<![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 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:42:07 -0400 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:42:07 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Introducing the Sport of Pickleball]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:45:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/216*120/PICKLEBALL073114.jpg It's the fun sport, with the funny name: Pickleball. It"s a mix of ping pong, tennis and badminton and can be played by all ages.]]> <![CDATA[Rock Cats Player Gets Promoted to Twins ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:37:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kennys+Vargas1200.jpg

Minor league all-star and Rock Cats phenom Kennys Vargas is saying goodbye to Connecticut – and hello to the major leagues.

Vargas has been promoted to the Major Leagues and will join the Minnesota Twins for their game tonight in Kansas City. He will don uniform number 19.

Vargas has batted .281 with 17 doubles, 17 home runs, and 63 RBI in 93 games this season with the Rock Cats, leading the team in home runs and RBI.

Vargas was also the starting first baseman and cleanup hitter for the Major League Futures game that took place on July 13. The game was played at Target Field in Minnesota.

The Rock Cats will return home in New Britain tonight for a four-game set against the Erie Sea Wolves. Tickets are available by calling 860-224-8383, or by visiting the website, www.rockcats.com.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Football Adds 13th Commit for 2015]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:26:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New+UConn+Helmet_722.jpg

The Huskies have yet to have their first official training camp practice under Bob Diaco, but the first-year coach and his staff have been busy beating the bushes on the recruiting trail. The latest addition: cornerback Justice Pettus-Dixon (Baltimore, MD), verbally committed to UConn Wednesday.

Considered a top recruit out of St. Frances, Pettus-Dixon also had offers from N.C. State, Boston College, Cincinnati, New Mexico, Oregon St. and Marshall, according to SNY.com's John Silver.

Pettus-Dixon makes 13 UConn commits for 2015. The expectation is that Diaco will look for roughly 20 players in the '15 class. Pettus-Dixon now joins a Huskies group that includes LB Nazir Williams, DB Aaron Garland, DB John V. Robinson, TE Chris Lee, TE Ian Campbell, TE Aaron McLean, QB Tyler Davis, DT Kevin Murphy, OLB Connor Freeborn, DE Phillipe Okunam, S Marshe Terry and TE Ben Hartwick.


<![CDATA[UConn, Florida to Meet on Jan. 3]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:24:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/deandre-daniels-dunk-UF.jpg

College basketball is all about rivalries, both old and new. And for the Florida Gators, it doesn't get much fresher than a rematch with the Huskies, the team that beat them twice last season, including in the Final Four on their way to a second title in three years.

On Wednesday, Florida released its non-conference schedule and it will travel to Connecticut to face the Huskies on Jan. 3, 2015.

The teams first met last season on Dec. 2. A last-second Shabazz Napier shot proved to be the difference in that game. In the months before the Final Four rematch, the Gators reeled off 30 straight wins while the Huskies struggled early in conference play before finding their groove down the stretch and into the postseason.

In the Final Four get-together -- in front of 70,000 fans -- DeAndre Daniels scored 20 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and led the Huskies to a 63-53 victory.

Everybody was at a Level 5 and that was the most important thing," Ollie said after the win. "Whoever I put in the game was positive and they were productive ... and everybody had 10 toes in. I told you, they're fighters. So (even) if we get down, we keep fighting, keep believing in each other. DeAndre was huge for us, he stepped up and rebounded, it's all about touches with him. When he plays with energy like this, he's unstoppable."

The Huskies will look a lot different when the face the Gators early in 2015; Napier, Daniels and Niels Giffey are playing professionally and Rodney Purvis, who redshirted last season, will be an integral part of the backcourt along with senior Ryan Boatright.

In addition to facing the Huskies, the Gators will also have regular-season match ups against Miami, Kansas, Wake Forest and Florida State. And much like the Huskies a season ago, the hope is that Florida comes out the other side battle-tested.

"This difficult schedule will not only prepare our team for league and postseason play, it delivers a terrific lineup of marquee games for our fans," said Mike Hill, UF's executive associate athletic director for external affairs, via USAToday.com. "From hosting the defending national champions, to renewing the Miami rivalry, to playing in perhaps the toughest tournament ever assembled, this schedule has it all for the Gators."

<![CDATA[Tuck Granted Medical Hardship Waiver]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:07:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/morgan-tuck-title.jpg

After a frustrating season on the court for Morgan Tuck -- one that included just eight games during the Huskies' championship run -- the would-be junior has been granted a medical hardship waiver for the 2013-14 season, the school announced Wednesday.

