Saturday, November 18, 2006

Notes from Central Arkansas game

NBA PRESENCE FELT AT THE CIVIC CENTER THIS WEEKEND

During the preseason, University of Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said a number of NBA scouts have started to make their way to Gampel Pavilion this winter to take a look at his young team. Calhoun said maybe the overwhelming presence was because the Huskies are so young and untested.

Then he realized Hasheem Thabeet is the most unknown quantity to arrive in Storrs in a long time.

The Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons sent scouts to Friday’s game against Central Arkansas while six more teams are scheduled to watch the Fairfield game tonight. Before the weekend is done, almost a third of the NBA will be represented at the Hartford Civic Center with 10 teams scheduled to evaluate through Sunday.

Calhoun said most of the attention has been focused on the 7-foot-3 Thabeet, a raw offensive talent with unlimited defensive potential, who is the most appealing professional prospect on UConn. There has been some inquiry into A.J. Price’s health and development along with freshman forward Stanley Robinson, but no player has garnered as much attention as Thabeet this early in the season.

USED SPARINGLY

Freshman guard Doug Wiggins played for short spurts against Central Arkansas, making his first appearance at 10:39 into the game while playing just three minutes in the first half.

Back spasms forced Wiggins to sit out Thursday’s practice at the Civic Center but the East Hartford native scored four points and played 10 minutes against the Bears. His sporadic appearances were a combination of health precautions as well as some erratic play.

Calhoun said he expects both to improve.

Meanwhile, Robinson still felt irritation in his right knee and played in spurts as well. He made the most of his court time, though, finishing with 13 points in just 15 minutes.

KELLY GETS A LOOK

The initial swagger has been reduced to a walk as freshman forward Curtis Kelly has been slow to impress the UConn coaching staff this year.

Kelly played minimal minutes against Quinnipiac in the season opener and even saw limited time in the Huskies’ two exhibition games. Coaches said he has been slow to grasp the offense while his 6-foot-9, 217-pound frame still needs to develop.

His athleticism, though, has always been viewed as the reason UConn signed the forward who earned New York City player of the year honors from the New York Daily News and the New York Post.

The style he developed while playing for perennial city catholic school power Rice has been slow in acceptance in Storrs, but Friday night, Kelly made the most of his time on the court.

He ran the floor well, played with confidence on the defensive end and found gaps offensively. Kelly finished with eight points and six rebounds in 18 minutes, all career highs in this new season.

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