UConn

DeAndre Daniels

DeAndre Daniels drops 24 as UConn fights off Boston University

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Through the first three games of the season, UConn junior forward DeAndre Daniels had scored a combined 19 points. On Sunday, Daniels surpassed his season scoring total with a game-high 24 points as the Huskies stayed undefeated with a 77-60 win over Boston University at Gampel Pavilion.

Daniels scored 12 points in each half. The first dozen came early, giving UConn a hot start offensively. The second dozen — along with 12 second half points from Shabazz Napier — helped UConn put an end to the upset bid by the Patriot League favorite.

UConn started the second half with a 37-32 lead as the Terriers were attempt to comeback from a double-digit deficit. Daniels had the first five points of the half for the Huskies, but even his best game of the season to date couldn’t stop BU from getting back into the game. Three minutes into the second half, D.J. Irving gave BU its first lead of the day, but it was a short-lived one after Ryan Boatright responded with a jumper on the ensuing possession.

That started a 13-4 UConn run, with the main highlight being Daniels’ emphatic dunk that gave UConn a seven-point edge. From there, Napier, with another stat-stuffing performance (12 points, 12 rebounds, six assists). guided UConn to the win and a 4-0 start to the season.

Daniels opened up the game with 12 of UConn’s first 17 points. Boston University didn’t surpass 12 points as a team until there was 7:26 remaining in the first half. Daniels’ offensive outburst sparked a first half lead that got to as large as 19 at one point. However, in the final five minutes of the first half, the Terriers climbed back in with a 19-5 run to head into halftime. That let up by the Huskies allowed BU to briefly pull ahead in the second half.

It’s a promising performance from Daniels, who scored zero points in 18 minutes against Yale just six days ago. But there’s a difference between getting open looks against BU and having to score against teams he and the Huskies will see in the American such as Louisville and Memphis.

Another concern for the Huskies, besides blowing the big lead, is on the glass. The frontline was UConn’s big question entering this season, and will likely continue to raise concerns. The Terriers matched the Huskies in the rebound department, 36-36, and came away with six more offensive rebounds. Napier — who is listed  6-foot-1 — grabbed 1/3 of the team’s total boards.

UConn’s next game is against Boston College, a team that is also questionable on the glass, on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. After BC, the Huskies have a game against Loyola (MD) before going head-to-head with No. 11 Florida and its improving frontline after Dorian Finney-Smith joined the Gator frontcourt on Saturday alongside Patric Young and Will Yeguete.

UConn senior forward Tyler Olander cleared to rejoin team

Tyler Olander, Justin Jackson
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Last month UConn senior power forward Tyler Olander was suspended indefinitely by head coach Kevin Ollie after the Mansfield, Conn. native was arrested on charges of driving under intoxication. Ultimately that charge was dropped when tests showed that Olander was below the legal limit, with the end result being that Olander was required to pay a $75 fine after pleading guilty to driving without a license.

But even with the legal matter resolved Olander remained suspended, with Ollie requiring his most experienced post player to show better judgement on a consistent basis.

“I hope he becomes a better young man from this latest distraction,” Ollie said in a story written by Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant in late September. “That’s the first thing — and the last thing. I just want him to learn, and hopefully he does that, with the different steps he’s taking. He’s doing a great job so far, but every day, you’ve got to win the day. All of us have our vices. Every day, I’ve got to sacrifice my vice — I’m not going to tell you what it is, but I have mine.”

Olander’s apparently done enough to convince the head coach that he’s learned from the situation, as the school announced on Thursday that Olander’s been cleared to rejoin the team. Olander, who averaged 4.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a junior, did participate in practice.

Olander’s numbers last season weren’t eye-popping by any stretch of the imagination, but the Huskies will need him due to his experience and their depth. UConn is deeper inside this season than they were in 2012-13 thanks to the arrival of freshman Amida Brimah and the return of both Olander and Phil Nolan, but they’ve yet to hear from the NCAA regarding the status of freshman Kentan Facey.

Olander’s return is good news for UConn, and the hope is that they won’t have to wait much longer for the NCAA’s decision in regards to Facey.

UConn Board of Trustees approve final construction budget for basketball center

Cloe Poisson/Hartford Courant
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Since the late-1990s, when television contracts began their steady climb to the astronomical levels they reside at today, sport-specific facilities have gained popularity amongst the nation’s richest college programs. In college basketball the need to have your own facility has become even more important, with the presence of such a setup becoming a selling point that has managed to sway many a recruit.

Despite having won three national titles in men’s basketball and a record-tying eight in women’s basketball, the UConn basketball program was without a basketball-specific facility until ground was broken adjacent to Gampel Pavilion back in April. On Wednesday the school’s Board of Trustees approved a final construction budget of $33.3 million for the basketball center.

With furniture, equipment and other interior needs having to be satisfied after the structure is completed, the cost of the project is expected to approach $40 million according to Patrick Eaton-Robb of the Associated Press. But regardless of the cost, this was a necessary step for UConn given the changing landscape of collegiate athletics.

The facility, which will give both basketball programs a home that its players can utilize 24/7, will also house a basketball Hall of Fame that will be open to the public. “It’s going to be one of the best, if not the best basketball practice facility in the country,” UConn AD Warde Manuel said according to the Associated Press. “It’s something our program has earned, whereas others have built theirs without the level of championship performances that our programs have had.”

After missing out on postseason play last year due to APR issues, Kevin Ollie’s Huskies are expected to be a contender in the American Athletic Conference along with defending national champion Louisville and former Conference USA power Memphis. Guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will once again lead the way, with junior forward DeAndre Daniels having the potential to be a breakout player nationally. As for the women, with four starters returning from last season’s national title squad the Huskies are once again one of the favorites to win it all.