That means she'll have three years of eligibility remaining when she returns to action, which should be in time for the 2014-15 season. Tuck underwent two medical procedures on her right knee last season.

“I always wish the process could go faster," Tuck told the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla in June. "Anyone who is hurt always does. I am happy with where I am. Rosie [Ragle, UConn’s athletic trainer] tells me I am right where I need to be. So now the next step for me will be to sprint and do the full conditioning workout aside from the treadmill. I can’t tell the difference between the knees when I run. But I do get tired because I am not in shape. My knee feels better than it has in a very long time.”

With Stefanie Dolson now in the WNBA, Tuck, who averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game last season, will be a key cog in the Huskies' frontcourt success.

When Tuck returns to the court she'll be joined by a formidable recruiting class that includes the nation's best player -- Katie Lou Samuelson -- as well as two others in the top 10: Napheesa Collier and De’Janae Boykin. There's also Kia Nurse, a member of the Canadian national team, and Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

<![CDATA[Manchester Native Sets English Channel Swim Record]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:58:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/marcyswimpic.jpg Making it across the English Channel has been called the Everest of open water swimming. Manchester native Dr. Marcy MacDonald recently accomplished this feat for the 15th time--a new American record. MacDonald, who is a podiatrist, made the 21 mile swim this past June 30th on the 20th anniversary of her first swim across the English Channel.]]> <![CDATA[Diaco Excited to Start Practice]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:53:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob+diaco+uconn+introduced.jpg

Bob Diaco has a plan, one that he's been putting in place since December, when the University of Connecticut hired him to be its football coach. He's tasked with turning around a program that went 3-9 last season and 5-7 in the two seasons before that.  Now he's days away from the start of his first training camp, and for anybody even half-paying attention, he's fired up.

But there's more to winning than enthusiasm. Diaco has spent part of the off-season instilling in his players what it means to be successful, despite the recent lack of it not to mention the constant reminders. For example, on Tuesday, the Huskies ranked 9th out of 11 teams in the AAC's preseason standings.

"I'm not going to say [the players] aren't thinking about it because that's a development piece that I still need to have a teaching moment with them," Diaco said from AAC media day. "So if you ask them the question, they might give a different answer than I'm giving. It has no bearing. It will not be brought up. It's of no weight or a concern to our team for 2014. I'm not going to say we're not going to read it; I'm not going to say they're not going to talk about it; I'm not going to say they're not going to talk about it in the locker room – but it can't be an energy for us.

"We need to be very guarded and careful with what we use to take and walk down our path. The energy necessary to do the things necessary to create a successful team is what we're talking about and that's not one of them."

As for how Diaco plans to keep everyone focused it starts with stairs. Confused? The coach explained Tuesday.

"If you've ever been to the backside of the Burton Family Football Complex, I've never walked those stairs with the players to go to practice," he said, via the Hartford Courant. "If I look down the road until the end of August or September or October or November, I am going trip over one of those stairs. ...

"I'm definitely going to need to focus on those stairs," Diaco continued. "I know it's just imagery with humor in it, but it's a fact. Camp is going to intensely focus on a task with a collection of people that are there to intensely focus on a task. That's what we do and that's a big reason I can't wait to sequester ourselves with the coaches and the team for the duration of the time."

Translation: Don't get caught up on the hype -- preseason polls, individual honors or anything else -- and focus on what's right in front of you.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[UConn QB Battle Begins in Earnest]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:27:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Casey+Cochran+1200.jpg

The biggest issue facing Bob Diaco as he begins his first training camp is who will be the team's starting quarterback. Casey Cochran led the team to three straight wins -- their only wins, in fact -- down the stretch, but Timmy Boyle got some much-needed experience during a handful of midseason starts, and veteran Chandler Whitmer was the team's primary starter in 2012.

Not surprisingly, all three are in the mix for snaps with the first team, Diaco said from AAC Media Day Tuesday but there won't be a decision on who will start until two weeks or so before the season opener.

Whomever ends up under center this much is certain: Interceptions are a non-starter, both literally and figuratively.

"I'll hand it to the back 55 times, seriously, then we'll have a chance," Diaco said. "If you turn the ball over you have no chance."

And like his predecessor, Paul Pasqualoni, it sounds like more than one quarterback will see action.

