Tuesday, November 04, 2008

AIC ... See You Real Soon

Some news and notes from UConn's pre-practice availability today, in advance of tomorrow's exhibition opener vs. American International College:

***Charles Okwandu, the 7-foot-1 JUCO transfer, will have to wait at least another few days to make his UConn debut. The Huskies will hold Okwandu out of tomorrow night's game as a precautionary measure as they still need to get some final clarification on his eligibility. Okwandu attended Harcum College last year.

"We want to put the pieces together, just to be on the safe side, until the final stamp is done," said Jim Calhoun. "We fully expect him to be playing very shortly."

***Senior guard Craig Austrie, a frequent target of Calhoun's early on this season for lackluster play in practice, has turned it up a notch lately.

"Sunday he was sensational and yesterday he was awfully good," Calhoun said. "Maybe he was playing a trick on us all this time, like Manny being Manny or something … he just needed to feel comfortable and he's been really good the last couple of days. I'm not going to make up something superficial about the kid. Craig knows he wasn't playing well."

Well ... not exactly.

"If coach says I got off to a slow start, I did," Austrie said. "I feel in the last week or so, I've picked it up. I just know I had to change what I was doing. He's like that with everyone, it's not just me. It's something I have to live with."

***Last year at this time, during practice, UConn was hitting 32 percent of its 3-pointers. This year, according to Calhoun, it's nearly 44 percent. Freshman Scottie Haralson has been knocking down about 45 percent of his treys, while A.J. Price is hitting them at a 50-percent clip.

Calhoun also noted that the Huskies have traditionally been a bit sluggish in their first games of the season. Lest we forget the 2006 exhibition opener against AIC, in which the Huskies actually trailed at halftime (36-35) before pulling out a 75-59 win.

It's a product, Calhoun believes, of not playing enough 5-on-5 in practice. UConn has been playing a little more 5-on-5 in practice this fall.

***Calhoun said he doesn't know who will start tomorrow night. Prediction: Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, Jerome Dyson, A.J. Price and ... we'll go with Austrie, for now.

***The entire UConn team (except Okwandu and Hasheem Thabeet, who aren't U.S. citizens) went to the Rec Center on campus today and voted. Calhoun, who has long been involved in politics, promised he didn't tell the players who to vote for.

"If I did a poll," he joked, "I bet you I could guess."

***The Huskies are ready to play against someone -- anyone -- other than themselves.

"Getting the same elbow from the same guy int he same place is just not that much fun," Calhoun said.


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