Williams]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:27:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+rentschler_722_406.jpg

The Huskies landed their first commitment for the class of 2016: Donovan Williams, a 6-4, 205-pound quarterback out of Woodbridge, Va.

Williams had orally committed to James Madison last month, and he also has a scholarship from Fordham. At UConn he'll join a wide-open quarterback race, though there may be more certainty at the position in a year's time, when Williams will join the competition. Currently, Tim Boyle, sophomore transfer Bryant Shirreffs and true freshman Tyler Davis are battling for snaps, and next summer Williams and JUCO transfer Garrett Anderson will join them.

During his junior season at Hylton High School, Williams passed for 1,015 yards, rushed for 718 more and scored 18 touchdowns.

If it seems late for an FBS program to get its first commitment for '16 -- it is. But that's by design; the Huskies will be selective, targeting only 13 recruits, which is half of the allowable 25. SNY.com's John Silver writes that many of the Huskies' targets will take part in the upcoming one-day football clinics.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[WR Keyion Dixon Is Huskies' Second Football Commit]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:25:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

Coach Bob Diaco and the UConn football program will only target 13 or so commitments for the 2016 class (the maximum allowed is 25) and they landed their first two in recent days. Keyion Dixon, a wide receiver from Glastonbury, CT became the latest, joining quarterback Donovan Williams (Woodbridge, VA).

Dixon is listed at 6-2, 180 pounds, and also plays defensive back and quarterback but projects as a wideout at UConn. According to the Hartford Courant, Dixon led Glastonbury to the Class LL-Large semifinals, where he opened the game with a 22-yard touchdown run and finished with 87 rushing yards in the loss to Southington.

Dixon, who attended UConn's one-day football camp earlier in the week, also had scholarship offers from Temple and UMass.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Near Consensus on New Rules for Women's Game]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:13:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

Last week, the NCAA announced that it will move from two 20-minute halves to four quarters in the women's game beginning in the fall. And UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who has been a champion for change for some times, couldn't be happier.

"What a great step forward for our game," he said, via the Hartford Courant. "As the game becomes more global, each year it's important that we start the process toward standardizing the rules. This is just the beginning of what I hope are many other changes to improve this great game."

The expectation, according to the NCAA, is that it will enhance the flow of the game.

"Players that possess a high IQ for the game will rise to the forefront," said former LSU coach Pokey Chatman, now with the Chicago Sky. "And the pace of the game will change and coaches will be able to implement much more strategy. We [the United States] are the world leaders of the game and it's nice to see how this all was thought out. It all makes the game world-wide and gets college players better prepared for the next level, while basically staying true to the game."

Another change to be introduced in the fall: teams will reach the double bonus on the fifth foul in each quarter. However, team fouls reset at the start of each quarter.

"I'm curious to see if this will result in any new defensive strategies for coaches," UConn Radio Network analyst and former UConn guard Debbie Fiske told the Courant. "Maybe you will be able to press more, play more aggressively defensively until you see your team is nearly at the limit."

Fiske continued: "And then you can put the pressure back on again because you've essentially been wiped clean of the previous fouls. I don't see UConn being heavily impacted by this simply because it hardly ever fouls. But other teams might feel differently about how they play, especially if they have a deep bench and the confidence to use their fouls over the entire game."

We'll certainly get a better idea just how beneficial these new rules are for upper-echelon teams like the Huskies once the season starts.

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<![CDATA[Purvis Preaching Family at UConn]]> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:09:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+rodney+purvis.jpg

Rodney Purvis arrived in Storrs two summers ago, as a transfer from NC State. But he immediately felt like he fit in with this Huskies teammates because they made sure of it. Purvis didn't forget and now he's doing the same.

"The main thing here is, we just try to preach family," Purvis said Monday, according to the Hartford Courant. "It's not something that we just talk about — we want to show guys. When guys come here on a visit, we don't want any of them to leave feeling uncomfortable, or anything like that. So I just try to get all the guys together, make the recruits feel welcome, just include them in everything we do, whether it's going out to a movie or whatever."

 Purvis is the perfect ambassador for the program, for both prospective student-athletes and incoming freshman. And his message, which was no doubt honed from hearing it from coach Kevin Ollie, is a simple one.

 "First, I'm going to tell them it's hard work," Purvis said. "A whole lot of hard work, and secondly, which is the most important, is growth. It's not going to happen fast. It's going to take you some time, but when it's your time, you're going to be ready; you're going to be prepared for it. There are going to be guys at your position every single day that are just as talented as you. If you want to come somewhere and get better ... you're going to have that opportunity," he told the Courant.

"And if you're a smart guy, and the NBA is what you want to get to, with this coaching staff — I'm not talking down about any program in America, but you've got a [coach] here who played in the NBA, who's young, who still hops in on practices and drills, he's the resource. He can tell you what you need, what they're looking for, what they're not looking for. I mean if the NBA is your goal, then Kevin Ollie is your guy."

Purvis has had plenty of practice in recent weeks; the team added transfers Shonn Miller, Sterling Gibbs and Terry Larrier.

"I just want to make people feel welcome," Purvis told the Courant. "[When a recruit is here] and I see his parents, I walk up to them and introduce myself. That's how I was raised, very family-oriented. So I try to apply that. People respect you for that, always being the first one to walk up and shake hands, not being afraid, not waiting for someone to come to you. Go out there and just speak to people."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kia Nurse Playing With Team Canada This Summer]]> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:03:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP914164763915.jpg

Guard Kia Nurse had a solid freshman season for the Huskies and like the rest of her teammates, she'll spend the summer getting better. Unlike the rest of her teammates, however, she'll do it in her native Canada, where she plays for the national team.

In fact, she'll represent her country in the Pan-American Games next month at the FIBA Americas Championships.

“This is a chance for us to show people in Canada how much we’ve raised our level of play,” Nurse told SNY.com's Carl Adamec last week. “With the World Cup soccer in Edmonton, the Pan-American Games in Toronto, and our Olympic qualifier in Edmonton, it’s a very exciting time.”

Eight countries will play in the games -- Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States in Group A; Argentina, Canada, Cuba, and Venezuela in Group B -- and Nurse's UConn teammates Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson will play for Team USA.

Earlier this month, Nurse and Team Canada wrapped up a six-game trip to Spain and France.

“The trip to Europe was really good for us and it gave us some great experience,” Nurse said. “It was what we needed at this point as we get ready for the Pan-American Games. We played against some top teams, it was an opportunity to play together and bond, and we got better as a team. It was a win-win-win situation.”

The team went 4-2 and Nurse averaged 9.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. And this experience will only make her a better player once the college basketball season returns. After earning 2015 American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors, Nurse met with coach Geno Auriemma about what she needs to work on over the summer.

“It’s a little different when you’re involved with the national team,” she said. “But there are things that I work on every day. I take some time for myself and I can see myself making strides.”

The Huskies will begin the season as defending champions (again) with eyes on a fourth-straight title. Nurse will have a lot to do with just how far this team goes in 2015-16.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Talks 2015 UConn Team]]> Mon, 15 Jun 2015 11:15:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

UConn's second annual football program for women took place on Friday night and with more than 200 participants it was again a sellout. University president Susan Herbst, Women's basketball senior administrator Deb Corum and UConn board of trustees member Andrea Dennis-Lavigne were among those to participate.

