<![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, 24 Apr 2014 12:11:55 -0400 Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:11:55 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Announcer Relishes Role as Voice of Kentucky Derby]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:39:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/edt-AP639473485249.jpg

From his perch with a panoramic view of the world's most famous racetrack, the new voice of Churchill Downs will sit out one of the most anticipated moments of the tradition-soaked Kentucky Derby.

Larry Collmus will try to tune out "My Old Kentucky Home" while the crowd of 160,000-plus sings along and the thoroughbreds take to the Churchill Downs track. The veteran announcer says it gives him chills, and he wants to avoid being overtaken by emotion.

"I don't want that feeling that I used to get, because it's a distraction," he said. "The last thing I need is that leading up to the race.

"So I'll introduce 'My Old Kentucky Home,' but I won't listen to it."

Collmus, 47, has called the past three Derbys for millions of people watching on NBC Sports, but this will be the first time his voice will be heard by the thousands at the track for the 140th Kentucky Derby on May 3. The previous track announcer stepped aside last year.

Collmus has three decades of experience and his crisp cadence is familiar to many horse racing fans. He will continue as the race caller for the network on its telecasts of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes and the Breeders' Cup.

He is just the third announcer to call the Derby for both the track crowd and millions watching on TV.

"He will take his place on the brief, but very distinguished and accomplished, roster of announcers that have served as the voice of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks," the race at Churchill for 3-year-old fillies the day before the Derby, said Churchill Downs track President Kevin Flanery.

In his first Derby call for NBC, Collmus excitedly declared that the horse Animal Kingdom was "roaring down the center of the track" en route to victory in 2011.

"It is the most exciting and nerve-wracking two minutes you could ever imagine," he said.

Collmus honed his announcing skills far from the media glare. He started as an assistant announcer on the racing circuit in his native Maryland. By age 20, he was hired as track announcer at Birmingham Turf Club in Alabama, where he called doubleheader race cards on Saturdays — 10 races in the afternoon and 10 more at night.

During his stint at Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts, snow sometimes had to be shoveled off the walkway to the announcer's booth, he said. He went on to call races for 20 years at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and still serves as track announcer during the winter meet at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

At Churchill, he will be a fixture long after the Derby, calling races during the spring, September and fall meets.

But his first stint here was a short one.

Collmus spent a week calling races in 2008, among a handful of announcers who took turns in what was widely seen as tryouts. The job ultimately went to Mark Johnson, a British announcer.

Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher said the split between Johnson and the track was an amicable one.

Like any track announcer, Collmus hopes he's calling the race when the Triple Crown drought finally ends. Affirmed was the last horse to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978.

"The day that that finally happens, to be the guy who gets to call it would be the most incredible thing," he said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Amida Brimah to Have Shoulder Surgery]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:18:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/amida-brimah-surgery.jpg

UConn freshman center Amida Brimah was one of the many pleasant surprises to come out of the 2013-14 season. He arrived in Storrs with little fanfare, mostly because he had only been playing the game for just a few years.

But Brimah became an immediate force in the paint, particularly on the defensive end where he grabbed rebounds and blocked shots. And now, according to the New Haven Register, the rising sophomore will need shoulder surgery. He met with doctors Wednesday and then plan is to have surgery on his left shoulder by the end of the week.

"We’ll try to do it fast, so that he can get back before the season starts,” Nana Baafi, his legal guardian, said via the Register.

He was battling with it the whole season," Baafi continued. "If he doesn’t do it, it’s gonna keep coming. So, he might as well just do it, so he can be healthy ... He could have fought through it, but it’s not advisable. His health is more important. If something else happened, it might get worse.”

According to Baafi, it's the same shoulder injury that caused transfer Rodney Purvis to have surgery for a torn labrum last December.

“The brighter side is, it’s better for him to come back 100 percent than to go through the whole season again 80-90 percent,” Baafi said. “But with the kind of kid he is, with his work ethic, he’ll be fine.”

With no word on whether rising seniors Ryan Boatright or DeAndre Daniels will head for the NBA or return to Storrs, the Huskies will need Brimah as close to 100 percent as possible.

<![CDATA[Golden Oldies Bring Senior Swagger]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:16:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/golden+oldies1.jpg

The Golden Oldies, the Miami Heat's senior hip hop ensemble, are just as passionate about their booty shaking as they are about their playoff basketball.

