<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Sports]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Sat, 19 Apr 2014 03:19:02 -0400 Sat, 19 Apr 2014 03:19:02 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Top 2014 HS Player Signs With USC]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:51:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

The news is only surprising in that the Huskies didn't land the best player in college basketball. It's become almost a foregone conclusion; Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart made their way to Storrs in back-to-back years and both have flourished in Geno Auriemma's program. But A'ja Wilson, the 6-4 do-everything superstar from Columbia, SC, has decided to stay close to home, announcing Wednesday that she'll play at the University of South Carolina.

It's not so much a setback for UConn as the realization of what seemed inevitable; Wilson, for all her talents, seemed happy to play in her back yard.

“There is really no place like home,” she said after her announcement.

And Storrs is a long way from Columbia.

Not surprisingly, the Huskies will be fine. Yes, they're losing Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson to graduation and the WNBA, but the depth on Auriemma's roster is ... well, staggering. And a year after bringing in just one player, Saniya Chong, the 2014 recruiting class is deep.

Four players -- three guards and a wing -- all five-star recruits, according to ESPN.

Gabby Williams (5-11, Nevada), Sadie Edwards (5-9, New Jersey), Courtney Ekmark (6-0, Arizona) and Kia Nurse (5-11, Canada), will all make their way to Storrs this summer. And the rich could get richer for 2015. This weekend, the program will host four of the country's best high school juniors: De’Janae Boykin (6-2, F, No. 8 in espnW's top 60), Napheesa Collier (6-1, W, No. 7), Haley Gorecki, and Katie Lou Samuelson (6-2, W, No. 2).

So, yes, in the world of recruiting, you win some and you lose some. It's just that Auriemma has been on the winning side a lot.

<![CDATA[Omar Calhoun's Future Is With Huskies]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:48:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/omar-calhoun-napier.jpg

While the futures of Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels remain up in the air as they decide whether to return to Storrs for their senior seasons or head for the NBA, Omar Calhoun says he isn't going anywhere.

And unlike his teammates, this has nothing to do with taking his game to the next level. After seeing plenty of playing time as a freshman, Calhoun struggled with injuries last offseason, and to find his shot as a sophomore. In fact, he rarely got off the bench as the Huskies were making their national title run.

In late March, as UConn was getting hot, Calhoun was asked about whether his future remains in Storrs.

“Yeah, yeah, definitely," he said at the time, according to the New Haven Register. Coach (Kevin) Ollie’s a great guy, he definitely knows what kind of player I am. He’s going to keep working with me. Offseason, I’m definitely going to put a lot of work in and build in to be the kind of player I’m supposed to be.”

And Calhoun's father, Omar Sr., confirmed as much to the Register this week.

"My confidence in Coach Ollie never wavered," he said Thursday. "I believe me and Coach Ollie have the same love and passion for the game. I truly believe in the stuff he teaches to his kids.

"He wants you playing to your potential on the floor. He’s got a lot of Coach Calhoun in him, too, and a lot of the great coaches he’s been around, too. He wants you playing to your potential. That’s how he wants you on the floor. Omar understands that, he’s gonna work extremely hard, and he’s healthy now. I think he’s heading back in the right direction. That’s the beautiful thing about basketball, it increases your value and your character if you grow as a human being and a basketball player. Obviously, at times, he wanted to see more minutes, like at the Garden. But I totally understand what Coach Ollie was doing, the situation he was in."

As the Register's David Borges points out, any transfer talk involving Calhoun was conjecture, although Omar Sr. conceded that it's something that crossed his son's mind.

"But the situation he was in, he was always prepared in case his number was called," the father said. "He wished he was out there, these are kids. But when it's all said and done, Kevin Ollie is a tremendous guy to be driving the bus. He accepted the challenge."

And if Boatright and Daniels leave for the NBA -- along with senior Shabazz Napier -- the Huskies could need Calhoun more than ever in 2014 to solidify the backcourt. The team will also welcome transfer Rodney Purvis and incoming freshmen Daniel Hamilton, Sam Cassell Jr. and Rakim Lubin.

<![CDATA[Mohegan Sun Gets AAC Women's Tourney in 2015]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:44:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-first-night.jpg

As expected, Mohegan Sun was awarded the American Athletic Conference 2015 Women's Basketball Championship, commissioner Mike Aresco announced Thursday.

The news comes on the heels of the XL Center in Hartford landing the 2015 AAC men's tournament.

"The American Athletic Conference and its member institutions are excited to return to a venue that demonstrated tremendous support for our women's basketball tournament," Aresco said in a statement. "Attendance was outstanding, the facility is first-rate, and the Mohegan Sun staff provided a great experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans, who we know will enjoy a return visit next year."

This is the second consecutive year Mohegan Sun will host the conference tourney, which was won by the eventual national champion UConn Huskies this past spring.

"We are thrilled that we will be bringing the American Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament back to Mohegan Sun Arena," said Mitchell Etess, President and CEO of Mohegan Sun. "Our first year was a huge success. We are delighted to continue the relationship, and grow this great event moving forward."

More details via the press release:

All 11 American Athletic Conference schools will participate in the 2015 championship. The format calls for three first-round games on the first day, followed by four quarterfinal games, two semifinals and the championship game. The ESPN Networks will provide television and digital coverage of the tournament.

The 2014-15 season will be the second straight year in which the American Athletic Conference has the defending men's and women's NCAA champions in its ranks. The American was the only conference to place a team in the semifinals of the Men's Final Four, the Women's Final Four, the NIT and the WNIT last season.

In addition to dual national titles this April, the Huskies' men's and women's teams also managed the feat in 2004.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Golfer Flees Hornet Attack on Course]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:45:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Larrazabal.jpg

A Spanish golfer jumped into a nearby lake to escape a swarm of hornets then continued on despite his stinging injuries.

Pablo Larrazabal was in the fifth hole's fairway during the Maybank Malaysian Open when he swatted away a stray hornet, which then prompted a swarm to attack him. The golfer attempted to fight them off, but had to run to the lake to escape the angry wasps.

“They were huge and like 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time,” Larrazabal said in a statement to ESPN. “I didn’t know what to do. My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake.”

The scene could have been reminiscent of Chris Farley's character fleeing a bee attack in the 1995 film "Tommy Boy."

Larrazabal suffered more than 20 stings and had to receive medical attention. He described the encounter as the “scariest moment" of his career.

However, he returned to play his last five holes in a borrowed shirt, reversing his luck by finishing the 14th hole – the same one where he was attacked – with a birdie putt and finishing overall with two under.

He later tweeted out thanks to supporters and joked that golf is a dangerous sport.

Photo Credit: Ian Walton/Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service Threatened to Shoot Mr. Met: Book]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:11:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mr-met-cohen.jpg

A Secret Service agent once threatened to shoot Mr. Met if he approached the president during a baseball game at Shea Stadium, according to a man who once worked as the baseball-headed mascot.

AJ Mass, who was the Mets’ mascot from 1994 to 1997, said a member of former President Bill Clinton’s security detail told him they’d “go for the kill shot” if he tried to pal around with the then-commander-in-chief at a Mets-Dodgers game on April 15, 1997. The account comes from an excerpt of Mass’ new book, “Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots,” published on Sports Illustrated’s website this week.

Mass wrote that he had planned to make his way to see Clinton, who was at the game commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major-league appearance, calling the photo-op "the holy grail for all mascots."

Before he could make it to the president’s box, Mass wrote, he was stopped by an agent in a dark suit and a businesslike demeanor.

“We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen,” the agent told Mass. “Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. Nobody will bother you. But approach the president, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?”

Then the agent, who Mass wrote was staring into the mouth of Mr. Met’s head to make eye contact with the man inside, repeated himself.

“Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot,” the agent said to Mass. “ARE-WE-CLEAR?”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McNabb Spends Day in AZ Jail ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:12:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mcnabb+arrested+mugshot+background.jpg

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has been released from an Arizona jail after serving a one-day sentence for a DUI arrest late last year.

Records released by Maricopa County Justice Court show that 37-year-old McNabb served his time Wednesday and was released Thursday morning.

Court administrator James Vance tells NBC10.com McNabb was stopped on Dec. 15, 2013 in his gray Land Rover LR4 along an Arizona freeway -- Route 101 near East McDowell Road -- on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He was then arrested for driving under the influence and cited for speeding.

McNabb's blood alcohol content (BAC) was not available for release, but Vance said while the state's legal limit is 0.08, a person could be considered impaired with a BAC of 0.04 or higher.

The former Eagle pleaded guilty on March 27 and nine days of his sentence was suspended in exchange for undergoing alcohol screening and treatment. Vance says that is a pretty standard judgment.

McNabb then reported to the Maricopa County Jail on Wednesday, was booked and served the one day sentence.

Once the alcohol treatment is completed, the sentence will be suspended, Vance says.

NBC10.com reached out to McNabb's attorney, Stephen Benedetto, for comment. We have not heard back.

Our sister station, KPNX in Phoenix, Ariz., obtained a booking mugshot of McNabb from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowler, spent 10 years with the Eagles and took the franchise to five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. He currently hosts a show on NBC Sports Radio.

A spokesman for the radio network said, "Donovan has no comment," on the matter.

Photo Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Talks UConn Future With CBS This Morning]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:49:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

UConn coach Kevin Ollie sat down with "CBS This Morning"'s Gayle King recently to talk about a number of topics, but perhaps the most interesting was whether the second-year coach would leave college to take a job in the NBA. The transcript is below (via the New Haven Register):

KING: So even coming in here today, somebody sees you, somebody on the street, and says, "Hey, Kevin Ollie, you going to the NBA." Has the NBA called?

OLLIE: No, NBA hasn't called. No.

KING: If the NBA called, would you answer?

OLLIE: No, not now in my life. Like I say, I can't never --say no--

KING: Don't let me pick up the paper next week Kevin and it says, "Guess what? (LAUGH) So and so has called and Kevin has accepted the call." There's no secret meetings?

OLLIE: No. I'm just worried-- worried about my kids here at the University of Connecticut. And I got three guys-- four guys is gonna graduate on time. And I want to be there for the graduation. That's actually, that's gonna be even better than the national championship. I'm never gonna say never, but I'm having so much fun. It's my dream job.

UConn's senior all-everything point guard Shabazz Napier was asked last week if Ollie would leave for the NBA and he was unequivocal in his response: “He’s not going anywhere,” Napier said. “He loves this university. When you love this university with the passion he has, he’s gonna stay here until they tell him he’s got to leave.”

And Ollie reiterated those sentiments: “I love this place. Like anything else, I evaluate it each and every year. I want the conditions right around my student-athletes. You just never know where the NCAA is going in years to come. I want to make sure the university is doing everything possible for our student-athletes to succeed. If I don’t see that, maybe it’s an opportunity for me to leave. But I’m going to evaluate that each and every year, and it’s perfect right now."

<![CDATA[Daniel Hamilton Talks UConn, Kevin Ollie]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:47:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

Daniel Hamilton committed to the Huskies well before any of us knew if Kevin Ollie could capably replace Jim Calhoun, never mind lead UConn to a national title in his second season.

Now the 6-7 high school senior and California native, is currently in New York to play in the Jordan Brand national game, spoke about the Huskies, their recent title run, and the coach who led them there.

""I saw something special when he came out to talk to me and sat down for a home visit," Hamilton said, via the Hartford Courant. "He just looked at me, in my eyes, and told me that I would be able to make an impact at UConn next year. … He could relate to a lot of the younger guys, he can talk to us [a way] a lot of coaches can't talk to us. He's a former player, coming from Crenshaw, High, where I went my ninth-grade year, he knows where I'm coming from, moving from the West Coast to the East Coast."

As for the rumor that Ollie might be intrigued by possible NBA offers, Hamilton echoed what Shabazz Napier said last week.

"Coach Ollie, I don't think he's going anywhere anytime soon," he said. "I don't think he's leaving. UConn is permanent, 100 percent. Most definitely, if he's staying, I'm most definitely going -- for sure -- but if he leaves, I don't know. Because that's the reason I'm going there, because of Coach Ollie."

In addition to Hamilton, UConn's 2014 recruiting class includes transfer guard Rodney Purvis, incoming freshman guard Sam Cassell Jr. and forward Rakim Lubin.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Champs to Be Honored at Fenway on April 22]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:51:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kevin+Ollie+and+Geno+Auriemma.jpg

The 2013-14 Huskies basketball teams, fresh off their national championship wins last week, will be honored together at Fenway Park on April 22 before the Yankees-Red Sox game, according to the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore.

As of now, details are scarce, and there's no word on who will throw out the first pitch. Shabazz Napier, an obvious choice, hails from nearby Roxbury, Mass.

Fenway isn't the only team to extend the Huskies an invite, however. More via the New Haven Register's David Borges.

Invitations have also come from the Yankees and Mets. This makes things even more intriguing. The 2011 team did the honors at Yankee Stadium.  Kemba Walker, the New York native (and non-baseball fan) threw out the pitch, but he was joined by Roscoe Smith, Alex Oriakhi and several other teammates. Not Jim Calhoun, however -- he threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park a few days later. Just as he'd done in 2004, after saying that he had rejected the Yankees' offer (this was later found to be an embellishment, at best).

Now, the question is -- does UConn, which is trying to strengthen its foothold in New York and will be playing a football game next November in the Bronx, go with Yankee Stadium? What about CitiField -- let's not forget, SNY broadcasts both UConn and Mets games.

These are good problems to have.

<![CDATA[Another Award for Breanna Stewart]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:49:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-mop.jpg

Breanna Stewart's going to need a bigger mantle. A week after helping the Huskies to two national titles in as many seasons, the sophomore standout forward was named the Honda Sports Award winner for Basketball. The honor is presented annually to the top women athlete in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, identifying "the best of the best in college athletics."

Stewart certainly qualifies. She has previously been named player of the year by the AP, the USBWA, Naismith as well as the AAC Player of the Year.

It is such an honor to be selected as the winner of the Honda Award for women’s basketball,” Stewart said in a statement. “I would like to thank the administrators for selecting me over a group of outstanding players and my coaches and teammates for helping me get to this point where I can be considered for such prestigious honors.”

Coach Geno Auriemma, who seems to give this speech every other day, added: “I am very happy for Breanna. She worked extremely hard during the offseason, and during the season, to improve on a great freshman year. It is truly rewarding to see hard work pay off for someone and no one is more deserving of this tremendous honor than Breanna Stewart.”

According to SNY.com, UConn field hockey player Marie Elena Bolles also won the award this year.

<![CDATA[UConn Offense Should Improve]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:18:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tim-boyle-ucf.jpg

Spring practice is officially in the books, and the UConn football team won't convene again on the field until this summer when training camp begins. It will be Bob Diaco's first season at the helm and his task is a big one: Fashion an offense that can consistently put points on the board.

That was an issue the previous three years under Paul Pasqualoni, but new offensive coordinator Mike Cummings expects things to be different this time around.

“I like our players on offense," he said, via the Hartford Courant. "They work hard. They love football. They care about each other. They want to do well. They want to learn offense. They want to be the best,” Cummings told me during an assistant coaches availability luncheon on campus last week. “What can we do with them? I think exactly what we want to do with them. If we want to run the ball, if we want to throw the ball. System-wise we’re going to do the things Coach Diaco talked about.

