Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hey Bulldogs

UConn's 88-58 triumph over Division I neophyte Bryant can be traced to one bad call, joked first-year Bulldog coach Tim O'Shea.

"My good friend Max Good (the ex-Bryant coach) called me last night," O'Shea revealed. "He wanted to remind me that one call cost me this game, and that was the phone call he made to schedule it. I got a good laugh out of that."

***O'Shea, the former Ohio University head man and longtime assistant at both Boston College and URI, said the UConn reminds him of last year's national-champion Kansas team, in terms of its depth and talent.

"They're tremendously talented, and what makes them unique is that they have a guy like Thabeet. Nobody else has a guy like that anywhere in the country. There's not another 7-3 guy, that I know of, who can change the interior game to the degree that he can."

***Thabeet notched his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 boards. All six of his field goals came on dunks, which will happen when you're 7-foot-3 and your tallest opponent stands 6-7.

"(That) is an usual stat," Calhoun admitted. "But, when you're that big and strong … and he still has to learn, when smaller guys take his legs out from under him, to fight through. It's good to have Hasheem to continue to get double-doubles. It will be important for him down the line, when he has to compete."

***Freshman Scottie Haralson got off the schneid by hitting a 3-pointer in the game's final second. He's now 1-for-9 from Trey Land this season.

"We didn't want that shot at the end, but it may be the highlight of the game," said Calhoun. "That was the most emotion our players showed, anyway."

***Calhoun was equally displeased with the emotion from the XL Center crowd of 12,558.

"The house wasn't that excited, I mean it just wasn't an exciting place. On Monday night against Wisconsin, in a 3,000-seat arena (at the University of the Virgin Islands), it was an exciting place to be, basketball-wise. Today, it was nowhere near as noisy or exciting."

A.J. Price agreed: "It was very quiet, but we're used to that. That's how it is in the XL Center sometimes. A lot of people just watch sometimes and don't really make too much noise. It wasn't necessarily a big game, so I guess they weren't into it that much. But I've also been here when we've played some tough teams and it was extremely loud. You take the good with the bad, I guess."

***With the win, Calhoun tied Lou Henson and Lute Olson for eighth place on the all-time victory list with 780. Asked how it made him feel, he said: "Old. The thing that scares me is I've coached 80 more games than anyone else in college basketball right now. You start thinking about how many times you've heard that whistle, how many times you've seen the games … if I'm still excited about it, and still have a little something going through my stomach before Bryant, then I think they should. I've been through different and, I hate to say this, but bigger games than Bryant. And I still get excited for Bryant. I would like them to share that experience, because you don't know when that could be taken away from you, or it just ends."

***On Tuesday, UConn assistant Pat Sellers left the Virgin Islands to watch Brandon Knight, the Class of 2010 combo guard out of Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Knight is's top-rated point guard in his class, and he is coached by New Haven native David Beckerman, a friend of Jim Calhoun's. Still, UConn may be a tough sell for Knight – Florida coach Billy Donovan was among the several high-profile spectators at Knight's game on Tuesday.

***The Huskies will have a one-hour practice tomorrow in preparation for Monday night's bout with Delaware State at 7:30 p.m. at Gampel.

***Back to O'Shea, whose Bulldogs face three Big East teams (UConn, Providence and Rutgers), two ACC squads (Boston College, Maryland) and one Big 10 school (Iowa) over the next month.

"I think my good friend Max was off his medication when he put this schedule together. It's certainly a very challenging schedule … but there's nobody else on the schedule like Connecticut."

***Can you name the band that recorded the song which serves as the title of this post?

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.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nate Miles: To Be Continued

Nate Miles was originally slated to be back in Connecticut tomorrow for a court appearance regarding the protective order taken out against him by a 19-year-old female UConn student. However, Miles won’t appear at Rockville Superior Court, and the case will be continued to Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Miles is currently enrolled at the College of Southern Idaho, a junior college. As a transfer, he’s unable to play for the basketball team until February, but is taking classes, along with his court-ordered counseling for violating a restraining order at UConn back in September.

With Miles’ classes ending on Dec. 10, and with more counseling to be done, it makes more sense for his case to be continued on Dec. 16. (Lots of things going on in mid-December: Stanley Robinson and, hopefully for the Huskies, Ater Majok are both expected to join UConn’s roster right around that time).

Miles is handling things well out in Idaho, we’re told, but he would love to be back in Storrs next year. He was expelled from UConn on Oct. 2 after appearing before a two-person hearing board. Miles’ appeal of the expulsion was denied, and it appears his only avenue for a return could be by meeting before the school’s Board of Trustees.