The senior citizen dance group has been performing for the Miami Heat for 10 years, but their dance routines for the 2013 to 2014 season have been a little special.

Why? Every time the Oldies have shimmied onto the American Airlines Arena floor, the home team has won the game for a perfect 8-0.

"I think we bring them good luck," says Keith Buehner, a dancer with the 16-person company. "Hopefully they'll hear about that and say, 'Let's dance at every game!"

There's certainly magic in their routines, and in preparation for Miami's White Hot Championship playoff run, NBC 6 Sports Anchor Courtney Fallon decided to pop into one of their practices and learn their moves.

Despite their age, which ranges from 60 to 77, the Golden Oldies have managed to master the latest gyrating dance moves, and do so with a youthful vitality.

Just like the reigning World Champions, the Golden Oldies are in playoff form, ready to put their perfect 8-and-0 record to the test this postseason.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Shakim Phillips Leaving UConn]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:14:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/shakim-phillips-louisville.jpg

Wide receiver Shakim Phillips, who transferred to UConn three years ago after spending the 2010 season with Boston College, is leaving the program, coach Bob Diaco said Wednesday.

"Shakim is going to work through the spring and summer to get his degree and graduate. We wish him the best. Shakim is a good kid with high character," the coach said, via the Hartford Courant, though he didn't specify a reason.

Meanwhile, the Boston Herald reports that Phillips could be headed back to BC.

Phillips struggled to stay healthy during his time in Storrs, but the former four-star recruit showed glimpses of his big-play ability last season. He had 10 catches for 170 yards against Maryland, but tweaked his hamstring during the game and never seemed to return to form. For the season, Phillips had 28 receptions for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Luckily, the Huskies are deep at wide receiver; senior Geremy Davis, who in 2013 became the first UConn player to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season since the school joined the FBS, returns as the No. 1 target. Senior Deshon Foxx has speed to burn and the rest of the depth chart includes junior Kamal Abrams, sophomores Noel Thomas, Brian Lemelle and Dhameer Bradley.

Meanwhile, Diaco, in his first season as coach, has already moved on from Phillips.

"We really didn't know him, didn't really have him," he said. "You can't miss something you never really had, you know? If you've never had UConn Dairy Bar ice cream, would you miss it?" he told the Courant.

<![CDATA[Report: UConn to Face Duke in 2014-15]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:10:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/duke-uconn.jpg

The defending national champion UConn Huskies could play Duke University next season in New Jersey, the school confirmed to the News & Observer.

The matchup between the former Big East powerhouse and the longtime cornerstone of the Atlantic Coast Conference would take place in the Meadowlands at the Izod Center and be televised on ESPN, although no date has been set.

The Huskies' nonconference schedule continues to take shape and now includes games against Florida St., Stanford, Texas, a trip to Puerto Rico for a tournament that will include Boston College, Dayton, Texas A&M, West Virginia, New Mexico, George Mason and the College of Charleston.

The Hartford Courant notes that coach Kevin Ollie's nonconference plan seems to look a lot like Geno Auriemma's: Schedule as many tough opponents as possible to balance the so-so competition in the American Athletic Conference. It's still unclear how UConn's 2014-15 roster will look because Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels have yet to decide whether they will enter the NBA draft or return for their senior seasons.

According to the News & Observer, Duke is 20-1 in the Izod Center, with the only loss coming to Arizona in 1989.

<![CDATA[Mystics Happy to Have Both Dolson and Hartley]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:56:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CN-womens-basketball-AP195500482704.jpg

The Washington Mystics drafted former UConn center Stefanie Dolson with the sixth pick in the first round of the WNBA Draft last week, and then traded for Dolson's college teammate, guard Bria Hartley. Now, after four years in Storrs, both players begin their professional careers together, too.

“I think it’s great for Mike Thibault,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said last week, via SNY.com. “When I talked to him coming into this he said, ‘I love Stefanie Dolson. I love Bria Hartley. But it’s probably not our biggest need at 6.’ And he found a way to get both of them. I think they’re going to be really successful there. Because of the team Mike has there and the way he can coach, I think they’ll do very well there. ...