"We're going to have a starting quarterback, but we're going to have more than one quarterback playing the games," he said.

As for what the quarterbacks can expect in the coming weeks, Diaco gave a glimpse of the preparation process back in May.

"We try to put our quarterbacks in high-stress situations during practice and being sure we evaluate their decision-making process," he said at the time. "When challenges arise, we want our quarterback to be accountable, responsible and protective of teammates and not looking for an excuse."

While we sort out the QB depth chart this much is certain: senior wideout Geremy Davis will be the primary target for whomever's throwing passes for the Huskies.

“He may not run the very fastest time, but he doesn’t use that for separation or ability to get open,” Diaco said. “He has unique traits, he reminds me of Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald of Pitt, not at that level, but that body. He’s hard to cover.

“He’s more physical than the defensive backs who will try to cover him and faster than the linebackers. He catches everything in his catch radius.”

Fun officially starts Saturday when training camp opens.

<![CDATA[Aresco Expects Big Things From AAC]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:31:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP144808893745.jpg

If nothing else, you have to respect the unbridled optimism American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco puts out there, even when it's a seemingly impossible task.

The AAC enters the 2014 football season on the outside looking in, at least in the sense that they're not part of one of the five power conferences. But as far as Aresco's concerned, those are only words and mostly meaningless.

"I scoff at the term 'non power conference' applied to us," said at AAC football media day, via the Hartford Courant.

"As I look at our journey, I'm reminded of something St. Francis of Assisi said, 'You should start by doing what is necessary, then doing what is possible, then suddenly you are doing the impossible,'" Aresco said philosophically, before adding: "Michelangelo once said, 'The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.'"

Put another way: The AAC might not be a "power conference" but it doesn't matter, as far as Aresco is concerned.

"We're not going to take a back seat to anyone," the commissioner said. "We see the landscape as five plus one and we're knocking on the door and we eventually will knock it down. Our goal is to be in the conversation as the sixth power conference. I believe by virtue of our performance we already are."

Two years ago, Aresco might have been laughed out of the room. Now, not so much. UCF outlasted Baylor and its high-powered offense in the Fiesta Bowl last season and UConn won both the men's and women's national championship in April. Aresco also noted that AAC teams have beaten 37 of 64 of the power schools -- and Notre Dame -- in the last five years.

"We pretty much did the impossible," Aresco said. "The exception, of course, is the UConn women. They do the impossible routinely.

"We hear that the new NCAA governance system, which allows autonomy in limited areas, will cause us somehow to be left behind, that resources of those conferences are simply too great. I don't buy that for a minute and what we did this year proves it."

And the process starts again this weekend when the Huskies begin training camp ahead of the 2014 football season.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Shabazz on the NBA Learning Curve]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:54:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/216*120/shabazz072914.jpg UConn legend Shabazz Napier was back in the state to coach at a summer basketball camp and talked about his struggles in the NBA summer league, Lebron James and the chip on his shoulder.]]> <![CDATA[Huskies Picked 9th in Preseason Poll]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:54:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/casey-cochran-starter-smu.jpg

By now, we're used to it. Doesn't mean we have to accept it, but the reality is that the Huskies football team hasn't been very good in recent years and that's been reflected in the conference subsequent preseason polls. And this time around is no different.

UConn was picked to finish ninth in the preseason American Athletic Conference poll, which was released Tuesday morning (via SNY.com).

UConn finished 3-9 last year -- including a nine-game losing streak to start the season -- and went 5-7 in the two previous years under Paul Pasqualoni. Bob Diaco, hired in December, will coach his first game for UConn next month.

Here's the full AAC preseason poll:

1. Cincinnati (17)
2. UCF (7)
3. Houston (6)
4. East Carolina
5. SMU
6. USF
7. Memphis
8. Temple
9. UConn
9. Tulane
11. Tulsa

If nothing else, all the talk of preseason polls brings us to the point we make every offseason, where it seems fitting to end with a quote from former Huskies coach Randy Edsall. In 2010 after the Huskies were picked fourth in the Big East, Edsall had this to say: “My reaction is the same as it was last year. Who cares? We don’t get excited about preseason polls. It’s all about what you do on the field.”

<![CDATA[Napier Working Camps, Ready for Heat]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:26:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483308981.jpg

Shabazz Napier is now a member of the Miami Heat but he's on a short break between the summer league schedule and the start of the season. In the meantime, he's returned to Connecticut, where he spent the last four years helping the Huskies win two national titles.