UConn PG Shabazz Napier considered transferring following Jim Calhoun’s retirement

Shabazz Napier, Kevin Ollie
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Last September former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun announced his decision to retire, handing over a program he built into one of the nation’s best over to Kevin Ollie. And starting point guard Shabazz Napier was none too thrilled with the move, as the man he regarded as a “father figure” would no longer be his coach.

With Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond in the NBA and Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith having transferred, would Napier be the next to go?

In a story written by Kevin Duffy of the Connecticut Post, Napier discussed his thought process in the immediate aftermath of Calhoun’s decision to retire.

“When (Calhoun retired), I felt betrayed,” Napier said Thursday. “The way (the coaching staff) went about it, I felt it was wrong. It just seemed like a planned process. And that’s the reason I felt like it was kind of selfish in a way. That’s the reason I planned on transferring.”

Calhoun had arrived at the decision to retire roughly a week before he signed the papers. Napier, who learned the news online, spent the next week weighing the option of a transfer. He was upset that Calhoun, a “father figure,” allowed his retirement to go public without first informing his players. He was distraught, unsure of what would come next.

Ultimately Napier decided to remain in Storrs, and it’s a decision that has benefitted both the player and the program. The senior point guard was a guiding force on a team that managed to win 20 games last season despite dealing with a postseason ban and a lack of depth (especially in the front court). And with the postseason ban now gone, Napier’s expected to lead the way for a team expected to contend in the American Athletic Conference.

But there are still questions to be answered, despite the presence of sidekicks such as guards Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun and forward DeAndre Daniels. The front court once again has issues, with freshman Kentan Facey yet to be cleared by the NCAA and senior Tyler Olander suspended indefinitely following his arrest on a charge of driving under intoxication. Those issues currently leave the Huskies with Phil Nolan and freshman Amidah Brimah as true post players, and that lack of depth could get them in trouble against talented (and deep) conference foes Louisville and Memphis.

UConn dealt with similar issues last season due in large part to Napier’s leadership. And had he not decided to stay the course, who knows where the Huskies would be today.

Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell to announce September 7

Expressions Elite
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Expressions Elite teammates Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell have cut their respective list of offers to 10, then four and as of Saturday have reached a conclusion for their college decisions.

On Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, the duo will announce their commitments. Abu, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Kimball Union Academy (N.H.) is down to Florida, N.C. State, Providence and UConn. Terrell, a 6-foot-3 guard who plays at Brewster Academy (N.H.) will pick from Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Providence and Rhode Island.

Since Expressions Elite’s season came to an end last month, the duo has been busy cutting a list and then scheduling visits. Abu, made unofficial trips to N.C. State on Aug. 11 and then Florida on Aug. 14.

“Abdul liked N.C. State and the fact that he could come in and play right away,” Expressions Elite head coach Ty Boswell told NBC Sports in a phone interview Sunday afternoon. “He liked the overall atmosphere of the school, and he had a real good conversation with the coaching staff.

“He liked the tradition, and the way they develop power forwards for the next level,” Boswell said of the Florida visit. “He also liked Billy Donovan with how he interacts with past and current players.”

The most recent, and final visit for Abu was UConn earlier this week. Kevin Ollie showed the Boston native the new facilities, and according to Boswell, the staff made a great presentation to Abu.

Terrell returned from an official visit to Oklahoma State this past weekend, and is trying to plan a trip to Cincinnati this upcoming weekend.

“He liked the opportunity,” Boswell said of the OK State visit. “Obviously, Marcus Smart is leaving, and he’ll have big shoes to fill. He liked the fact he could come in and play right away.

Though he has the high-major offers, Danny Hurley and the Rhode Island staff have been aggressive in recruiting Terrell, which clearly has paid off.

“Jared liked Danny and the vision they have for him, coming in and being a focal point,” Boswell added. “They see him a guy that can help lead them to an Atlantic 10 championship.”

One school is still in play for both: Providence . Abu and Terrell have been high priorities for the Providence coaching staff, and landing commitments would be great additions to its 2014 class that includes Huntington Prep (W.Va.) small forward Jalen Lindsey. Rumors of a package deal have been consistent throughout their recruitments, though, both stated repeatedly that it would have to be the best possible option for both of them.

Abu and Terrell visited Providence on Aug. 10 for an unofficial visit, and participated in PC’s elite camp.

“It was a great atmosphere and a great situation,” Boswell said. “Ed Cooley has done a great job thus far, and has made it clear he really wants them.

“They have the opportunity to leave a legacy in the New England area.”

Boswell told NBC Sports that the two friends have spent considerable time talking to each other about the process, comparing and contrasting the visits they’ve had. Despite a date being set, Boswell says he doesn’t not know which way either of them are leaning at this point.

“Not yet … we’ll see,” Boswell said, “We’ll sit and chop everything up, and try to make the best decision possible as a group. Then we’ll leave it up to the kids.”

Abu is ranked as the No. 50 overall player in the Class of 2014 by Rivals. Terrell is listed as No. 62 by the same recruiting service.

Suspended UConn center Enosch Wolf formally charged in domestic dispute, apologizes

Enosch Wolf
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Enosch Wolf, the 7-1 center who has been suspended indefinitely from the Connecticut men’s basketball team, was arraigned Wednesday on charges stemming from a domestic dispute that allegedly took place Monday morning, according to the AP.

Wolf was charged with 3rd-degree burglary, criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct. According to police, he was arrested Monday morning after he refused to leave a woman’s apartment, then pushing her and knocking her glasses off.

Wolf then issued an apology through the press “for what I put the university through, what I put the coaches through, the people of the university, my teammates and my family.”

On the season, he had been averaging 3.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in just under 14 minutes per game. Due to the suspension, he will not be available when the Huskies take the floor Wednesday against No. 6 Syracuse.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_