“What Stefanie adds is that she makes everybody else better,” Lobo continued. “Immediately, Kara Lawson and Ivory Latta are better because Stefanie is going to get them open, whether by great screens or passing them the ball. And Bria gives them what Bria does. All she has to do are things she does well already. Stefanie is the one player in the draft that if you’re a veteran, especially a scorer, you’re thrilled because she’s going to make life easier for you.”

Mystics coach Mike Thibault also weighed in on his new players, via the team website:

“Stefanie’s a ready-made player for our league,” he said. “She can play in both the low post and the high post, she’s a terrific passer, a great screen setter, she was the Defensive Player of the Year, and she knows how to win. On top of all that you get a person who gets all the other parts -- media stuff, energy in the locker room, being a great teammate … You couldn’t ask for much better. I think she’s a player who will play in this league for a long time. ...

“We had a couple discussions the last two days and tonight it fell into place. We’re getting two young players to build with. Bria Hartley, winning a championship with Dolson at Connecticut, knows how to win and is a good complement to Ivory and Kara because she can play both positions. She’s also is a high energy player and smart.”

And UConn coach Geno Auriemma, never at a loss for words, knew exactly what to say.

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

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Recruit Boykin Talks About UConn]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:53:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

Napheesa Collier needed just a day to decide that she would make an oral commitment to the Huskies. The 6-1 junior from St. Louis is considered one of the best high school players in the country, and she, along with De’Janae Boykin (6-2, F, No. 8 in espnW's top 60), Haley Gorecki, and Katie Lou Samuelson (6-2, W, No. 2) all made visit to Storrs last weekend.

On Monday, Boykin's father spoke with SNY.com's Carl Adamec about how his daughter's recruiting trip went.

“I know D really enjoyed it,” Jeff Boykin said.

De’Janae Boykin averaged 21.1 points, 15.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 3.2 steals and 3.0 blocks per game this past season for C.H. Flowers High, leading the Jaguars (17-2) to the Class 4A South Region semifinals. She was the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year and recorded 17 double-doubles in 19 games, including four games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds.

Boykin's short list of schools include: Penn St., North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Adamec writes that Boykin will take part in the USA Basketball 3x3 U-18 national tournament from May 30-June 1, and her teammates will be Collier and Samuelson.

The Huskies' incoming freshman class includes Gabby Williams (5-11, Nevada), Sadie Edwards (5-9, New Jersey), Courtney Ekmark (6-0, Arizona) and Kia Nurse (5-11, Canada).

<![CDATA[Aresco Talks About AAC's Success]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:50:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

It's been a hard, tough road for American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco and he's officially been on the job for just 10 months (prior to that, he was the last Big East commissioner). That should give you some idea about how the shifting college sports landscape can have a toll on a person. But with one full sports calendar now under his -- and the conference's -- belt, there's a lot to be proud of.

Most recently: The UConn men and women winning the national title within 24 hours of each other.

"I gave my wife the longest hug probably in the history of the NCAA basketball," Aresco told the Orlando Sentinel recently. "She knows what we all went through. How tough it was during that six month period from the time that Rutgers announced they were going to the Big Ten and Louisville eventually to the ACC … that was a tough period. It was a period of transition and turmoil."

By virtue of being months old, the AAC lacked the big-conference pedigree, but you wouldn't have known to watch its teams compete. UCF, led by likely first-round pick in next month's NFL Draft, Blake Bortles, defeated Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. Then, of course, the Huskies dominated the NCAA Tournament, and SMU finished second in the NIT. Not bad for a conference of schools that, in effect, nobody else wanted.

"You can never really expect this level of success," Aresco said. "We thought we would be good and have a fighting chance. I don't think anybody can take any swipes at us after what we've done."

Of course, now the task is to maintain the success.

"We will be judged by how we perform on the field or the court," he said, adding that since the American is a newer conference and for that matter a new brand, the league will have to continue to win. He's convinced that it will. It's not going to be easy," Aresco said. "These big conferences -- they present tough competition. ...

"We're challenging ourselves and that's what we have to do. As our conference gets stronger, you have to play the best outside of it. Even if you don't always win, and we won't always win."

UConn has certainly done its part, but the reality -- and we've known this from the beginning -- is that the AAC's success will ultimately be measured by the strength of its football programs.

