Jim Calhoun met with UConn's beat writers for about 80 very candid minutes on Thursday. A.J. Price also met with us for about 10 minutes. Both had some interesting things to say, including:
There will be at least two current players who won't be on next year's team -- and that doesn't count Hasheem Thabeet, who could declare for the NBA draft. Obviously, Calhoun wouldn't name them by name, but said everything will likely go down within the next week or two. Said Calhoun: "One of the reasons kids have a love affair with playing here, is because they leave here knowing that their best in every aspect has been brought out. And there are occasionally kids who are going to fight that a little bit. And up to a particular point, that’s fine. There are a couple of situations we need to address to make sure everybody’s pulling the same way, in every aspect of our basketball program ... There won't be any wholesale changes. Nothing's going to be shocking to anybody, I don't think.” (Pure specualation: it appears Doug Wiggins and Curtis Kelly have played their final games in UConn uniforms).
Thabeet should make his decision within the next couple of weeks, according to Calhoun. He has until the end of April to enter his name into the draft and hopes to have things straightened out before that. He'll attend a Celtics game, and possibly a Celtics practice, soon at Ray Allen's invitation. Calhoun: “He’s very interested in helping Tanzania, and if he went into the draft now, he probably could. But he’s also interested in something called Basketball Without Borders, in Africa. Right now, the leading figure is (Dikimebe) Mutombo. The only way you’re going to be the leading figure is you’ve got to play ... I will give him my best advice on both sides of the issue. He has some weighing out to do.” He added that he has an inkling as to which way Thabeet is leaning right now, but wouldn't reveal it.
A.J. Price will have part of his patella tendon removed to replace his torn ACL in surgery today. Calhoun has been told that could cut down Price's rehab timetable by a few weeks. Calhoun: “We will get all the positives out of what is not a positive situation. He will come back stronger. He’ll be a stronger person next year. I’m not putting a question mark on A.J.”
Calhoun added that "there’s no question we would have won that (San Diego) game if A.J. had played. But we still should have won that game.”
Price agreed, and took it a step further: "If it weren't for my injury, we'd still be playing right now."
Price also believes Thabeet will be back in Storrs next season: "I'm expecting him to be back. I think he needs to do it one more time and give it one more shot next year."
Besides a trip to Seattle to play Gonzaga next year, UConn is trying to line up tough non-conference games with the likes of USC and Alabama.
UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur has been contacted for the head coaching job at Mercer.
In August 2007 I was named the New Haven Register's men's basketball beat writer. Prior to that, I covered the Red Sox as the Journal Register Co.'s traveling beat writer for three seasons. Yes, 2004 was my first year on the Red Sox beat.
Previous to that, I covered the Providence College Friars and Pawtucket Red Sox for JRC's Rhode Island and Mass. papers. I am a Rhode Island native, growing up in Barrington.