“We’ve got the pieces. We’ll have 11 guys on the field. Look, we might not have some experience on paper at some positions but at the end of the day we’re going to have what we need to get the jobs done we need to get done. The development of the players, maturity, that will be a big point, big key for us, to do it as well as we can.”

The conversation starts at quarterback, where Casey Cochran, Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle will battle for the job. Following Saturday's Blue-White game, Diaco had this to say about his stable of passers.

"I would like to see better clock management, collectively, kind of sauntering around, not really cognizant of the play clock as well as it needs to be; some moments of either delivering the ball a little too quick or holding onto it a little too long, so the timing of that needs to improve and it's going to improve, anyway. We haven't had a lot of these opportunities. It's all been kind of canned in a petri dish, how we've been practicing; very isolated intense moments but they were controlled so now to actually play a game where it's not, it was nice to see them operate -- and we've got a long way to go."

But this is a process and both Diaco and Cummings understand that.

“We’re competing,” Cummings said. “That’s what we like to. Look anybody who is involved wants to do well. There are pieces in there where people can do well. I’ve said this a number of times but I don’t think players really want to make mistakes. They don’t do that. People that we work with they don’t want to make mistakes.

“You have to promote positive talk, work towards a goal, forward-thinking and you can get those things done. Your progress may not be instant but you can get that done. The bottom line is we have to get it done."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former MLB Player Claims Racial Profiling in Own Driveway]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:03:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Doug-Glanville.jpg

ESPN baseball analyst and former Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville says police racially profiled him in the driveway of his Hartford home, but West Hartford police call the incident a misunderstanding.

It happened while Glanville was digging out his driveway after a storm on Feb. 18.

Police said that, at the time, they were looking for a black man in his 40s wearing a brown jacket and carrying a snow shovel. A West Hartford resident told police the man had knocked on her neighbor’s door and said the neighbors had previous issues with a man asking for money to shovel.

The man was spotted heading east on Fern Street, then crossed into Hartford at Prospect Avenue. This led police to the area of Glanville’s home.

According to police, the responding officer approached Glanville to ask if he had been “seeking work shoveling driveways” and left when Glanville said he had not. The actual man in question turned up at the intersection of South Highland Street and Farmington Avenue in West Hartford and was given a verbal warning.

Glanville said he was offended by the encounter.

“A police officer from West Hartford had pulled up across the street, exited his vehicle, and begun walking in my direction. I noted the strangeness of his being in Hartford—an entirely separate town with its own police force—so I thought he needed help,” Glanville wrote in an essay posted on his Web site. “He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, ‘So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?’”

Glanville explained that he decided against identifying himself to the officer and instead explained the home was his own.

“The more I talked, the more senseless it seemed that I was even answering the question. But I knew I wouldn’t be smiling anymore that day,” he wrote. “After a few minutes, [the officer] headed back to his vehicle. He offered no apology, just an empty encouragement to enjoy my shoveling. And then he was gone.”

West Hartford police sent out the following statement Tuesday in a news release from Lt. Ted J. Stoneburner:

“While the officer’s actions in searching for the suspicious party were completely appropriate, we wish he had taken the extra time to introduce himself to Mr. Glanville and to explain the purpose of the question. We have discussed this with the officer and will work to remind all of our officers of the importance of good interpersonal skills and taking time, when practical, to explain their actions.”

Police said the chief has been in regular contact with Glanville since the incident was reported.

Glanville played for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies between 1996 and 2004 and now works as an MLB analyst at ESPN in Bristol, according to his site.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dolson, Hartley to Play for WNBA's Mystics]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:49:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CN-womens-basketball-AP195500482704.jpg

There was plenty of reason to cheer on Monday evening, when UConn seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, fresh off their second NCAA title in as many years, were taken sixth and seventh, respectively, in the WNBA Draft. It was a record 15th time one of Geno Auriemma's players had been selected in the first round.

But it gets better: Dolson was drafted by the Washington Mystics and Hartley went to the Seattle Storm. The two weren't teammates for the first time in four years ... and that lasted about four minutes: the Mystics traded for Hartley, reuniting the two players once again.

“They’ve kind of been attached at the hip for four years, so I guess it’s poetic justice,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com. “I’ve always said it doesn’t matter what number you get drafted as long as you get drafted by the right team and have the opportunity to play. I’m thrilled for both of them.”

On getting drafted, Hartley said: "This is a dream true. I’m proud of what I accomplished in college and excited about the people around me that motivated me to chase my dream. I worked really hard to get here and not everyone gets this opportunity. I’m going to cherish it.”

And Dolson added: “I was in the hallway and I heard the uproar and I thought, ‘That had to be Bria,’” she said. “The fact that we went right after each other means a lot. We came in together, won two national championships together, and now we’re going to the WNBA together. ...

“So many things have happened in the last week for both Bria and I,” she added. “I’m extremely happy for her, too. We couldn’t have asked for a better end to our college careers.”

Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike, who days ago beat out Breanna Stewart for the Wooden Award, was taken first overall by the Connecticut Sun.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[XL Center to Host 2015 AAC Men’s Basketball Championship]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:46:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/XL+Center+1200.jpg

The college basketball celebration continues in Hartford. The XL Center in Hartford has been chosen as the site of the 2015 American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship.
"We are pleased to bring our 2015 men's basketball championship to the city of Hartford and to this outstanding arena," AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. "The success of UConn's men's and women's teams this year has made Connecticut the center of college basketball nationally. This event will enjoy tremendous fan support and our visitors will enjoy the many attractions in Hartford and its surrounding communities."
Yesterday, the city hosted a huge parade to celebrate the UConn men and women’s team both winning national titles this year.

"Today's announcement puts Hartford back in the basketball tournament business," Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement. "While this is great news for next year, I am even more excited for what this means in the future. I believe we can and should be in consideration for more NCAA tournament events, and I will continue to push to bring those games to our state. I want to thank the American Athletic Conference for making this decision.  I also want to send a message to college basketball fans everywhere – come to Hartford next March.  You won't be disappointed."
The dates for the 2015 championship have not been released but will be in the coming weeks.
The AAC membership in 2014-15 will include UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.


<![CDATA[Napier Prepares for NBA Draft]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:48:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483308981.jpg

Shabazz Napier couldn't have scripted a better story. Arrives as a freshman and watches Kemba Walker lead the Huskies to a national title, two years later doesn't watch the NCAA Tournament at all after UConn is banned from it because of academic sanctions, and then returning to the top of college basketball a year later, as a senior, before riding off into the sunset, so to speak.

Next up: Preparing for the NBA Draft and all that comes with it.

“I knew, going into the tournament, before the first game, I’ve got to be prepared for anything, whether we lose or win," Napier said, via the New Haven Register's David Borges. "I’ve been preparing myself since then. I played well in the tournament, so it kind of showed how much I was prepared. But I”ve got a lot more to prepare for, a lot more to work on, because that’s a big jump.”

LeBron (yep, that one) even went so far as to tweet that Napier should be the first point guard taken in the draft.

“I don’t social network," Napier said. "But that is definitely cool. It’s just so surreal to see guys who you look up to shout you out and say stuff like that. I want people to know that, at the end of the day, they’re not picking. I wish they were. But at the end of the day, I’m going to go out there and treat every opportunity I have like an interview, like it is, and hopefully their words can get inside people’s heads. Maybe it’ll work. But I’m gonna work, no matter what.”

Napier's backcourt mate, junior Ryan Boatright, is also considering the NBA but has yet to make a decision.