"It is a great turnout, everybody is full of energy," second-year football coach Bob Diaco said, via the New Haven Register. "Everybody is on fire, the players are jacked up and the participants are excited.

"I think one thing that is really cool is that when you do things like this, you see people and they are so excited, it can't help but make what you are doing really mean something, what you are doing is really important to people. There is a lot of interest and there is a lot of support especially when it has been lean, there is still this incredible collection of people who are on fire for the athletics, the university, it is fun."

Diaco was also asked about the state of the program, which he took over in December 2013. The Huskies are coming off a two-win season and obviously would like to improve on that mark this season. But Diaco, who is trying to instill a culture of winning insists that he's not weeding out players from the previous regime to reach those goals.

"I don't feel like I did that," Diaco told the Register. "I really don't. I didn't do that, there was some natural circumstances that didn't fit but I didn't intend to do that, I don't intend to do that, it is not what I am about so I can't even go down that road. That speaks to intent and I didn't intend to ever do that."

One player who is no longer part of the program: tight end Sean McQuillan, who faces assault charges after an April arrest involving his roommate.

“Sean will be a graduate of the university and move on,” Diaco said, adding: “[We are] absolutely disappointed. I wish him well and he will do well."

McQuillan would have been a team captain this season.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Talks Coaches Making Jump to NBA]]> Mon, 15 Jun 2015 11:12:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

Every spring, after the basketball season is over, rumors gain steam about Huskies coach Kevin Ollie jumping to the NBA. And every spring, Ollie shoots down those rumors and remains in Storrs.

Whether that changes in the future is another matter, but two of Ollie's counterparts in the college game made the jump in recent months, which is great news for them and bad news for the fan bases they left behind. But Ollie has all the confidence in the world that Billy Donovan and Fred Hoiberg, formerly of Florida and Iowa State and now leading the Oklahoma Thunder and Chicago Bulls, will have success at the sport's highest level.

"They're going to be wonderful [NBA] coaches," Ollie said over the weekend, via the Hartford Courant. "They've come into two great situations, great organizations. I know the Oklahoma City Thunder organization very well and I know the Chicago Bulls organization very well because I played for both of them. They've got great ties, great backing and they're outstanding coaches. They're going to relate to their players on a different level, bring something great, bring some energy."

Ollie, who spent 13 seasons in the NBA as a player, knows the league well.

"Newness is good sometimes," he said. "The coaches they replaced are great coaches, too. Scott Brooks and Thibodeau are among the top of the line, and they're going to get jobs real quick. They're not going to be retired very long."

But at the end of the day, Ollie explained, coaching is coaching. Whether it's middle school or in the best league on the planet.

"You've got to relate to your players," he said. "You've got to get them to play for you. I just think that communication is so key — you've got to let them be a part of the process. You can't simply go in there demanding your way is right. You have to let them feel part of the process and get the communication lines and keep those open.

"It's a little bit different [in college] because we have a lot of demands on them, with academics. Going up to the pros, these guys make more money than you and they've got guaranteed contracts, so it's a different ballgame and you've got to really relate to them on a different level. I think Billy's going to do that, Fred's going to do that and they've got the backing of their organization, which is a real key. Everybody has to be aligned."

That's also Ollie's plans for the Huskies, who struggled last year after winning the national title in 2014.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hartley Preparing for 2nd WNBA Season]]> Fri, 12 Jun 2015 10:31:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bria-hartley-aac.jpg

Bria Hartley was a key cog in two of the last three UConn national titles. She took her game to the WNBA last spring and now with a season under her belt she's eager to get back to work with the Washington Mystics, where her former Huskies former teammate Stefanie Dolson also plays.

One problem: Hartley opened Year 2 on crutches because of a stress reaction in her right foot.

"She began feeling it in training camp," Mystics coach Mike Thibault said, via the Hartford Courant. "She said it didn't feel 'normal' sore.' But this will not set her back too far. There is a certain calm about her as a second-year player, that makes a big difference. There's a presence about her right now."

If it sounds familiar, it should. Hartley improved every season during college and it would surprise no one if her professional career took an expedited path. She averaged 9.7 points per game last season, including a 26-point effort against Seattle, the team that originally drafted her. But a draft-day trade to Washington reunited her with Dolson.

"If possible, we actually grew closer to each other through it all," Hartley said of Dolson. "We've known each other for a very long time and being teammates in the WNBA just enabled us to strengthen the bond. We are so used to having each other around."

To help with the transition from her first and second WNBA seasons, Hartley played in Hungary during the offseason. Off the court, the experience was trying, but Hartley called the adventure "a good experience."

"At first being away from home was difficult," she told the Courant. "It is for just about everyone who does it," Hartley said. "When I played for Connecticut, my home was two hours away. I could go home anytime I wanted. When you are in Hungary, it's not like you can go to Long Island when you have a free weekend.

"And the language barrier was often difficult when you went out shopping or to eat. You're there with the translator trying to figure certain things out. But once you get adjusted, get into a routine, it wasn't too bad."

But just like here in the States, winning can fix a lot.

"It was a very good experience for me," Hartley continued. "You can't get any better than that; your first experience overseas and you win a championship. I had great teammates."

Next up: Helping the Mystics do the same this season.

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<![CDATA[Report: UConn to Play Nebraska in 2015]]> Fri, 12 Jun 2015 10:31:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

The three-time defending champion UConn Huskies will host Nebraska next season in Lincoln with the Cornhuskers returning the favor in 2016, according to HuskersToday.com, which reported that Nebraska coach Connie Yori released the news on Wednesday.

According to Yori, this two-game series was a request from the Huskies. UConn played in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and Elite Eight game in Lincoln in 2014 that apparently left enough of an impression on Huskies’ coach Geno Auriemma that he’s willing to come back.

After the win in the Elite Eight, he took the microphone to thank the City of Lincoln and the University of Nebraska for an “incredible experience.” Auriemma also mentioned how he had been told how amazing the facilities and the people were and that if he had anything to do with it, he and the team would be back.

Yori indicated the same thing during an interview about the two-game series. She felt Auriemma and the UConn administration walked away from Lincoln impressed with the support shown by the fans.

Also not hurting: The Huskers draw a crowd during the regular season where they averaged 5,857 per game last season, good for 11th nationally. (UConn was No. 6 with 8,216 per game.)

 The UConn-Nebraska game is slated for November though a date and time have yet to be determined. The teams have faced off just once previously, back in 1997, with the Huskies winning 71-61.

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<![CDATA[Diaco Embraces Contrived 'Civil Conflict' Rivalry]]> Tue, 09 Jun 2015 09:44:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+pumped.jpg

The UConn football program drew criticism last week for it's contrived "Civil Conflict" matchup against University of Central Florida next season. Among other things, there is no historical or geographical rivalry between the two teams, and not only that, UCF says it wasn't even informed of said contrived matchup.

On Monday, second-year UConn coach Bob Diaco explained that not only was the rivalry his idea, he has no plans to give up on it.

“Why do I have to call their athletic department to say we’ve got them targeted as our rival, period,” Diaco said on a Monday morning conference call, via the Associated Press. “What control over that would they have and what do I care what they think? … If they don’t want to honor our rivalry, we’re not their rival, that’s on them. I don’t control what they want. If they don’t want to be a part of the trophy, I don’t care about that, either. They don’t like the logo … the logo is a university logo. And I took the logo off our marketing.”

