Friday, November 17, 2006

Random notes for the HCFC at the HCC

Even though this is a round-robin format (now a staple in college basketball unless you’re in Maui or Alaska), there are a few interesting tidbits with the four teams (UConn, Fairfield, Central Arkansas, Mississippi) playing in the Hispanic College Fund Classic at the Hartford Civic Center this weekend.

- UConn and Central Arkansas have never played one another in men’s college basketball. The Huskies have never played Ole Miss, either.

There is some history, though, a link from the not-so-distant past.

First-year Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy played for Alabama-Birmingham. The Blazers played UConn on March 22, 1989, in the quarterfinals of that year’s NIT. Kennedy’s final stats: 6-for-11 and 22 points. Final score: UAB 85, UConn 79.

The game was played at Greer Field House before the Huskies moved into Gampel Pavilion. Kennedy also took over for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati last season and coached the Bearcats against UConn at the Civic Center earlier this year on Jan. 9. The Huskies won, 70-59.

- Another trip in the way-back machine.

UConn is hosting an in-season tournament for the first time since Dec. 1992, the final year of the Connecticut Mutual Classic.

- Jerome Dyson and Hasheem Thabeet became the 14th and 15th freshmen under Jim Calhoun to start the season opener. It is also the sixth time in seven seasons that a freshman has started.

- Chad Wise, who played two forgettable seasons in Storrs, transferred to Central Arkansas and played for two years under head coach Rand Chappell. Wise was a role player for the Bears and never really found his footing at the school.

When asked on Thursday, Chappell said Wise “is a good kid” and not much more.

Also, Central Arkansas led by five points late during Tuesday’s overtime loss to St. Bonaventure. The thought did not sit well with Chappell on Thursday.

- Checked out this week’s Sports Illustrated, which has a spread on top freshmen in the country. Thabeet made the spread but in a rather unorthodox pose.

Brandan Wright of North Carolina has a pair of wings. Arizona’s Chase Budinger soars over three teammates. Thabeet? He holds up a pair of oversized faux hands and looks confused. Still, he made the spread.

Also to note in the issue, the SI staff broke down the top 16 teams in the country then filled in the rest of the field. UConn sits at No. 21.

The one interesting thing to note?

SI also listed returning starters after each school. The Huskies are the only program with a “0” next to their information.

See you tonight.

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