<![CDATA[Marathon Winner's Family Celebrates]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:52:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/marathon+winner+204.JPG

Meb Keflezighi’s parents and sister huddled around a small computer screen inside their Chula Vista home.

They watched Meb take a big lead in one of the world’s premiere running events, the Boston Marathon, only to see it dwindle down to a gut-wrenching eight seconds approaching the last mile. The family prayed hard enough to be felt 2,500 miles away from the San Diego County city.

“My heart was beating and oh God, oh God, help him, help him,” said Meb’s father Russom. “I was praying and when he made it, I was excited.”

At his home in Scripps Ranch, Meb’s brother AK also watched and prayed.

“I was kneeling down, praying, sending him positive energy,” said AK Keflezighi. “'God, help him push that last mile because I know he deserves it. I know he wants it. Nobody works harder than he does.'”

Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi became a U.S. citizen in 1998 after his family fled war to establish a new home in San Diego in 1987.

The San Diego High School and UCLA alum has won four NCAA titles, the New York City marathon in 2009, and an Olympic silver medal in 2004

Even with his record of past wins, the family knew very well the symbolic meaning of Monday’s Boston Marathon. It was more than just a race. It was a chance for America to ease the pain of last year’s tragic bombing.

“He’s a humble guy. I’m sure he was thinking of the victims that lost their lives last year,” said AK Keflezighi, Meb’s brother.

AK said that his brother wrote on his bib the names of the three victims who lost their lives near the finish line, and also the name of the security guard killed as police closed in on the bombing suspects.

“It was absolutely a glorious day. He was fantastic. From early on, I knew it was going to be special,” AK said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Scenes from the Boston Marathon]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:51:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/1670d8a1f17145a587b0499aa5887d20.jpg The first Boston Marathon is underway since the bombings and many Connecticut residents are there to run or show their support.]]> <![CDATA[Daniel Hamilton Wants DeAndre Daniels to Stay]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:44:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483304153.jpg

Daniel Hamilton has every intention of signing his letter of intent and joining the Huskies' 2014 incoming freshman class. He'd also love if his friend from California, DeAndre Daniels, returned to Storrs for his senior season.

“We’ll be able to have another chance at a run if he comes back,” said Friday, according to ZagsBlog.com. “We’ll be that much better, because he’s a force. A lot of power forwards can’t guard him at that position, because he can put it on the floor and he can shoot, so it’s hard to guard him.”

With UConn losing Shabazz Napier to graduation, having Ryan Boatright and Daniels return would be huge for the Huskies. The team welcomes Hamilton, transfer Rodney Purvis and other incoming freshmen Sam Cassell Jr. and Rakim Lubin, but you can never have too much veteran leadership.

As for Daniels' NBA prospects this season, the New Haven Register's David Borges spoke with several veteran scouts in March who had this to say about the 6-10 wingman.

“I think he has a great upside," the scout said. "He’s on our future list. He’s got to get stronger, tougher and more consistent. He has a ton of talent. I’ve seen him play very well at times, and I’ve seen him disappear for long periods of times, which I know people around UConn talk about."

This isn't much different than what fans say about Daniels, who had a big game against Iowa St. in the NCAA Tournament, showcasing just how good he can be. But even if Daniels leaves this summer, the scout mentioned a name that was all but forgotten last season.

“And the other kid (Omar Calhoun) is gonna be good. I think he’ll take a big step over the summer.

If Boatright and Daniels leave, Calhoun could be the x-factor in 2014-15. He had a strong freshman season, but battled injuries as a sophomore.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Collier Commits to Huskies for 2015]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:41:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

The Huskies may have missed out on the nation's best high school player, A'ja Wilson, who decided to stay close to home and attend the University of South Carolina, but one loss doesn't bring UConn's recruiting machine to a grinding halt.

Just the opposite, it turns out. And now, in addition to a deep 2014 recruiting class that includes Gabby Williams (5-11, Nevada), Sadie Edwards (5-9, New Jersey), Courtney Ekmark (6-0, Arizona) and Kia Nurse (5-11, Canada), UConn has the first member of its 2015 class, too.

Napheesa Collier, a 6-1 junior forward from St. Louis, Mo., gave an oral commitment to UConn and coach Geno Auriemma over the weekend, following her official visit to Storrs. Collier chose the Huskies over Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and Notre Dame.

