<![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 Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:41 -0400 Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:41 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![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."

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<![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.

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<![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."

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<![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.

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<![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.”

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<![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.”

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<![CDATA[Huskies' Top '16 Recruit to Be at First Night]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:37:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-champion.jpg

A quick recap of the Huskies' recruiting haul. The 2014-15 freshmen class includes: Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, Sadie Edwards and Courtney Ekmark. The 2015-16 class might be even better: It includes the nation's best player in Katie Lou Samuelson, and Napheesa Collier and De’Janae Boykin are both top-10 players. There's also Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

In other words: The Huskies are -- and will remain -- stacked for quite some time. And with the next recruiting class all but sewn up, coach Geno Auriemma is looking ahead to 2016. Which brings us to Crystal Dangerfield, who will at Gampel Pavilion Friday to take in First Night and watch UConn raise its second national championship banner in as many years. Dangerfield was also in Nashville last April when the Huskies won its ninth national title.

“Crystal’s looking forward to seeing the campus and being around the players and coaches,” Dangerfield’s mother, Davonna, said, of the '16 recruit from Murfreesboro, Tennessee (via SNY.com). “We’ll go to First Night and hopefully then see them practice. It’s important that she things in action.”

According to SNY.com's Carl Adamec, the 5-5 high school junior point guard 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. Dangerfield set single-season records for points in her first two years and was named Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year after her sophomore season.

“I think Crystal’s a better player in that she’s more confident,” Davonna Dangerfield said. “She’s only 16, but she’s taking on more personal responsibility and more of that leadership role.”

Adamec writes that coach Geno Auriemma and associated coach Chris Dailey made a visit to Dangerfield's home on Sept. 13.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kevin Ollie Talks Team Chemistry]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:35:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483304481.jpg

Kevin Ollie is fresh off a national title. And while the goal is to always win it all, the true measure of a program is sustained success. That explains why he's a relentless recruiter, a job perhaps made easier by the Huskies' new $32 million facility, which will be in use for the first time this season.

“(The players) have been impressed just walking in, having practice there and them taking a tour," Ollie said Tuesday before a UConn Alumni Association event. "We used to have to take them over to Burton and show them the football facility and say we were going to be moving in soon to (the new building), but it’s good to have the bricks in and the walls up and have our guys even practicing there. It’s tremendous for us, definitely something we can hang our hats on.”

But shining new buildings don't win basketball games, which brings us to the current team -- one that will be without Shabazz Napier, and includes plenty of new faces.

' They’re trying to (get adjusted) into our system, you now throwing in a couple plays, but more understanding how to play at a Level Five," Ollie explained, via the Connecticut News. "That’s always hard for incoming freshmen and then with all the academics...taking care of their bodies and all the time management things that they have to make the transition with, but they are doing good. We have a lot of resources in place and hopefully they use all of them. I’m excited for them to come in and participate in the first game on the 14th (November).”

But even with Napier now gone, Ollie is confident that this team will have no trouble getting on the same page. And that starts with Napier's former backcourt partner, senior guard Ryan Boatright.

"We're going to have good chemistry," the coach 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."

While Ollie has his own coaching style he still leans on the lessons learned for playing for Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun.

"I'm keeping the same pillars I learned from Coach Calhoun," Ollie said. "Being tough, being prepared, being able to make adjustments. And building a team that has a lot of chemistry. My job is to love the team, their job is to love each other, and if they can do that, be able to challenge each other and not take it personally, then we'll have a good team. ... There is enough talent in there."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Geno Talks About Freshmen Class]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:07:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

Geno Auriemma and the Huskies officially begin their national title defense Wednesday, less than two weeks after Auriemma led Team USA to the FIBA Championship in Turkey. On Tuesday, the coach talked about the expectations for the upcoming season.

"Everyone is excited about the freshmen [Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, Sadie Edwards and Courtney Ekmark] except the coaches," he said at a UConn Alumni Association event alongside Kevin Ollie (via the Hartford Courant). "I'd be happy if they all just showed us how competitive they are. I don't think any of them is ready to win a national championship by themselves."

One player Auriemma has no such concerns about: Junior Breanna Stewart, who was part of Team USA, and is also a perennial player-of-the-year candidate.

"She certainly got an education, let's put it that way," the coach said. "And I don't mean just in terms of playing internationally, which she has already done many times. But instead of playing up in years [age] by one or two, she was playing, in some cases, up 10 years. And that's a whole different world."

Meanwhile, senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis spent the summer improving her physical conditioning after her junior season was sidetracked by an early injury.

