<![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 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:31:00 -0400 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:31:00 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Revis Barred From Tuesday Practice]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:28:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Darrelle+Revis+Getty.jpg

Darrelle Revis was absent from Patriots' practice on Tuesday and it had nothing to do with an injury or a personal matter. According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, Revis was late and coach Bill Belichick sent him home.

Following last Thursday's win over the Jets, Patriots players were given the weekend off and were to report for work on Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. Revis was late. The cornerback told the media that whatever happened was "between me and coach" and to "talk to him" about it.

More via Reiss:

The Boston Herald reported Revis missed practice after oversleeping but was told to stay home instead of showing up late. Revis appeared at Gillette Stadium later in the day after his teammates had left, when he met privately with Belichick and apologized, according to the Herald report. ...

The Globe report cited a source saying Revis accepted being sent home and understands that Belichick's rules apply to everyone. In the past, Belichick has sent players home, including former linebacker Adalius Thomas and star wide receiver Randy Moss.

Revis returned to practice on Wednesday and we suspect he'll see normal duty this Sunday against the Bears.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Defense Bright Spot for Diaco]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:35:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+sideline_1200.jpg

There haven't been many bright spots to the 2014 season but if first-year coach Bob Diaco has taught us anything through the first two months of the season it's perseverance. While we wait for the offense to find its way, there have been some positives. Namely: The defense, which will have its work cut Thursday against 18th-ranked ECU.

“We are always looking for more negative plays and turnovers but we are not a feast or famine outfit,” Diaco said Sunday, via SNY.com's John Silver. “You see a lot of teams play like that and you may see a lot of sacks, TFL’s and maybe a pick or a ball disruption here or there but also see a lot of points. So our objective, and we are built, because we want to keep the points down. So nothing is going to compromise that charge.”

More from Silver:

The Huskies are 1-5, but in the last five games have held all their opponents under 302 yards of offense. The defense is ranked No. 4 in the nation in first downs allowed (95), No. 17 in the nation in total offense surrendering 325 yards per game, 28th in rushing defense at 121.2 per game and 18th in the nation in third down conversion percentage defense allowing only 31 percent of conversions. The Huskies make teams move the ball and generally get off the field when given the chance.

And the defensive line, which is a young unit, has been a bright spot.

“I think that the D-Line, especially the young D-Line players, are getting better with their fundamental eye progression as it relates to foot action,” Diaco said. “The synapses firing, I think they have done a better job there. Faster, violent more heavy hands. So I’ve seen some improvements with those guys. They are moving along.”

It almost certainly won't be enough to salvage the season but that was never the point. Diaco is laying the foundation for the future.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[AAU Coach Says UConn Right Fit for Irwin]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:32:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-2014-recruits.jpg

Tina Thomas is the AAU coach for the Central PA Elite AAU program. One of her players: Kyla Irwin, the latest 2016 recruit for Geno Auriemma and the Huskies. And when Thomas says that Irwin is special, she knows what she's talking about; her daughter was an All-American at Maryland and now plays in the NBA, and her son plays at Wake Forest. Thomas knows basketball.

“I think she’s played for me three years now,’’ Thomas said, via the Connecticut News' Rich Elliott. “I saw her as a freshman. She was playing at my daughter’s old high school. So I went to see her because I was looking for a big and someone told me to go watch her so I did. So I knew her mom (Bethany) because I played against her mom for a couple years and I approached her and said if she’d be interested. Her mother said, `No, she’s on an AAU team.’ And then she kind of talked it out with Kyla and Kyla really wanted to do it.

"So going into her sophomore year I played at the highest level so she was playing upcoming seniors and she was only going to be a sophomore. And she held her own. It was pretty impressive. Her mom taught her well. Her mom played at Penn State. Her mom knows the game extremely well, and she’s a coach’s kid. So I knew she’d play big. Her dream was to play at Connecticut so hat’s off to her.

“She’s just one of those kids that’s a coach’s daughter," Thomas continued. "She knows the game so well. She knows so much about it. The little things that most kids just don’t know she does know. She plays hard, 110 percent, whether we’re killing a team or it’s a very competitive game. And she’s loved by all of her teammates because she’s just one of those kids that she’s cheering whether she’s in the game or sitting on the bench. I’ve never seen a kid like her in that she gets the whole bench rallied up. It’s really a neat thing to see.’’

In addition to UConn, Irwin also had scholarship offers from DePaul, Michigan, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John’s and Saint Joseph’s. But Storrs is where she wanted to be and as far as Thomas is concerned, it makes the most sense.

“She’s Geno’s kind of kid in the sense that whatever he asks her to do she’s going to do it and run through a brick wall through and through,’’ Thomas said. “She’s that kind of kid. She doesn’t get down on herself. If she can’t do something she’s going to work at it until she can do it. She’s that kind of kid.’’

<![CDATA[Report: UConn-Louisville to Play in 2016-17]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:09:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

Between 2006 and 2013, Louisville and UConn played 16 times. The series is currently on hiatus -- Louisville bolted for the ACC after the '13 season -- but that will be short-lived; according to the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla, the Cardinals and Huskies will renew their rivalry in 2016-17.

UConn is 16-1 all-time against Louisville -- including a 16-game winning streak -- but as Altavilla writes, "many of their games since Jeff Walz became coach in 2007 have been among the most important UConn has played."

More via Altavilla:

Included have been two national championship games, in 2009 (UConn, 75-36) and 2013 (UConn, 93-60) and the last year’s American Athletic Conference championship game (UConn, 72-52).

Walz and Geno Auriemma get along quite well and have enjoyed kidding each around in the prelude leading up to their meetings. And there is no question now that Walz is one of the best young coaches in the country, a formidable recruiter with the luxury of a the 22,000-seat KFC Yum Center as his home arena.

It's unclear if a contract has been signed for the 2016-17 games, but Altavilla writes that the series is scheduled to begin in Dec. 2016 and continue in Louisville the following year. And because Walz and Auriemma have a good relationship, the games could continue indefinitely.

<![CDATA[War of the Words: Battle Heats Up Between SF, KC Librarians]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:07:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Juan+Marichal+and+Dan+by+Jim+Hart.jpg

The war of words is heating up between two public libraries 1,500 miles apart, as dueling librarians do their part to boost their hometown baseball team's quest to win the World Series crown.