This week, he's working camps for All Pro Sports.

"I was one of those kids growing up, inspired by Antoine Walker at his camp and a lot of other camps I went to, so for me to be in the position now -- it's something that I'm grateful for," Napier told the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore. "I appreciate it. Those kids that inspire me because I inspire them. That's just something beautiful to know.

"At their age I didn't know better. You just try to give them the basics and just let them enjoy the basketball, because at this stage the sport is supposed to be enjoyed. When you get older, you realize that it's more business. You just try to enjoy as much basketball as you can at this age."

Napier found out about the business side of the game almost immediately after he was drafted. Originally selected by the Hornets, he was traded to the Heat where the hope was that the addition of a top-flight point guard would entice LeBron James to stay in Miami. It didn't work and now the Heat have gone from perennial playoff team to finding themselves smack dab in the middle of a the rebuilding process.

As for what Napier needs to do to get better, the answer's pretty simple.

"Everything," he said. "I don't pick on one thing. Everything -- my decision-making, my shot selection, everything about it. Going into a new offense, a new organization, there's new schemes you've got to learn. Some of the schemes we did at UConn, they're not teaching in Miami. So I'm trying to understand and adjust to that organization, their rules and their schemes. It's something you've got to learn and it's not going to come quickly. It's going to come in time."

The sooner the better, as far as the Heat are concerned. But if college is any guide, it won't take Napier long to be a difference maker.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New UConn Practice Gym Close to Finished]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:32:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new-uconn-bball-facility.jpg

One of the best basketball programs in the country -- in the men's and women's game -- deserves a practice facility to reflect that. For the Huskies, that dream will soon be reality; the UConn Basketball Champions Center is nearing completion, the school announced Saturday.

Details, via the news release:

"The new 78,000 square foot facility features practice gyms for the men’s and women’s basketball programs, along with locker rooms, coaches’ offices, and area for academic support, video analysis, sports medicine and strength training.

"The facility allows basketball student athletes to practice, train, study and dine in one location.

"The two practice gyms are near completion and many other areas of the building are also in the final stages of construction."

(Image via UConn's Twitter feed)

<![CDATA[Over 25,000 Compete in SF Marathon]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:05:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/181*120/marathon_preps_sf2.jpg

Thousands of people from all over the country winded their way through the streets of San Francisco bright and early Sunday to compete in the city's annual marathon.

The first race started at 5:30 a.m., and the route kicked off and finished along the Embarcadero, with stops through the Marina, Golden Gate Bridge, the Park and the Presidio--tracing the northern part of the city.

There were temporary closures and transit changes, as more than 25,000 people laced up for the race.

"It does frustrate me a little bit because it does get very crowded--it's already crowded sometimes for the ballgames," runner Rachel Amaya said. "But it does get crowded."

"I did not know there was a lot of stuff going on, but I’m used it being from LA," runner Chad Eichten said. "And there is always stuff going on, so you just figure out ways around it."

The marathon's conclusion was around 1 p.m.

A Berkeley woman won the San Francisco Marathon for the second year in a row, and a man from Reno, Nevada earned his first win.

Anna Bretan finished the 26.2-mile course in two hours, 47 minutes and 50 seconds, according to race officials.

That is just slightly longer than the two hours, 42 minutes and 25 seconds it took the mother of three to win the race in 2013.

Bretan also, notably, was the women's winner of the 2012 Oakland Marathon.

On the men's side, race officials report August Brautigam beat his competitors by crossing the finish line in two hours, 32 minutes and 16 seconds.

But just a few hours later, more sports fans will head to the city, as the San Francisco Giants try and avoid the sweep against their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cal-train is adding extra capacity for riders coming to the city for the game--or for people attending a late afternoon soccer match with the San Jose Earthquakes at Candlestick Park.

<![CDATA[Reinsdorf Hospitalized in New York]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 04:49:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Reinsdorf+Smart.jpg

Chicago Bulls and White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was hospitalized Friday night after an "episode of light-headedness," the Chicago White Sox said in a statement.

Reinsdorf's "episode" required medical attention during his stay in Cooperstown, New York. He was taken to Bassett Medical Center where he will stay overnight "as a precautionary measure."

"All tests tonight indicate that he is fine," the team said in a statement. "He is coherent, is resting comfortably and is communicating with his doctors and medical staff."

He is expected to be released Saturday morning.

