It's the end of the semester at UConn and that means a few things: final exams and fewer basketball games. The latter is slightly annoying for coach Jim Calhoun -- and any coach, really -- because teams don't get better by practicing and playing less. But if players don't take the former seriously, they may not get to practice and play at all.
After Thursday's workout, Calhoun warned of the dangers of taking the "student" part of "student-athlete" for granted.
He spoke of Marcus Williams who, as a freshman in 2004, was declared academically ineligible after the first semester and ended up watching the Huskies' national championship game from his dorm room.
"I use the story of Marcus because he's told that story to a lot of people and told it to a lot of our kids when he comes back here," Calhoun said, according to TheDay.com's Gavin Keefe. "You've got to do your work in the classroom. I think they fully understand that. This group has been very good and will have another great semester. … Their minds are always going to be on school right now. The pressure is on them."
The Huskies play again Sunday when they face Holy Cross, then they have two more games in 10 days; Fairfield on December 22 and the first Big East matchup of the season, USF on December 28.
The first conference game will also be the start of Calhoun's three-game suspension handed down by the NCAA for recruiting violations. The coach said Thursday that he is making preparations for his absence but didn't say which coach would replace him on the bench. In past seasons, longtime assistant George Blaney dutifully served in that role but there's a reasonable expectation that Kevin Ollie could get the call this time. The former Huskies guard appears to be at the front of the queue to replace Calhoun when he retires.
While we wait for that news, Ollie has been working with freshman DeAndre Daniels, who started earlier this season but has seen his minutes dwindle recently.
"I hit the freshman wall," Daniels said, via the Hartford Courant. "I'm just trying to stay positive, keep working." For the season, Daniels is averaging 21 minutes a game, but he's shooting just .395 from the field and .333 from behind the arc.
"We want to get DeAndre back into the mix," Calhoun said, "Roscoe [Smith] has put himself in the mix."
These are good problems to have.