“You do a little bit (pay attention to what scouts say about your NBA potential)," Boatright said. "You take the good with the bad. Everybody ain’t gonna believe in you or think you’re a pro. So, you’ve just got to take the good with the bad and have firm belief in yourself, firm confidence.”

But Boatright also appreciates what it means to play for the Huskies.

“It ain’t even about being the man," he said. "It’s just getting to put on the UConn uniform again, just having another chance to do this again. These type of experiences drive you to want to do it again. This is something special. It felt good to be a part of this.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dolson, Hartley Likely WNBA 1st-Rounders]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:18:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CN-womens-basketball-AP195500482704.jpg

It's become almost a rite of passage, the natural progression of things at Storrs. After a four-year career that includes conference and national honors and a handful of national championships, top players leave Geno Auriemma's program as likely first-round picks in the WNBA Draft.

Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson are next in line, and just like Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Kelly Faris in recent years, they could hear their names called early on draft night.

"I'm just excited," Dolson said, via the Hartford Courant. "I think it's been a great four years here at Connecticut. All great things have to come to an end. I'm just excited and really anxious to get the next chapter of my life started. To be able to keep playing basketball is definitely a dream of all of ours. I'm excited to keep going."

Dolson could go as high as No. 3 to San Antonio

Meanwhile, the Courant's John Altavilla thinks Hartley makes a lot of sense with the Indiana Fever at No. 5.

"You asked if I would take Hartley at five?" Fever coach Dunn said. "Of course, we're looking at Hartley at five. I think when we get to the fifth pick there, we've got McBride, Hartley, Howard, Dolson, Thomas. We're looking closely at all five of those players. Would I consider taking Hartley at five? Absolutely we would."

Not surprisingly, Auriemma, when speaking with WNBA teams, has one rule: Speak honestly about his players.

"I tell the truth [about UConn players] and I think that's why our players do well at the next level," the coach said. "I tell [WNBA executives] the truth and I think they appreciate that I do. I don't want anyone coming back to me and saying that I lied to them about a player. ..

"If I don't think one of my players is right for a team, I will say that, too. I don't want anyone to fail. I don't want anyone in a situation that is not in their best interest. I don't need my players to be the first or second pick. I want them to be the right pick for that team, so they can get a fair shot at playing."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Defense Shines in Blue-White Game]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:41:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Casey+Cochran+1200.jpg

For once, the score doesn't really matter. White beat Blue 46-37 in the spring game Saturday, officially concluding spring practices. The bigger takeaway: What it all means as the Huskies, 13-23 over the last three seasons, try to right the ship under new coach Bob Diaco.

In front of some 6,500 at Rentschler Field, the defense was the star of the show, welcome news after allowing big plays, lots of yards and plenty of points became habit-forming in 2013.

"Man, words can't describe how dominant our defensive line is going to be this fall," junior safety Andrew Adams told the Hartford Courant. "We have forces in the middle, B.J., Lo, Julian, all of those guys down there are going to be great players for us."

And safety Byron Jones added: "Those guys are tough guys, and that's where it starts for defense, the defensive line, and those guys have been tough throughout the whole spring and I think they're going to continue that through the summer -- and through the season."

Ultimately, the team's success will be determined on the other side of the ball by the quarterbacks. Diaco's top three choices: Casey Cochran (10 of 19, 91 yards, 1 INT), Chandler Whitmer (19 of 26, 163 yards, 1 TD) and Tim Boyle (7 of 14, 97 yards).

Cochran led the team to its only three wins a season ago while Whitmer and Boyle struggled in starts over the first nine games. But it's a new day and Diaco is only interested in looking ahead.

"At times, spotty … just OK," he said of the quarterbacks' performance Saturday. "I would like to see better clock management, collectively, kind of sauntering around, not really cognizant of the play clock as well as it needs to be; some moments of either delivering the ball a little too quick or holding onto it a little too long, so the timing of that needs to improve and it's going to improve, anyway. We haven't had a lot of these opportunities. It's all been kind of canned in a petri dish, how we've been practicing; very isolated intense moments but they were controlled so now to actually play a game where it's not, it was nice to see them operate -- and we've got a long way to go."

Luckily, the season is more than four months off.

<![CDATA[See Masters Winner Bubba Watson at Travelers Championship]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:12:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP42081190825.jpg

Yesterday Bubba Watson won his second Masters title in three years. In June, you can see him right here in Connecticut.

Watson will return to TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship.

Watson earned his first PGA Tour victory at the 2010 Travelers Championship and has gone on to five career victories.

He is the first player to win his second Masters victory in six attempts since Arnold Palmer in 1960.
Watson will join Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Patrick Reed, and reigning champion Ken Duke, among others in Cromwell.

Want to go? The tournament  takes place from June 16 to 22 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell and  are on sale now Tickets for at www.TravelersChampionship.com.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[49ers' Aldon Smith Arrested For False Bomb Threat]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:59:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/10-9-2013-aldon-smith.jpg

San Francisco 49ers star linebacker Aldon Smith was taken into custody by police at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday following an encounter with a TSA agent, police said.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, 25-year-old Smith from San Jose, Calif., was arrested at LAX after making a bomb threat. He was released from custody after posting $20,000 bail Sunday evening and was not charged on Monday, as is standard for out-of-custody defendents, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

According to the police statement, Smith was going through Terminal 1 screening and was randomly selected for a secondary screening at about 2 p.m.. Smith "then became belligerent and uncooperative with the process and with the TSA agent, making a comment indicating that he was in possession of a bomb before proceeding towards the gate area."

Los Angeles Airport Police made contact with Smith at the gate, where he was identified as the person in question. Once again, Smith became uncooperative and was detained and taken into custody by Airport Police and transported to LAPD and booked for California Penal Code 148.1(a) - false report of a bomb threat.

Additional eyewitness accounts support the accusation.

An airport employee said that he witnessed the confrontation at the gate between Smith and police.

"I could hear him saying bomb, and then I looked and noticed who it was," an LAX employee who said his name was "Garet" told NBC Bay Area. "He was taking money out of his pocket and throwing it on the ground saying, ‘It’ll be all right. It’ll be all right.'"

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has confirmed police at the airport said it appeared Smith may have been drunk earlier in the day. He was belligerent, but he was not charged with being drunk in public, police said.

The airport said it did not run or request any blood alcohol tests because alcohol was not a factor in the arrest.

TMZ Sports was first to post footage of police officers at LAX taking Smith into custody. Smith can can be heard in the video saying he did nothing wrong.

San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke released a statement saying the team is "disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith." He declined to comment further, citing a "pending legal matter."

This is the fourth criminal case against Smith in the last two years.

Smith had hearings on two separate criminal cases last Friday, including three felony counts of possessing an illegal assault weapon and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, according to Deputy District Attorney Brian Buckelew.

Smith wasn't present for the hearing.

The district attorney's office filed the three felony charges against Smith on Oct. 9, after the office's firearms unit examined five rifles recovered by sheriff's deputies from Smith's rented home outside San Jose in 2012. Deputies searched the home after a raucous late-night party where two people were shot and wounded and Smith was stabbed in the leg.

During the crowded party, which was attended by 49ers player Chris Culliver and former 49ers player Delanie Walker, Smith fired a .45 caliber handgun into the air to disburse partygoers before he was stabbed.

The man prosecutors alleged stabbed Smith, Steven Raymond Burba, a reputed gang member, was later arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities have not arrested a suspect in the shootings of the two victims at the party.

When sheriff's deputies arrived at Smith's home to investigate, they found five rifles in his bedroom, including three assault weapons, an Armalite AR-10T and two Bushmaster brand rifles, which Smith bought legally in Arizona in 2011 but are illegal to possess in California, prosecutors said.

