The UConn men's hoop team looked a little somber as it entered its team hotel this evening, and there was a good reason: Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins were left back in Storrs, suspended indefinitely by coach Jim Calhoun.
"This particular suspension is mine and no one else's," Calhoun said. "I took the action based upon what I thought were the best interests of our basketball team and our university."
Calhoun wouldn't specify the reason for the suspensions, saying only it had "nothing to do with the university or legalities."
Calhoun said he was informed that Dyson and Wiggins had done something wrong at around noon on Friday, about an hour before the Huskies' practice. The coach decided to allow both players to practice, but upon learning more information after practice, elected to leave Dyson and Wiggins behind as the team prepared for its flight to Indiana.
"We were in shock," said junior guard Craig Austrie, who'll start in place of Dyson. "We didn't think we were going to be undermanned down here, but we are, and we just have to move on."
NeitherAustrie nor junior point guard A.J. Price knew what Dyson and Wiggins had done.
"I know it has to be serious for them to be suspended from a game like this," Price said. "Hopefully, guys just learn from their mistakes and grow up from that."
Dyson is averaging 14.3 ppg this season (second on the team to Jeff Adrien's 14.4) and leads the team in steals. He has averaged 18.2 ppg in UConn's five road games this season and scored 10 points in the final 5:52 of the team's comeback win over Cincinnati on Wednesday night.
Wiggins has been the team's top scorer off the bench at 6.6 ppg. He was suspended from team activities back in October but got back into Calhoun's good graces after about a month.
Dyson and Wiggins may be the team's two best one-on-one defenders, and both were expected to take turns guarding Indiana's fab freshman Eric Gordon this afternoon. Gordon leads the Big 10 and is 12th in the nation in scoring at 22.1 ppg.
Calhoun wasn't sure exactly how the Huskies would deal with defending Gordon, simply saying his team's game plan has changed "about 100 percent." He had 6-9, 234-pound forward Curtis Kelly playing at the 3-spot in practice on Friday, and Stanley Robinson at the 2.
With their two quickest players back in Storrs, and in an effort to keep Price out of foul trouble, the Huskies may throw more zone at the Hoosiers than originally planned.
Calhoun said certain players -- Austrie, Kelly, freshman Donnell Beverly -- must step up. He even mentioned freshman walk-on guard Kyle Bailey by name, and noted that UConn is dressing an extra walk-on player for the game.
"We're a different team," the coach pointed out. "We retain three of our better players, (Robinson) has as much potential as anybody. He's going to have to get more shots, get more things done … Donnell hasn't got his chance yet, that's coming. That's what we face … The guys who have had a chance will (have to) take their game to a tad higher level, they don't have to go crazy. The guys who haven't had a chance are going to have to step in and do some things."
Calhoun wasn't sure if Dyson or Wiggins would be allowed to play on Monday when the Huskies host Louisville at the XL Center.
"It is disappointing that guys would do whatever (they did) to get themselves in this situation," said Price. "But if we sit here and think about those guys back home not being with us, our minds will be not where they're supposed to be. We came here to win this game."