Monday, July 27, 2009

Male Bonding

Here's a feature from today's Register on the friendship Ater Majok and Charles Okwandu have formed over the past year. They share plenty in common: both are big men with lots of raw potential; both had to sit out the final two months of last season (Majok after getting cleared to enroll at UConn by the NCAA, Okwandu after being declared academically ineligible by the school); both wound up such defensive presences on the practice squad that only one was allowed on the court at the same time while the Huskies were practicing their offense; and, of course, both share African heritage (Majok from Sudan, Okwandu from Nigeria).

Actually, the latter doesn't mean as much as I thought it might.

"Even if (Okwandu) was Chinese or anything ... brothers can be from anywhere," Majok said.

The two are also on the same Greater Hartford Pro-Am summer league team, the Springfield Slamm. Big Chuck has been sidelined for about a week after having his ankle stepped on in a game. It's just precautionary, and he's expected to return to the court for the Slamm's next game, on Friday at 8:15 p.m. against Ryan Gomes and Harte Nissan at the Sport & Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford. Should be a good test for both Majok and Okwandu.

One other thing: I was reminded while chatting with a UConn fan that Majok has similarities with Charlie Villanueva. Certainly, his propensity to shoot 3's (at least in the pro-am) remind some of a young Villanueva, who also apparently was in love with the 3 at first. Well, UConn's coaching staff recognizes this similarity. They don't mind Majok hoisting up an occasional trey, but they want to start their game inside. Remember, last year the Huskies made more free throws than their opponents attempted!

Majok should get a chance to showcase his perimeter skills from time to time. On the Huskies' secondary fast break, the four-man trails. So, Majok will have the chance to spot up and pop some 3's.

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