"She's had a lot of experience in the past getting herself ready for the start of practice," Auriemma said. "And people's bodies change as they get older. They start to understand what they can do and what they can't do. … It was a long summer. She's put in a lot of effort and she's getting things done she struggled to do last year."

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<![CDATA[Randle Faces Shoplifting Charge]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 20:31:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/joseph-randle-mugshot-inset.jpg

Frisco police say they arrested Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle for allegedly shoplifting $123 in underwear and cologne Monday night at Stonebriar Centre Mall.

According to police, Randle, 22, was stopped by Dillards loss prevention employees and detained at about 8:15 p.m. after they saw him make a purchase at a counter and then walk to another part of the store where he allegedly put a tester bottle of Gucci Guilty Black cologne ($84) and a 2-pack of black Polo underwear ($39.50) into his Dillards bag.

When he left the store and into the parking lot, he was stopped by store employees.

After Frisco police compared the contents of Randle's Dillards bag with his receipt and watched surveillance footage of him in the store, he was placed under arrest on a Class B misdemeanor for theft between $50 and $500 and put into a Frisco police car.

While there, the officer said Randle said if he knew he was going to be arrested he would have just kept walking to his car.

According to the police report, Randle told officers that he didn't pay for the merchandise because he did not want to take the time to do it.

After being booked into jail, Randle posted $350 bond and was released at about 1:20 a.m. Tuesday.

Randle, a second-year player out of Oklahoma State who was drafted by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, is a backup running back for the team. In six games this season, Randle has carried the ball 16 times for 113 yards. In 2013, the back carried the ball 54 times in 13 games for a total of 164 yards.

According to RotoWorld, in 2013 Randle signed a four-year $2.39 million contract that included a $188,820 signing bonus.  His base salary in 2014 is $495,000. He is set to make $585,000 in 2015, $675,000 in 2016 and is a free agent in 2017.

At this time, there has been no statement from the Dallas Cowboys.

NBC 5's Catherine Ross contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Report: Pats Lose Ridley, Mayo]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:13:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jerod+mayo+injury.jpg

The Patriots' slow start now seems like a distant memory, what with the team's back-to-back convincing wins against the Bengals and the Bills. But while there's little reason to worry about Tom Brady, New England suffered two big losses Sunday when running back Steven Ridley and linebacker Jerod Mayo were lost to injuries.

While the Patriots aren't commenting on the extent of the injuries, ESPN's Adam Schefter called Mayo's right knee injury "bad" and that he will miss the rest of the season. And ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss hears that Ridely tore his ACL, and is also done for 2015.

"Unfortunately I don't think it looks too good, but we'll see what we get back [from tests]," coach Bill Belichick said Monday during an appearance on WEEI. "We'll wait until we get more specific information, but I don't think it's minor, let's put it that way."

Patriots safety Devin McCourty said what everyone already knows: With Mayo likely out for an extended period, it's incumbent on everyone else to pick up the slack.

"Everyone has to step up if Mayo can't go," he said. "That just is what it is. One guy is not going to do what Mayo's done the last seven years. ... You just can't pick one guy to go out there and do that."

Special-teams captain Matthew Slater adds: "It was a blow. You can't try to pretend like it's just one of those things that you can move on from because you feel for a guy like Jerod," he said. "To see him go down, I know it took a toll on me. But we will do the best we can to bounce back.

"A lot of guys have to step up because a guy like that is hard to replace. Hopefully we can play well for him the rest of the year. There is no replacing that guy with one guy, it's going to take a lot of guys to step up."

Even without Mayo or Ridley, conventional wisdom says New England will have little trouble against a hapless Jets outfit. Of course, a lot of us were saying the same thing about the Pats' Week 1 matchup with the Dolphins.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Remains Optimistic About Young Players]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:46:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

First-year coach Bob Diaco is eternally optimistic. You have to be in this job. The Huskies have been bad going on four years now and there's no sign it'll change in the next few months. So while we wait for Diaco's recruits to make their way to Storrs, he's trying to talk up a program that has looked equal parts overwhelmed and hapless through six games.

"I watched the tape and there's so many things to correct, so that's exciting because we're nowhere close to where we're going to be," the coach said Monday, via the Hartford Courant. "I mean nowhere close when you think about the future. Not just the future of 2014 but beyond. It's very exciting. They're working hard to execute our plan. They're working hard on their fundamental work of block destruction, tackling and angles and effort to the ball."

We're not sure anyone else would call 1-5 (0-3 in the AAC) exciting but we understand why Diaco would do it -- he's trying to build something here and if he doesn't believe, his players won't believe, and we'll have plenty more discussions in coming seasons about five-win teams.