Sounding a bit Shakespearean, Liesl Christman, the Twitter czar for the Kansas City Public Library, tweeted on Wednesday morning, hours after the San Francisco Giants crushed the Royals in Game 1 on Tuesday, 7-1: "'Tis but a flesh wound - @Royals will rally! Tonight, #LetsThrowFire!"

If the Giants win it all, Christman promised Wednesday her library will buy and shelve San Rafael author Dan Fost's book, "The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle from New York to San Francisco."

If the Royals win, Christman hopes the San Francisco Public Library will be forced to stock George Brett's "From Here to Cooperstown," which is about the Royals, on its shelves.

Michelle Jeffers, the digital guru at the library in San Francisco, said she'd consider the request, but from what's she's heard, that book is out of print.

"Even better!" Jeffers joked, adding that under different circumstances she and Christman might be very good friends.

Then Jeffers tweeted: "Guess we'll see what happens tonight when the Giants shhhhhhh-ut you down in Game 2."

No one is happier about the librarian smack talk than Fost, a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter who is now a full-time author and freelance writer. Each time the Giants make it to the World Series – this is third time in five seasons – he is asked to write a new edition. "This is a mutually symbiotic relationship," he said on Wednesday.

As for the baseball book bet, Fost is also genuinely enthralled Kansas City readers may be flipping through pages he wrote.

"What a great idea to promote reading," he said. "I'm so moved."

Photo Credit: Jim Hart
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<![CDATA[Twinning at Conn College]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:00:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/cameltwins102214.jpg There are four sets of twins playing fall sports at Connecticut College, including a pair on the women's soccer team.]]> <![CDATA[Huskies Excited About Newsome's Potential]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:45:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/arkeel+newsome+uconn+running+close.jpg

There are few bright spots in UConn's offense, but freshman running back Arkeel Newsome is one of them. And while he hasn't had the fast start to his college career that some had expected, coaches and players can't speak highly enough of him.

"He's a great guy to block for along with all the other running backs," senior offensive linemen Alex Mateas told the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller. "Arkeel has been doing really well. I completely forgot about those little parts in the game against Tulane. I love him and he has a bright future. He kind of keeps to himself but he doesn't have to say very much because he talks with his performance but I love him, he is a great kid."

Newsome lost two fumbles in the loss to Tulane but that means little to offensive lineman Gus Cruz.

"He is a young guy and he running hard," he told Fuller. "All of that is encouraging. I don't really care too much about the fumbles. I appreciate the guys running hard. One of them he was really running hard, put a hand down and next time he will probably keep both hands on (the ball). The other time it wasn't really his fault, he was down (emotionally) because he was young but I think that was a good learning experience for him early. Moving forward I don't think he is going to have those problems as far as turning the ball over. He is going to be more game savvy as far as how to run with the ball and that all comes with experience. I am encouraged to watch him run and it is exciting at the same time."

And these comments come a couple weeks after first-year coach Bob Diaco indicated that Newsome and freshman Ron Johnson would both see more playing time in the backfield.

"Arkeel is a contact-fast player," the coach said at the time. "His playing speed is as fast or even faster than his actual speed. There's a lot of players in the game that when they go in the game they play slower than they run. As contact approaches, they play even slower. Arkeel is unique in that he plays as fast as he actually and may actually play faster than he is actually is. If you timed him running a 40-yard dash on the field as opposed to lining him up in gym shorts and running on a turf field, it might even be faster. That's a unique trait, not everybody has that connection between brain and fine motor skills."

Now it's just a matter of taking what coaches and players have seen from Newsome on the practice field and putting it to use during games.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Dangerfield Is Complete Player]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:41:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

Crystal Dangerfield, the first member of the Huskies' 2016 recruiting class, will arrive in Storrs like so many players before her: With countless high school accolades and honors. But the 2014 Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year is more than just a scoring machine.

“One of the things about Crystal is that she does not need to dominate the ball to be great,” Blackman High School (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) coach Chad Hibdon told SNY.com's Carl Adamec on Monday. “Last year, she averaged 14-15 points per game and still picked up a lot of Player of the Year awards that usually go to kids that average 20, 22, 25. She trusts her teammates and they have a great camaraderie on and off the court. She’s a piece of the puzzle, an important piece. One of her strengths is her leadership, particularly from the position that she plays. And she’s a great teammate.

“She is used to playing with other good players. I think that’s the kind of thing that will help her at UConn. Here, she doesn’t have to do it all in order for us to be successful and it will be the same for her at the next level,” he told Adamec.

Dangerfield, rated as the No. 3 prospect in the '16 class, according to ESPN, averaged 14.5 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.9 steals and helped Blackman High to a 34-1 record and the Tennessee Class 3A state championship. She also set single-season records for points in her first two years

"I continue to use two words when I’m asked to describe her,” Hibdon continued. “She has an unbelievable drive and determination for excellence in anything she does whether it’s as a player or a student. She wants to excel and she has very high standards. She is always looking to improve.

“A lot of her growth is just the maturation process. But she’s also done a great job of understanding the responsibility of being a point guard. She came into our program two years ago with a lot of skills and talents. But we’re a program that competes at a high level and competes for state championships. So for her to come from playing middle school basketball to us wasn’t easy. But she’s always worked hard and she’s developed and grown and understands what she has to do for our team to be successful.”

<![CDATA[Kyla Irwin Commits to UConn]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:39:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-201314.jpg

Days after Crystal Dangerfield made a verbal commitment, Geno Auriemma and the Huskies got a second verbal commitment from Kyla Irwin. The 6-2 junior forward from State College, Penn., made the announcement after touring the campus over the weekend and meeting with academic advisers and Auriemma on Monday.

“It’s been my dream my whole life to play at UConn, and who can pass up her dream?” Irwin said Tuesday, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “Everything about them is everything I want. ... I don’t even remember how I was feeling (when I committed). I tried to stay under control and not start bouncing off the walls. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to say I was coming.”

Irwin, who averaged 19.6 points and 12.7 rebounds last season as a high school sophomore, is coached by her mom, Bethany Irwin.

“At the high school level, Kyla can do everything for us,” she told Adamec. “She can pass, rebound, and shoot. But one of her biggest strengths is her passion for the game. I’ve been coaching at State College for 22 years so she was born into the program and been a part of it and been on every bus ride. Basketball has been her life and she really understands the game and she’s a great communicator. I trust her instincts. She’s willing to work hard to improve and that has built her confidence.”

