Friday, November 28, 2008

Swimming, Parasailing and Timmy Welsh

Some notes & quotes from today's practice at Gampel Pavilion as the Huskies try not to become the second Nutmeg State team to lose to Bryant this year (Quinnipiac was the first).

***A.J. Price can run, pass and shoot the rock. But he's no Michael Phelps.

Apparently, Price can't swim.

That was one little chestnut that his fellow teammates learned on their recent trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hasheem Thabeet narced him out.

"He didn't want to go out on the water at all," the big guy said with a smile.

Thabeet, however, has no problem with the water -- or the sky. The 7-foot-3 Tanzanian native said he went parasailing -- twice -- down in St. Thomas.

"It's just cool," Thabeet said. "I never thought one day I was going to do it, and there you go, I was up there."

Winning the Paradise Jam down in the Virgin Islands, and beating a pair of ranked teams in the process, was a terrific accomplishment for UConn. But it was the camaraderie they built off the court that may have been even more valuable. Granted, many of the players have been teammates now for three years. But they had never experienced a road trip quite like this one.

The Huskies went out on a catamaran for a few hours while down in paradise -- did some snorkeling and parasailing and generally enjoyed everything the Virgin Isles offer.

"We don't get to travel together like that, so I thought it was a great experience for us," Thabeet said. "We got to learn about each other."

***The Huskies could be in trouble tomorrow against Bryant.

OK, so the Bulldogs are in the first year of a four-year transition to Division 1. They got beat by UCOnn, 100-65, in an exhibition game last year. They don't have a single player over 6-foot-7.

Throw all that out the window. Tim Welsh will be in the house tomorrow.

Welsh, the former Providence coach, will be the analyst for MyTV9 along with play-by-play man Bob Picozzi. In his 10 seasons as PC's coach, Welsh didn't win a single NCAA tourney game and just one Big East tourney game. But for some reason, he and the Friars practically owned UConn.

PC has won the last three meetings between the two schools -- two of them on the road. In fact, the Friars have beaten the Huskies the last four times they've played either at the XL Center or Gampel.

So maybe Welsh brings a little bad luck for the Huskies with him tomorrow in Hartford ...?

***In all seriousness, the Huskies are simply looking at the Bryant game as a way to continue to improve upon certain areas -- shooting, press, etc. -- and build on their recent success.

"With finals coming up and coming off a very good tournament for us, with two quality wins, it becomes more of a mental situation for us," said coach Jim Calhoun. "What we've done we should build on, not rest on. Two years ago we had a deceptive 11-0 record, so the 5-0 record doesn't impress me. Two of the wins do impress me. I thought two of the wins were outstanding and will help our resume."

With a straight face, however, Calhoun did say that "Bryant may be more difficult to press than Wisconsin" because they have three or four players who can handle the ball well.


***Calhoun said Jerome Dyson may not arrive in Buffalo for next Thursday's game in Buffalo until the morning of the game, due to academic commitments. Both Dyson and Craig Austrie arrived a day late to the Virgin Islands for similar reasons.

***Still no word on Ater Majok.


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