“It feels like a hundred thousand pounds has been lifted off my shoulders,” Collier told the Connecticut Post. “It feels so good. I feel relieved. It was definitely wide-open. I hadn’t planned on committing. But just when I got here it felt right. So I just knew.”

This is a common occurrence, and one of the reasons Wilson seemed like a long shot; she took her recruiting visit months ago and there had reportedly been very little contact between her and the school. But that's now water under the recruiting bridge. The defending national champs have more depth than they know what to do with and the commitment from Collier only makes them deeper.

“I started to feel it when I got on campus and was seeing everything,” Collier said of her decision to commit to UConn. “They were taking me on tours and then when I started spending time with the girls and then I went to the academic counselors and all the stuff I just knew it was going to be right for me.

“I loved all the other schools, too. And I really loved everything about Maryland. It was just something that I kind of felt in my gut when I went there that this was the school for me and I didn’t want to be looking anywhere else.”

In addition to Collier, the Huskies also hosted De’Janae Boykin (6-2, F, No. 8 in espnW's top 60), Haley Gorecki, and Katie Lou Samuelson (6-2, W, No. 2).

<![CDATA[Boatright Still Undecided on NBA]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:57:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/483304023.jpg

Junior guard Ryan Boatright was honored Saturday in Aurora, Ill., where he grew up, as a "hometown hero." Boatright was an integral part to the Huskies' national title run earlier this month, and before that, he was a standout at East Aurora High School, where he was Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois his senior season.

"The Boatright name is synonymous with East Aurora High School," East Aurora School Board President Raymond Hull said during the ceremony, according to the Hartford Courant. "It stands for blue-collar, hard work and excellence … When he was in school, he stimulated the entire Fox Valley. Wherever he played, people went to see him."

"Having the support from your hometown means a lot," Boatright said, who was also asked about is future basketball plans. Specifically: If he'll forego his senior season to enter the NBA Draft this summer.

“I really don’t know yet,” he said, via the Aurora Beacon-News.

“I’ve gotta talk to my mother and my family tomorrow. It’s a big decision. I just want to make the right one. I’ve got ‘til the 27th (of April to declare for the NBA draft). That’s the last day. That’s another reason I came home, to talk to my family about it.”

Back in March, before the Huskies got on their postseason run, the New Haven Register's David Borges spoke to several veteran NBA scouts, who had this to say about Boatight.

“I think he has to stay in school," the scout said. "He has to improve his shooting. At his size, he has to be able to knock down shots. He’s got great speed, quickness, an ability to get in the lane. He’s improving his passing, but he’s gotta work to be a knock-down shooter."

We'll know Boatright's plans one way or the other in the coming days or weeks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds of Connecticut Residents Run Boston Marathon]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:49:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Large+crowd+at+Boston+Marathon1200.jpg

Among the many runners who arrived early at the starting line of the Boston Marathon this morning, were more than 550 people from Connecticut.

For the first time since 1983, an American man won the marathon. Meb Keflezighi, an Olympic marathon runner, has won with an unofficial time of 2:08:37, which would be a personal record, as well as the second fastest time by an American male at Boston.

Rita Jeptoo, of Kenya, won the women's race, setting a course record of 2:18:57.

This is 118th Boston Marathon, but the first running since the bombings last April and security is tighter than ever along the whole route, from Hopkinton, Mass. to the finish line in downtown Boston.


Liz Hebert, of Darien, decided after the bombings last year that she had to run this year.

"I was just very emotional, even taking the buses here. There are people in houses waving and holding signs," she said. "I think every runner has to be here. It's a huge race. It's a milestone race, I think the running community has to prove to the world that nothing can stop us."

Holly Salegna, of Norwich, is also feeling the emotion. 

"All of the love and support is just filtering through my head right now. There's definitely a lot of emotion here, and in Boston in general," she said.

Police presence is heavy along the racecourse, helicopters flew overhead this morning and barriers line the 26.2-mile route that 36,000 runners will soon take.

All the security is not detracting the 577 Connecticut runners who have signed up, including Matthew Lynch, of West Hartford.

He’s run the course five times and said the tragedy has only united the runners even more.

“This really cemented that and made everyone that much closer and that much more determined to show that we’re going to go out there and we’re not going to be afraid of this running. (Which) is really a celebration of life,” he said.