<![CDATA[Kia Nurse Says Team Curious About Canada]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:28:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kia_Nurse_Fills_in_Teammates_on_All_Things_Canada_1200x675_346266691602.jpg UConn freshman, Kia Nurse, who is from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, says her teammates have a lot of questions about her home country.]]> <![CDATA[Report: Pats Lose Jones for a Month]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:49:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/455443516.jpg

The Patriots lost another key member of their defense this week when defensive end Chandler Jones suffered a hip injury that will keep him sidelined for a month, according to a report from the Boston Globe. The news comes after New England lost linebacker Jerod Mayo for the season earlier this month.

More details via ESPN.com's Mike Reiss.

Rookie defensive lineman Dominique Easley, the Patriots' top pick from the 2014 draft who has battled shoulder and knee injuries this season, projects as a potential fill-in for Jones.

Another player on the roster who could see increased time in Jones' absence is rookie defensive end Zach Moore, a sixth-round pick out of Concordia- St. Paul. Moore is considered a long-term project player with high upside.

The Globe reports that the Pats are expected to sign defensive lineman Alan Branch, who previously played seven seasons for the Bills.

New England currently leads the AFC East with a 5-2 record, and faces Chicago this Sunday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Polite" Librarians Talk World Series Smack]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:59:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/lib-th.jpg

You know things are getting intense when public librarians start talking smack about the World Series.

In a series of back-and-forth tweets, the city librarians in San Francisco and Kansas City began taunting each other – with book titles, of course – over which team is going to win Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, the Giants or the Royals.

"We're polite but fierce!" the San Francisco library tweeted. "Get ready to cry some blue tears for @Royals when @SFGiants take the win tonight."

Michelle Jeffers, the social media guru for the San Francisco library and the mastermind of the tweets, had an obvious answer for why she was dissing the Kansas City library 1,500 miles away.

"Well, they started it," she said with a laugh.

In fact, they did. At 11 a.m., the Kansas City Public Library, tweeted: "Hey @SFPublicLibrary we have a book for you!" The link showed this title: "So, You Think You Know Baseball? A Fan's Guide to the Offical Rules," by Peter E. Meltzer.

"What? They think we don't know the rules?" Jeffers joked.

Liesl Christman, the digital contest specialist at the Kansas City library, happily admitted to "starting it." And she said she chose the baseball rules book while flipping through the catalog, trying decide what bibliophile zinger to fling.

"Yeah, I was hoping to get a response," Christman said from Kansas City by phone. "I just didn't realize it was going to go on so long."

The Twitter tete-a-tete went on for so long, partly, because Jeffers wasn't going to take it lying down.

She shot back: "Thanks, but maybe you should read this." And she sent them a link to Dan Fost's book, "The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle from New York to San Francisco."

Kansas City took aim again, pointing out that the Giants haven't always been in San Francisco - the team was once a favorite in the Big Apple. Christman tweeted a stack of "fairy tale" books with the hashtag #TaketheCrown.

Jeffers fired off another dig, albeit a courteous one, simply stating that the Giants history has been amazing "coast to coast."

"I didn't want to diss them too bad," Jeffers said. "I was trying to be polite because we're librarians here."

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Waive Michael Sam]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:37:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GERRY_MCCARTHY__1409761483_39578161-620x503.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys have waived defensive end Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly-gay player, from the team's practice squad.

Sam, 24, joined the Cowboys on Sept. 3 after being cut from the Rams. He was drafted by St. Louis in the 7th round and totaled nine tackles and three sacks in three preseason games before being cut by the Rams. 

He never played in a game for the Cowboys and the team has not released a statement on his departure.

After the announcement, Sam tweeted thanks to team owner Jerry Jones for the opportunity, as well as friends, family, teammates and fans.  He added he was disappointed, but looked forward to fight for an opportunity to play every Sunday in the NFL.

According to DallasCowboys.com, the release of Sam makes room for linebacker Troy Davis who worked out with the team Monday.

Sam is a Texas native who played high school football at Hitchcock High School before playing for Missouri.  While at Missouri, he was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and had 11 1/2 sacks in the 2013 season.

The 6-1 Cowboys are off to their best start since 2007 when then finished the regular season at 13-3.  Monday night they'll face an NFC East rival, the 2-5 Washington Redskins, in Arlington.

Photo Credit: Gerry McCarthy / Dallas Morning News Staff Photographer
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<![CDATA[Diaco Looking for More From Boyle]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:58:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Tim+Boyle_722.jpg

First-year Huskies coach Bob Diaco may often sugarcoat the message -- partly because he's frequently the bearer of bad news -- but that doesn't mean he's not giving an honest assessment of the situation.

It's a tough balancing act, but it's also necessary for a program in the midst of rebuilding after three previous uninspiring seasons. If things are going to get better, the Huskies need to find consistency at quarterback. It didn't help that Casey Cochran retired from football after just one game, or that redshirt senior Chandler Whitmer and sophomore Tim Boyle have struggled for any number of reasons.

The plan was originally to redshirt Boyle, who could have benefited by sitting out the season, but Cochran's unexpected departure nixed those plans. In fact, he's played in three of the last four games but completed just 7 of 15 passes for 40 yards, no touchdowns and two picks.

Which brings us back to Diaco, who spoke frankly about what he -- and this offense -- needs from Boyle.

"I don't mind saying it because I said it to the whole team, we'd like Tim to come in and produce and play a lot more than he does and than he has," Diaco said, via the Hartford Courant. "We're looking forward to that moment and opportunity. He has played in each of the last few games, I think he's healing up and feeling better. As that improves, his game improves, but continued ball security errors, you just can't have that."

Boyle has had a tough go of it at UConn, dating back to his freshman season when he saw action after Paul Pasqualoni was fired. He is still looking for his first career touchdown though he already has 10 picks in eight appearances.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Dangerfield Commits to Huskies]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:54:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

That didn't take long. Shortly after Crystal Dangerfield was on hand for UConn's First Night, the 5-5 junior point guard from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, made an oral commitment to Geno Auriemma's program. She becomes the first recruit in the Huskies' 2016 class.

“Coach Auriemma knew what I wanted in a school and UConn has it,” Dangerfield said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “They want to win as much as I do.

“I wasn’t sure if I would commit when I was there. It depended on how I felt and if I figured things out and it was right. When I told the coaches we went around giving each other hugs and they were very excited. It was a great feeling. Another thing is now I can really focus on my last two high school seasons.”

Dangerfield, rated as the No. 3 prospect in the '16 class, according to ESPN, is also Auriemma's first recruit from Tennessee.