Last week, UCF coach George O'Leary expressed the same confusion as many fans.

"My experience is you're more likely to have a rivalry against a team closer to where you live," he said. "When you go 10 states away, I think it's hard."

A UConn spokesperson explained that "Civil Conflict" was chosen because UCF is one of the most southern AAC teams while the Huskies are the most northern. Whatever the reason, Diaco likes it.

"For us it's exciting and I think it's fun," he said. "If you embrace it, you embrace it. If you don't, you don't. There was nothing before, so if you don't embrace it there would still be nothing. And if you do, even a little bit, it's more energetic and exciting."



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[NCAA Adopts 4 Quarters for Women's Game]]> Tue, 09 Jun 2015 09:41:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP993505883306.jpg

When the UConn women take the floor next season they will play four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves.

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee, which initially recommended the rule change, believes the four-quarter format will enhance the flow of the game. The change also was endorsed by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Board of Directors.

Huskies coach Geno Auriemma fully embraces the change. Here's what he said last month when the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee proposed and recommended the move to four quarters.

“What a great step forward for our game,” he said in a statement. “As the game becomes more global each year, it’s important that we start the process toward standardizing the rules. This is just the beginning of what I hope are many other changes to improve this great game.”

And here's what Michael Shafer, chair of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee and women’s basketball coach at the University of Richmond, said at the time about how the change would improve the game.

“The rules committee is very excited about the change to the four-quarter format for the 2015-16 season,”Shafer said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “We believe this change, along with the associated changes to the timeout and foul rules, will address flow of the game and physicality. The overall format will strengthen the connection of college basketball with women’s basketball globally.”

Other changes in the women's game:

* Teams will reach the bonus and shoot two free throws on the fifth team foul in each quarter. Previously, team's shot one-and-ones after the seventh team foul and two free throws after the 10th team foul in each half.

* Now "bands or amplified music" can be played during dead-ball situations "in an effort to improve the overall fan experience."

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<![CDATA[TE McQuillan Appeals School Expulsion]]> Tue, 09 Jun 2015 09:22:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football+sean+mcquillan.jpg

Former UConn tight end Sean McQuillan, who was kicked off the team and expelled from school following an off-campus fight in April, is waiting for an appeal from the university regarding his expulsion.

“It is one of these evolving private situations between Sean, his family and the courts and the university,” UConn football coach Bob Diaco said to media Monday, via SNY.com's John Sliver. “I am clued in because they have tried to keep me in the loop but I am more clued into the university process because we are working together.

“We are in an appeals process with the school, he is not presently allowed to be a student right now. He is in an appeals process to see how that is going to move forward. That shouldn’t take too much longer.”

Silver adds that McQuillan will be in Rockville Superior Court on Tuesday to face charges on an alleged assault in May, and in addition to the university appeal, he'll have to contend with the felony assault charge.

On the field, the Huskies have Tommy Myers and Alec Bloom on the depth chart. Last season, McQuillan caught 16 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. In 2013, he had 25 receptions for 196 yards and a score.

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<![CDATA[Point Guard Molly Bent Commits to UConn]]> Mon, 08 Jun 2015 10:51:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-nat-champs.jpg

The Huskies have won three straight national titles and their incoming freshman class is probably good enough to be ranked in the top 25. Given that success breeds success -- and coach Geno Auriemma certainly has a lot to do with that -- it only stands to reason that UConn's 2016 recruiting class has the makings of a formidable group.

The latest: Molly Bent committed to the program on Thursday, becoming the third player to do so after Crystal Dangerfield and forward Kyla Irwin.

The 5-9 point guard from Tabor Academy and Barnstable, Massachusetts made an official visit on Wednesday and apparently saw enough to make up her mind a short time later.

“That’s what I told them,” Bent told SNY.com's Carl Adamec on Friday. “From what they told me, one of the coaches was walking by and there was something that I did in my game that caught their eye. They watched a little bit and then (assistant coach) Shea Ralph got in touch with my AAU coach. I was so excited.

“I was on campus Wednesday and I loved every minute. I knew right away. It just felt like home. I loved the coaches and the players, the family atmosphere, and just the basketball culture. Academics are also very important to me so that’s something I wanted to check out.

“I got home and I decided to sleep on it. I talked to my family and then I told Coach Auriemma. Then today all my friends found out. I’m really, really happy.”

Bent will make her debut months after Moriah Jefferson has wrapped up her Huskies career, which could mean more playing time early.

I love to pass the ball and find the open players, I love to run and I love to compete,” Bent said. “I may not be the tallest or the quickest, or the most athletic, but I will compete. And I’ll knock down a shot when my team needs me to.”

Meanwhile, UConn's 2015 class includes Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and De’Janae Boykin, who are all top-10 players. There's also Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

 

Put differently: When Bent arrives on campus there's no reason to think the Huskies won't remain one of the best programs in the country.

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<![CDATA[Calhoun Not a Fan of Transfer Rule]]> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 09:28:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jim-calhoun-be-careful.jpg

UConn may have been the beneficiary of three transfer players in recent weeks but Hall of Famer and former Huskies coach Jim Calhoun doesn't think the ever-growing wave of transfers is good for college basketball.

"I'm not a transfer guy," Calhoun said Tuesday night, according to the New Haven Register. It's a different age, and everybody has to do it, I think. But honestly, overall -- it's got nothing to do with UConn or anybody right now -- it's got to do with the sport. I just don't know ... it's not great for the sport. One-and-done is not particularly great, but a kid comes, is great and leaves, it's understandable."

Calhoun's comments come days after he addressed concerns that the college game had become bogged down by physical play and low scoring.

"There are questions: Bringing the 3-point line out, widening the lane, putting the arc in there and, quite frankly, the one-and-done's and, at the other end, we've got to make sure that, if you transfer, you've got to sit out," Calhoun continued. "I think that would change a lot of people's mind about things. Yet, if I'm sitting in that seat today, and I'm thinking about the fact that I've got to fill roster spots, I've got to fill them. So, it's not UConn, it's not anybody. ...

"Our team might be close to 50 percent this year -- (Sam) Cassell, (Rodney) Purvis, the three other kids ... I will embrace those kids. I think I met the (Sterling) Gibbs kid when we were recruiting him, actually .I've met the (Shonn) Miller kid and (Terry) Larrier -- I'll welcome to the Husky family and hope that they're accepted well, and so on. But the more and more I get a chance to go different places nationally, it will affect the game."

But Calhoun made clear that he wasn't singling out the Huskies, but speaking in broader terms about the state of the game.

"I'm not mentioning Kevin (Ollie)," he said. "You take it that way, then it's Coach Calhoun is knocking UConn. Of course I"m not doing that. I said, if Jim Calhoun was sitting at this seat today, and recruiting hadn't gone quite as well as I wanted to and could get two fifth-year, all-league players? No-brainer."

Still, Calhoun thinks the men's game is strong.

"People are saying the game's in a mess. It isn't," he said over the weekend. "It's still being taken care of by great athletes. But there are still ways to improve our game. There are ways to speed it up and to open the floor up."

And, to hear Calhoun tell it, ways to clean up the transfer rule.

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<![CDATA[UConn's 'Rivalry' With UCF Draws Criticism]]> Tue, 02 Jun 2015 11:12:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

The UConn football team is taking some heat for its contrived rivalry with UCF and understandably so. The two schools are separated by 1,200 miles and little football history. And yet the Huskies' tweeted this out on Monday:

But the rivalry is so secretive that not even Central Florida knew about it (or at least wasn't willing to admit so publicly).

