<![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 Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:28:26 -0400 Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:28:26 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[The Brass City Brawlers May be the Most Unique Football Program in the Country.]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:40:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/2ND_CHANCE_FOOTBALL.jpg What would you do for a second chance? The Brass City Brawlers Semi Pro team in Waterbury is a non-profit community organization designed to give young men a 2nd chance.]]> <![CDATA[Brady Wants Everybody Involved]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:45:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP349120348536+edited1.jpg

There wasn't much to like in Sunday's dominating 30-7 win over the Vikings, but ever the perfectionist, 37-year-old Tom Brady wasn't completely pleased with the performance. A week ago, in the season-opening loss to the Dolphins, sacks and poor offensive line play were issues, but in Minnesota Brady pointed to something that's much easier to remedy.

“The penalties, they just kill drives,” the quarterback said during his weekly appearance on Boston's WEEI. “We don’t want to be one of the most penalized teams in the league. That would be a real great recipe for how to lose a game.

“Turnovers, penalties, missed opportunities, and we have to do a better job with the penalties," he said. "Obviously not turning the ball over on the road was good. The defense made all those big plays, which allows us a lot of short fields and more opportunities than we really took advantage of. We just need to score more points, and when we have opportunities to get the ball in the end zone, we have to do it. When we have to convert short yardage, we have to do it.”

Scoring more points means involving more people, something Brady wasn't able to do on Sunday. He finished 15 of 22 for 149 yards -- the defense, along with Steven Ridley and his 101 rushing yards, did the heavy lifting -- with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski accounting for 10 receptions. Put another way: Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Brian LaFell need to pick it up.

“We just have to find ways to get everybody the ball and spread it around to different guys,” Brady conceded. “We spread it around a bit yesterday, but [Amendola] did not get the ball as much as I would like to get it to him.

“Brandon LaFell -- the same thing. Aaron Dobson had one catch to start the game and didn’t get a lot of other looks after that. We have to get the ball to everybody and spread it around to everybody. Those guys are all good with the ball in their hands, so we have to find ways to do a better job of finding everybody, and that’s what makes an offense tough to defend is when you spread it around to everybody.”

Ultimately, Brady knows he's responsible for getting everyone involved, a role he not only takes seriously but embraces.

"But that is my job to find those guys and find ways to get those guys the ball," he said. "They are good in space, they have good quickness, good hands. And if we just keep working hard in practice, then eventually it shows up in the game, and in the games we have to do a better job executing.”

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

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

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

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

So, back to that improved defense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<![CDATA[Radisson Suspends Minnesota Vikings Sponsorship]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 22:51:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/adrian-peterson-indicted_1200x675_328790083813.jpg

The Radisson hotel chain is suspending its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after star running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse in Texas.

In a statement Monday, Minnetonka-based Radisson said it "takes this matter very seriously particularly in light of our long-standing commitment to the protection of children."

Radisson says it's suspending its limited sponsorship of the Vikings "while we evaluate the facts and circumstances."

Radisson's sponsorship includes a press banner that is behind those speaking at Vikings news conferences.

Peterson is accused of using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year-old son. The running back says he was using a form of discipline his father used on him as a boy.

A Vikings spokesman says the team has "respectfully honored" Radisson's request.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

<![CDATA[Casey Cochran Talks About Quitting UConn Football]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:16:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/cochran_speaks_out_091514.jpg Former UConn quarterback Casey Cochran reflects on his decision to leave the team after suffering several concussions.]]> <![CDATA[Tom Brady Happy With O, Impressed by D]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 16:06:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tom-brady-vikings-2014.jpg

Good news: On Sunday, the Patriots resembled the team we've grown accustomed to seeing run up the score on opponents. They took it to the Vikings in Minnesota 30-7.

Bad news, if you want to pick nits. It wasn't a flawless performance; against a better outfit New England might have had their work cut out for them, a fact not lost on ageless veteran quarterback Tom Brady.