“I remember watching UConn and Tennessee play when I was seven and eight years old and I felt even then that UConn would be a great place to play,” Dangerfield said. “I had half the people saying I should go to Tennessee and the other half saying I should go to UConn.”

Dangerfield averaged 14.5 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.9 steals and helped Blackman High to a 34-1 record and the Tennessee Class 3A state championship. She set single-season records for points in her first two years and was named Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year after her sophomore season.

<![CDATA[Gray to Get More Looks in Pats' Backfield]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:35:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jonas-gray-pats.jpg

With Stevan Ridley's season over, the Patriots signed Jonas Gray off the practice squad before last Thursday's game against the Jets. The former undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame had three carries for 12 yards, and did enough to earn more playing time, according to Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

"Jonas works really hard," McDaniels said this week. "He's been well prepared and done a great job for us on the scout teams here. And certainly made the most of his opportunities in the preseason and just continues to prepare like he is playing each week."

But Gray's value doesn't show up on the stat sheet. He was solid in blitz pick-up, something many young backs struggle with.

"He had an opportunity to come up last week and help and I thought he did a good job in his role," McDaniels continued. "Didn't play -- I think he played a total of 11 plays, if I am correct on it -- but, again, did a great job of running hard, runs behind his pads, stays low, not the easiest guy in the world to bring down because he's a thick guy with the ball. ...

"He stepped in there and picked up the blitz a couple of times the other night. So just a young guy that is eager to do whatever is asked of him and we will continue to work with him and see if we can't continue to build on what we did the other night with him."

Originally signed by the Dolphins in 2013, he was released just before the 2013 season. After a stint on the Ravens practice squad, the Patriots signed him in January 2014 and he was on their practice squad until last week.

<![CDATA[Johnny Damon Coming to Hartford]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:04:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Phillies-Should-Consider-Johnny-Damon.jpg

Johnny Damon is part of a small group to win World Series with both the Red Sox and Yankees, and he is coming to Hartford this week for a YMCA fundraising event.

Damon, who established a charitable foundation and serves as a spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Project, will be the honored guest and speaker at the YMCA celebrates champions event on Thursday night at the Connecticut Convention Center.

This is the signature fundraising event for the YMCA of Greater Hartford, which supports the annual campaign and “Read to Success.”

Tickets are $200 a piece or $2,000 for a table of 10.

The VIP reception is at 6:30 p.m., while the general reception gets underway at 6:45 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Turn Attention to Bears]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:45:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bill-belichick-pencil.jpg

After squeaking by the Jets on Thursday, the Patriots had Sunday off. But this is the NFL, where there is no rest for the weary; next up: The the Bears come to Foxboro after another demoralizing home loss, this time to the Dolphins.

Pats coach Bill Belichick spoke to the media on Sunday to talk about an underachieving Bears team.

"We've seen quite a bit of them," the coach said. "They're an explosive offensive team, got a lot of big play players -- receivers, tight ends, quarterback, running back -- a lot of guys that can hurt you and hurt you in a hurry. Defensively, a good front, a good pass-rushing team, active linebackers and secondary, play quite a bit of zone coverage.

"They don't give up a lot of big plays and they do a good job defensively of getting you off the field with their front, causing negative plays, batted balls, turnovers off their zone coverages. Break on the quarterback who's under pressure, that type of thing. That's kind of what they do. A lot of talented players on offense, a lot of guys that can hurt you in a hurry, tough group overall to defend because of the number of skill players and schemes, multiple schemes that Marc [Trestman] uses."

Belichick's comments came before the Bears had imploded against the Dolphins, but it's not like the coach would go out of his way to say anything potentially inflammatory ahead of a game. Which explains his straightforward comments about Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler, who isn't a franchise quarterback because he's so inconsistent from one week to the next.

"Well, he has an excellent arm," Belichick began. "He can make any throw you want him to make. He's accurate on long balls, intermediate routes, on comebacks, inside cuts, good on the catch-and-run plays underneath the defense, smart guy. ...If a team sends something late and they have a free rusher, he sees those things, he doesn't get blindsided or miss them very often.

"He has a lot of weapons and he knows how to use them, their different skill levels there. He certainly knows how to use the size of the receivers and tight ends to put the ball where only they can get it, they can box out the defender. He gives receivers a chance to make plays on the ball. A lot of times they can just go up and box the defender out and rebound it, make a catch even though they're actually, technically covered but not covered well enough to keep them from catching the ball. Cutler does all those things pretty well and he's mobile. He's a hard guy to get in the pocket. He has quickness and ability to keep plays alive."

Cutler is also a turnover machine who can be rattled by pressure, which often leads to poor decision making. Belichick would never say that out loud but we'll do it for him.

<![CDATA[Diaco Says Huskies are 'in R&D' mode]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:34:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+pumped.jpg

First-year UConn coach Bob Diaco, who has overseen the team's 1-5 start, is back to the grind after a bye week. The offense has been a mess and it's not clear a fix will happen this season. Which means there will be a lot of tinkering with a lot of younger players, and the hope is that this experience pays dividends in the future.

“We are in the R&D part," Diaco said, via SNY.com's John Silver "We haven’t rolled out our product line. You are watching it in open glass. It’s like a pharmaceutical company making medicine that is going to help people. It is research and development. Eventually we are going to roll out that product.”

Next up: East Carolina, who are 5-1 and atop the American Athletic Conference.

“There’s only so much time, you have,” Diaco said of trying to fix everything. “For everything you do, you take away from something else. For every individual period we are working on fundamentals, we are not working into fitting our system into the East Carolina offense,defense and special teams. ...

“We are not quite in a calendar year. We’ve been here 10 months talking about these things," the coach continued. "We have so much work to do. Everyday there is something else that comes up that needs to be addressed. I don’t have a timetable. That’s part of our program anyway. We are a developmental program. We believe in it and the development of our players. We want to improve the players in the five specific areas of development. Everyday it will be that way.”

And hopefully, it will all come together, sooner rather than later.

“The infrastructure here is strong, puzzle pieces are here,” Diaco said. “There is no immovable force… nothing here will be preventing us from becoming a championship program.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Never Lost Focus After Title Win]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:32:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

Kevin Ollie is a lot of thing: young, a national champion, driven and as the Huskies embark on their title defense, extremely focused. In case that wasn't already obvious, he made it crystal clear during a Q & A with CBSSports.com's Jon Rothstein.