Of course, this led to the predictable backlash on Twitter and in the blogosphere, but there is an explanation (of sorts). SNY.com's John Silver explains:

"When UConn beat UCF — the team that won the Fiesta Bowl a year prior — [last] season UConn head coach Bob Diaco pitched an idea about a rivalry game to UCF coach George O’Leary, who was receptive to the idea. ...

"UConn and UCF’s athletic departments have had no discussions about making the game a rivalry game. UCF responded to a request for comment on Monday denying being a part of the game. UConn hasn’t approached UCF’s athletic department about an official rivalry game.

"The game also isn’t sanctioned by UConn’s communications or marketing departments. It was generated by Diaco and the football staff alone.

So, yes, this is clearly an attempt to manufacture some interest in what has been an otherwise lackluster college football experience. The best way to do that is by fielding a good team, which is Diaco's primary goal, but to also create interest where there previously wasn't any. The problem: It's hard to get hyped for a game between two middling FBS programs with nothing in common.

That said, whichever team is victorious in the "Civil Conflict" this fall will get a fancy trophy. So there's that.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Officially Welcomes 3 Transfers]]> Tue, 02 Jun 2015 11:12:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

The Huskies made it official on Monday: transfers Shonn Miller, Sterling Gibbs and Terry Larrier will all play for UConn next season, which is welcome news for just about anyone with a rooting interest in a program that struggled at times during the 2014-15 season.

"We are excited to welcome the new student-athletes to our UConn family," coach Kevin Ollie said in a statement. "Along with being high quality players, they are young men of high character who also bring a level of maturity and experience with them. We are looking forward to having them with us as we head into the upcoming season."

The 6-7 Miller, who will be a graduate student for the 2015-16 season, previously played at Cornell, where he averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds last season.

"Shonn's explosiveness and his versatility, being able to play multiple positions, will be a big factor for us," Ollie said. "He rebounded at a high rate last year in the Ivy League and we all think that can translate to any league. Plus, he has the shooting ability to be able to score from different areas of the court.

Gibbs, a 6-2 combo guard who played at Seton Hall, averaged 16.7 points per game last season to go along with 3.8 assists. He also led the Big East in three-point shooting percentage (45).

"Both Shonn and Sterling are coming in to improve, too, both defensively and offensively. Hopefully, we can add to the game they already have, give them hope and encouragement so they can play after they leave Storrs," Ollie said.

Then there's Larrier. In his only season with VCU, he averaged 6.6 points and 3.0 rebounds and 18.5 minutes per game.

"Terry will add something that we talk about all the time -- versatility," Ollie continued. "It allows us to bring in a guy who will practice against our guys every day and be able simulate the length and athletic ability that they are going to see in real games.

"But we also want him to come in and not just look at it as a transitional year, but look at it as a year in which he will improve and then be ready to go when those curtains open in the 2016-17 season. I want him to look at leadership, being part of the team. Of course, he's not going to play in the games this year, but I want him to have the mindset that he's playing 35 minutes every night, so he'll get prepared for what's going to come when he gets his opportunity to step on the court in a Husky jersey on for the first time."

The three transfers will join a recruiting class that includes incoming freshman point guard Jalen Adams and big man Steven Enoch.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Husky Signs With Alouettes]]> Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:34:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

Defensive end Jesse Joseph last played for UConn during the 2013 season. He had a tryout with the Bears last summer, nothing came of it, and that appeared to be the end of his professional football dream.

Then last week, the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, who originally drafted Joseph in the third round of the 2013 draft, announced that they had signed him along with two other players, offensive lineman Jacob Ruby as well as linebacker Nicholas Shortill.

From the Alouettes' website:

Joseph (6'3", 262 lbs.) was drafted in the third round (21st overall) by the Alouettes in 2013 Canadian CFL Draft. He played 37 career-games in four seasons with the University of Connecticut Huskies, recording 118 tackles and 13 sacks. His most dominant performance came against North Carolina on September 8, 2012 where he picked-up eight tackles in a single game. He completed his senior year in 2013 with 40 tackles, including six for losses and a sack. The former Vanier Cheetah participated in the Chicago Bears rookie mini-camp in 2014.

Joseph is a Quebec native, and like former teammate, center Alex Mateas, he's now in the CFL. (One big difference: Mateas was the first-overall pick in the 2015 draft.) Then there's running back Lyle McCombs, who played with Joseph and Mateas at UConn before transferring to Rhode Island; he was signed last month by the Toronto Argonauts.

And now Joseph joins a Montreal team that includes another Husky: Teddy Jennings who, as the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller writes, "tore it up as a rookie in the Arena Football League recording 11 sacks in 15 games."

More from Fuller: "Veteran long snapper Martin Bedard gives the Alouettes three UConn grads on its current roster. By my count there are six former UConn standouts in camp with CFL teams as receiver Kashif Moore and running back Lyle McCombs are attempting to stick with the Toronto Argonauts and Alex Mateas was taken by Ottawa..."

Meanwhile, two players from the 2014 Huskies squad -- Byron Jones and Geremy Davis --  were taken in May's NFL Draft. Jones was a first-round pick of the Cowboys while Davis went in the sixth round to the Giants.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Calhoun Talks State of Game]]> Mon, 01 Jun 2015 10:06:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/53015+Jim+Calhoun+ride.jpg

Jim Calhoun may be 73 and three years removed from coaching the Huskies, but he's the same energetic outspoken coach that led the Huskies to three national titles during his quarter-century run. We again saw glimpses of that over the weekend at his annual Jim Calhoun Ride and Walk for Life Saving Research and Care fundraiser.

On the proposal to reduce the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds: "The rules will help. The lane has to be wider. We don't want the middle of the lane clogged," he said, via the Hartford Courant. "Basketball, all sports really, are like a good flower. You've got to fertilize it, you've got to water it, for it to grow. You've got to take care of it. Five years from now, we'll still be doing the same thing. I'm not sure what, but we'll be looking at different things [to change]," said Calhoun, who noted all pro sports have been evolving for decades. Forty years ago, there was [college] recruiting 365 days a year, and there was no shot clock."

On the importance of teaching his players the value of giving back: "I think what happens in life is that if you're fortunate enough to get a microphone [being in the public eye], whether you're a Ray Allen or a Scott Burrell, you are able to utilize any of our programs to help out. They all extend out to help others. What you get is people will listen to you. It's a true responsibility. The more you reach out to people, the more they reach out to you."

As for the contention that the college game has become bogged down in physical play and low scoring, Calhoun disagrees.

"People are saying the game's in a mess. It isn't," he said. "It's still being taken care of by great athletes. But there are still ways to improve our game. There are ways to speed it up and to open the floor up."



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[VCU's Terry Larrier Transfers to UConn]]> Fri, 29 May 2015 14:00:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

It's not the conventional recruiting path, but adding transfer students has become an important roster-building tool for the Huskies in recent years. The latest: Former Virginia Commonwealth wing player Terry Larrier is headed to Storrs where he will be eligible for the 2016-17 season.

"It was my relationship with Kevin Ollie [that made the difference]," Larrier told Scout.com's Evan Daniels. "He recruited me in high school and our relationship is real good. He's just a good dude, a stand-up dude. We talk all the time. I think he's done a good job with the UConn program."

