Friday, September 26, 2008


by Zach Smart

So, the biggest question of pre-season has already been answered for the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team.

It took Nate Miles, the controversial 6-foot-6 guard/forward approximately a month before his name was enmeshed in controversy.

Miles, who had trouble getting enrolled at UConn, was arrested Monday night for violating the terms of a restraining order he received just 15 minutes earlier.

The 20-year-old Miles, of Toledo, Ohio, is slated to appear at Rockville Superior Court on Tuesday. According to police reports, Miles violated conditions of the restraining order by phoning the protected party (apparently a female UConn student) 15 minutes after the order was filed.

The Hartford Courant reported that Miles was arrested at 8:51 p.m. He was released after posting the surety bond of $2,500.

Miles, who had a tough upbringing and went through an Amare Stoudemire-like journey in high school (Miles attended five different high schools and was kicked off the basketball team at The Patterson School in Lenoir, N.C. last season), was the no.5-ranked player in Ohio last season.

He can play both guard positions and be utilized as a small forward. The highly-touted but controversial recruit’s style of play is most commonly compared to Tayshaun Prince and Lamar Odom, a tall versatile player who can handle the rock. Miles graduated from The Patterson School in January 2008.

After an ongoing NCAA clearinghouse and UConn admissions debacle, one that included a largely-publicized feud with coach Jim Calhoun and UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway, Miles was academically cleared in June. He began taking class and getting acclimated to the new environment during Summer Session II at Storrs.

Miles has turned heads in the Huskies’ pickup games this fall. Calhoun said Miles is “doing great” when asked how the freshman is adjusting to the rigors of the college experience and the structured environment.

Now that Stanley “Sticks” Robinson won’t be with the team until the second semester, Robinson could be an instant lynchpin in the starting lineup. He is apparently a front-runner for the starting small forward slot.

Calhoun refused to comment on the incident.


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Friday, September 19, 2008


September 19, 2008

It seems that Alex Oriakhi and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel have been part of the UConn program forever, yet, they are still 14 months away from even being eligible to step on the floor for a game in a Connecticut uniform.

Prior to their sophomore seasons in high school, two years ago, the BABC AAU duo made verbal commitments to the Connecticut program and coach Jim Calhoun, the earliest commitments accepted by the Hall of Fame coach.

Now, after teamming up on the AAU circuit for another impressive summer, the pair is back at the Tilton School in New Hampshire working at improving their game in hopes of repeating as the NEPSAC Class B champions for coach Marcus O'Neal.

"Jamal has returned to Tilton School and is working hard in the weight room," Coach O'Neil stated, noting that Coombs-McDaniel now stands at 6-foot-7 and currently weighs 210 pounds. "He continues to tighten up his handle and long range shooting."

Coombs-McDaniel ended last season on a high note with an MVP perfoprmance in the NEPSAC Class B championship game, registering 28 points and 16 rebounds in the finale. He continues to impress his current prep coach with the improvements on and off the court.

Read More on Oriakhi and Coombs-McDaniel...Click Below!

"His ability to get to the rim and finish with either hand has improved, Coach O'Neil notes. "He is providing great senior leadership, waking his teammates up at 6 am several mornings a week to run hills."

Jamal's ability to be a two-way player will help him contribute early at the next level. His tenacious play and desire to win should fit very well with his future coach, a Hall of Famer in Jim Calhoun, who demonstrates similar traits on the sidelines, either in a game or at practice.

"Jamal is a tenacious competitor who finds a way to help a team win on both ends of the court," O'Neil says. "He rebounds, defends, scores and brings consistently high energy. I expect that his versatility, work ethic and competitiveness will impress the coaches at UConn. Jamal will do anything to get on the court and contribute."

In the Tilton post resides the intimidating presence of 6-foot-9, 230 pound Alex Oriakhi. Those who have seen Oriakhi know he already looks ready for college basketball. We have news for you...he is still working on getting stronger and more physical.

"Alex continues to work on his already impressive physique in the weight room and has been relentless with agility work," his coach notes. "For a guy his size and age, he is moving extremely well and is not satisfied where he is."

Oriakhi shows his will to improve by expanding his game away from the hoop. Proof positive he is not satisfied where he is.

"He gets into the gym and works on his overall skill, including his shooting range which extends to 20 feet." Coach O'Neil continued that "(Oriakhi) has become more vocal and is embracing his role as a leader on the Tilton team. He has been very consistent with his effort and is improving in transition."

The Huskies will be losing Jeff Adrien to graduation and, most likely, Hasheem Thabeet to the NBA after this coming season. Coach O'Neil has no reservations that his current big man will be ready to fill those large shoes early in his UConn career.

"With an expected void in UConn's frontcourt, Alex will be determined to battle for a substantial role on the team," says Coach O'Neil. "It is very difficult to find players with his athleticism, skill and size. He should be able to help in some capacity, immediately."