There are a lot of off-court distractions that comes with a championship -- mostly due to the national media attention and the subsequent commitments that come with it -- but none of that, or anything else, has kept him from properly preparing for the 2014-15 season.

"I was always doing that," Ollie said of the preparation. "Once the celebration was over with, I was thinking about whether or not Ryan Boatright was coming back to school. I was thinking about whether or not DeAndre Daniels was going to come back to school. I was thinking about how our recruits and how our freshmen were going to fit in with our team for this year. As a coach, you never stop thinking about that.

"You always want to make sure you have a contingency plan for everything and anything that happens in this game. Guys leave -- DeAndre had an awesome six-game stretch and it allowed him to be taken by the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the NBA Draft (37th overall). Now you've got to go to Plan B. I had a good situation where everybody was buying in into one system. And they're not getting drunk off success. They're not reading any press clippings. We've got a lot of guys that are stepping up in different roles which is good," he told Rothstein.

Ollie was also asked about the offseason speculation that several NBA teams were interested in his services.

"Some of it was false, some of it was true -- I just never got wrapped up in it," he said. "I wanted to be here at UConn. Of course, we were negotiating my new deal, and I knew that was going to happen -- it was just a matter of me and (UConn athletic director) Warde Manuel sitting down -- but to be honest, we went straight to the Spring recruiting period when we got back from the Final Four.

"We finished playing April 6th or 7th and the next week we were out recruiting again. There wasn't a lot of time for me to think about NBA jobs. I was thinking about what recruits could come to UConn and get us to the next level where we're going to continually be in a position to win a national championship. I kept my options open of course because you have to do that but at the same time I wanted to be here. I think I've got the best job in America. I love the University of Connecticut. I love my players. They believed in me when a lot of people didn't, so of course I'm going to stay with them and try to see if we can continue to win and not only maintain this program but also strengthen this program. I think that's what we did last year," he said to Rothstein.

Those NBA rumors seem like years ago, which is how Ollie would prefer it. Now it's all about the upcoming season, which is less than a month off.

"We've just go to pay attention to details right now," he said. "You can't be distracted by the crumbs, because the cake is at the end of the season. A lot of people are grabbing for the crumbs and get frustrated if we lose a couple of games here or there but you need to understand that we want to go after the cake. We want to be right when the time is right in March and April and we can't distracted because injuries happen or something happens where we're not playing our best basketball. We need to stay with the program. We need to stay with the process. We have to have the mindset that if we're always learning then that's when we're most successful."

<![CDATA[Huskies Get Verbal Commit From Local Lineman]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:25:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

The 2015 commitments keep coming for coach Bob Diaco and the Huskies. The latest is New London product Bryan Cespedes, a 6-7, 260-pound offensive lineman, who is commitment No. 18 for UConn.

Cespedes is undersized by FBS standards and will have to put on weight in college, but his high school coach thinks that once Cespedes' focus is solely on football he could be "a monster."

"He reminds me of (former Waterford High lineman) Zach Hurd and he is bigger than Zach was at (as a high school senior)," New London coach Duane Maranda told the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller. "Zach had a great career there and even got to the NFL."

Cespedes becomes the Huskies' first offensive line commit, which has been one of the weak links on a suspect offense. Fuller writes that Cespedes considers UConn his dream school and he's fond of the coaching staff. Furthermore, Maranda was impressed by the staff's "thoroughness" during the recruiting process.

The Huskies now have 18 commitments for the 2015 class. In addition to Cespedes there is: WR Tyraiq Beals, NT Trey Blackwell, WR Frank Battle, QB Tyler Davis, DT Kevin Murphy, OLB Connor Freeborn, DE Phillipe Okunam, FS Marshe Terry, TE Ben Hartwick, WR Aaron McLean, TE Ian Campbell, LB Nazir Williams, DB Aaron Garland, DB John V. Robinson, TE Chris Lee, K/P Michael Tarbutt and CB Justice Pettus-Dixon.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 7]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 23:38:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/457509990.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the seventh week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["War Machine" Attempts Suicide: PD]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 13:54:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/War-Machine-vegas-MMA.jpg

A professional mixed martial arts fighter accused of beating his porn star ex-girlfriend and one of her male friends tried to commit suicide in a Las Vegas jail, authorities said.

Jonathan "War Machine" Koppenhaver, 32, was found Tuesday in a cell at the Clark County Detention Center sitting on the floor with his feet resting on the bunk, Las Vegas Metropolitan police said in a statement.

The officer noticed what appeared to be a torn piece of linen around his neck that was tied to the leg of his bunk, police said.

The officer called to Koppenhaver several times, but he did not respond, according to police. When the officer went inside the cell he noticed that Koppenhaver was struggling to breathe, police said.

The officer cut the ligature from Koppenhaver’s neck and his breathing became less strained and he started to speak, police said.

Koppenhaver was moved to a medical isolation cell, where he was placed on suicide watch.

Police said they found a suicide note inside Koppenhaver’s cell.

Koppenhaver, a former porn actor, was booked into Clark County jail in August.

He's accused of beating adult film actress Christy Mack and her male friend at a Las Vegas home on Aug. 8 before fleeing to the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley, where he was arrested a week later.

Koppenhaver faces charges including attempted murder and dozens of assault counts.

Koppenhaver made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 2007 and legally changed his name in 2008. He lost his only pay-per-view bout that same year.

He fought out of San Diego for a variety of promotions and had a 14-5 record as a welterweight. He lost his last fight, in Iowa, last October.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Simi Valley Police/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Fact vs. Fiction, Giants-Cowboys]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:00:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/457124394.jpg

Welcome to Week 7 of the NFL season, as the Giants attempt to recover from a brutal 27-0 loss to the Eagles by traveling to Dallas to beat a 5-1 Cowboys team that just defeated Seattle on the road and is feeling very Cowboy-like about themselves.

Are the Giants really as bad as they seemed last week? Are the Cowboys really as good? Let’s separate fact from fiction in advance of this key NFC East matchup.

Fact: Dallas plays in the NFC East.
Fiction: Dallas is in the eastern section of the United States.

Fact: Most people expected the Cowboys to be awful this year.
Fiction: The Cowboys have played to expectations.

Fact: The Giants are a Jekyll & Hyde team.
Fiction: You can predict which version will show up this week.

Fact: Dallas running back DeMarco Murray is leading the league in rushing and is on pace to set a record for most rushing attempts.
Fiction: That bodes well for his long-term health.

