Friday, February 20, 2009

Of Bulls, Blair and Bears

So we walk into Gampel today at about 3 p.m., with UConn's practice winding down, and there's a 7-foot-3 piece missing out on the floor.

Hasheem Thabeet wasn't out there. Uh-oh. Is the big guy hurt? Did DeJuan Blair's wrestling move the other night injure Thabeet's shoulder worse than we thought? Did he simply hurt himself in practice? Was he already starting a rehab regimen in the training room with Jerome Dyson?

About 10 minutes later, Thabeet emerged -- wearing his practice uniform and a pair of flip-flops. Jim Calhoun gave him the last part of practice off to ice his left shoulder, which is still pretty sore from the Blair play.

"The one he fouled on," Calhoun said, rather sarcastically. "When he was pulled over and they called a foul on him."

Thabeet did sprain his shoulder on the play and has been icing it and taking medication for it. He sat out of part of Thursday's practice and some of today's, but Calhoun is confident he'll be ready to go for tomorrow's 2 p.m. bout with South Florida at the XL Center.

"I wouldn't think he'd be limited at all," the coach said. "I'll give him a good kick in the butt and he'll be ready to go."

In fact, Calhoun added that part of the reason he gave Thabeet the end of practice off today was because he was blocking shots left and right, and he wanted the rest of his team to play defense without relying on Thabeet simply blocking their problems away.

***UConn signee Alex Oriahki, a 6-9, 245-pound center at The Tilton School in New Hampshire, was recently named to the McDonald's All-America game, which will be held April 1 in Coral Gables, Fla.

Calhoun: "Obviously he's more than deserving, in my opinion. He's a very mature basketball player. I'm very happy for him and proud for him. We don't do a lot of politicking to get kids into that game, but I thought in his case, it certainly was more than fair. Because he really has worked hard on every aspect of his game, and every aspect academically at a really rigorous school like Tilton where he's really developed at as a student, a person and a basketball player."

***Pitt's 76-69 win over UConn on Monday was seen by an average of nearly 2.1 million households, making it the network's most-viewed Big East regular season game since ESPN began keeping viewership records in 1990.

***Notre Dame's Luke Harangody has tied Jeff Adrien for the most career double-doubles among Big East players, with 44 apiece. They are tied for second nationally. The Big East has five players who have recorded 10 more double-doubles this season. Harangody leads the way with 18. Blair has 16 followed by Louisville’s Earl Clark at 12. Adrien and Thabeet each have 11.

***The Huskies won't be overlooking South Florida (8-17, 3-10) tomorrow. The Bulls beat No. 8 Marquette on Feb. 6, and it took overtime (and a Craig Austrie buzzer-beater) for UConn to top USF last year in Tampa.

"This is a very important game for us," said Adrien. "We're definitely not overlooking South Florida, they're a good team, they're getting better every year, they're getting better recruits every year. They don't have anything to lose. They're going to make their season right here and build on it. Beating Marquette and beating UConn, that's a great way to start a next year. We're not going to let them do that, we're just going to go out there and play hard."

***After UConn's loss to Pitt, USF coach Stan Heath knows the Huskies will be a little peeved tomorrow.

"We’re probably going to be running into an angry bear, so we’ve got to regroup and get ready to go to Hartford to play," Heath said.


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