“I think we have a lot of work to do,” Brady said after the game. “So, it’s good to win. But [we] get back to work tomorrow. I’m happy we won. I wish we could go out there and play like we are capable of. Just the way it is.”

Brady's numbers weren't Brady-tastic, but they didn't need to be; he finished 15 of 22 for 149 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, but Stevan Ridley gained 101 yards on the ground, welcome news to a unit that looked out of sorts in Miami last week.

"I think we had pretty good control out there,” Brady said of the o-line. “I thought we did a good job in the run game. Took advantage of some opportunities, but we can do a lot better.”

Then there was the defense, which included Chandler Jones returning a blocked kick for a touchdown, and the unit forcing Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel into four interceptions.

"It was a quality win, a great team win,” Brady continued. “A lot of guys contributed. A lot of great plays were made. Hopefully offensively we can do a better job this week. ...

Yeah, [the defense] made a lot of great plays -- big-time plays,” Brady said. “That was what we needed. And hopefully they keep doing it. So we have to start producing when we get it and take advantage of some of the things -- getting the ball in short field and stuff and getting in the end zone.”

The victory was Bill Belichick's 200th in the regular season, a milestone he embraced with about as much enthusiasm as you might expect from the usually stone-faced coach.

“(It) felt good,” Belichick said after the game. “Every win feels good. Felt real good. Proud of the way our team played today. ...

“It means a lot, what it really means is that I have coached a lot of good football players,” the coach continued. “Those are the guys that win the game, players win games in this league. And I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to coach a lot of good players. And so that’s really about them winning the games.”

<![CDATA["Not a Child Abuser": Adrian Peterson Apologizes]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:10:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_adrian_peterson1.jpg

Adrian Peterson is coming back to the Minnesota Vikings two days after he was charged with child abuse for using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year-old son, and the star running back said Monday he is not a child abuser and wants "everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child."

Peterson, considered one of the best running backs in the NFL, was benched for Sunday's 30-7 home loss to the New England Patriots. He had not commented publicly since news broke on Friday that he had lashed the boy with the switch earlier this summer, causing an unspecified injuries.

"I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser," Peterson said in a nearly 500-word statement issued through his agency and posted to his Twitter feed. "I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury.

"No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that's what I tried to do that day."

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said they had decided to bring back Peterson for practices and Sunday's game at New Orleans "after significant thought, discussion and consideration." The Wilfs said they want to let the legal process play out before making any more definitive decisions on Peterson's future with the only NFL team he has ever played for.

"To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child," the Wilfs said. "At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing."

Peterson faces an initial court appearance in Conroe, Texas, on Wednesday on a charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child, which carries penalties of up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, said he will try to delay the arraignment until next week after Hardin returns from a vacation out of the country.

Corporal punishment is legal in Texas and non-deadly force against a child by a parent or guardian is permissible. But the punishment is abusive if it causes injury. A blow that leaves a bruise, welt or swelling, or requires medical attention, could be judged abusive. The guidelines also say use of an instrument "is cause for concern."

Hardin said Peterson used a switch because that was the way he was brought up by his parents in Palestine, Texas, and the NFL star agreed.

"I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen," Peterson said. "I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child. I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate."

The Vikings decided not to play Peterson against the Patriots, moving swiftly after a week in which the NFL came under heavy scrutiny for its handling of a domestic violence case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

The Vikings clearly see Peterson's case as different from the 2011 case involving former cornerback Chris Cook, who was accused of choking his girlfriend. Cook was initially suspended by the team before being reinstated with pay. But the Vikings barred him from all team activities, including games, while the legal process unfolded.

Cook wound up missing 10 games and was eventually acquitted. He never faced discipline from the NFL and played two more seasons with the Vikings before signing with the 49ers.