Smith's separate DUI case was on the court calendar for a pretrial conference. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession on Sept. 20, after San Jose police said he crashed his car into a tree at about 7 a.m. on Bentley Ridge Drive in San Jose.

Some 49ers fans said they were not surprised Smith has had yet another brush with the law.

"You would think he’d get his act together after getting caught after having that DUI crash in San Jose but he’s young, he’s not learning," 49ers fan TJ Duran said.

"I would be shocked if he has a future with the team," football fan Sean Smith said.

Credit for cell phone video: Clayton Mullaly, USMC combat vet.


Information from Bay City News was used in this report.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shabazz Napier Reflects on Amazing Season]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 19:30:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/shabazzspeech_1200.jpg Shabazz Napier spoke at Sunday's parade and rally about the incredible run UConn pulled off to win another national championship.]]> <![CDATA[Dolson Thanks UConn Fans]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 19:20:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/dolsonbria_1200.jpg UConn's Stefanie Dolson thanked fans who turned out for the victory parade in Hartford on Sunday.]]> <![CDATA[UConn's Olander is Living a Dream]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:49:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/216*120/OLANDERINSTUDIO.jpg Tyler Olander, a Connecticut hometown hero, has won town national titles with the UConn men's basketball team and said he's living a dream. Maintaining a positive attitude was on of the keys to his very successful season, he said, and he is looking ahead to a career in politics.]]> <![CDATA[2 Hernandez Associates Indicted on Murder Charge]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:08:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hernandezq.jpg

Two associates of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez were indicted Friday on murder charges, in connection with his alleged fatal shooting of a semi-professional football player last year.

A Massachusetts grand jury charged both Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace with murder in connection with the June 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro, Mass., NECN reported.

Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Ortiz and Wallace, both of Bristol, Conn., will be arraigned on the new charge in Fall River on a date that has yet to be determined.

Ortiz and Wallace had both pleaded not guilty to their previous charge of accessory to murder after the fact.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murdering 27-year-old Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.

<![CDATA[UConn Looks to Rebuild Defense]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:49:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/yawin-smallwood-2013.jpg

Ultimately, the results were the same during Paul Pasqualoni's first two years as UConn's coach -- back-to-back 5-7 records -- but the defense was one of the best in the Big East. In fact, defensive lineman Kendall Reyes was as a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and linebacker Sio Moore, and cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson were third-rounders last spring.

But last season in Storrs, the defense fell off a cliff, so much so that all-everything linebacker Yawin Smallwood has gone from can't-miss NFL prospect to likely late-round pick. But with Pasqualoni gone and former Notre Dame assistant Bob Diaco now running the show, the plan is to return the defense to its previous glory. And that task falls to new defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter.

"I think it's the head coach's vision to be a top-notch defense, being a defensive coordinator for a long time, knowing his mentality to run the ball and play solid defense," Poindexter said, via the Hartford Courant. "It's our goal to play solid defense, keep the points down and let our offense have opportunities to possess the ball."

The Huskies ranked 51st in total defense last year after allowing 385 points. Five defensive starters return from last year's 3-9 squad. Poindexter, meanwhile, knows something about defense. He was the ACC defensive player of the year in 1998 and was considered a hard-hitting safety during his four years at UVA. But he also knows the game has changed in recent years, but the bottom line remains: getting the most out of his players.

"You know my style was totally different and it was a different day and age in football, too," he said. "We played the game different. Most of the kids I'm coaching now have a lot more athletic ability, a lot more speed. If you're talking about physical gifts, they have more physical gifts now, which allow us to do a lot of different things."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis Perseveres]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:42:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP921212359691+%281%29.jpg

She missed 12 games with an elbow injury and later mononucleosis, but junior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis returned to the lineup for good on March 1 and was instrumental in helping UConn defend its national title, including an 18-point, 7-rebound effort in the championship win over Notre Dame.

When it was over, Mosqueda-Lewis finally had a chance to consider the journey that brought her to that point.

“It was worth it and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” she said, according to SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I was happy to come back at the end of the season and play how I can. ...

“I think this is the toughest season I’ve ever had,” she continued. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through and because of that I’m really proud of myself for kind of getting myself out of the hole. I couldn’t thank my teammates and coaches any more for helping me get out of it.”

Coach Geno Auriemma, who now has nine national titles on his resume, applauded Mosqueda-Lewis for her toughness.

“It was just one thing after another in the regular season for her,” he said. “I’m most proud of how she handled that whole adversity. For her to play her best basketball … I said before the NCAA tournament started that if we were fortunate enough to play six games, the six games could wipe out how frustrating the other four months were. That’s exactly what happened.”

During the postseason -- both in the AAC and NCAA Tournaments -- Mosqueda Lewis averaged 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds, important numbers that often gets lost in the "Opponents have to figure out a way to stop Breanna Stewart" storylines.

And with title No. 9 now in the books, the goal is to get No. 10 -- and three in a row -- and the preparation starts ... now.

“The freshmen we have coming in are talented, and with the people we have coming back they will be able to learn from us,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I definitely can see great possibilities for us. It’s said to see Stef and Bria go, but it’s going to be a new exciting chapter for the rest of us.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[FiveThirtyEight.com: UConn Programs Best Ever]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:49:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn+Champions+sign.jpg

Want more reason to celebrate the two national titles the men's and women's teams added to the collection this week? Thanks to fivethirtyeight.com, here ya go: UConn is now, without question, the best college basketball program of all time.

According to author Carl Bialik, "The championships moved UConn into an indisputable lead as the most successful overall Division I college basketball program, when accounting for men’s and women’s achievements."

Previously, Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma first won simultaneous titles in 2004, and now, a decade later, it's happened again.

More via Bialik:

UConn’s men’s and women’s teams, combined, have the most titles, the most tournament wins, the highest winning percentage and the highest average margin of victory in the NCAA tournament in Division I since 1951. The race was a close one until a few weeks ago, but UConn’s success this year coincided with stumbles by its two closest rivals in the category: Duke and Tennessee. It’s a remarkable achievement for UConn, which two decades ago hadn’t won any Division I basketball titles, men’s or women’s.Heading into the Big Dance, UConn, Duke and Tennessee were all in the running for most successful programs, but Duke managed just one win between them, while the Vols accounted for four. The Huskies had 12.

In fact, according to Bialik, UConn's only real competition comes from UCLA, which won 10 national titles during the John Wooden era.

But the Bruins’ success has hardly been balanced: UCLA has won as many titles in the men’s tournament as it has won games in the women’s tournament. In fact, outside of Storrs, Conn., and a trio of Atlantic Coast Conference schools — Duke, North Carolina and Maryland — few of the leaders in combined basketball success have been truly successful in men’s and women’s hoops. Tennessee has a losing record in the men’s tournament even after this year’s run, and Stanford gets most of its wins from the women’s side.

If anything, it's a testament to the programs Calhoun and Auriemma built, and Kevin Ollie has sustained.


<![CDATA[Kaepernick Rips Report]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:11:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/461570031.jpg

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick slammed media reports that he is being investigated by Miami police for sexual assault.

In a series of three tweets first sent at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, Kaepernick wrote:

"The charges made in the TMZ story and other stories I’ve seen are completely wrong," he tweeted.  "They make things up about me that never happened. I take great pride in who I am and what I do, but  I guess sometimes you have to deal with someone who makes things up. I want to thank all of the people who have shared their encouraging sentiments. I assure you that your faith is not misplaced."

TMZ on Thursday first broke the news about Kaepernick, saying in its headline that he was being investigated for a sexual assault.

