Thursday, July 16, 2009

UConn-Tennessee ... on Men's Side?

Will Calhoun vs. Pearl replace Geno vs. Summit as the defining rivalry between UConn and the University of Tennessee?

While the UConn-Tennessee women's basketball rivalry may be on ice, the respective men's teams may start up a rivalry of their own this season.

According to a well-placed university source, the Huskies are looking to host Pearl and his Volunteers this season, shoring up what's already a tough non-conference schedule for UConn. It would be just the second time the two programs have ever met in men's basketball. Tennessee topped UConn, 65-51, in an NCAA South Regional second round game on March 19, 2000 in Birmingham, Ala.

The game, which hasn't been finalized yet, would likely be played late in the season.

The Huskies will also play in the preseason National Invitational Tournament (where they could end up playing Duke) and will play Kentucky at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9 as part of the third annual SEC/Big East Invitational. They will also travel to Michigan for a bout with the Wolverines.

In other UConn news:

***Little-used 7-foot senior center Jonathan Mandeldove has some academic issues, and it's "up in the air" whether he'll play for the Huskies this season, according to UConn coach Jim Calhoun.

***Calhoun said he is "95 percent" sure that Ater Majok will remain at UConn and forego heading over to Europe to play professionally. Majok would be eligible to play for the Huskies in mid-December.

***Calhoun attended Rip Hamilton's wedding in Boca Raton last week. Kevin Freeman was in the wedding party, and Khalid El-Amin was the only member of the 1999 national championship team's starting five that wasn't in attendance.

Also present: Tom Moore, Dave Leitao and Karl Hobbs, among others. (Presumably, Josh Nochimson wasn't there. Sorry, couldn't resist).

***If anyone's wondering why prized, 6-9 recruit Andre Drummond of Capital Prep hasn't been playing in the Greater Hartford Pro-Am this week, it's because he's traveling with an AAU team.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dyson Pours in 50

Jerome Dyson went all Bernard King on us and dropped 50 points in a Greater Hartford Pro-Am league game Wednesday night at the Sports & Medical Science Academy in Hartford.

"He's officially back!" emcee Ashon "Chewy" Avent shouted into the mic -- while also pointing out that Dyson would have had about 60 if he had made his free throws.

Dyson looked good, slashing to the hole and knocking down 3-pointers (although he missed a trey with about 2 seconds left that would have sent the game to overtime. Dyson's Next Level lost to the Mizner All-Stars, 94-81).

We've got some video evidence of Dyson's impressive night that further proves he is pretty much, indeed, "officially back" from the torn meniscus in his right knee that ended his season in mid-February.

Here is perhaps Dyson's most impressive sequence of the night. He glides in to finish off a layup. Then, after a missed shot on the other end of the floor, Dyson (No. 15) takes the ball at midcourt, drives in, makes a nice mid-air move for a layup and gets the foul. Dyson pumps his first with true emotion after making the layup and getting the whistle:

Here's a nice move in the corner by Dyson, a drive to the hoop and a foul:

Finally, here's our boy dropping a nice dime to a teammate:

Despite the above evidence, Dyson says he's not quite 100 percent yet.

"I'm still not jumping off my right leg as well as I was (before the injury)," he said. "I'm not all the way there yet, but my conditioning is getting there."

Dyson was cleared to play about 2 1/2 weeks ago. He has been spending a lot of time in the weight room, strengthening his leg. Right now, his leg is about "85-percent, strength-wise," and he's got to keep strengthening his hamstring and quad.

As for getting over a mental hurdle?

"I felt like I was over that the first day. I was going hard the first time I got on the court, so it really hasn't affected me too much ... as you saw today."

Yes, we did.

***In other news, Dyson's former UConn and current pro-am league teammate, Doug Wiggins, is still pondering his options after being booted off the team at UMass. According to Wiggins, he's considering several NAIA schools -- Campbellsvile (Ky.) and Missouri Baptist, among others. He's had some D-II and III offers, including the University of Bridgeport and Elms College, but says he needs to get away from this area and get a fresh start.

As to why he was kicked off the UMass team, Wiggins claims it was a huge misunderstanding. He said a teammate was involved in a fight with a bouncer at a bar, and that somehow Wiggins' name came up as being involved with the fracas. Wiggins claims he wasn't even there. Nevertheless, according to Wiggins, coupled with a prior infraction of breaking and entering (Wiggins said he had been drinking but thought he was going into a friend's apartment, which looked exactly like countless other apartments in a complex near campus) that was enough for his dismissal.

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