Coming out of high school, Larrier's choices were down to UConn and VCU, and after a year in Richmond -- and following coach Shaka Smart's departure to Texas -- Larrier is now joining the Huskies. In his only season with VCU, Larrier averaged 6.6 points and 3.0 rebounds and 18.5 minutes per game. It's similar to the path Rodney Purvis took to becoming a Husky. Originally one of his finalists, Purvis enrolled at NC State over UConn only to transfer after his freshman season.

Larrier joins Mamadou Diarra in the Huskies' class of 2016. Diarra is a 6-8 power forward who committed to the program last week.

Larrier and Diarra will arrive in Storrs a year after Jalen Adams and Steve Enoch, who will be freshmen this fall. But the Huskies will only have transfers Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs for the '15-16 season, which means there will be plenty of scholarships available in 2016.

As for next season, which will be the Huskies' first without Ryan Boatright, Ollie said this to the Hartford Courant: "It's going to be interesting. A lot of guys who can put the ball in the hole, and I think a lot of hungry guys. Everybody felt bad Selection Sunday when our name wasn't called and took that pain into the offseason."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Men's Basketball Team Earn Perfect APR Scores]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 10:59:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

It wasn't that long ago that the men's basketball team was banned from postseason play because of low APR scores. On Wednesday, the program was one of 12 university sports that posted perfect 1000 Academic Progress Rate scores during the 2013-14 academic year.

It was the second straight perfect score for Kevin Ollie's team. The women weren't far behind, posting an APR score of 975 to go along with a four-year score of 982.

"Our men's and women's basketball programs have shown the country that you can win multiple national championships and have outstanding academic success," Director of Athletics Warde Manuel said in a statement. "I want to commend head coaches Kevin Ollie and Geno Auriemma and their staffs for the outstanding work that they have done supporting their young men and women."

The 12 other Huskies teams with perfect APR scores in 2013-14: women's cross country, field hockey, men's golf, men's ice hockey, women's ice hockey, women's lacrosse, men's soccer, women's soccer, men's swimming and diving, women's swimming and diving, men's tennis and women's tennis.

And four teams had perfect four-year APR scores: field hockey, men's golf, men's tennis and women's tennis.

"All of our student-athletes in each of our 24 sports are committed to excellence in both academics and athletics," said Manuel. "I want to recognize all of them for the outstanding dedication that they show in the classroom each and every day at one of the most highly competitive universities in the country."

"I also want to acknowledge the outstanding faculty at the University and the dedication of our staff of the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletes. They care deeply about the success of our student and are committed to helping them gain success in the classroom."

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<![CDATA[AAC Updates 2015 Football Schedule]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 10:43:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

The 2015 football season is some three months away, and on Wednesday the American Athletic Conference announced schedule updates for the new 12-team, two-division format. The start time and associated television networks are below (all times are Eastern, UConn games are in bold):

Thurs., Sept. 3: Villanova at Connecticut – 7:30 p.m., ESPN3/SNY
Fri., Sept. 4: Baylor at SMU – 7 p.m., ESPN
Sat., Sept. 5: Florida A&M at South Florida – 7 p.m., ESPN3
Alabama A&M at Cincinnati – 7 p.m., ESPN3
Towson at East Carolina – 6 p.m., ESPN3
Tennessee Tech at Houston – 8 p.m., ESPN3
Missouri State at Memphis – 7 p.m., ESPN3
Sat., Sept. 19: Furman at Central Florida – 6 p.m., ESPN3
Maine at Tulane – 8 p.m., ESPN3
Sat., Sept. 26: James Madison at SMU – 7 p.m., ESPN3
Fri., Oct. 2: Memphis at South Florida – 7 p.m., ESPN2
Thurs., Oct. 8: SMU at Houston – 8 p.m., ESPN2
Fri., Oct. 16: Houston at Tulane – 9 p.m, ESPNU
Thurs., Oct. 22: Temple at East Carolina – 7 p.m., ESPN2
Fri., Oct. 23: Memphis at Tulsa – 8 p.m., ESPN
Fri., Oct. 30: East Carolina at Connecticut – 7 p.m., ESPNU
Fri., Nov. 6: Temple at SMU – 8 p.m., ESPN2
Thurs., Nov. 19: East Carolina at Central Florida – 7:30 p.m., ESPN

The 2015 season is obviously an important one for second-year coach Bob Diaco, who will be looking to build on his inaugural two-win campaign, and more importantly, continue the process of rebuilding a program that has floundered in recent years. UConn kicks things off against Villanova on Sept. 3. You can view the entire schedule here.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Foxx Gets Chance With Seahawks]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 11:45:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/deshon-foxx-2013.jpg

In the weeks leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, only one player from UConn garnered any attention: Byron Jones, the cornerback who was eventually selected in the first round by the Cowboys. But he wasn't the only former Husky to impress an NFL team.

Wide receiver Geremy Davis was a late-round pick of the Giants, and Deshon Foxx, a pass catcher and returner with speed to burn, caught the eye of the Seahawks after he didn't hear his name called during the three-day draft earlier his month.

In fact, 20 minutes after the draft concluded, the Seahawks called Foxx to invite him for a workout, which coincided with his graduation ceremony at UConn.

“I wasn’t able to walk,” Foxx told SNY.com's John Silver last week. “I graduated during practice. I was happy. I told my mom it might be a possibility. She said that was the only way she would be OK with it, if I am not walking.”

Foxx wasn't offered a contract, but the Seahawks told him to stay ready. And they weren't kidding. A week later, the team called again, and this time they signed Foxx to a deal.

“There is nothing more I can ask,” he said. “The NFL is a tough place to be. There is opportunity in Seattle and I was able to have a good mini camp and they called me back. ...“It is a blessing. The coaches were up here, they love each other and it’s a family.

“Hopefully I can make the roster. That’s what I am looking for now.”

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<![CDATA[Mamadou Diarra Commits to UConn]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 11:39:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

When it comes to recruiting, it's been a good few weeks for the Huskies. On Friday, prep star Mamadou Diarra committed to UConn. The 6-8 power forward is Kevin Ollie's first commit for the class of 2016.

Details of how Diarra made his way onto UConn's radar via the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore:

UConn had become very interested in one of Diarra's teammates, guard Hamidou Diallo, but associate head coach Glen Miller, who works with the program's big men, spotted Diarra and had coach Kevin Ollie take a look. When Diarra went to the Huskies' game against Memphis on March 5, he was struck by Ollie's handling of players. When he returned for a visit in April, and played with some of the current players, Ollie saw enough and made him an offer he would not refuse.

"I feel like when [Ollie] tells you something, he means it," Diarra told the Courant. "He loves all his players. I believe that. … You see so many players transferring now; I don't want to be one of them."

Diarra would join Jalen Adams and Steve Enoch, who will be freshmen this fall, but the Huskies will only have transfers Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs for one season, which means there will be plenty of scholarships available in 2016. Amore writes that the Huskies have also been watching 6-8 Terry Larrier, who is transferring from VCU after his freshman season. Two years ago, Larrier chose VCU over UConn but with coach Shaka Smart leaving for Texas, Larrier will transfer. According to CBSSports.com, it's down to UConn and Maryland.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Excited About New Faces]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 10:54:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

Kevin Ollie's Huskies went through a lot last season, most of which had to do with overcoming the loss of key players Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey and DeAndre Daniels. In the end, Ryan Boatright couldn't carry the load himself, and youth and inexperience proved to be too much.

