Friday, March 09, 2007

Change expected at UConn

Here are some notes that did not make the Register's Web version on Thursday.

Changes for UConn in the future?
NIT or not, Calhoun said roster will look different

By Brett Orzechowski
Register Staff

NEW YORK – For most of the season, University of Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun went deep into his bench, given his players’ erratic play and inexperience.

He searched for a suitable reserve to spell either Hasheem Thabeet or Jeff Adrien in the post but didn’t find much success even though freshmen Gavin Edwards, Curtis Kelly and Jonathan Mandeldove all played well at times. Also, the Huskies’ backcourt overflow has been an issue.

Still, there will be some changes even with an NIT bid and they will happen soon.

“I’ll be out on the road. I’ll be expecting a couple changes in the roster mandated by our performance, mandated by our inadequacies,” Calhoun said after UConn’s 78-65 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday in the Big East Tournament. “And we have some kids who deserve a chance at a different level.”

Calhoun will conduct end-of-the-year meetings before either making decisions for his players or his players making the decision on their own.

Thabeet said he will decide within a few weeks whether or not to declare for the NBA Draft. Calhoun has said throughout the season that Thabeet is not ready but NBA scouts have been indifferent about the 7-foot-3 freshman. Right now, Calhoun said Thabeet remains “a prospect” and not much more.

Kelly, on the receiving end of Calhoun’s ire most of the season, said this after the loss to Syracuse: “Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.”

There are other possibilities: Rob Garrison, Ben Eaves, Marcus Johnson. Still, Calhoun expects a few changes.

“There isn’t going to be a jail break,” he said, “but there will be a difference.”

QUESTIONABLE STRIPES?

The first technical foul Wednesday was assessed to Adrien because of his temper.

Calhoun picked up the second for the same reason.

After kicking one of the scorer’s table advertisements, leaving a foot indentation in the sign, official Mike Stephens issued Calhoun a technical.

For one of the only times this season, Calhoun continued.

“When bad things happen to you by incompetent people and they do happen to you at times,” he said. “And as that built, we became a little more frustrated. I’m not talking about the officials. I’m not talking about the officials. I said the situation. Situation usually denotes single individual who I think helped screw the game up, yeah.”

A QUESTION OF YOUTH?

On three occasions this season, Calhoun said that the Huskies should no longer use youth as an excuse for their shortcomings.

Only over the last few weeks has he reverted to the fact that his youngest team ever still lacks experience.

That will only change over time.

“I thought we could overcome it with athleticism but we ended up being a – a reporter asked me a question early, “Do you think you’ll be able to shoot the ball well enough?’ And he was right,” Calhoun said. “We don’t shoot the ball well enough, except for Jerome (Dyson) right now, and our youth shows. Our youth shows because we don’t know how to handle adversity at times.”

DIFFERENT LOOK

Syracuse was one of four programs that wore new uniforms issued by Nike this week before their respective conference tournaments.

According to a Nike press release, the form-fitting jerseys and the baggier shorts are made of lightweight breathable material and beneath the shorts and jerseys, players will have a choice of wearing long, short-sleeve or sleeveless Nike compression tops and padded compression shorts and leggings.

All four teams will play their first-round conference tournament games in the uniforms. Still, an odd time to try to something new.

“I think I’ve actually seen this style once before a long time ago. The players like them. They look good, I think,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “But I’m not really involved with worrying about the uniforms too much.”

A spokesperson from Nike said UConn will wear similar uniforms next season.

Brett Orzechowski may be reached at borzechowski@nhregister.com

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