The Huskies are coming off a 12-3 loss to a Tulane team that isn't very good. As you might expect, the offense was virtually nonexistent, but Diaco attributes some of that to inexperience.

"Of course, yeah, we've got a lot of young guys in there and they've got a lot of lessons to learn and they've got a lot of strength to build," he said. "[Left tackle] Richard Levy is going to be here for three years. Andreas Knappe is just learning how to play offensive line. He's never played offensive line before in his life, but he's going to be here three more years, and then the other players rotating in there are all young guys. I thought [senior center] Alex Mateas improved his game this week. I was pleased with his response in how he played. Yes, that is part of [the offense's problem], but they're also getting better every week."

How much better? Well, that's the question.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Jefferson Could Step Into Leadership Role]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:40:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/moriah+jefferson_1.jpg

With Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley now in the WNBA, the Huskies are looking for a veteran leader to fill that void. Senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and junior Breanna Stewart make sense; both have been integral in the back-to-back national championship runs. But there's also Moriah Jefferson, who could excel in the role given that, as the starting point guard, she's already the team's floor general.

“I think she will be,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, via the New Haven Register's Jim Fuller. “I think part of it is her natural personality and you add the position that she plays, she has the ball in her hands a lot. She gained a lot confidence last year and she is very comfortable with her teammates. When you are a freshman you are not quite sure, but she is very comfortable and she is really one of those people who you root for because you want her to do well. You want her to be successful, and you know that she adds a dimension that very few teams have.”

Jefferson really blossomed as a sophomore and is expecting a bigger role in 2014-15.

Last year I kind of knew that was coming, so I kind of experienced some of that last year," she said. "Playing so many minutes really prepared me for this year. We have two great seniors, and I am going to come in and do whatever I can to help my team.”

Jefferson will have five new players to welcome into the fold, all arrive on campus with plenty of accolades: The 2014 class includes Kia Nurse (5-11), Gabby Williams (5-11, Nevada), Sadie Edwards (5-9, New Jersey) and Courtney Ekmark (6-0, Arizona).



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Huskies Rank 20th in Preseason Poll]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:37:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP558842148611.jpg

On Monday, we wrote that half of CBSSports.com's experts like the Huskies to finish first in the American Athletic Conference. A day later, NBCSports.com's CollegeBasketballTalk rolled out its top 25 and has UConn 20th.

Rob Dauster writes that the defending champs will be good in 2014-15 because, "UConn enters the season with one of the nation’s most talented backcourts" in Ryan Boatright and NC State transfer Rodney Purvis.

"Purvis has a chance to be one of the nation’s most improved players this season while Hamilton, the youngest brother of Gary (Miami), Jordan (Texas and now the NBA) and Isaac (UCLA), is a wing forward with a reputation for being a big-time scorer," Dauster continues. ... "Throw in sophomore Terrance Samuel, who had some big moments during UConn’s national title run, as well as Omar Calhoun and JuCo transfer Sam Cassell Jr., and the Huskies legitimately go six-deep on their perimeter."

That's certainly what coach Kevin Ollie is thinking, especially after losing power forward DeAndre Daniels, who left school to play professionally. But it's not all unicorns and rainbows. Dauster on why the Huskies could struggle:

"As good as their back court is, it will be downright impossible to replace Shabazz Napier. And I’m not just talking about his ability to score or his knack for making a big shot in a bigger moment, I’m talking about the leadership that he provided and his presence in the locker room. Napier was a coach on the floor, a guy that ran this team and commanded the respect of his teammates. Doug McDermott was the rightful National Player of the Year last season, but Napier was every bit as valuable as him."

Despite the loss of Napier, which is admittedly huge, the Huskies are in prime position to win the AAC and make another deep postseason run.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Report Links GoPro to Brain Injury]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 20:12:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP886669197394.jpg

The French commentator whose reported remarks had sparked reports that a GoPro camera may have played a role in Formula 1 racing legend Michael Schumacher's brain injury is now urging everyone to "stop all speculation."

Schumacher, 45, has been immobile and unable to speak after he fell and hit a rock in a skiing accident last year while he was wearing a GoPro camera mounted on his helmet.

European news outlets had reported that racing commentator Jean-Louis Moncet told Europe 1 radio that Schumacher's son Mick told him the placement of the camera contributed to the brain injury — but Moncet denied that Tuesday on Twitter.

"The problem for Michael was not the hit, but the mounting of the GoPro camera that he had on his helmet that injured his brain," Eurosport had earlier quoted Moncet as having said.