Later in the day, the Miami police department released a report filed April 3 by a woman who said she is a former lover of Kaepernick's. In the report, the woman said that she partied with him and two other NFL players, passed out at the Miami Viceroy hotel on April 2, and wound up at a hospital later without having any idea how she got there.

The report alleges no specific crime.

According to the police report, the woman -- who, according to the police report, had a previous sexual relationship with Kaepernick -- said she went to visit Ricardo Lockette, 27, at his unit at the luxury residences of the Viceroy in downtown Miami on April 1 about 9 p.m. Kaepernick and 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, 23, were also there.

The woman said she mixed drinks for the men and gave them shots, according to the report. She said the men told her that if she wanted to drink she had to "hit the bong, which contained marijuana," the report states.

They chatted for a while and watched basketball.

Before midnight, she started to feel "light headed," she told police, and she went to lie down.

She said Kaepernick came behind her in the bedroom and started kissing her, the report states. He started to undress her, and she told police she got naked. They did not have sex at this time, the report states.

Kaepernick left, saying he'd be right back.The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014.

The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014. (Photo: NBC 6 South Florida)

When the woman called out that she was in bed naked, Patton and Lockette opened the door and "peeked" inside, the report states. She remembers yelling, "What are you doing? Where is Colin? Get out!" the report states. They closed the door and left.

But the woman cannot remember anything after that.

She woke up in a hospital and can't remember arriving there.

Miami police said they are investigating the report, as is standard when someone files one.

Wisconsin-based XAM Sports, which represents Kaepernick, also issued a statement to CSN Bay Area in support of their client on Friday.

"We stand by Colin 100% and are fully confident that the truth will be evident once the facts come to light regarding this matter. Thank you for supporting Colin."

Agent Scott Smith represents Kaepernick, who is in line for a lucrative contract extension.

General manager Trent Baalke said recently at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., the 49ers hope to have a new deal in place before the opening of training camp. And 49ers CEO Jed York said Kaepernick deserves to be paid like a top quarterback.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kaepernick Probed in Hotel Incident]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 06:57:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP8942224809.jpg

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being investigated by police in Miami in connection to an incident that allegedly involves a woman who passed out inside a luxury hotel room.

The report released by the Miami Police Department on Thursday does not charge Kaepernick with any specific crime.

A woman told authorities she partied with Kaepernick -- and two other NFL players -- and ended up in a South Florida hospital room without any recollection of how she got there, according to the police report.

The alleged encounter happened at the Viceroy Hotel in downtown Miami the evening of April 1.

Along with 26-year-old Kaepernick, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, 27, and 23-year-old 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, who is entering his second NFL season, are both mentioned in the incident report. CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reports Kaepernick and Lockette forged a tight friendship during Lockette's time on the 49ers' practice squad in 2012.

Police in Miami are continuing to investigate whether Kaepernick and the two other NFL players mentioned are responsible for any wrongdoing.

“There is not much we can say about it, other than it is an open investigation for all three of these men,” Miami Police spokeswoman Kenia Reyes said.

The report was taken by Miami police on April 3, when the unnamed woman walked into the department's central station.

According to the police report, the woman said she went to visit Lockette at his unit at the luxury residences of the Viceroy on April 1 about 9 p.m. Patton and Kaepernick were also there.

The woman said she mixed drinks for the men and gave them shots, according to the report. She said the men told her that if she wanted to drink she had to "hit the bong, which contained marijuana," the report states.

They chatted for a while and watched basketball.

Before midnight, she started to feel "light headed," she told police, and she went to lie down.

She said Kaepernick came behind her in the bedroom and started kissing her, the report states. He started to undress her, and she told police she got naked. They did not have sex at this time, the report states.

Kaepernick left, saying he'd be right back.The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014.

The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014. (Photo: NBC 6 South Florida)

When the woman called out that she was in bed naked, Patton and Lockette opened the door and "peeked" inside, the report states. She remembers yelling, "What are you doing? Where is Colin? Get out!" the report states. They closed the door and left.

But the woman cannot remember anything after that.

She woke up in a hospital and can't remember arriving there.

The woman told police that she and Kaepernick had a sexual relationship in the past.

San Francisco 49ers’ General Manager Trent Baalke released a statement to the media Thursday morning, which said:

“The 49ers organization is aware of the recent media report regarding Colin Kaepernick and is in the process of gathering the pertinent facts.”

TMZ first broke the news. TMZ's report says any investigation is in the "beginning stages," according to law enforcement sources.

Niners cornerback Tramaine Brock said he thinks the investigation "must be a hoax."

Kaepernick has apparently been training in South Florida during the offseason. Less than week ago, the 49ers QB posted to Instagram a photo of himself hashtagged "#Miami."

Attempts to reach the players named in the report or their attorneys have been unsuccessful.

It's been a rough year for 49ers players off the field.

Chris Culliver is facing one felony charge and two misdemeanor charges after a March 30 hit-and-run involving a bicyclist in San Jose. The 25-year-old cornerback was charged with felony possession of brass knuckles, which carries up to a three-year prison sentence. He also was charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run with injury as well as misdemeanor hit-and-run, which have one-year maximum sentences.

All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana in San Jose. In October, the 24-year-old was charged three felony weapons assault charges, stemming from a June 2012 house party he hosted. In September, he was charged with a DUI. In November, Smith pleaded not guilty.

Both Smith and Culliver, who are still under contract with the 49ers, are scheduled to make separate appearances in Santa Clara County court on Friday.

NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo and NBC 6 South Florida contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UConn-Notre Dame Draws Huge Ratings]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:38:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+women+huskies+trophy.jpg

When Geno Auriemma isn't winning championships he's usually talking about how to make women's basketball more accessible and popular to a sports-loving nation. Well, he certainly did his part (and then some) Tuesday night when the undefeated Huskies took down the previously undefeated Fighting Irish for their ninth national title under the Hall of Fame coach.

The game, which aired on ESPN, earned a 2.8 rating, a 40 percent increase from a year ago and the highest for any women's college basketball game in a decade, dating back to UConn's NCAA championship victory over Tennessee in 2004.

Details via an ESPN press release:

The highly anticipated matchup averaged 3.21 million households and 4.27 viewers (P2+) – fourth and sixth best, respectively, since ESPN began televising the women’s championship in 1996.  In addition, the 2.8 rating represents an increase of 40 percent over a 2.0 a year ago for UConn over Louisville.

In addition, nearly 100,000 fans turned to WatchESPN for the traditional telecast and the special ESPN3 Surround production of the matchup.  Those 100,000 thousand fans generated 3,800,000 minutes on the game, both all-time highs for a women’s college basketball game.  Additionally, the game generated the most minutes viewed for an ESPN3 Surround production to date.

Among the metered markets, Hartford/New Haven led the way with a 29.3 rating, making it the market’s highest overnight for a program on cable in 2014. Nashville was the second highest-rated market with a 6.8 followed by Knoxville (6.0), Louisville (5.5), Indianapolis (4.8), Raleigh-Durham (4.7), Providence (4.6), New York (4.6), Memphis (4.5) and Greenville (4.5).

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Finishing What Calhoun Started]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:50:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483304481.jpg

Jim Calhoun built the program at UConn. Over a quarter-century he took the Huskies out of the basketball backwaters and brought them into the national conversation. And from 1999-2011, that meant three NCAA titles. Then, before the 2012-2013 season, Calhoun retired, replaced by his protege and former Huskies point guard Kevin Ollie, and three days ago, he won an NCAA title, UConn's fourth.

In the moments after Monday's 60-54 victory over Kentucky, Calhoun was sitting quietly in the locker room, taking it all in and reflecting on what it took to get there.