The NFL is looking into Peterson's case, and if convicted he could face a minimum six-game suspension under the league's new tougher domestic abuse policy that was implemented after Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he botched Rice's initial punishment.

The Vikings' decision to reinstate Peterson comes on the same day the NFL announced that three experts in domestic violence will serve as senior advisers to the league. Goodell sent a memo to teams Monday announcing that Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smith will "help lead and shape the NFL's policies and programs relating to domestic violence and sexual assault."

"I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue and what they think about my conduct," Peterson said. "Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, there's work to be done.

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

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

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Golfer Wins Trip to Space After Hole-in-One]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 08:13:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/455429326.jpg

An English golfer scored a trip into space by sinking a rare hole-in-one at a tournament on Sunday.

Andy Sullivan made the shot at the 163-yard, 15th hole at the KLM Open in the Netherlands, The Associated Press reported.

XCOR Aerospace, an Amsterdam-based company that sponsored the tournament, offered a 100,000-euro ($129,238) seat aboard a commercial flight into space to the first player to make an ace on the 15th hole, according to Golf.com.

The reward was aimed at promoting the company's space trips, which are set to open to the public beginning in late 2015.

"I'm not sure yet,” Sullivan said when asked if he would take the trip, Golf.com reported. "I'll see what the missus says."

Sullivan finished third at the KLM Open, two shots behind winner Paul Casey.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Respond With 30-7 Victory]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:16:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Patriots+Vikings+091414.jpg

The Patriots returned to .500 with a diversified offense in a 30-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday.

New England's win came on the heels of an ugly loss to the Miami Dolphins in last week's season opener.

Running back Stevan Ridley rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in the win, with Shane Vereen running the ball 40 yards on six carries.

Ridley has only carried the ball more than 25 times twice in his career.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman had another impressive outing, making six catches for 81 yards after Tom Brady targeted him seven times.

Brady threw for just 149 yards against the Vikings, exactly 100 yards fewer than he did against the Dolphins. But he was certainly more efficient this week, completing 15 of 22 attempted passes.

Last week, he completed 29 passes on 56 attempts.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski made all three field goals he attempted.

Defensive end Chandler Jones was the star of the second quarter, blocking a field goal attempt that would have brought Minnesota within a touchdown just before halftime. Jones returned the ball for a touchdown of his own, bringing New England's halftime lead to 24-7.

Former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, who started for New England when Brady went down with an ACL injury in 2008, threw for 202 yards and a touchdown, completing 19 of 36 pass attempts.

Cassel was also sacked six times and threw four interceptions, with Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Dominique Easley making the picks.

The Vikings were without star running back Adrian Peterson, who is out on bond after being charged with child abuse for hitting his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.

Without Peterson, Minnesota rushed for just 54 yards against New England.

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

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Gronkowski Excited for More Playing Time]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:19:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gronkowski-cleared-to-play.jpg

After missing the first six games of the 2013 season while recovering from forearm surgery, and playing in just seven games before a December ACL injury sidelined him until last week, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is understandably anxious to return to the form that made him one of the league's best tight ends.

Against the Dolphins in the season opener, Gronk had four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown punctuated by the familiar Gronk Spike (which, as you can probably imagine, is what a touchdown celebration would look like if Hulk scored).

Not surprisingly, Gronk is looking for more Gronk Spikes in his future. First things first: staying healthy and staying on the field.

The Patriots kept Gronkowski on a snap count last week as he gets back into playing shape but that should change as the season progresses.

“I thought it was a perfect amount,” Gronkowski said, via ESPN.com. “Just coming back, getting my toes wet. So whatever the coaches plan for me -- keep on improving, keep on getting better -- I will be doing. ... Whatever the coaches have for me out there -- whatever the game plan is -- when I get my number called, I have to go out there and I have to do my job and perform to the best of my ability.”

After his prolonged absence, Gronkowski is also looking to get back on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady.