But Moncet appeared to contradict that suggestion in a tweet Tuesday.
"STOP ALL SPÉCULATION," he tweeted. "Mick could not say something about camera or injury of Michael because we did not speak together."
Following the initial report linking the GoPro to Schumacher's injury, shares of the Bay Area-based company plummeted, losing as much as 10 percent in trading Monday, Business Insider reported.

A GoPro spokesman declined to comment on the report linking the camera to Schumacher's injury but said the company was monitoring the situation closely.

Schumacher emerged from a medically-induced coma in June but remains in serious condition.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Air Force Captain Proposes to Cheerleader During Game]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:05:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/212*120/457130192.jpg

The Arizona Cardinals may have defeated the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but Cardinals cheerleader Claire Thorton, 23, was the big winner when her Air Force Captain boyfriend got down on one knee during a break in the game and proposed.

Eric Straub, 26, dressed in his flight suit, completed a successful mission when Thorton said “Yes!” in front of thousands of screaming NFL fans who watched the proposal on the stadium’s Jumbotron.


"It was pretty amazing,'' Thornton told TODAY.com. "I was shaking really bad. He's like 'Put the ring on!' And I'm like, you put it on me!'

Thorton thought that Straub, an F-15 pilot in the Air Force, was getting a special welcome home from the Cardinals during the game since he had just returned from a deployment in the Middle East the night before.

Meanwhile, the airman had already organized with Cardinals officials that he would propose to his cheerleader girlfriend when he came out on the field.


“It was so loud you couldn't hear anything. I had all these things I wanted to say, but once I got down on my knee, I had no idea what to say. I think all I said was, 'I love you marry me!' It was funny.''



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Lay Egg Against Eagles]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 13:08:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP583404611673.jpg

Week Six is now in the books, and after the 27-0 loss to Philadelphia Sunday night, the Giants are right back where they were at the start of the season. They look clueless on offense and defense (though they aren’t), their special teams is mediocre (which is true), and they just lost their number one wide receiver, Victor Cruz, to a season-ending knee injury (which is why you have backups).

Are the Giants doomed? Of course not. Sunday night was a perfect storm of poor coaching -- a shotgun pass attempt on third and one on the opening drive? With Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis available?; poor play – too many instances to list; great play by the opposition – LeSean McCoy ran for 149 yards on 22 carries; and bad luck – Cruz blowing out his knee while planting on a catch attempt in the end zone.

As with any Giants-Eagles game, there were plenty of highlights and lowlights (including some Eagles fans, naturally), so let’s unveil our recipients for Hero, Nero, Zero, as we recognize the accomplishments, insanity and ineptitude associated with Sunday’s game.

Hero: The Eagles’ offensive line.

Wait, you ask, aren’t there five players on the offensive line? And if that’s the case, shouldn’t it be “heroes,” plural? Yes, there are five players on a typical offensive line, but a line’s success is measured by cohesion. It’s a unit. You might pancake the defensive end standing opposite you, but if the play called for you to pull and block an outside linebacker, then you are not a hero. You are a failure.

The Eagles’ line, which has been beset by numerous injuries this season, had been largely to blame for the team’s offensive woes through the first five weeks. Last year’s NFL leading rusher, McCoy, was averaging fewer than 3 yards per carry coming into Sunday’s game.

But McCoy busted out in a big way versus the G-Men, averaging nearly 7 yards per carry. Does he deserve some credit for that? Yes. But the offensive line deserves more. Not only did they open up lanes for McCoy, they protected quarterback Nick Foles, allowing just one sack all night.

Nero: The Eagles fans who stole a man’s prosthetic leg.

Eagles fans have a reputation for being world-class louts, and it’s largely deserved. From cheering when Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin went down with a career-ending neck injury to beating up fellow Philly fan Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Eagles fans have an unparalleled track record of dumb, sociopathic behavior.

The latest instance involves three Eagles fans who reportedly stole the prosthetic leg of a Vietnam veteran before Sunday night’s game. According to NBC Philadelphia,

Sonny Forriest Jr., an Eagles fan and musician who performs for money outside games, was singing in the parking lot around 8:30 p.m.

Forriest Jr., who began using a motorized wheelchair after losing his leg, said he had taken off his prosthetic leg during his performance. He was packing up his car to get going when a group of people danced around him.

"There were some friends who were partying with the leg, then they put it back," Forriest Jr. said.

As he continued to sing, Forriest Jr. said he was then approached by a woman in her 20's who was wearing Eagles gear.