“No matter who you are and what you are, you always want an affirmation of things,” Calhoun, 71, said via ESPN.com. “We have had a great last 25 years. We’re probably one of the top five winningest programs, and that’s important. But teams like North Carolina, Indiana and Kentucky have been incredible for 50 years. We want to keep that thing going. I never wanted our program to be about one player, one team or one coach.

“That’s what Dean Smith taught me when I was young coach at Northeastern.”

Names like Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon and Kemba Walker (and now Shabazz Napier) all helped set the program on its path to prominence and Ollie plans to sustain what Calhoun and his players built.

“Somebody told me we were Cinderellas, and I was like, 'No, we're UConn,'" Ollie said. “I mean this is what we do. We are born for this. We’re bred to cut down nets. We’re not chasing championships, championships are chasing us.

“We’ve got four now and Coach Calhoun started a tradition and my whole coaching staff is from UConn. We’ve all been through the same things. We love this university. It’s always family first with us and they kept believing.”

Some young coaches might bristle at having a Hall of Famer like Calhoun always around. Not Ollie.

“He’s right there beside me,” the coach said. “I told you, I’m not filling his shoes. I can’t fill his shoes. He just a great resource for me -- to have a person that loves me and believed in me when a lot of people didn’t. A lot of people questioned me about getting this job; he never did.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cochran to Start Blue-White Game]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:10:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/casey-cochran-starter-smu.jpg

Now that basketball is officially over (and UConn has added two more NCAA National titles to the trophy case) we can fully turn our attention to football. New coach Bob Diaco took over in December, and now he's about to wrap up his first spring practice in Storrs.

As has been the case since Zach Frazer left following the Fiesta Bowl in Jan. 2011, the Huskies' quarterback situation remains a question. Johnny McEntee won the job in Paul Pasqualoni's first year, but inconsistency and lack of a supporting class saw Chandler Whitmer take over in 2012. Last season, Whitmer, freshman Tim Boyle and sophomore Casey Cochran split the duties with Cochran clearly outplaying the other two.

At Saturday's Blue-White game, Cochran will be the first QB to take first-team snaps.

"When the next unit goes on the field, Chandler will be with them," Don Patterson, the Huskies' associate head coach and quarterbacks coach, said Wednesday, according to the Hartford Courant.

"If you want to think of it terms of two offensive units, that's how they'll operate in the early stages of the game. At some point Chandler will switch over to the starting unit and Tim [Boyle] will work with the second unit and [sophomore] Mike Ecke will work with the second unit, too.

"If we had a game to play tomorrow, obviously, based on what I just said, that would indicate that Casey would take that snap."

Based on the last three games of last season, Cochran earned that right. He led the Huskies to three wins -- their only three wins on the year following an 0-9 start. A lot can change between now and late August, when UConn kicks off the season against BYU, but so far, Cochran has looked good in spring practice.

"I think he's got a really, really high football IQ," Patterson said. "He's very motivated to learn whatever the plan might be. He can learn it. He's a coach's son and understands the game really well, but beyond that I like the fact he has really good intangibles and by that I mean he's got outstanding leadership ability. The players respect him for his toughness and they appreciate that he's got the right kind of mentality as it relates to teammates. He's a good teammate. We all know the quarterback gets too much blame when you lose and too much credit when you win so Casey is smart enough to know if I had a good day there are 10 other guys that had a lot to do with it. He's very selfless."

<![CDATA[Dolson, Hartley Get Emotional at Rally]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 18:09:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/dolson_hartley_rally_040914.jpg UConn seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley both showed how much they love their teammates, their university and their fans during speeches at a rally for the national champion UConn women’s basketball team in Storrs on Wednesday.]]> <![CDATA[Saddest Little Kentucky Fan in Connecticut]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:05:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kentucky+fan.JPG

While most of Connecticut is thrilled by UConn winning two national titles this week, a little guy from Mystic is not so happy.

Rachel Calton is originally from Kentucky, but lives in Mystic now, and shared this video with us.

When her 4-year-old son, Brennan, woke up on Tuesday morning to see who won the men’s UConn vs. Kentucky game, this is what happened.

<![CDATA[Batkid Throws 1st Pitch, Draws Praise, Criticism ]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:41:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/batkid6.jpg

He won the hearts of San Francisco five months ago, when the city morphed into Gotham City to lift the spirits of a 5-year-old battling leukemia.

And Batkid still evoked strong emotions when he took the mound at the Giants home opener at AT&T Park on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The tiny superhero, aka Miles Scott of Siskyou County, threw the first pitch at the game, where the Giants were victorious, 7-3. An especially poignant image was when the little boy dressed all in black held hands with pitcher Matt Cain on the field.

Some took to social media to criticize all the attention Miles - who is remission from his cancer - is still getting. The city of San Francisco and 12,000 volunteers pitched in on Nov. 15 to make the boy's dream come true: Allowing him to be his favorite superhero for the day. But some believe that the boy's 15 minutes is up.

On NBC Bay Area's Facebook page, some posters were critical of all the attention he was getting. "There are plenty of other kids out there that could use support or even a couple hours of fun," one person wrote.

But it's also safe to say that Miles has become a symbol of hope for many, especially those in the cancer community, who see that the boy battled his disease.

"Omg!," a poster named Dana Hernandez wrote. "This was so cool! It gave me the chills."

And in a Wednesday morning interview on NBC Bay Area, Giants commentator Mike Krukow called the "blanket of love that everyone" threw Batkid's way, was just "amazing."

"It was the start of a perfect day,"Krukow said during his weekly segment "Kruk on Skype." "And Batkid had a lot to do with it."

Miles Scott, left, dressed as Batkid, throws the ceremonial first pitch next to Batman before an opening day baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 8, 2014.  (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, Pool).

<![CDATA[Stewart Only Going to Get Better]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:36:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-mop.jpg

If this were the men's game, Breanna Stewart would likely be headed for the NBA. In two seasons, she's accomplished just about everything. She's been named the Associated Press National Player of the Year, the United States Basketball Writers National Player of the year, and the the Naismith Award. She remains a finalist for the Wooden Award, and, oh yeah, she's a two-time national champion who has twice earned Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

But even before she stepped foot on UConn's campus, Stewart said she was coming to Storrs to win four national titles. She's halfway there and the thought of her only getting better must keep opposing coaches up at night. And she will get better.

“Stewie is talented and she works really hard,” said senior Bria Hartley, via SNY.com. “It’s just so hard for people to defend her because she can score in so many ways. She’s 6-4 and she’s able to hit the three, she can drive by you, she will post you up inside. How can you stop someone who can literally do everything on the court? The crazy thing is that she is good now, but just imagine how much better she is going to be the next two years.”

And coach Geno Auriemma, who was emotional following the Huskies' championship win Monday night, offered this about the best player in the country.

“I think if Stewie really works at it, and I think she will, if she becomes a much better ballhandler, like she can catch the ball and really go anywhere with it that she wants, I think there will be no guarding her ever, on any level,” Auriemma said. “Right now she is kind of a catch-and-shoot player either in the post or on the perimeter. But once she gets to where she just gets the ball and she just goes wherever she wants … If Stewie adds that to her game, then it’s over. Then there is no guarding her no matter what.”

There are plenty of coaches who might say Stewart is already at that point.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Summitt Congratulates Huskies, Auriemma]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 12:51:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

On Monday night, minutes before UConn was officially crowned 2014 NCAA Champions, ESPN's Doris Burke said that Geno Auriemma's ninth national title should put him in the same conversation will legendary coaches John Wooden and Phil Jackson. Of course, any such conversation starts with women's basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt, who won eight championships during her tenure with Tennessee.