Fact: The Giants’ medical staff prepped the team about how to protect themselves against the Ebola virus, which claimed the life of one man in Dallas and has infected at least two nurses.
Fiction: No Giants’ fans will be at the game carrying signs that joke about Ebola.

Fact: Cowboys backup running back Joseph Randle was arrested this week for shoplifting underwear and cologne.
Fiction: That’s normal for a guy who makes $495,000.

Fact: Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning is going to the Hall of Fame someday.
Fiction: So is Tony Romo.

Fact: People still often refer to the Giants as the New York Football Giants.
Fiction: That has been remotely necessary since the baseball Giants left for San Francisco in 1957.

Fact: ESPN ranks Phil Simms as the No. 9 Giant ever, with Eli Manning No. 15.
Fiction: That makes sense.

Fact: The Giants and the Cowboys have only faced off in the playoffs one time (2007).
Fiction: That was when Tony Romo earned his only career playoff win.

Fact: Dallas owner Jerry Jones has also been the Cowboys general manager since 1994.
Fiction: He is going to see the light one of these days and fire himself as GM.

Fact: If you’re a Yankees fan and you’re not from the New York Tri-State area, then you’re probably a Cowboys fan, too.
Fiction: This doesn’t make you a frontrunner.

Fact: The Cowboys have won five games in a row.
Fiction: You would be surprised if they were one and done in the playoffs.

Fact: Dez Bryant set the ESPN Sport Science record by diving more than 20 feet horizontally onto an indoor mat as he caught a touchdown pass.
Fiction: I can dive 2 feet horizontally without ending up in the ER.

Fact: Cowboys fans have been coming out of the woodwork, especially after last week’s victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
Fiction: Cowboys fans totally believe in this team.

Fact: Giants tight end Larry Donnell burst on the scene with three touchdowns against the Redskins a few weeks ago.
Fiction: Donnell has had more than one catch since.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pats’ D Holds on But Must Improve]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:56:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tom-brady-geno-smith.jpg

Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn't kidding when he called Thursday night's effort against the Jets a "grind-it-out game" before noting that "It was good enough, but it wasn't our best."

The only thing that stood in the way of the biggest upset of the season was 58 yards and the left hand of defensive lineman Chris Jones, who blocked kicker Nick Folks' long-range field goal attempt as time expired to give New England the 27-25 victory.

The ball fell harmlessly to the ground as the clock wound down to zero, and while the Patriots left the field with a 5-2 record, plenty of questions remain. Chief among them: How does Belichick fix a defense that is now without Jerod Mayo. The Jets ran up and down the field, gaining 218 yards and New England was pretty much helpless to do anything about it.

"I'm not taking anything away from what the Jets did, they're a tough team," Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich said, via ESPN.com. "They run the ball, they've got a good running back [Ivory] who's a tough downhill runner. Their offensive line is big, strong guys that they're able to run the ball a little bit. We've got to do a lot of things better. I think we're going to continue to get better as the season progresses. There's always corrections to be made."

The good news is that while the Jets controlled time of possession (40:54) and first downs (28 to 16), the Patriots' defense stiffened in the red zone; New York scored two touchdowns but also had to settle for four field goals, and that proved to be the difference.

"If you can hold them to field goals in this league, you have a better chance of winning," Ninkovich said. "Holding them to field goals was huge, our offense was able to score some points and we came out with the win."

It's hard to envision a situation where the Pats don't win the division, but if they want to go anywhere in the playoffs, they'll need to improve -- drastically, some might say -- going forward.

"We had our chances to get off the field on third down," Belichick said. "That would eliminate a lot of those plays. And we have to play the run better too. We didn't make them punt until the [third] quarter. ... It was late. Luckily we played well in the red area, kept them out of the end zone and kept the points down."

And Patriots defensive lineman Casey Walker added: "We've got to communicate better," Walker said. "A lot of their successful runs, I would say it was on us. We've got some things to iron out this week. It was a short week for us, but at the end of the day, we went out there and we did what we have to do to get the win. That's what matters right now. Then we'll come in and we'll iron out the details.

"[Communication needs to improve] between everybody. Majority defensive line, because we communicate between each other with things that we have to do and calls and stuff like that. And also listening to [Dont'a Hightower], to Jamie [Collins] off any calls or stunts. Sometimes we didn't get those and we didn't run them. If we would have ran them, then their success running the ball would have been limited."

<![CDATA[USA Today Coaches Polls Has Huskies at No. 15]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:26:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn9.jpg

The defending national champion Huskies begin the 2014-15 season as the 15th-ranked team, according to the USA Today coaches preseason poll. Earlier this week, NBCSports.com's CollegeBasketballTalk.com had UConn 20th, of course none of this will matter in a month when the season starts in earnest, but it gives us something to talk about in the meantime.

Kentucky is ranked No. 1 in the USA Today poll, followed by Arizona, Duke, Wisconsin and Kansas. The Huskies are the highest-rated AAC team followed by SMU at No. 22. Memphis was the only other AAC school to receive votes.

Earlier this week, UConn coach Kevin Ollie sounded unconcerned about his team playing well despite the loss of emotional leader Shabazz Napier, who now plays for the Miami Heat.

"We're going to have good chemistry," Ollie said. "That's what we work on first and foremost. Have good chemistry, and everything falls into place behind that. We want to build them from the neck up, and then we'll take care of the neck down. The first thing we've got to build is mental toughness. They've got to have mental toughness, because that's what it takes to become a champion.

"We want to win championships every day. Everyone wants to think about the end goal. But I want to win championships every day and if we can do that, we'll be where we need to be at the end of the season. I have an obsession with getting better, and hopefully they have the same obsession that I do."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Morgan Tuck Glad to Be Healthy]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:23:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/morgan-tuck-title.jpg

There's plenty of reason for optimism for the 2014-15 Huskies and much of that has to do with the fact that they're coming off back-to-back NCAA titles and return the nation's best player, Breanna Stewart.

But the team will be without center Stefanie Dolson, who has taken her game to the WNBA, which leaves a void in the frontcourt that coach Geno Auriemma hopes Morgan Tuck can fill. Tuck, a red-shirt sophomore, played in just eight games last season because of a knee injury that eventually required surgery.

But there were no signs of the injury after she took part in the team's first practice this week.

“I was so excited when I woke up this morning to know that we had official practice,’’ Tuck said, via the Connecticut News' Rich Elliott. “I feel good. I’m on a real high right now. I finally get to be back with the team so it feels really good. ...