“Just have to keep on working,” he said. “Obviously it shows there is much room for improvement to only be catching four balls when you have 11 thrown your way. It starts on the practice field, so we’ve just been working on getting chemistry down.”

And Gronk will get that chance on Sunday when the Patriots face the Vikings.

“They are fast and they are big,” he said. “We just have to execute as a team together because they have a pretty good defense, for sure. They know how to play defense -- the guys are always in the right spot at the right time. They read the quarterback well. So we have to be prepared to the best of our ability and work together as a team to get some yards."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 2]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 23:47:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/455466872.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the second week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins Slugger Hit in Face by Ball]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:48:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP517762681764.jpg

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was taken to a Milwaukee hospital after being hit in the face with an 88 miles per hour fastball Thursday night.

Stanton, who is a top candidate for the National League MVP award, was batting in the top of the fifth inning when a pitch from Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers came up high and hit Stanton just below his left eye.

The Marlins slugger collapsed in the batter’s box and emergency workers carted him off the field. Stanton appeared to be bleeding from the face as he was taken away from the field.

Stanton's father was at the game and came on the field while his son was treated, and left with him in the ambulance.

The Marlins said Stanton had x-rays and a CT scan at a Milwaukee hospital. He suffered facial lacerations requiring stitches, multiple facial fractures and dental damage, the team said. He returned to Miami Friday for further evaluation.

"We’re trying to win games here, we’re not trying to hurt anybody, we’re not going after anybody, you know one pitch got away and ended up hitting him in the face, and I feel terrible," Fiers said after the game.

The player who replaced Stanton, Reed Johnson, came to the plate after a lengthy stoppage of play for Stanton to be cared for and was hit in the hand as he turned to avoid the first pitch thrown at him, which was high and tight.

The benches cleared and the Marlins’ Casey McGehee was visibly angry and had to be restrained on the field. McGehee was ejected and Marlins manager Mike Redmond was also ejected from the game as both teams were on the field.

"I just, for them to think that it was intentional, it’s beyond me and something I would never do," Fiers said.

Stanton tweeted on Friday that he was appreciative of the support he had received from his fans.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Brady, Cassel Remain Close Friends]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:49:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP556393605542_0.jpg

When the Patriots and Vikings meet this Sunday it will be the first time Matt Cassel faces his former team. Originally a seventh-round pick out of USC, where he never started a game behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, Cassel was thrust into the spotlight in 2008, when Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1.

Cassel led the Patriots to an 11-5 record, but the Pats missed the playoffs after the Dolphins won the division. Cassel was eventually traded to the Chiefs for a second-round pick where he helped lead them to the playoffs in 2010. Injuries and inconsistencies landed him in Minnesota, where he won the job from Christian Ponder a year ago and earned the starting job outright this preseason, even though the Vikings drafted Teddy Bridgewater in the first round.

On Wednesday, Brady spoke about his relationship with Cassel -- they remain close -- especially early in Cassel's career.

"He was very talkative as a rookie," Brady said. "I had to make sure he didn't overstep his bounds from time to time. But that's part of his personality -- he's very energetic, he's very intense. He's always been that way, since the day I met him."

Cassel doesn't dispute this and says that Brady taught him how to carry himself like an NFL quarterback.

"I remember when I was a young quarterback and we’re out at practice and I forgot a motion, and I still hit the pass, but he got after me pretty good about forgetting the motion," Cassel said, via ESPN.com. "The whole point to why he did it, he said, ‘Look, you can’t be a guy and seen as a leader if you’re making mistakes, simple mistakes, on the field. You can’t be a guy that goes up and tries to get after somebody else if you’re making those mistakes.’ And I thought it was a great point and I’ve carried that with me wherever I’ve gone.

"I think I give all the credit to that, the fact that I was, as a young player, able to come in and learn from one of the best, if not the best over his career. Really, each and every day, watch the process that he went through, how he broke down defense, ask questions. And then for him to be so good to me to actually answer those questions and not blow me off like, ‘Hey, get out of here,' it was huge for my development as a player.”