Now, some two months after UConn's season ended, the team already appears to be in better shape. Boatright is gone, but freshman standout point guard Jalen Adams is on the way, as is Seton Hall transfer Sterling Gibbs, who scored averaged 16.7 points per game last season to go along with 3.8 assists. He also led the Big East in three-point shooting percentage (45). There's also Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year Steven Enoch and Cornell transfer Shonn Miller.

Not surprisingly, Ollie likes how the roster is taking shape.

"I like the experience we have, especially with our young guys working very, very hard," the coach said Tuesday, via the Hartford Courant. "I like the new additions. I think we've got a very deep team, and guys are going to challenge each other every day in practice. That's what we want, that breeds success when everybody's competitive for minutes. ...

"It's going to be interesting," Ollie continued. "A of guys who can put the ball in the hole, and I think a lot of hungry guys. Everybody felt bad Selection Sunday when our name wasn't called and took that pain into the offseason."

Ollie, who was speaking at the Open Hearth's annual Overcomer Breakfast in Harford, also addressed the annual speculation about him leaving for an NBA job.

"I want to be your head basketball coach for a long, long time," he said. "Everybody's got these [theories]: I'm going here. I'm going there. ... I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere, because my family's first, and you guys are my family."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Crozier Named to Remington Watch List]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 10:51:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

Earlier this month former UConn center Alex Mateas was the first overall pick in the CFL Draft. On Tuesday, the Huskies were celebrating sophomore center Ryan Crozier's selection to the Remington Watch List, which is awarded every season to the best center in college football.

Details via the press release:

Crozier played ten games last year as a true freshman on the offensive -- starting the final three at left guard. He was moved to the center position during 2015 spring practice.

Since its inception, the Remington Trophy has raised over $2.6 million for the cystic fibrosis community. The award is overseen by the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which is committed to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis and has raised over $115 million for CF Research.

Dave Remington, the award's namesake, was a consensus first-team All-America center at Nebraska in 1981 and 1982, during which time he became the Outland Trophy's only double winner as the nation's finest college interior lineman.

Crozier played tackle and guard in at national powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas HS. He helped the squad to a 10-3 record in 2013, including the top spot in the 7A District 15 standings. As a junior and senior, named Class 7A All-State second team.

Crozier is the only true sophomore to make the watch list.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Jefferson Excited About Representing USA]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 10:52:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP944992913622.jpg

Moriah Jefferson has quietly become one of the most dangerous players in the college game. Often, most of the attention is paid to Breanna Stewart, but Jefferson is the engine that makes that offense run smoothly. And now she's representing her country as part of the United States Pan-American Games, an honor, despite all the success, she's not taking for granted.

“I’m really happy to make the team and represent my country again,” Jefferson said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I’m looking forward to playing in the Pan-Am Games and playing with Stewie again. Playing with her is always exciting and always fun and it’s the third time in the last four summers that I’ve been able to do it.”

In addition to Stewart, Jefferson got to watch some of UConn's incoming freshman; Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier were recently named to U-19 national team that will play in the world championships later this summer.

“It looked like they were doing some real good things,” Jefferson said. “Katie Lou was knocking down shots and Napheesa and De’Janae (Boykin) were aggressive going for the ball. It already seems like they play really well together.”

It's hardly surprising that the Huskies will be prohibitive favorites to win their fourth straight national title next season.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gibbs Expects Huskies to Be Good in 2015-16]]> Mon, 18 May 2015 10:50:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

The Huskies will be a completely different team in 2015-16. Gone are Ryan Boatright (graduation) and Terrence Samuel (transfer), and in their places are incoming freshmen Jalen Adams and Steve Enoch, and transfers Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs.

Of the group, the explosive Adams has the most upside while Gibbs, who announced he was coming to UConn over the weekend, offers a proven track record after stops at Texas and Seton Hall.

With Boatright's departure comes a void at the point-guard position, one both Gibbs and Adams could fill.

"I'm a point guard, 100-percent," Gibbs said, via the New Haven Register. "I can score the ball, and the fact that I'm able to score, sometimes people may try to say, 'He's a combo, a two-guard.' But I'm a point guard who can score, and at the same I'm I'm able to get my teammates involved."

Gibbs averaged 16.7 points per game last season to go along with 3.8 assists. He also led the Big East in three-point shooting percentage (45).

Gibbs also has high hopes for what UConn can do in 2015-16, after a disappointing effort last season.

"I think UConn can be really good," he said. The sky's the limit. It's not like anything's gonna be given to us. I know Coach Ollie's gonna push us to the limit, make sure we all jell together as one family, as a brotherhood."

It also doesn't hurt to play for a program that has a proven track record when it comes to churning out NBA-ready guards.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to come into a veteran team with a great coach and have the chance to make an impact,” Gibbs told SNY.tv. “The tradition of UConn and their guards speaks for itself.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sterling Gibbs Is Transferring to UConn]]> Mon, 18 May 2015 11:08:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP463092600188.jpg

Sterling Gibbs made it official over the weekend: He's headed to UConn. The former Seton Hall standout announced that he's transferring to play for Kevin Ollie and the Huskies, a move that gives a young UConn depth depth, experience and a scorer.

The 6-2 combo guard averaged 16.7 points per game last season to go along with 3.8 assists. He also led the Big East in three-point shooting percentage (45).

 So why did Gibbs settle on UConn?

 "Overall, the coaches," he said, via the New Haven Register's David Borges. "It's a great coaching staff, great players, a seasoned team. Everything Coach Ollie has dealt with as far as guards. It's a UConn tradition, everything their guards have done throughout the years."

 "My favorite player has always been Marcus Williams. I used to watch all his games, even when he was on the Nets. The way he dished the ball and was also able to score a little bit. And, of course, Kemba (Walker) and Shabazz (Napier).

 Gibbs began his college career at Texas before transferring to Seton Hall. Last season was a rocky one for Seton Hall; the Pirated finished 16-15, the locker room was reportedly unsettled, and Gibbs was suspended two games for hitting Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono in the face with his forearm. 

Gibbs will join 6-7 Shonn Miller as the Huskies' second transfer this offseason. Miller played previously at Cornell, and he will also use his fifth year of eligibility in Storrs.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Proposal: Make Women's Game 4 Quarters]]> Mon, 18 May 2015 10:43:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-nat-champs.jpg

On Friday, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee proposed and recommended that instead of two 20-minute halves, the women's game move to four 10-minute quarters. UConn coach Geno Auriemma has been a proponent of the change and, not surprisingly, he's happy it's being discussed seriously.

“What a great step forward for our game,” Auriemma said in a statement, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “As the game becomes more global each year, it’s important that we start the process toward standardizing the rules. This is just the beginning of what I hope are many other changes to improve this great game.”

Nothing's official until it's approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will convene via conference call on June 8. Still, it's a step in the right direction, one that could make the game better.

The rules committee is very excited about the change to the four-quarter format for the 2015-16 season,” said University of Richmond coach Michael Shafer, who is also the chair of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee. “We believe this change, along with the associated changes to the timeout and foul rules, will address flow of the game and physicality. The overall format will strengthen the connection of college basketball with women’s basketball globally.”