“It hasn’t been bothering me,’’ Tuck said of her knee. “I don’t have any issues with it. The only thing I don’t like is I have to wear the brace, but that’s just a precaution-type thing. So if that’s the only thing I have to worry about then I’m doing pretty well.’’

Auriemma, who isn't one for laying it on thick, spoke glowingly of Tuck's first day back.

“She works hard all the time,” he said. “She’s just naturally a hard-working kid whether it’s in school or whether it’s in basketball. She’s got a great way about her. She’s come along great," Auriemma told Connecticut News.  "We said this at our meeting today that one of the challenges for our team is to take the Morgan that’s always great in October and try to find a way to get her to be that same Morgan in November, December, January and February. First things first was to get healthy, and she looks great on the floor. She’s just so smooth and so versatile. She plays so many positions. She does so many good things for you that when you don’t have her … you don’t appreciate it until you don’t have her.’’

The Huskies open the season Nov. 14 against UC Davis.

<![CDATA[In '08, Stewart Almost Didn't Play With U16 Team]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:13:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-mop.jpg

Junior Breanna Stewart, the best college basketball player in the country, returns to UConn fresh off a stint with Team USA and their gold-medal performance at the FIBA Championship earlier this month.

But six years ago, Stewart, then 14, was at the beginning of her national team career. In fact, when she was invited to to play for the United States' Under 16 team in 2008, her parents considered turning down the invitation.

“It wasn’t a flat out turn down, but I remember having a conversation with Brian," USA Basketball chief Carol Callan told the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "He just wasn’t sure what it [the U16 team] was, or whether Breanna was that good [to participate] and if, in fact, it was something she should be a part of. She was only 14 and at that point you are obviously questioning who exactly this is you are considering allowing your daughter to spend time with; and, oh by the way, you are planning to take her out of the country? All of the initial hesitation made perfect sense to me."

Eventually, the Stewarts felt comfortable enough to send Breanna to play with the U16 team and, well, the rest is history.

"Listen, they always say a person’s personality and character comes from her parents, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree," Callan told the Courant. "Both of those things are true with Breanna; she has always been a humble person. And her parents are the same way. They are always so appreciative of the opportunities offered their daughter. They have no expectation of entitlement or that anyone deserves anything less than their daughter does. It’s largely because of where she comes from that she is the kind of person she is and why people just love having her around."

<![CDATA[Huskies Begin Title Defense With First Official Practice]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:55:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+first+practice_1200.jpg

The Huskies' first practice is in the books. The two-time defending national champions have begun the process of defending their title for a third straight time, a journey that officially begins when they face UC Davis on Nov. 14. First things first, though.

"How did it go?" Auriemma said of practice No. 1, via the Hartford Courant. "Well, it was a little noisy in there. But that's not a bad thing because everyone needs to listen closer to zero in on what's being said. … And it was a little warm in here, which is OK because it helps you break a sweat a little easier.

"But I told them after practice that it's like when a guy goes to New York City to have dinner and you ask him how the food was and he says, 'eh, it was OK.' It's hard to say it's great because it was just the first practice of the year."

No one expected a glowing review from Auriemma, a man with high standards who isn't one to exaggerate. But the Huskies have Morgan Tuck back after she was sidelined with a knee injury and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis spent the offseason getting stronger after she was slowed by injuries last season. Oh, and there's Breanna Stewart, the best player in the country fresh off a stint with Team USA, which won the FIBA Championship earlier this month in Turkey.

"It was an amazing experience learning about the game from the best players in the world," Stewart said. "But I was really looking forward to getting back to my team. The entire experience has given me a tremendous level of confidence."

Auriemma agreed: "Being around those guys, being at practice, seeing how people work and how they prepare, that is something that is going to help her a lot," he said. "She knows now that if I want to make the Olympic team [in 2016] that I need to make some strides and that is good for her."

Then there's the highly touted freshman class, which includes Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, Sadie Edwards and Courtney Ekmark.

"I think everybody is excited about the freshmen, except the coaches and the upperclassmen, because all they do is screw up every drill," said Auriemma. "I would like for them to show us their competitiveness. I don't think they are going to show us that they are ready to win us a national championship because that is not feasible."

Like we said: Geno has high standards and is not one to exaggerate.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Gets Commit From Dynamic WR]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:56:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

Offense has been the biggest issue facing UConn this season and the 1-5 record certainly bears that out. But help could be on the way in the form of the 2015 recruiting class. The group includes seven offensive players, including a quarterback, three tight ends, and now with the latest commitment, three wide receivers.

Wide receiver Tyraiq Beals of East Orange, New Jersey, committed to the Huskies Thursday and made the announcement on Twitter. According to SNY.com's John Silver, Beals was also recruited by Rutgers, Temple and Virginia, although UConn was the first to offer him a scholarship.

Through six weeks, Beals leads the state of New Jersey in receiving with 41 catches for 622 yards and eight touchdowns -- in four games. Consider these single-game totals for Beal, courtesy of the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller:

Sept. 12 vs. Bayonne 6-130-1 TD
Sept. 19 vs. Oakcrest 10-144-3 TDs
Oct. 2 Livingstone 16-218-3 TDs
Oct. 11 Seton Hall Prep 9-130-1 TD

The Huskies now have 17 commitments for the 2015 class: NT Trey Blackwell, WR Frank Battle, QB Tyler Davis, DT Kevin Murphy, OLB Connor Freeborn, DE Phillipe Okunam, FS Marshe Terry, TE Ben Hartwick, WR Aaron McLean, TE Ian Campbell, LB Nazir Williams, DB Aaron Garland, DB John V. Robinson, TE Chris Lee, K/P Michael Tarbutt and CB Justice Pettus-Dixon.

<![CDATA[Freshman Williams Battles Back From Injury]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:03:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-201314.jpg

UConn's freshman class is stacked but that isn't unusual for a Geno Auriemma team. The 2014-15 group includes Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, Sadie Edwards and Courtney Ekmark. And while all four made it through their first Huskies practice Wednesday, it's Williams who continues to work her way back from a second surgery to repair a torn ACL in her right knee.

She hasn't yet been fully cleared to play -- Williams doesn't participate in 5-on-5 during practice sessions -- but the hope is that she'll be ready to go soon.

“I’m coming to an end with my recovery process but I’m still going to be doing rehab, that’s on-going until January,” Williams said, according to SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “We have things to do to make sure that everything is protected and that everything is OK. That’s just precautionary. As far as getting cleared, that should happen anytime now.”