“She jumped in my lap,” Forriest Jr. said. “She gripped my leg and I didn’t even know it. I looked down and she took my leg! Then she disappeared! A young lady came up, snatched my leg off my chair and took off!”

A conductor later located the leg on a train and police arranged to return it to Forriest. Meanwhile, Eagles fans remain the worst.

Zero: What went right for the Giants.

After scoring more than 30 points in three straight games, New York was shut out by Philadelphia, a team that allowed 28 points last week to Austin Davis and the vaunted Rams’ offense.

Eli Manning did not throw any interceptions, which is great for his passer rating. He also threw zero touchdowns, which is not good for his passer rating. Poor play calls, crippling penalties, fumbles on potentially big plays (Daniel Fells) and season-ending injuries – this is either going to be the game that breaks the 2014 Giants or the one that prompts players to step up and play bigger roles.

The Giants travel to Dallas to face a Cowboys team that just beat the defending Super Bowl champions on the road in Seattle. New York will need to score more than zero points to have any chance to beat Dallas.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gronkowski Is Returning to Form]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 13:04:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gronkowski-bills-wk6.jpg

The plan was to bring Rob Gronkowski along slowly. Some eight months after offseason knee surgery, the Patriots tight end would be eased back into the offense, partly because he's too valuable to be without late in the season, but also because he's one of quarterback Tom Brady's most reliable targets.

On Sunday in Buffalo, Gronkowski proved his worth, hauling in seven passes for 94 yards, and that comes a week after a six-catch, 100-yard effort against the then-undefeated Bengals.

After the Pats beat the Bills, 37-22, Brady announced that Gronk is back.

“He’s a great player and he’s playing great. So it’s great for a quarterback,” Brady said, via ESPNBoston.com. “I have a lot of confidence in him, I love playing with that guy. Great to be out there with him.”

Gronkowski, who is listed at 6-6, 265-pounds, took several big hits from the Buffalo defense but also showed glimpses of his ox-like strength.

“They were giving me some lickings,” the tight end admitted. “All you can do is get right back up and get right back in the huddle and go on to the next play. It’s part of the game and sometimes I like getting lit up."

So did the hits empower him?

"Yes, definitely,” he said. “It’s the game of football. I’m not stepping out on that field thinking that I’m just going to be able to get out there and not get hit. No way.”

That's right: laying the wood to Gronk only makes him stronger.

“He’s a great option out there,” Brady continued. “So if they don’t cover him, he usually gets it. If they put extra guys on him then it frees everybody else up. He’s tough to stop. You put a safety on him, he’s got size. You put a linebacker on him, he’s got speed. He’s been that way since he got into the NFL.

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<![CDATA[Huskies, SMU Early Favorites to Win AAC]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:55:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

Coach Kevin Ollie and the Huskies are less than a month away from their first game of the 2014-15 season -- and defense of a national title that no one outside of Storrs believed would happen. Last week, CBSSports.com published its American Athletic Conference preview and here's what they said about the Huskies:

Even with UConn legend Shabazz Napier gone ... UConn's still a clear preseason top 25 team and our pick to win the American. The biggest question: Will Ryan Boatright be the type of leading man in the backcourt that Napier was? Will he revert to some of his erratic ways without that mentor? Can he accept this role?

Fortunately, he'll have a troupe around him. The Huskies will have Rodney Purvis, a redshirt sophomore from N.C. State, stepping in to help. Then there's still-learning Omar Calhoun is a 6-foot-6 combo player who could be that breakout guy. And flex 3 Daniel Hamilton, a freshman, should see plenty of minutes.

Keep in mind, though, that UConn's success might depend on how big of a jump 7-foot sophomore Amida Brimah makes this season. ... The Huskies will be interesting again, but it could take them a little while to be undeniably good.

And here's what one coach told CBSSports.com about who should win the conference.

"When you look up and down, Memphis, they lost pieces," the coach said. "UConn has a couple of newcomers who could be pretty good, and the kid who sat out from N.C. State (Rodney Purvis) should play a role. Cincinnati is always a really, really tough team. Even though they last a bunch of guys, history tells you they'll be there. It's a little but of unknown everywhere. Temple had three kids stepping into prominent roles that hadn't been in them the year before."

Three of six CBSSports.com experts picked the Huskies to win the AAC. The other three had UConn finishing second behind SMU.

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<![CDATA[Huskies Add 16th Commitment for 2015]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:47:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

The 2014 Huskies might not be much to look at but first-year coach Bob Diaco isn't letting the team's struggles this season hamper his recruiting efforts. On Friday, UConn landed its 16th commitment when kicker/punter Michael Tarbutt verbally committed to the program.