John Williams, of West Hartford, ran the marathon last year, but was unable to finish because of the bombings. Today, he plans to finish what he started last year.

"People said, when you get to Kenmore Square, you have a mile left and I pumped my first in the air. I knew I had it, and then all the sudden, we got stopped so you know this year it’s going to be kind of the same way when I get to Kenmore Square, I’m going to be pumping my fist," he said.

More than 1 million spectators are expected and several roads along the route will be closed. If you are going, check the list here.

Spectators are scanned with metal detectors and bags must be clear. No backpacks are not permitted this year. 

Learn more about the 2014 Boston Marathon here.

Boston Police are asking anyone who sees something out of the ordinary during the Boston Marathon to text ‘BOSTON’ to 69050 or call 911.

If you are going, send photos to us at shareit@nbcconnecticut.com


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[90 mph Fastball Hits Player in Face]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:27:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/041914+DeShields+Twitter.jpg

A player on the Corpus Christi Hooks, a minor league baseball team in Texas, is nursing a nasty bruise after suffering a serious blow to the face. 

On Friday, Delino DeShields, Jr. was struck on the right side of his face with a fastball traveling 90 mph. 

The ball ended up fracturing his cheek but DeShields insists he will be back on the field soon.

“I can go right now,” said DeShields.
The 21-year-old center fielder was up at bat against the Frisco RoughRiders when he got hit with the fastball.
“The pitch that hit me got on me kind of quick, and next thing you know I was on the ground,” he added.
He said he didn’t feel pain, just swelling. He eventually got up and walked off the field.
“I am a very strong individual. I have a football mindset. That is what got me to walk off the field yesterday,” said DeShields, who was a 2010 first round pick for the Houston Astros and is the son of former major leaguer Delino DeShields.  
“He is quite a young man. He is quite an individual,” said Keith Bodie, manager of the Corpus Christi Hooks.
DeShields even had a message for the pitcher that hit him with the ball.
"I said, "Tell the pitcher I am good, no hard feelings.' I know it just kind of got away from him. And just tell him I am all right,” DeShields said.
DeShields isn't planning to stay off the field for too long. He said he has no fear of facing a pitcher again.
“Whatever it takes to get me back on the field I will be ready to go,” he said.
“Knowing Delino he is going to be ready shortly; this is not a 6 to 8 week deal,” Bodie added.

Photo Credit: Delino DeShields, Jr. Twitter page]]>
<![CDATA[Top 2014 HS Player Signs With USC]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:51:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

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

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

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

And Storrs is a long way from Columbia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<![CDATA[Mohegan Sun Gets AAC Women's Tourney in 2015]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:24:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-first-night.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

More details via the press release:

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Golfer Flees Hornet Attack on Course]]> Sat, 19 Apr 2014 09:35:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Larrazabal.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KING: If the NBA called, would you answer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Champion Men to Be Honored at Fenway Today]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:57:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kevin+Ollie+and+Geno+Auriemma.jpg

The 2013-14 Huskies basketball teams, fresh off their national championship wins last week, were supposed to be honored together at Fenway Park on April 22 before the Yankees-Red Sox game.

However, the UConn women's basketball team will not be participating because of an unforeseen conflict, according to a statement from the UConn athletics department.

"The team feels awful as it would have been a great moment for UConn and we have apologized to the Red Sox. The men are still scheduled to head up there and hopefully the Red Sox will consider having us at a later date," the statement says. 

UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier, of Roxbury, Mass., will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the game, which starts at 7:10 p.m.

Junior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was also scheduled to join him. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy, who happens to be a New York Yankees fan, will also attend and participate in the ceremony.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glanville said he was offended by the encounter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luckily, the season is more than four months off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional eyewitness accounts support the accusation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smith wasn't present for the hearing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Information from Bay City News was used in this report.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shabazz Napier Reflects on Amazing Season]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 19:30:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/shabazzspeech_1200.jpg Shabazz Napier spoke at Sunday's parade and rally about the incredible run UConn pulled off to win another national championship.]]> <![CDATA[Dolson Thanks UConn Fans]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 19:20:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/dolsonbria_1200.jpg UConn's Stefanie Dolson thanked fans who turned out for the victory parade in Hartford on Sunday.]]>