Reinsdorf is in New York to attend this weekend's Hall of Fame induction of former White Sox star Frank Thomas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Not Your Average Athlete]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:27:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/spryanmartin302498520.jpg Ryan Martin plays professional basketball in Spain but is not your typical athlete.]]> <![CDATA[A Kicking Love Story]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:32:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kickball072214.jpg Nicole and Chris Van Dyke met playing kickball two years ago.]]> <![CDATA[WNBA Coach Michael Cooper has Tongue Cancer]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:24:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP13030709140.jpg

Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper has early stage tongue cancer and has taken a leave from the WNBA team.

He will have surgery this week at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta and a full recovery is expected, the Dream said Monday.

The 58-year-old coach is expected to miss about two weeks, with assistant coach Karleen Thompson filling in. Atlanta plays at Minnesota on Tuesday.

"I'm fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection," Cooper said. "I know the team will be in good hands with coach Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon."

Cooper is in his first season with Atlanta. His team leads the Eastern Conference with a 15-6 record. He coached the East to a 125-124 overtime victory at the WNBA All-Star game Saturday.

Cooper won five NBA titles as a shooting guard with the Los Angeles Lakers during the "Showtime" era from 1978-90. As a coach, he won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and one NBA Development League championships with Albuquerque.

After his second run with the Sparks, Cooper was hired as the women's coach at Southern California. He resigned in March following an 11-20 season, his first losing mark in four seasons.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pose With Red Sox World Series Trophies Tonight]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 09:11:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Red+Sox+World+Series+trophiesa.jpg

2004, 2007 and 2014 were good years to be a Red Sox fan and you can continue to bask in that glory by posing for a photo with the team’s trophies.

They will be on display at New Britain Stadium tonight as the Rock Cats take on the Altoona Curve.

The price is the cost of a ticket to the game.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Daniels Could Be Headed to Europe]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:31:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483283511.jpg

We mentioned it briefly Thursday but DeAndre Daniels, the Raptors' second-round pick in last month's NBA Draft, almost certainly won't be on the bench for the big club this season. Instead, as often happens with young players who need more experience, he'll be shipped to a lower league to get playing time all while gaining confidence and getting physically stronger.

According to the Toronto Sun, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri "has indicated Daniels will be stashed in Europe for a year to get some much-needed playing time."

If you're new to "stashing" -- and we were until recently -- here's a quick primer, courtesy of SheridanHoops.com:

Since second-round picks usually are not guaranteed to make NBA rosters, teams can use Europe (or Australia, Asia and South America) as a viable option to develop their draft picks on someone else’s dime while still retaining the rights to the player down the road.

Typically, European players took this route to continue their development on their home continent, delaying their arrival stateside until they expanded their skills or had a more relaxed escape clause in their contract.

However, the D-League ‘s spartan rookie pay scale has made playing overseas a viable option even for American rookies, who despite being drafted may not want to risk getting cut in training camp and being forced to play for pennies in the minors.

There has never been any question about Daniels' athleticism or potential, but he struggled with consistency for much of his college career. That said, Daniels got hot late in the season and was a vital cog in the Huskies' championship run. A good showing in Europe this season could mean a place on the Raptors roster in 2015 -- or sooner.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[KML Looking Forward to Senior Season]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:25:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP116320717091%281%29.jpg

It's hard to believe that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is entering her senior season. It seems like it was three months -- not three years -- that the former high school player of the year was making her way to Storrs for the first time.

And yet here we are: two national championships later, one of the best pure shooters in college basketball is gearing up for her last go round. Along with Kiah Stokes, Mosqueda-Lewis is the only senior on the roster.

“There is definitely a lot more pressure, and a lot more responsibility,” she told SNY.com's Carl Adamec recently. “But the people on this team, they take care of themselves.”

That pressure is lessened considerably playing alongside rising junior Breanna Stewart, who also happens to be the best player in the country. Then there's point guard Moriah Jefferson, not to mention the highly touted incoming freshmen: Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse, and Gabby Williams.

But like the seniors that preceded her -- Kelly Faris, Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson, for example -- Mosqueda-Lewis will be counted on to provide veteran leadership.

“I’m excited for this year,” she said. “It’s a new year, we have a great team, and I’m excited to play with the freshmen. Yeah, we lost Stef and Bria, but I’m really excited about what this year is going to bring.”

Earlier this summer, coach Geno Auriemma admitted that he wanted Mosqueda-Lewis in better shape after an injury-plagued 2013-14 season. And Mosqueda-Lewis is doing just that.