Tarbutt plays for Canisius High School in Buffalo, NY and is from Ontario, Canada.

More details from SNY.com's John Silver:

Tarbutt fits in nicely for the Huskies in the kicking game for the future. UConn has sophomore Bobby Puyol as the place kicker and that will give Tarbutt a chance to redshirt his freshman season and then work as an understudy before taking over the kicking duties. UConn head coach Bob Diaco is a bit of an expert on special teams and was touted to find good kickers on the recruiting trail.

Kickers are hard to come by, something UConn’s opponent this week in Tulane knows all too well. Tulane is 1 of 4 kicking this year and doesn’t attempt many field goals. The Huskies have had a string of competent kickers over the years and Puyol is 5 of 6 this year and has shown an ability to hit deep kicks.

Canisius is the top- ranked large school in The Buffalo News poll and are are ranked No. 45 in the country in the most recent USA Today High School Football Rankings.

Meanwhile, Diaco's recruiting blueprint appears to be going as planned. He has previously talked about the recruiting footprint -- from Boston to Buffalo and all the way down to Northern Virginia -- and that has certainly been the case with the team's latest commitment.

UConn's other 2015 commitments include: 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, CB Justice Pettus-Dixon.

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<![CDATA[Punchless Huskies' Offense Part of Problem]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 23:29:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-diaco-boise-state-sept.jpg

Somewhere, former offensive coordinator George DeLeone must wonder why he was ever demoted. Oft-criticized when he was calling plays under Paul Pasqualoni, DeLeone wasn't any worse than what currently passes as an offense for UConn.

The latest: an uninspiring three-point showing against a Tulane team that was ripe for the picking. Instead, 60 minutes of futility resulted in a 12-3 victory for the Green Wave. It was some of the ugliest football you'd ever want to see.

The Huskies had eight possessions in Tulane's half of the field and the results: three punts, three turnovers, and 1 of 2 on field-goal attempts.

“I’m not surprised about anything,” first-year coach Bob Diaco said, according to SNY.com's John Silver. “We are playing so many young players and they have a maturing process. They have a cooking process that needs to happen. They have to play in the games. There’s no way to simulate it. There’s no other way to simulate the game other than to play in the game. They’re doing a fine job. They’re just creating at the point of attack some game-changing plays."

And has been the case in previous weeks, ill-timed turnovers have been a problem.

"We squandered away scoring opportunities with turnovers,” Diaco continued. ”Turning it over on (Tulane’s) 30-yard line. The 24-yard line ended up producing a safety on the back end. That was a five-point swing, maybe a nine-point swing. The game ended up 12-3, you cannot make mistakes like that.”

At 1-4, the writing appears to be on the wall for the Huskies' season but Diaco isn't interested in looking ahead. We've said it countless times but this is a process, and Diaco knows that he needs to get this group of players to buy into what he's doing UConn's going to have success in the future.

"We are sick that we lost this football game and that we lost those other games and what the record is," he said. "The guys are in there crushed because we lost the game and we’re going to mourn this loss for 24 hours and then we’re going to get better as a football team. We’re not going to let anybody splinter us apart. We’re not going to let anybody try to drive a wedge between the offense and the defense, certainly not you (spoken to me), or create a frustration between one group or the next.

“We’re going to love each other. We’re going to care about each other and we’re going to practice the plays and we’re going to get better," Diaco continued. "That’s all we’re going to do. We’re going to try hard and everybody’s trying as hard as they can and we’re going to keep getting better and better and better and eventually we’re going to stop making the game-changing, mind-altering, mind-boggling mistakes and the points will show on the scoreboard. That will absolutely happen ”

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<![CDATA[Cardinals Edge Giants to Tie NLCS ]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:08:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/457139424.jpg

The St. Louis Cardinals have evened the National League Championship Series 1-1 after three late homers fueled St. Louis to a 5-4 walk-off win over the San Francisco Giants.

Cardinals outfielder Kolten Wong delivered a walk-off home run off Sergio Romo in the bottom of the ninth inning to end the night.

With the Giants ahead 3-2 in the seventh inning, Cardinals pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras tied the game with a home run off reliever Jean Machi. Matt Adams followed with another home run off Hunter Strickland in the eighth inning that put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.

The Giants tied the game in top of the ninth after a wild pitch from Trevor Rosenthal scored pinch-runner Matt Duffy, who was running on the pitch, from second base.