More via Adamec:

Williams’ first ACL injury on Jan. 19, 2013, ended her junior year. She had been averaging 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and seven blocked shots.

She sat out the opener of her senior season before leading Reed High to 11 straight wins. In that final win against Spanish Springs on Jan. 21, however, she landed awkwardly on her knee and fell to the gym floor and was helped to the bench. But she didn’t miss a game. On Jan. 24, she scored 16 points in a loss to Reno but missed the final 3:30 after aggravating the knee injury. She played the following day and had 19 points in a win over Galena. But an MRI showed the ACL tear that ended her high school career.

Right now, Williams admits she's just happy to be playing basketball.

“The second time was harder, not necessarily the rehab process because I would say that process actually went a lot smoother this time,” Williams told Adamec. “I already knew how to get through it. It was more of trying to adapt to college life, college basketball and all the workouts while coming back from an injury all at the same time. ...

"I don’t have any fears,” she added. “It’s something that you always think about when you first have surgery … ‘Oh man, when I come back I’ll probably always have it in the back of mind.’ But the better you feel, you just go out and play and it’s like nothing ever happened.”

<![CDATA[Pats' Tyms Looking for More]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:40:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/brian-tyms-bills.jpg

Brian Tyms was originally signed by the 49ers in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Florida A&M. He made stops in Miami and Cleveland before the Patriots signed him this summer. On Sunday against the Bills, he caught his first NFL touchdown -- a 43-yard pass from Tom Brady -- and is now looking for more.

“You can just go down that whole locker room over there, there’s playmakers all the way down there, including down here,” Tyms said, via ESPN.com. “It’s like when you get the ball, you have to make a play because you never know. Tom gives it to everybody. Everybody is needed on this offense.

“I’m still waiting my turn. I’m behind a lot of really, really, really, really good wide receivers. It’s all part of patience, all part of development. I’m not the best. I've got a long way to go to get there. I’ll take whatever steps I need to take or whatever steps Josh or Bill feel I need to take. I’ll take those steps, I couldn't care less. As long as we’re winning, as long as I can contribute in any way, whether it’s practice squad or roster.”

Tyms has received positive reviews from both coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, which can only help his chances on a team where reliable pass-catchers have been in short supply. Still, Tyms isn't so much focused on that touchdown catch, but his other target from Sunday -- an incomplete pass on the Pats' first series.

“I kind of was over the touchdown once we got on the plane,” he said. “I missed the first one in the first series. Even though I may have caught a touchdown, I’m still thinking about the other one I left out there. With this league, you can’t stay too much on what you just did. It’s what you’re going to do next. ...

“I’m happy you guys (the media) noticed the one I caught, but the one that I missed. That’s the one in the back of my mind,” Tyms said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former UConn Star Gives Back to Local Teens]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 23:00:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn+andre+drummond.jpg

Former UConn basketball player Andre Drummond may have left the state of Connecticut, but his ties still run deep – and, evidently, so do his pockets.

The current Detroit Pistons center is donating $10,000 to launch a program for local teens focusing on physical and academic education.

The program will allow teens full access to YMCA facilities in Middlesex, where Drummond himself once played ball, and on-site tutoring from Wesleyan University.

Annual teen memberships at the YMCA cost $240 per person. Drummond's program will provide free one-year memberships for 42 low-income teens.

Drummond's mother will present the YMCA with his donation Friday afternoon on his behalf.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Names Horse After Shabazz Napier]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:34:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Shabazz+Horse+3+Edited.jpg

Miami Heat's Shabazz Napier may have graduated from UConn, but his name still "reins" supreme on campus.

And that's not just because of the Huskies' championship ride last spring.

But it was a "mane" reason the university named a colt after him housed in the barns on campus.

UC Shabazz was born on March 29 in the middle of March Madness, a day after UConn won its Sweet Sixteen game and a day before the Huskies defeated Michigan State to qualify for the Final Four, according to a UConn blog posted Tuesday.

"The choice of his name reflects the excitement that was mounting during his early days on campus, as the men’s basketball team continued their run to the NCAA Championship win on April 7," UConn said in its UConn Today blog.

The Morgan foal was born to mare Friend Charity Rose and stallion UC Doc Sanchez through the university's horse breeding program that trains horses for cavalry, according to the blog.

From court to pasture, UConn is showing Shabazz pride.

"He is tipped for a productive career at UConn in the training program, and eventually as a lesson horse," UConn's blog states.

Photo Credit: UConn ]]>
<![CDATA[Brady: "I Have a Lot of Respect" for Ryan]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:48:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tom-brady-beard-dolphins.jpg

The Jets might be 1-5 and close to laughingstock territory with how poorly they've played this season, but records mean nothing to Tom Brady when it comes to facing a Rex Ryan defense.

“He tests every part of your game,” Brady said of the Jets coach, via ESPN.com. “I do have a lot of respect for that from a coaching standpoint that he challenges you. And then when he feels like he’s got you on something, he sticks with it. We’ve had our fair share of good games, he’s had his fair share of good games. It makes for a great matchup.

“There’s a ton of information, especially this team. They have every blitz in the book, every coverage and scheme and front, so you just have to try the best you can to prepare for it as much as you can, and you have to balance your rest with your preparation.

“This defense tests a lot of things. They really put a lot of pressure on you in a lot of ways with the front, coverages, scheme, they kind of do it all. There’s a lot to prepare for and to do it in three days is a lot. They are dealing with the same stuff, and we’ve had a good couple of days. We need a couple more good days and then let it rip on Thursday night.”

Ryan, meanwhile, was asked on a conference call if he would consider just sending the house on every down and blitzing Brady silly, given all the issues along the Pats' offensive line. The response was, well, typical Ryan.

“You sound like my mom now," he said. "Everybody thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Buddy Ryan, what kind of blitzer he’d be,’ but my mom would be worse. The league is probably happy that she wasn’ t a coordinator. Yeah, I don’ t know if that’s the most sound thing.”

But Brady has struggled with pressure this season, and that's largely a function of an inconsistent offensive line and what appeared to be a lack of confidence in his pass catchers not named Edelman or Gronkowski. But the Pats' offense has looked much better in recent weeks, a development not lost on Ryan.

“I just know we are going to do everything in our power to get a win," Ryan said. "Obviously, it’s a lot easier said than done, especially traveling up to New England. We know we’re going to get their best shot, and they know that we’ re going to give them our best shot.”