Friday, February 01, 2008

'Energetic' Wiggins is Back

An energetic, vocal Doug Wiggins practiced for the second straight day on Friday. It's still not a certainty that Wiggins will play tomorrow against Pittsburgh, however.

"He will dress and we'll go from there," said UConn coach Jim Calhoun. "It'll be how I sleep on it. I've been trying to decide over the last couple of days and I really haven't come up with a decision. I'll put his name in the book and make a decision whether he does play or not."

Jerome Dyson remains on indefinite suspension. The sophomore guard has tested positive on a drug test for the second time, according to sources. School policy dictates that athletes receive a 30-60-day suspension from the team for a second offense.

"I've seen people write that it's a (definite) number," Calhoun said. "As far as I'm concerned, he's indefinitely suspended. He's not allowed to practice. He can use the facilities, but he can't participate."

Wiggins was not made available to the media, since he is still technically on "game-suspension." His teammates were happy to have him back.

"It's great to have another guard back," said Craig Austrie. "It makes us deeper. He's been upbeat, the same old Dougie – always talkative on the court, energetic."

A.J. Price said Wiggins felt he let the team down after being suspended. Price said Wiggins sent a text message to UConn coaches after the team's upset win over Indiana on Saturday "to relay the message of how sorry he was and how apologetic he is. We know that this has hurt him, and I'm sure it's hurt Jerome, too. Guys just have to learn from their mistakes."

A couple of more notes looking forward to today's game with No. 18 Pittsburgh at 1 p.m. at the XL Center:

**UConn and Pitt have developed a bit of a rivalry in recent years. While Calhoun still considers Syracuse the Huskies' top rival, it's been the Panthers who have had some of the most riveting battles with UConn lately. The two schools met each other in three straight Big East Tournament finals, from 2002-04. Since 2001-02, Pitt (179-45 overall, 76-28 Big East) and UConn (167-60, 73-31) have been the two winningest programs in the conference.

**The Huskies have done a better job getting the ball inside to Hasheem Thabeet lately, and Thabeet has done a better job converting. According to associate head coach George Blaney, the key for UConn's guards is to pass the ball up high to Thabeet, the 7-foot-3 center. Otherwise, Thabeet often has trouble catching the ball.
Thabeet has made 24 of his last 32 field goal attempts (75 percent) over the last five games.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wiggins is practicing, Dyson is not's Jeff Goodman is reporting that Jerome Dyson has failed his drug test, while Doug Wiggins has passed his.

Wiggins is practicing with the team this afternoon at Gampel Pavilion; Dyson is not.

Both players remain suspended indefinitely from game competition, UConn coach Jim Calhoun announced on Thursday. That doesn't necessarily mean one or both of the players (apparently just Wiggins) won't be able to play against Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Both Wiggins and Dyson were subjected to drug tests by the university after they were caught with two bottles of alcohol in a parked car by UConn police late Thursday night. The Hartford Courant, citing sources, reported that Wiggins had already flunked two drug tests; a third failed test would result in being suspended from the team for the rest of the season.

There had been no reports of Dyson failing a prior test until today.

More to come ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No Official Word Yet ...

There will be no official word tonight on when (or if) the suspensions of Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins will lifted.

The two did not practice with the team today and have not participated in any team activities since being indefinitely suspended by coach Jim Calhoun following Friday's practice.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wiggins Due in Court on Feb. 4

Doug Wiggins' court date to answer to a charge of operating with a suspended driver's license and possessing alcohol as a minor is slated for Monday, Feb. 4 at Rockville Superior Court.

Wiggins' driver's license had been suspended for failure to respond to an earlier infraction.

Wiggins and University of Connecticut men's basketball teammate Jerome Dyson have been indefinitely suspended from the team since Friday afternoon after being caught with two bottles of alcohol by campus police on Thursday night.

Wiggins, 20, was issued a summons for operating under suspension and for possession of alcohol as a minor. Dyson, 20, was issued an infraction for possession of alcohol as a minor. Similar to a speeding ticket, Dyson will probably be able to pay a fine by mail, or could contest the charge in court.

Both players could be subject to university discipline. The UConn Police Department shares its information with University Dean of Students Lee Williams.

According to a statement released by UConn police, at about 11:51 p.m. on Thursday officers saw a car pull into a parking lot off King Hill Road. Officers felt the occupants of the car were acting in a suspicious manner when they did not exit the vehicle.

Officers approached the car and found it operated by Wiggins (who, ironically, turned 20 on Saturday) and Dyson. Police observed a bottle of cognac and a bottle of vodka in the car.