“Personally what I am working on right now is just getting in the best shape that I can,” she said. “I would like to go back to trying to get to the basket more, get fouled more. I didn’t really go to the basket as much and get fouled last year.”

And as Adamec notes, there's also another reason: a big senior season will in all likelihood translate into a high-round pick in the WNBA Draft.

“There is still a lot of work I have to do," Mosqueda-Lewis conceded, "and Coach will probably be the first person to tell you that.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giffey Signs With German Team]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:25:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP269919261435.jpg

Niels Giffey went undrafted last month, but joined the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies summer league team before moving onto the Utah Jazz. And now he's headed back to Germany after signing a three-year deal with with Alba Berlin, his hometown EuroLeague team, the club's website reported.

The Connecticut Post's Kevin Duffy caught up with Giffey to talk about everything from the Huskies' championship run in the spring, to the Germans winning the World Cup last week, to Giffey's professional basketball travels over the last month or so.

"It's going to be different for me than for other players because I'm actually going back home, and a lot of people with the staff there already know me," Giffey said of returning to Germany, "but at the end of the day it's a little more business than college basketball."

On his brief NBA summer league experience. "There really was no chance for me because they had a couple of guys they drafted this year and in previous years that they wanted to see," Giffey said of his time in Memphis. "They pretty much just benched me. As I saw that happening, I knew there was interest from Utah, so I went out to Utah and started practicing with them."

Giffey went 3-for-14 from the floor -- including 1-for-5 from behind the arc -- during his Las Vegas summer league games.

On the Huskies' run to its second title in three years. "There was never the moment when we came into the gym and thought we were unbeatable," he said. "You really had to take each game at a time, but when we came to the Sweet 16 and started stopping these big-bodied guys -- that was always one of our weaknesses -- like Michigan State and Adreian Payne, when we did that, there was no doubt in my mind that we could win it."

And now Giffey returns to where his basketball dreams all started: home in Germany.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cochran Nominated for Good Works Team]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:56:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/casey-cochran-starter-smu.jpg

On the same day teammate Geremy Davis found his way onto the Biletnikoff Watch List, quarterback Casey Cochran was nominated for the 2014 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.

Details via the AFCA release:

The team recognizes players whose charitable involvement and community service contributions stand out among others. Since its establishment in 1992, the award has existed to pay tribute to the good in college football that extends beyond the wins and the losses. The final roster of 22 award recipients will be unveiled in September.

Cochran is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at UConn, which oversees community service projects for the entire University and also serves as a voice between student-athletes and the athletic department.

He has regularly spoken to students at the Stafford Springs (Conn.) Elementary School about athletics and academics. Cochran has also been part of a group of football student-athletes that visit elementary schools in East Hartford and Manchester, Conn.

Cochran has volunteered at the New London (Conn.) Community Meal Center helping prepare and serve food and as an Athlete-Reader at the New London Elementary Schools.

Cochran, who is in good position to win the starting job as the Huskies' quarterback in 2014, was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Academic team last season. In eight games -- including four starts -- Cochran led UConn to its only three wins, all while setting the school's single-game passing record (461 yards) against Memphis.

<![CDATA[Daniels Talks About NBA]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:54:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483304153.jpg

DeAndre Daniels was a second-round pick of the Raptors last month, and like most other rookies, he's taking part in the NBA Summer League. The former UConn standout spoke recently about transitioning to the professional game.

On moving from power forward in college to small forward in the NBA. "That's what I've been working on since I was in high school," Daniels said, and I played (small forward) in college some a little bit ... but I'm just a basketball player. Whatever the coaching staff tells me to do I'm going to do it."

Lessons of facing much better competition from one game to the next. "It's definitely a learning experience, just learning how to play the game that's different from college -- different spacing and just trying to learn all the defensive techniques, guys helping and rotating. I feel like that's what we need to focus on more."

You can watch the entire interview below:

Last weekend, Daniels and the Raptors played in Las Vegas and in three games Daniels scored 7, 12 and 16 points. According to SB Nation's UConn Blog, Daniels could be shipped off to Europe to gain some much needed experience.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stewart, Moore Honored at ESPYs]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:31:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-nd-finals.png

Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore never played together at UConn but two of the best players to come through Geno Auriemma's program in recent years were both honored Wednesday night at the annual ESPYs.