The Cardinals won after losing All-Star catcher Yadier Molina to a strained oblique muscle in the sixth. Molina was getting further tests and manager Mike Matheny said it ``didn't look real good.''

"We just knew we had to keep grinding,'' Wong said. "When you lose someone like Yadi, it's definitely tough for us, but we told ourselves we've been going through this all year. Grinding up and down, not getting any easy pass, so we're all so confident.''

It was a rare postseason failure for the reliable San Francisco bullpen, which allowed a home run in each of the final three innings.

"They are the reason we're in this situation, and you give (the Cardinals) credit,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "They threw out some good at-bats and we made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of them.''

The best-of-seven series resumes Tuesday night with Game 3 in San Francisco with John Lackey going for St. Louis and Tim Hudson starting for the Giants.

Wong hit an 0-1 pitch from Sergio Romo for his second big home run this postseason. The rookie's seventh-inning drive was the decisive blow in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

St. Louis, last in the NL with 105 home runs during the regular season, has hit 11 homers in six playoff games, seven in the seventh inning or later. Earlier, Matt Carpenter connected for the fourth time this postseason.

Seth Maness retired Pablo Sandoval on a comebacker with the bases loaded to end the top of the ninth, and got the win.

Maness came on after closer Trevor Rosenthal couldn't hold a one-run lead. Rosenthal's pitch bounced off the glove off backup catcher Tony Cruz and Duffy, running on a full count, never broke stride and slid home with the tying run.

Molina bent over in pain after a swing and didn't make it out of the batter's box on a double-play ball in the sixth. Wincing, he gingerly walked off the field.

Adams, whose three-run shot off Clayton Kershaw put St. Louis in front for good in their clinching playoff win over Dodgers, homered off Giants reliever Hunter Strickland.

Gregor Blanco's fourth postseason hit in 31 at-bats put the Giants up 3-2 in the seventh, but Taveras re-tied it in the bottom half with a homer off Jean Machi just inside the right-field foul pole.

Carpenter hit a solo home run off Jake Peavy in the third. Randal Grichuk singled with the bases loaded in the fourth to make it 2-0.

The Giants came back against Lance Lynn.

UP NEXT

Giants: Hudson pitched well vs. Washington in Game 2 of the Division Series, allowing a run in 7 1-3 innings.

Cardinals: Lackey has a win each of the last three postseason series and is the active leader with 111 postseason innings.

Click here for full Giants coverage.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 6]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:36:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP583404611673.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the sixth week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Back in Front: Pats Take AFC East Lead]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 17:49:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Brady+Bills+101214.jpg

The New England Patriots lead the AFC East for the first time this season after downing the Buffalo Bills 37-22.

Both teams boasted 3-2 records going into Week 6.

Tom Brady threw for 361 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. He completed 27 of 37 pass attempts. Three of his targets - Brandon LaFell, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman - received more than 90 yards.

LaFell had two touchdowns. Brian Tyms and Tim Wright each had one.

Safety Patrick Chung came alive with nine tackles, and defensive end Rob Ninkovich sacked Bills quarterback Kyle Orton three times.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Win Game 1 of NLCS]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 00:48:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/457083614.jpg

Madison Bumgarner pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning and the San Francisco Giants combined just enough hitting with a couple of defensive flubs by St. Louis to beat the Cardinals 3-0 Saturday night in the NL Championship Series opener.

Bumgarner set a major league postseason record with 26 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings on the road.

The Giants lefty was in complete command while 20-game winner Adam Wainwright failed to last even five innings for the Cardinals.

San Francisco has won 12 of its last 13 in the postseason, including three straight to erase a 3-1 deficit in the 2012 NLCS against St. Louis.

Jake Peavy gets the Game 2 start for the Giants on Sunday night against Lance Lynn.

Bumgarner, who began the playoffs by throwing a shutout at Pittsburgh in the wild-card game, gave up four hits in 7 2-3 innings.

Bumgarner bested the mark of 23 straight postseason scoreless innings on the road set by Art Nehf of the New York Giants from 1921-24.

The Cardinals' threatened against him only in the seventh on consecutive one-out singles by Yadier Molina and Jon Jay, but Kolten Wong tapped out and pinch-hitter Tony Cruz fanned.

The Giants' bullpen finished with hitless relief as Sergio Romo got the last out in the eighth and Santiago Casilla closed for a save.

Wainwright failed for the second straight postseason start. And this time, there was no late comeback against a lefty for the Cardinals _ they twice did it against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the NL Division Series.

Wainwright was 20-9 during the regular season, including 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA in September with two complete games and a shutout. He's piled up a major league-high 512 2-3 innings the last two years, and perhaps the workload is finally getting to him.