While Brady and Cassel have had different NFL paths, they're origins into the league weren't that different. Brady was taken in the sixth round in 2000, one round and five years before Cassel.

"He's had to fight his whole career," Brady said of Cassel. "Things were never easy for him: they weren't easy in high school, they weren't easy in college, and certainly, when he got to the professional level, they weren't easy. He's had a lot of adversity, and he's dealt with it. I think that's made him a strong person, a strong player and really a great teammate. That's why he's the starting quarterback of a very good NFL team right now. I'm proud of him."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<![CDATA[Pats Owner Kraft Supports Goodell]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 15:54:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/453706642.jpg

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under fire this week for how he and the league bungled the Ray Rice investigation. Rice, the former Ravens running back, was shown in a surveillance video released by TMZ Monday punching his soon-to-be wife in the face, knocking her unconscious. Goodell and the league knew the details of what happened but claimed that they never viewed the video until Monday.

At that time, the Ravens released Rice and Goodell raised Rice's punishment from a two-game suspension to an indefinite suspension.

On Tuesday, Patriots owner Bob Kraft came to Goodell's defense.

“I know our commissioner has taken some heat,” Kraft said during an appearance on CBS This Morning. “I just want to say that I spoke with him [Monday] when this came out, not knowing what was going to happen and knowing I was coming in here [for the television interview]. And he didn’t — he had no knowledge of this video. The way he’s handled this situation himself, coming out with the mea culpa in his statement a couple weeks ago or 10 days ago, and setting a very clear policy how we conduct ourselves in the NFL, I thought was excellent. And anyone who’s second-guessing that doesn’t know him."

Despite questions from fans and media and how Goodell handled the case, Kraft has no such concerns.

“I don’t want to get in the role of law enforcement or things I don’t understand,” Kraft said. “It’s just the good news is, people did the right thing when the visual — when you see that visually, it’s just such a turn-off. And I hope [it’s] a great lesson to people everywhere that this isn’t going to be tolerated.”

It's no surprise that Kraft or other owners have defended Goodell. The commissioner has taken a billion-dollar industry and made it more profitable, which means more money for owners.

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

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

Details via the school's announcement:

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

The home schedule now stacks up like this:

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

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

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

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

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

Details via the school's announcement:

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

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

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

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

<![CDATA[Diaco, Huskies Preparing for Boise State]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:30:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+bob+diaco+stony+brook.jpg

The Huskies head into Saturday's matchup with Boise State without their starting quarterback, Casey Cochran, who has retired from football after suffering multiple concussions during his career. But first-year coach Bob Diaco knew his rookie campaign wouldn't be easy and he sounds as if he's prepared for whatever may come.

And that starts with the remaining quarterbacks on the roster: redshirt senior Chandler Whitmer, who will assuming the starting duties, and sophomore Tim Boyle, who now can't redshirt this season because he's the only remaining quarterback on scholarship.

"Tim Boyle is going to play," Diaco said Thursday. "Tim needs to play. He needs to get his opportunities, whether they happen during the course of the game or not, we need to make them happen. Tim has all top-notch traits. He's fast, he's big, he's got great vision over the linemen, he's got a very strong arm. He can throw all the passes, he's got good touch on the shallow passes, nice touch on the deep passes. He can zip from the hash to the field flat, he's got that kind of strength in his arm. He's got enough escape ability to be a problem. So those are things I like about him. He's got top-flight tangible traits."

Diaco also weighed in on Boise State.

"They are a really exciting team. I think that has kind of been captivating for the country as it relates to Boise," he said. "They have a very unique offensive system, very explosive. Not only explosive in the style that they run their offense, but the players are explosive. So it creates a major problem, it creates a lot of points and pizazz and that is kind of fun for the whole community and fan experience.