Stewart, a rising junior, won Best Female College Athlete, and Moore, now with the Minnesota Lynx,was named the Best WNBA Player.

More details via the press release:

UConn has had a total of 16 ESPY winners since 1993, with seven coming since 2010.

Stewart, who averaged 19.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 2013-14 , becomes the first Husky to win the accolade since Moore won three straight from 2009-11. The 6-4 forward was tabbed as the AP, USBWA, and espnW Player of the Year following UConn's perfect 40-0 season.

The Syracuse, N.Y. native led UConn in scoring in 22 contests, scoring a total of 777 points in her sophomore year. The 2013-14 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Stewart joined Diana Taurasi as the only Huskies to earn Final Four Most Outstanding Player in two years after earning the honor in both 2013 and 2014.

Moore was recognized after leading the Minnesota Lynx to the 2013 WNBA title, earning the Finals MVP award. As a student-athlete, she led UConn to a 150-4 record over her four-year career, which included four Final Four appearances and two National Championships. She finished her career as the fourth-leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,036 points and was honored as the Capital One University Division Academic All-American of the Year and BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2010 and 2011.

The Huskies had a total eight ESPY nominations: Auriemma and Kevin Ollie were up for best coach; Shabazz Napier was nominated for Best Championship Performance; and Stewart and Moore also received nominations for Best Female Athlete.

<![CDATA[McEnroe's Son Arrested for Drugs]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:11:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+mcenroe.jpg

Kevin McEnroe, the 27-year-old son of tennis champion John McEnroe and actress Tatum O'Neal, was arrested in New York City after he was allegedly caught with dozens of oxycodone and morphine pills, authorities say.

McEnroe was arrested late Tuesday after an alleged drug exchange with another suspect on East Fourth Street between First Avenue and Avenue A in the East Village, the district attorney's office said.

Police found 20 oxycodone pills and 10 morphine pills in an inner pocket in his jacket, according to the criminal complaint. 

McEnroe was arraigned on two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance Tuesday and released on $5,000 bail. He's next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 16. 

His attorney declined to comment.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[6-10 Steve Enoch Likes Huskies]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:48:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483300299.jpg

Steve Enoch, a 6-10 power forward, visited UConn recently and he doesn't shy away from the fact that he's a big Huskies fan.

Growing up I’ve always wanted to play at UConn and my family wanted me to,” he told SNY.tv last week. “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, it turns out, has a lot of scholarship offers. In addition to UConn, there's Memphis, Arizona State, Kansas State, Fairfield, Sacred Heart, VCU, Oregon, Boston College, Providence, Rhode Island and Drexel. And Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa and Virginia have shown interest in recent weeks.

“It’s not overwhelming,” Enoch said of the process. “I’m enjoying it because I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and effort into my game and into my skills so I’m just glad.”

As for the Storrs visit, Enoch says it went well.

“I visited UConn two weeks ago,” Enoch said. “It was good because a whole bunch of other players came to visit, too, Tyus Battle, Ray Smith, Tremont Waters were there. And my teammate Ian Gardner was there so we had a good time.”

Enoch, who says he's "built a really good relationship" with coach Kevin Ollie and the staff, also appreciates that the team is coming off a national title.

“I watched them win but I was just rooting for them,” he 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.”

But Enoch says he's in no hurry to make a decision.

"I think towards the end of my senior year, the spring, near May,” he said.

As it stands, the Huskies have a verbal commitment from Jalen Adams, but two players -- Will Jackson and Prince Ali -- have de-committed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Davis Named to Biletnikoff Watch List]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:44:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geremy-davis-catch.jpg

Training camp is just weeks away, which means we're that much closer to seeing what first-year coach Bob Diaco has in store for the Huskies football program. And while much of the conversation centers around the quarterbacks (as it should), whomever ends up under center will have at least one big-play target: wide receiver Geremy Davis, who was named to the 2014 Biletnikoff Award Pre-Season Watch List Tuesday.

Details via the release:

Davis enters the 2014 season ranked ninth in UConn career history in receptions with 121 and is 10th in receiving yardage at 1,771.
He had one of the most prolific seasons for a receiver in UConn history in 2013, starting all 12 games and finishing with 71 receptions, 1,085 yards and three touchdowns. Davis was UConn's first 1,000 yard receiver in the FBS era and first since Carl Bond in 1998. The 1,085 yards rank sixth-highest in a season in UConn history and the 71 receptions place fifth. He had a single-game program-record 15 catches for 207 yards, fifth-most ever, and a touchdown against Memphis on Dec. 7.
The 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner will be presented live on December 11, 2014, on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show to be broadcast from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. on ESPN. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff will announce the 2014 winner on the show.