In the new format, team fouls would be reset to zero at the beginning of each quarter (currently, it's reset to zero at the beginning of each half).

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<![CDATA[Boatright Looking to Impress at NBA Combine]]> Fri, 15 May 2015 10:25:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn-Cincinnati-Boatright.jpg

Ryan Boatright is the latest in a long line of outstanding point guards to make their way through UConn. Whether he can make the transition to the NBA -- like Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier most recently -- is the biggest question facing the diminutive playmaker.

It was a concern for scouts during Boatright's senior season and remains so as Boatright showcases his talents at the NBA combine in Chicago this week.  On Thursday, he scored 12 points and added two assists, a steal and a block in 25 minutes.

"I thought I played good for the minutes I played," he said, via the Hartford Courant. "I could have improved on the turnovers. I had two careless turnovers (three total). But overall I think we played good."

Boatright measured 5-10, 170 pounds at the combine, which is a shade under his the 6-0, 175 UConn had him at last season. Of course, being undersized won't matter if Boatright can convince NBA scouts, coaches and front-office execs that he can play. Which has been the plan all along.

"I think everybody knows I can score, everybody knows I can handle the ball," Boatright said. "I think the biggest question of NBA teams was that I was too small. I am showing that I can hold my own. And I am not even at the weight right now that I was during the season [he says he played at 152]. I am just proving that I'm not too small.

"I think I need to put on some weight. If I can put on some weight, it will make my game a lot easier and I won't get knocked off my spot as much. I can slow down a little more. There is always room for improvement. My jump shot, my ball-handling, there is always room for improvement."

One person who doesn't need convincing: Michigan St. coach Tom Izzo, who saw plenty of Boatright during the point guard's career.

"We played [UConn] the year before and they beat us," said Izzo, who was in attendance at the combine. "[Boatright] was unbelievable. He played so hard, he played well. He was so good defensively. Kevin [Ollie] did a great job with that team. Boatright played well against us, I can just tell you that. He played so good defensively it was scary."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Former Husky McCombs Signs With Argos]]> Fri, 15 May 2015 10:22:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/lyle-mccombs-michigan.jpg

Earlier this week, former UConn center Alex Mateas was the first overall pick in the 2015 CFL Draft. And now Mateas will be joined in the league by a former Huskies teammate: running back Lyle McCombs has signed with the Toronto Argonauts.

McCombs, who rushed for 1,115 yards as a UConn freshman, left the football program last June as the fourth-leading rusher in school history (2,681 yards). He also has 11 career 100-yard rushing games. New coach Bob Diaco made the decision to move on from McCombs, who played his final college season at Rhode Island, an FBS school. There he rushed for 663 yards (4.8 YPC) and scored five touchdowns.

Back in June 2014, Diaco said that McCombs, who was the centerpiece of the Huskies' offense for his first two seasons, had "not met the expectations set forth by the group and for that he won't be moving forward with us."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Recruit Boykin Taking Part in USA U-19 Trials]]> Wed, 13 May 2015 09:31:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-nat-champs.jpg

Katie Lou Samuelson is the biggest name in a stacked 2015 incoming freshman class, and she has garnered most of the attention, but there are a group of playmakers headed to Storrs who will have a big role in helping the Huskies to their fourth straight national title.

And that brings us to De’Janae Boykin, the 6-2 forward who is currently taking part in USA Basketball’s U-19 national team trials in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I have to show the selection committee that I’m a versatile player, that I can play inside and outside and I’ll play hard wherever they put me,” Boykin told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “That’s what I’ve done before and I’m going to stick with that. I’ll do anything they want me to do. It’s an opportunity to make another national team and that’s exciting.”

Not surprisingly, Boykin won't be the only player in attendance with ties to UConn. She'll be joined by rising sophomore Gabby Williams, along with incoming freshmen Napheesa Collier and -- yep, you guessed it -- Samuelson, and 2016 UConn commitment Crystal Dangerfield.

Boykin played in just six games as a high school senior because of a wrist injury and now she'll go up against older, more experienced players.

“I didn’t get to play a lot during my high school season and right now I’m excited to be healthy and back out there,” Boykin said. “It’s going to be great competition going against the college players but it’s not something I’m going to think about and worry about. All you can do is give your best.”

Whatever happens in Colorado, in a few months, Boykin will be trying to help the Huskies defend their title. Which means she will be playing alongside Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.

I’m sure me, Katie Lou, and Napheesa will be asking them questions and we’ll be trying to get to know them better,” Boykin said. “They deserve a fourth championship and we’re going to do whatever we can to help them get that fourth one, and our first, and keep it rolling. I’m sure they’ll let us know what is expected of us.”

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<![CDATA[UConn's Mateas No. 1 Pick in CFL Draft]]> Wed, 13 May 2015 09:29:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

Former UConn center Alex Mateas has been considered a top CFL prospect since last season and on Tuesday he became the first Husky to be taken first overall in the CFL Draft.

"It is a great honor," Mateas said, via the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller. "This draft is packed with offensive linemen so it could have gone either way so I am excited they picked me and it is a great honor to be picked No. 1. Being drafted to your home city, you couldn't ask for anything better.

"It is time to focus on what we do and our job and that is to play pro football so it is now to get back to the grind."

Mateas, who grew up in Ottawa, Ont., was drafted by his hometown team, the Ottawa Redblacks.

"The opportunity to represent my home city and play football on the same field that I used to play soccer on as a kid is surreal," he said, via UConn's website. "I look forward to contributing any way possible to the team and to bring a Grey Cup back to Ottawa."

Mateas wasn't selected in the NFL Draft, held earlier this month, but he did have a tryout with the Jets. He went unsigned and now his football-playing future is in Canada.

And the Redblacks couldn't be happier.

"When you take into account Alex's abilities on the field, his durability, the level of competition that he played against as well as his integrity and intelligence, the selection of Alex was an easy decision," said Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins. "Add the fact that Ottawa is home and this is where he wants to be makes this the perfect selection."

Mateas becomes the seventh UConn player to be drafted into the CFL.

2015: Alex Mateas, OL Ottawa (Round 1, Pick 1)
2013: Jesse Joseph, DE Montreal (3, 23)
2011: Moe Petrus, OL Hamilton (2, 10)
2009: Martin Bedard, TE Montreal (2, 14)
2006: DE Shawn Mayne, Hamilton (3, 18)
2006: DL Jason Ward, British Columbia (6 ,48)
2004: WR O'Neil Wilson, Montreal (3, 25)



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Geremy Davis Signs With Giants]]> Mon, 11 May 2015 09:18:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geremy-davis-catch.jpg

It's official: Geremy Davis has signed his four-year contract with the Giants. Now all he needs to do is make the team. And while that's a 50/50 proposition at best for sixth-round picks, the Giants liked Davis' skills so much that they thought about drafting him a round earlier.

"He's a player who we discussed in the fifth round and almost took then," Chris Mara, the Giants senior vice president of player evaluation, told TheMMQB.com. "Big, strong, tough kid. He's more of a possession guy, but he's got a special teams temperament also."

But it wasn't just Davis' size and good hands that caught the Giants' eye. It was also his ability to contribute in other areas like special teams.

"This guy is a big guy who is strong, competitive and more of a possession type receiver, even though he ran really fast at his pro day," vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said, via NJ.com. "He is more of a possession type. He catches the ball. A big guy like that is going to make it as your fourth receiver and special teams player if you want to say the Tyree role. Preston Parker did it for us last year.