The right-hander admitted before this series that his pitching elbow had bothered him during a start in the division series, but insisted he was fine.

In two October starts this year, Wainwright has permitted eight earned runs in nine innings. He's 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in his last five postseason appearances _ he lasted 4 2-3 innings against the Giants after going just 4 1-3 innings in the NLDS opener vs. the Dodgers.

Bumgarner and the Giants silenced a sellout crowd of 47,201 in a game that began in 55-degree chill.

The Cardinals twice failed to seal the deal defensively in the Giants' two-run second.

Third baseman Matt Carpenter's fielding error with the bases loaded on Gregor Blanco's soft one-hop liner at his feet was their first error of the postseason.

Pablo Sandoval doubled to start the inning when rookie right fielder Randal Grichuk gloved the ball but couldn't hang on as he ran into the wall. Travis Ishikawa, 0 for 5 with five strikeouts and a walk against Wainwright, had an RBI single on a jam-shot bloop just over Carpenter's head in shallow left.

Wong misplayed a double-play ball at second base in the third, and Brandon Belt's sacrifice fly made it 3-0.

NEXT UP

Giants: Getting reunited with Bruce Bochy helped the 40-year-old Peavy turn back the clock. He worked 5 2-3 scoreless innings and won the division opener against Washington, a continuation on a strong finish _ 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA _ after Boston dealt him to the Giants at the July trading deadline.

Cardinals: Lynn has been a solid No. 2 behind Wainwright, an innings-eater who has better learned to take setbacks in stride. He's won at least 15 games all three years in the rotation, and this year worked three or fewer runs in all but four of his 33 starts, and he's 27-12 career at home. "I'll still say he's probably one of the most underrated pitchers in the game,'' manager Mike Matheny said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Michael Morse was added to the Giants' roster in place of rookie outfielder Gary Brown, but did not play. Morse had been limited to two at-bats since Aug. 31 with a strained oblique muscle. Brown was on the division roster, but was not used.

 For full Giants coverage, click here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hartford Marathon 2014]]> Sat, 11 Oct 2014 21:31:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/101114+Womans+Half+Photo+Edited.jpg Thousands of runners compete in the NU Hartford Marathon Oct. 11, 2014. ]]> <![CDATA[Hernandez's Phone Won't Be Tossed]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 15:15:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/b5be81e2cbc24dfe9245749f34341294.jpg

Aaron Hernandez's personal cell phone will not be thrown out as evidence in his Bristol County, Massachusetts, murder trial, ruled Judge Susan Garsh on Friday.

The defense had argued that they were misled by the prosecution into believing the search warrant for the phone required that they surrender it. It was ultimately taken by state police at their Boston law office.

The prosecution argued that police had the proper search warrant for it, and that it was seized lawfully from Hernandez's attorneys.

Judge Susan Garsh found that Hernandez's lawyers voluntarily surrendered the phone and weren't duped by the police.

Garsh also ruled today that a rifle found in Hernandez's Toyota, at his North Attleboro home, will not be thrown out.

She however, ruled that a white towel, taken from Hernandez's home, won't be allowed into trial.

Prosecutors argued the towel was important to the case, because a similar towel was found at the Oden Lloyd murder scene.

Garsh further ruled that marijuana, and a bottle of Vitamin Water that was found in Hernandez's home, was properly seized by police and will be admissible into trial.

Prosecutors have alleged that a cigar with marijuana was found at the murder scene.

Prosecutors have also said the Vitamin Water was the same flavor and brand that was allegedly found in the vehicle reportedly rented by Hernandez and used in the murder.

Previously, in another big win for the prosecution, the Judge ruled that Hernandez's own home video surveillance system will be allowed into trial.

Prosecutors say video shows Hernandez allegedly holding a gun both before and after Lloyd's murder.

In a prior win for the defense, Judge Garsh threw out .45 caliber bullet casings seized from Hernandez's Franklin "flop house," along with a .45 caliber magazine found in his Hummer.

Prosecutors have said they never found the murder weapon that killed Llloyd, but that it was a .45 caliber Glock.

Garsh also threw out iPads and cell phones seized from Hernandez's North Attleboro home. It's unclear of the significance of those items to the case.

Hernandez is behind bars, awaiting a January trial in the Lloyd case. He's pleaded not guilty.

He's also pleaded not guilty to two more murders out of Boston.

His fiance, Shayanna Jenkins, will not have her perjury case thrown out either.

According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is direct evidence linking Jenkins to 14 separate perjurious statements.

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