"Defensively, they play hard, they fly around, they are a very aggressive bunch over the last ten years, and this year is no different. Same drill: explosive players, explosive offense. Last week they had 63 plays on offense at halftime. That's the kind of football they like to play. They're all set and ready before the official is even ready to walk away from the ball."

The good news is that the Huskies got their first win out of the way last week. The bad news is that it was a struggle against middling FCS opponent Stony Brook. But again, this is a process, one that one magically fix itself overnight.

As for positives, Diaco offered this: "I would say effort. I thought that defensively, the defenders played with a high level of effort. Communication increased on defense, more demonstrative communication with more people on the same page. I was pleased with the tackling, I felt that improved from week one to week two. Although we had two pre-snap penalties, we dropped penalties from eight to three, so that was positive."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[What High School Kids And Their Parents Can Do About Concussions]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 05:34:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/WEBCONCUSSIONWHAVEN9914.jpg After UCONN's starting quarterback decided to step aside after a series of concussions, high school coaches and sports officials tell parents what they need to know.]]> <![CDATA[Obama Rejected From Top NY Golf Courses: Sources]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:24:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Obama-Golfing_edited-1.jpg

President Obama was turned down at several top golf courses in Westchester while he was visiting the area over Labor Day weekend, sources tell NBC 4 New York.

The Trump National Golf Club, the Winged Foot and Willow Ridge were among some of the elite courses that rebuffed the president's request to tee off there, according to several sources who were told about the president's advance team's calls to the club managers.

Club managers apparently did not want to inconvenience their high-powered and high-paying members over Labor Day weekend by shutting down their courses to accommodate the president.

The president was in town Aug. 29, a Friday, for fundraising events in New York and Rhode Island. He had been scheduled to stay overnight in Westchester County in order to attend the Saturday evening wedding of MSNBC host Alex Wagner and White House chef Sam Kass at Blue Hill Farm.

The sources said the White House advance team was giving the clubs just a day or two notice to fill the president’s open Saturday morning in New York. Of several courses contacted in New York and Connecticut, a spokesman for Fairview Country Club in Greenwich said it would have accommodated the president if he had asked. That was the only club that said it would.

Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest times of year for golf courses, and with membership at some area clubs exceeding $100,000, many courses may not have wanted to displace its members on a weekend when they would have wanted to play.

Spokesmen and managers at Trump National in Briarcliff Manor, Willow Ridge in Harrison and Winged Foot in Mamaroneck declined to comment.

Representatives at other leading Westchester and Fairfield County golf courses denied having any information about the president wanting a tee time during his Labor Day visit. 

On Aug. 28, White House officials announced the president was changing his plans and that he would return to Washington Friday night instead of staying over in New York.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained the change that Friday as a last-minute decision by Obama to "make the late evening flight back here home to the White House."

"He can sleep in his own bed, do a little work tomorrow, spend some time with his family and then travel back to New York tomorrow evening to attend a private event," he said, 

Changes to the schedule resulted in the cancellation of some hotel rooms and a re-routing of police security details. The President returned to Westchester Saturday afternoon with a round-trip flight on Air Force One from Washington to New York, the second in as many days.

The White House declined to comment Tuesday. 

Political analyst Dan Gerstein said there was a time Obama would never have been turned down.

"I think he has lost that star quality he had in his first two years in office and in that 2008 campaign," he said.

Some club officials said Obama is not the first head of state who has been rejected: sources said representatives of the King of Morocco also tried and failed to secure a tee time at some of the same courses that Labor Day weekend. 

Donald Trump, an outspoken critic of the president, responded to NBC 4 New York's report by tweeting Wednesday: "If Obama resigns from office NOW... I will give him free lifetime golf at any one of my courses!"

-- Bruce Beck contributed to this report

Follow Jonathan Dienst on Twitter. @jonathan4NY Follow Bruce Beck on Twitter. @BruceBeck4NY

Photo Credit: AP]]>