There are worse things than being known as guy who brought down the then-undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII back in February 2008.

"You need those utility backup guys to help you win," Ross continued. "Be ready. Be prepared. If you get in the game, make a catch and play on all the core special teams. Every team needs has to have those kinds of guys to win and that is what we think this guy can do."

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<![CDATA[Auriemma Happy With US Team Workouts]]> Mon, 11 May 2015 09:16:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-nat-champs.jpg

Geno Auriemma and Team USA held training camps last week ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, an early opportunity for 24 players and the coaching staff to get reacquainted with each other well ahead of next summer's competition.

“We wanted to come in and have a competitive camp for three days,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com Carl Adamec. “We got to see where the veterans are and to see if they still have it and to see where some of the younger guys are and if they fit in to the level they need to get to. I thought we did all that and accomplished a great deal.”

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of familiar faces, including rising UConn senior Breanna Stewart, just-drafted-into-the-WNBA Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and UConn grads Maya Moore, Sue Bird, Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Diana Taurasi (who didn't participate because of a wrist injury).

“The weather was great, the restaurants were great, the golf course was great, and the players were pretty good,” Auriemma, laughing. “The older guys are in-between seasons, coming off their European seasons and getting ready for what’s coming up in the WNBA. They were just here to compete a little bit.”

In addition to getting the veterans back in the swing of the upcoming international competition, it was also an opportunity for younger players to catch Auriemma's eye for the future.

“That’s the case for most of these younger guys,” Auriemma said. “Let’s say all the guys that played in the world championships last year want to come back, some tough decisions are going to have to be made on how to incorporate the new guys. There aren’t many spots available if the veterans still have the ability and they’re healthy.

“The young guys had their moments here. One day some of them were really good, on another day some of them were OK, on another day some of them struggled. The thing with the young players is they struggle with how physical everybody on the floor is and they’re not used to that. They’re used to being the best athlete or the quickest or the strongest. This was a good learning experience for them and they handled themselves great.”

In fact, two of Auriemma's current players -- Stewart and Moriah Jefferson -- will take part in the World University/Pan Am Games trials later this week.

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<![CDATA[Geremy Davis Happy for Chance to Prove Himself]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 10:47:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geremy-davis-catch.jpg

As the draft wound down, Geremy Davis admits that he was getting nervous. By it's very nature, the NFL Draft is a crap shoot, first-round talents slip, little known names get drafted earlier than expected, and sometimes sure-fire players end up not hearing their names called at all.

“I was so excited. Thank God I got to see my phone ring,” Davis said, via SNY.com's John Silver. “I was getting so antsy. I was getting sick of looking at my phone.”

One of the biggest issues facing Davis as the draft approached was whether he was fast enough to play in the NFL. His size and ability to catch the ball were well known, but if he couldn't get open he'd be of little use at the next level. It's why some pre-draft conversations had him moving to tight end.

But then Davis ran a 4.47 at his pro day.

“The [tight end] talk was because they weren’t sure how fast I was,” he said. “As of right now, I haven’t heard talk of tight end. I think it was in terms of how fast I was going to run.”

And now that he's plenty fast Davis hopes that's the last he hears of the tight end talk. Still, he knows there's plenty of work to be done, especially when it comes to setting up and beating NFL defensive backs.

“I know from a speed standpoint, it helps. I will keep on improving from that standpoint and enhancing all my techniques,” Davis said. “I can catch the ball in traffic. Speed helps if you mess up technique. ...

“From a receiver setup, I am a big receiver and physical and I can hep out in the blocking game. “I’m capable of using my body to shield the defender and to make catches.”

The Giants will get their first glimpse of that when minicamp starts.

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<![CDATA[Seven UConn Players Headed to NFL Camps]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 10:38:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ByronJones.jpg

In addition to Byron Jones (Cowboys first-round pick) and Geremy Davis (Giants sixth-round pick), five other players with ties to UConn will be making appearances this weekend at NFL minicamps.

Defensive lineman D.J. McBryde signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent while defensive end Reuben Frank (Lions), wide receiver Deshon Foxx (Seahawks), center Alex Mateas (Jets) and quarterback Chandler Whtimer (Eagles) head to camp on a tryout basis.

Jones is obviously the best known player of the bunch; he missed much of his senior season with a shoulder injury but he blew the doors off the February combine and his pro day and the Cowboys ended up taking him with the 27th overall pick.

Davis was one of the Huskies' most consistent players, no easy chore on an offense that lacked punch for most of his career. But his size and good hands made him an attractive late-round choice for the Giants, and he'll have an opportunity to win a spot on the 53-man roster.

McBryde, who had 33 tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss in his career, admitted that wanted to play for the Eagles, a fact the NFL team made clear in the weeks leading up to the draft.

Mataeas is also considered one of the top prospects in the CFL Draft, Foxx is a burner who can run past anybody, Frank has the size (248 pounds) and speed (4.7 40 time) defensive coordinators look for in outside linebackers, and Whitmer has FBS experience as a starting quarterback.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Auriemma Talks Mosqueda-Lewis, Stokes]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 10:37:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kaleena+mosqueda+lewis+uconn.jpg

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis will begin her WNBA career in Seattle while former UConn teammate Kiah Stokes will do the same in New York, and Geno Auriemma thinks both programs are good fits for two players that played big roles in the Huskies' recent championship run.

“I think they both ended up in good spots,” Auriemma told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “K is in with a young coach who’s trying to build a program. Kiah’s in with a team that she can do the things that she does. I think Kiah and K can end up being very successful.”

The Storm have standout point guard Sue Bird, and they also drafted Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd with the first-overall pick (Mosqueda-Lewis went No. 3).

“Hopefully the two of them can grow together alongside Sue. They’re all different as people and players as I think that’s good. So, it’s a great spot for K.”

Meanwhile, Stokes will join former Husky Tina Charles in New York.

“Tina will draw a lot of the attention there,” Auriemma said. “So Kiah doesn’t have to go in and be that franchise-type player. She can learn and grow and having a player like Tina around will help her do that."

But the biggest difference for Mosqueda-Lewis, a born scorer, will be her ability to become a better defender against the best players in the world.

“Defense is something that every single player has to work on,” former Husky Bria Hartley, who graduated in 2014, told Adamec. “Kaleena will do that and playing against great players will help her. Offensively, she doesn’t have to be a highlight reel. She needs to get open and make shots. There are enough playmakers around her there like Sue, Renee, Jewell, that will get her open shots. And having a great leader like Sue around will make the transition easier for her.”

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<![CDATA[UConn Guard Terrence Samuel to Transfer]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 10:53:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483295983.jpg

Terrence Samuel, a sophomore guard for the University of Connecticut Men's Basketball Team, will transfer at the end of the spring semester, according to a news release from the athletic department.

Samuel, who lives in Brooklyn, started eight of the 65 games he played during his two years at the university, averaging 3.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, athletic department officials said.

He averaged 4.5 points per game during six of the 2014 NCAA tournament games, helping the Huskies secure the national title. Samuel played all 35 games of the 2015 season and averaged 3.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.

"Terrence has been a player who has always given his best on the court and in the classroom," UConn Coach Kevin Ollie said in a statment Thursday. "We thank him for his contributions to the program and wish him good luck and much success in all his future endeavors."

It's not clear where he's going.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>