George Blaney, Kevin Ollie

They’re ‘ten toes in’ at Connecticut, but will it be enough? (VIDEO)

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The Connecticut Huskies find itself in an uncommon position as they begin the 2012-13 campaign at Ramstein Air Base in Germany today.

Not only is it the first game that the Huskies haven’t been led by Jim Calhoun (removing the health-related absences) since a Big East Tournament loss to Seton Hall on March 5, 1986 (the dreaded 8/9 game), but there’s also the issue of being banned from postseason play.

Kevin Ollie, who was Calhoun’s point guard for four years from 1991 to 1995, is the man in charge and he’ll have quite the challenge on his hands not only against Michigan State today but throughout the season.

Full commitment is key in any situation, much less one where the players know the carrot of competing for a national title isn’t available. The slogan for Ollie’s team this season is “ten toes in” and it’s an appropriate one.

Guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are expected to lead the way this season, and they’ll be joined on the perimeter by freshman Omar Calhoun and senior R.J. Evans. But it’s the questions in the front court that have many thinking that the Huskies will struggle in 2012-13.

DeAndre Daniels posted a double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) in the Huskies’ exhibition victory over UMass Lowell, but he’ll have his hands full with the front court players that Michigan State brings to the table.

Tyler Olander is the most experienced front court player with Niels Giffey also being a member of that 2011 national champion squad, and players such as Enosch Wolf and Phil Nolan will likely be called on as well.

But even with odds that would make many cringe Ollie has remained optimistic throughout, and from his “we’ll take the stairs” comment during the introductory press conference to “ten toes in” it’s clear that he has no plans of ducking any challenges.

Will it be enough to get athletic director Warde Manuel to make Ollie the man to lead the UConn program beyond this season? We’ll begin to find out the answer tonight.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.