Not surprisingly, Auriemma and Summitt had their battles -- both on the court and elsewhere -- but there had always been (albeit sometimes grudging) respect there, too. And Following the Huskies win Tuesday, Summitt released a statement acknowledging the program's accomplishments.

"Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the 2014 NCAA national championship," Summitt said, via BND.com. "My compliments also to coach Geno Auriemma for winning his ninth national title. He has accomplished this feat in record time with the help of some incredibly talented student-athletes and staff members. My best to each and every one of them. Enjoy the moment and cherish the memories."

<![CDATA[Stewart Named Most Outstanding Player of Final Four]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 12:47:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-nd-finals.png

In a season full of awards, honors and, ultimately, championships, it's only fitting that sophomore forward Breanna Stewart was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. It came on the heels of UConn's convincing national title defense, this time over arch rival Notre Dame. And it's the second time in as many seasons that Stewart has earned MOP honors. The only other person to ever accomplish the feat: Cheryl Miller.

“Coming to Connecticut, I’m here to reach my full potential and become as good of a player as I can be and win national championships,” Stewart said, via SNY.com. “Next year, I want to win a win another one. But we’ll enjoy this one. I win two, I want to win three. We win three, then we’ll see about winning four.

“Right now I’m in the right mindset. I know what it takes to win national championships. Going forward, I’m excited for what’s to come. But I’m going to enjoy this a little bit.”

Early during her freshman season, Stewart struggled to find her niche before coming into her own as 2012 gave way to 2013. She entered her sophomore year as one of the country's best players and when the dust settled, she'll likely end up as one of the most dynamic names to ever come through Storrs. She finished 2013-14 averaging 19.4 points per game to go along with 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 blocked shots.

Now that the Huskies' season is over, Stewart will focus on making the U.S. national team that will compete in the FIBA world championships from Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Turkey.

“I’m going there to try and be a part of that team,” said Stewart, who has five gold medals from previous stints with USA Basketball. “That’s one of my goals. I’m working hard. I’ll be working hard this summer for it. When it gets time for the training camp I’m going to go out and play basketball and if it happens it happens.”

<![CDATA[UMass Basketball Player Announces He's Gay]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 12:30:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ncaa_h3.jpg

UMass guard Derrick Gordon has become the first openly gay player in Division I men's basketball.

Gordon made the announcement in interviews with ESPN and Outsports on Wednesday. Gordon said he gained confidence by seeing an NBA team sign Jason Collins, who became the league's first openly gay player when he joined the Brooklyn Nets this season.

"I want to be myself," Gordon said in the interview televised on ESPN. "I don't want to hide and be someone I'm not."

The sophomore was the Minutemen's fourth-leading scorer with 9.4 points per game last season, when UMass reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. A transfer from Western Kentucky, Gordon played at high school powerhouse St. Patrick in New Jersey.

In the Outsports interview, Gordon said he considered quitting basketball last fall and isolated himself from teammates because of teasing. Over the summer, he had "liked" a photo on Instagram of him and his then-boyfriend in front of gay bar.

"I just wanted to run and hide somewhere," he said. "I used to go back to my room and I'd just cry."

Gordon was also inspired by spending time with several gay people in the world of sports in March, according to the Outsports article, and decided to come out to his family and then the Minutemen.

Once he opened up to his teammates, they were encouraging. In the ESPN interview, he recalled that they told him: "We're going to support you no matter what."

Coach Derek Kellogg told ESPN that he could already see a newfound happiness in Gordon.

"I haven't felt like this. Ever," Gordon said in the Outsports interview. "It's a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. I can finally breathe now and live life happily."

On Twitter on Wednesday, he expressed similar levels of relief at his decision, saying he is "the happiest I have ever been in my 22 Years of living."

Collins made a trailblazing announcement last April when he came out in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In February, he became the first openly gay male athlete in the four major North American pro sports leagues.

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out in interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports in February after his college career ended. He is projected as a middle-round prospect in next month's NFL draft.

Sam tweeted congratulations to Gordon after the announcement: "You have so many in your corner and we're all proud and rooting for you."


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Storms to 9th Title, Routing Notre Dame 79-58]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 23:59:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP576312210999.jpg

Geno Auriemma and Connecticut stand alone in women's college basketball, and they reached the top in unprecedented fashion.

The Huskies routed Notre Dame 79-58 Tuesday night in the first championship game featuring undefeated teams, winning their record ninth national title. Auriemma broke a tie with Pat Summitt and Tennessee for most all-time, doing it in her backyard.

Breanna Stewart, who was the AP's player of the year, scored 21 points to lead the Huskies (40-0) while Stefanie Dolson added 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. Auriemma took out his senior center with a minute left, and the pair embraced in a long hug.

The victory also means that UConn is now the center of the college basketball world with both the men's and women's teams winning the championship in the same year again. The men's team beat Kentucky in the title game Monday night. This pair of victories come a decade after the Huskies became the only school to accomplish the feat.

While the names change at UConn, from Rebecca Lobo to Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and now Stewart, Auriemma has been the constant, winning nine titles in only 20 seasons — including the last two. He's never lost in a national championship game.

"Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the 2014 NCAA National Championship!," Summitt said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "My compliments also to coach Geno Auriemma for winning his ninth national title. He has accomplished this feat in record time."

It was the fifth unbeaten season for Auriemma and UConn and the first time the Huskies went 40-0 — matching Baylor as the only schools to accomplish that feat. The victory was also Connecticut's 46th straight dating back to last season's NCAA tournament title run. It's the third longest streak in school history — well short of the NCAA record 90 straight they won.

The loss was Notre Dame's third in the title game in the past four years. Kayla McBride finished off her stellar career with 21 points to lead the Irish, who were looking for their first championship since 2001.

After proving to be no challenge for the Huskies during the first 15 years of the rivalry which began in 1995, Notre Dame had owned the series lately, winning seven of the previous nine meetings. UConn though has won the last two, eliminating Notre Dame in the Final Four last season before topping them in the championship game this year.

The two former Big East rivals, who have no love lost for each other, put on a show in a game that women's basketball hoped could transcend the sport. The coaches added to the drama of the game with their verbal sparring on Monday. But it was Auriemma who got the last word again.

Even with the loss, it was a record-setting season for the Irish.

Notre Dame lost Skylar Diggins to graduation and changed conferences to the ACC. Neither mattered as they ran through their opponents, winning by an average of 25.6 points while taking both the conference regular season and tournament championships.

The Irish lost senior Natalie Achonwa to a torn ACL in the regional final win over Baylor. Notre Dame wore warmup shirts with Achonwa's nickname "Ace" below her No. 11.

The team played inspired basketball in the Final Four win over Maryland, outrebounding the Terps by a record margin. The Irish couldn't muster a similar effort against UConn and it's gigantic front line. Stewart, Stefanie Dolson and Kiah Stokes dominated the interior. The Huskies outrebounded the Irish 54-31 and held them to a season-low in points.

After the teams traded shots early on, Stewart fueled a 16-0 run as the Huskies, who have played stellar defense all season, held the Irish without a point for nearly five minutes. Stewart's lay-in with 11:02 left made it 22-8.

A minute later, Dolson had an acrobatic tip to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for another layup.

The Irish stayed in the first half by hot 3-point shooting by Michaela Mabrey and Jewell Loyd. Trailing 37-25 with 4:09 left in the first half, the pair sparked a 13-6 run, hitting three 3-pointers which brought the Irish faithful to their feet.

UConn led 45-38 at the half, shooting 57 percent from the field and having 16 assists on their 21 baskets.

The Huskies closed the door on any Irish comeback scoring 18 of the first 22 points in the second half to put the game away. Stewart and Dolson had 10 points during the burst.


Photo Credit: AP]]>