Davis was named to Phil Steele's Preseason American Athletic Conference first-team, and landed on Athlon had him on its second team.

<![CDATA[Napier Explains Unfollowing LeBron]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:57:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483308981.jpg

LeBron James was Shabazz Napier's biggest supporter in the weeks and months leading up to the NBA Draft. So it wasn't altogether surprising when the Heat made a trade to land Napier, presumably in the hopes of keeping James in Miami. But James eventually signed with the Cavs, which led Napier to unfollow James on Twitter.

But Napier, who joined Twitter on June 25, said he had no knowledge of unfollowing James.

"The whole thing about that is I don't know how to work Twitter yet and I'm not on my Twitter, so I don't know where that came from," Napier said, according to ESPN.com.

And tweets from Napier to James had also been deleted.

"I don't pay attention to it," Napier said. "It gets brought to me by family members, but I don't pay any attention to it. I just think it's how it is. Media wants something to bite on."

So there you go, mystery solved.

Meanwhile, Napier has more important things to concern himself with than social media. He's played inconsistently during summer league action, averaging 9.5 points and 4.3 assists to go along with 4.8 turnovers in eight games.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Derek Jeter's All-Star Goodbye]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 08:12:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Jeter-ASG-Goodbye-0715.jpg

The All-Star Game telecast opened Tuesday night with Fox’s Joe Buck surveying the impressive talent in the American League locker room as he made his way to the undisputed star among all stars: Derek Jeter. But the Yankees’ captain waved off the announcer, telling him, “We’ve got a game to play, bro.” 

His words, even if possibly scripted, offered a vintage Jeter moment: It’s never about him, it’s all about the game.
Jeter played his 14th and final All-Star contest Tuesday night, in what could be his farewell appearance before a major league-sized national TV audience, barring a Yankees playoff run. The bittersweet milestone marked the latest leg in a victory lap for the future Hall of Famer – and for baseball.
Like his longtime team mate Mariano Rivera, who earned a similar sendoff last year, Jeter emerged as a standout in the 1990s as the game rebounded from labor strife on the bulging backs of sluggers with a seemingly endless capacity to belt the long ball. But the home run heroics turned out to be an illusion fueled by witches’ brews, injected by cheaters who, hopefully, will never see Cooperstown.
Amid the cloud that hung over the game, Jeter shined, not as a slugger, but as player whose dirt-caked uniform testified to an all-out style that sent him flying into the stands after balls. His stats, especially in the post-season (a record 200 hits on the way to five World Series victories), speak to his clutch hitting. With Derek Jeter, there’s no room for illusion: What you see is what you get.
He gave us plenty to watch Tuesday. In the first play of the game, Jeter, at age 40 and in his 20th season, dove for a ball with the verve of a rookie. He later ran full steam as he laced a double in his first at bat and scored the game’s first run. Jeter added to his stature as one of the greatest to grace the diamond – among them his fellow shortstops Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken, Jr., who also embodied a love for the game with their ceaseless hard play and leadership, on and off the field.
Even amid the World Cup afterglow and the return of LeBron James to Cleveland, Jeter’s last All-Star berth on his way to his final Major League at bat provided a potent reminder of why baseball remains out National Pastime, a game equally capable of breaking hearts and sending them soaring. He transcends his storied franchise and the game, with a quiet class to which other players – and other sports – aspire.
Jeter is the kind of player who commands the respect of all who love baseball – even those of us who hate the Yankees. Cheers, from fans and rivals alike, filled Minnesota’s Target Field Tuesday as Jeter left the game at the top of the fourth inning.
Even the commercials packed an emotional punch: A spot for Jordan Brand featured everyone from Michael Jordan to Red Sox fans to Mr. Met tipping their hats to a player who helped mend his sport and will leave it stronger when he caps his career at the season’s end. Check out the clip below as baseball tips its cap to a player who wears No. 2, but ranks higher in the estimation of many who share his love – and respect – for the game.


Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Farmington Pitcher Overcomes Cancer to Pitch With One Eye]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:19:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bailey071514.jpg When Bailey Meccareillo was 2 years old, he had a rare cancer called Retinablastoma.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>