Dyson, Wiggins Nabbed with Alcohol

Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins were found in possession of alcohol by University of Connecticut police on Thursday night, leading to their indefinite suspensions from the team.

According to a police report, the two were in possession of two bottles of alcohol when police approached their car in a parking lot. Wiggins, 20, was issued a summons for possession of alcohol by a minor, as well as for operating with a suspended license. Dyson, 20, was issued an infraction for possession of alcohol by a minor.

Neither made the trip to Bloomington, Ind. for the Huskies upset win over seventh-ranked Indiana. They didn’t practice with the team on Sunday and won’t play in tonight’s 7 p.m. game with Louisville at the XL Center.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dyson, Wiggins Won't Play Tomorrow

Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins remain suspended indefinitely and will miss the game Monday night against Louisville. Dyson and Wiggins were not in attendance at practice Sunday and will not be in attendance at the game Monday night.

The team practiced for about an hour and a half this morning at Gampel Pavilion. There are no injuries or any other news to report.

What's My Name?

Little more than a rumor at the end of the bench for much of this season, freshman guard Donnell Beverly had fallen so far out of Jim Calhoun's mind that the University of Connecticut men's basketball coach had practically forgotten his name.

Not that Calhoun isn't known to botch a name or two, but the few times he has referred to Beverly this season, he's often called him "Donyell" – or variations thereof.

"(On Friday) in scouting report, he called me, 'Yell,'" Beverly reported. "He was talking about who was going to switch off and guard (Eric) Gordon, and he called me 'Yell.' It was funny. I know he's so used to Donyell (Marshall). Donyell's a great player, but …"

Thrust into serious minutes for the first time in his collegiate career on Saturday at Assembly Hall, Beverly came through. He scored just three points on 1-for-5 shooting – a 3-pointer midway through the first half – but applied sticky defense on Big 10 scoring leader Gordon and ran the point with aplomb for stretches of his 16 minutes of action.

Prior to Saturday, Beverly had seen action in just half of the Huskies' first 18 games. He had seen exactly two minutes of action in Big East play.

But, with fellow guards Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins left back in Storrs for violating team rules, the Huskies needed some solid minutes from Beverly against No. 7 Indiana.

"He did something you can't ask a kid to do – never play in a big game and come in and give significant minutes," Calhoun said. "(We told him), 'O.K., Donnell, you've been sitting for 2 ½ months on the (second) team. We'd like you to go to Bloomington, Ind., get to Assembly Hall, play the seventh-ranked team in the country …"

"And guard Gordon," associate coach George Blaney chimed in.

"'And we think you'll be good, by the way,'" Calhoun continued. "And he was."

And Calhoun didn't even call him "Donyell" afterwards, something he may never do again after Saturday.

"Hopefully not," Beverly said, with a smile.

Huskies Snare a Shooter

You can tell by Scottie Haralson's thick drawl that he's born and raised in Mississippi. And yet the Provine High senior has some understanding of UConn men's basketball history.

Haralson, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, has been called a "poor man's Rashad Anderson" by at least one member of the UConn staff who has seen him play. Haralson remembers watching Anderson and admired his game.

"He played for their championship team, (and) back when Rudy Gay was playing," Haralson said. "I remember he was a good shooter, he would knock down any shot when he was open, a nice solid player for UConn. They said I'll probably get my chance at UConn."

Indeed, Haralson gave the Huskies an oral commitment late Friday night and hopes to step right in next fall and give the team the consistent long-range bomber it currently lacks.

"Really just the love they've shown for me," he said, when asked why he chose UConn over Old Dominion, Penn State, Auburn, New Orleans and Nebraska. "To have them come in and contribute early as a freshman. They told me that they didn't have that many shooters, that they were last in 3-point shooting in the conference, and they really needed a shooter."

And make no mistake, that's exactly what Haralson is.

"The best thing I do is shoot," he said "and just play solid and smart."

Haralson is averaging about 25 points per game as a senior at Provine. He scored 31 when UConn assistant coach Patrick Sellers came to watch him play recently, and 34 in a game taken in by UConn assistant Andre LaFleur.

Haralson boasts a 3.75 grade-point average and has scored "around an 18 or 19" on his ACT. He's not concerned about the cold weather up north ("I think I can get used to it") or the NCAA moving back the 3-point line next season.

"I can pretty much shoot at any range, so that won't be a problem for me," he said.

Haralson hopes to make an official visit to UConn once his high school season ends.