For more on the Tilton program, including another teammate that the Connecticut staff is very interested in, be sure to visit the NBE Basketball Report.


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Thursday, September 18, 2008


September 18, 2008

The week long exposure week for the Big East continues on ESPN Friday night as Connecticut hosts Baylor in a primetime match-up. The Huskies left us quite impressed last Saturday with a 45-10 drubbing of the ACC's Virginia squad and now look to continue a statement that they are a team to be reckoned with this year in the Big East.

Baylor is 2-1 and is coming off a 45-17 win over Washington State. At first glance, that looks somewhat impressive, but then realizing that Cal demolished Washington State 66-3 on their own field the previous week and, well, it doesn't look so special anymore.

The biggest development in their win over Virginia for the Huskies was Tyler Lorenzen having an effecient performance, completing 13 of 15 passes. We know Donald Brown can run the ball, and he did it impressively again against UVA with three TD's, 206 yards on just 20 carries. For the season, Brown has 566 yards, 8 TD's on 79 carries in three games. He might be one of the best in the country that you do not head about.

Baylor was roughed up in their opener at home by Wake Forest. I see Wake and UConn to be similar teams in overall strength, although it was Wake that beat UConn in their bowl match-up last season. I would not be surprised to see the Huskies, who NCAA Football Lines indicate as a 12-point favorite, to cover that number, and then some, in this match-up.

It might be a little too early for Connecticut fans to start checking the NCAA Basketball Odds for a national championship for the Huskies. UConn has a football team!


Connecticut 41
Baylor 21


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Friday, September 12, 2008


September 12, 2008

The Connecticut Huskies are 2-0, however, their overtime snoozefest victory over lowly (albeit improving) Temple is not inspiring a lot of confidence in the Huskies heading into their match-up with Virginia Saturday night. After watching Big East hopeful Rutgers get smoked by North Carolina on their home field, this year's Big East is looking down right pitiful. Can UConn score one against the ACC for the conference?

Despite over 200 yards rushing last week from Donald Brown, the Huskies were very lucky to escape Philadelphia with the win. Another poor game in the passing department from Tyler Lorenzen (just 86 yards in the air) and the the receiving corps contributed to the game being a major struggle. Now, they face a Virginia team that is coming off a New year's Day bowl appearance last season, but are out of the game rather slowly this season, mostly due to their 52-7 loss to USC.

Connecticut will have to find a better balance offensively, through two games, Donald Brown has 5 of their six total touchdowns while the passing game has not led to a score, but has been picked off four times against Temple and Hofstra while completing just 51% of his throws for 270 yards in two games.

Looking at the NCAA Betting Odds for the weekend, UConn is favored by 10 points, even 10 and a half with some Online Sportsbooks, too much for me...


Connecticut 23
Virginia 20


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

In-State "Rivalry" Game No More For Huskies

By Zach Smart

The annual beat down is no more. For a decade, UConn has feasted on a cupcake from the northeast conference known as Quinnipiac (Quinn-a-pee-ack), who faced long NCAA Baskketball Odds just to compete with their powerful neighbor. Jim Calhoun and the Huskies typically schedule this game before the start of the second semester. The yearly dump-off has played the role of a homecoming-type game.

The in-state “rivalry” has been one-sided, with UConn going 9-0 since Quinnipiac was elevated to the Division-I ranks during the 1999-00 campaign. Most of these games have been lopsided affairs, except for the 2006-2007 season opening game. A gritty Bobcat team played the then-callow Huskies neck-and-neck until the final two minutes, when a momentum-rolling Craig Austrie three salvaged the Huskies from a colossal, embarrassing upset.

Last year, the Bobcats suffered an 82-49 drubbing at the XL Center in Hartford, a game that saw Jerome Dyson create a new personal high-flying highlight film.

With 2008 graduation claiming one of the nation’s top scorers in Quinnipiac’s DeMario Anderson, Bobcats head coach Tom Moore (who served as an assistant under Calhoun for 13 years at UConn) sees no need for his new, youth-laden team to have their mettle tested against the much-stiffer competition.

"I think it was twofold," Moore, widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in the nation (see Butler, Caron or Hamilton, Richard for more details), told the New Haven Register.

"Coach Calhoun and I were both real uncomfortable, on a personal level, playing the game last year. It was awkward for me emotionally, and for him, too. And I didn't feel our program is quite established enough to start taking on programs of that caliber. We have too much youth and inexperience for it to benefit us this year. It could be re-visited in the future, but we both felt best to take a year off."

Calhoun had no issue with his longtime friend’s preference not to play the Huskies this year.

"He wants to play (the following) year. We've been pretty flexible with them. He had a really good player last year, and this year it's predominately a freshman, sophomore team. I think he'll look forward to playing us the following year."

On paper, UConn’s early-season schedule seems easier than Sunday morning. They open up against Western Carolina at the Gampel Pavilion on Nov. 14. After facing mid-level competition at the US Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, the Huskies are slated for dates with Bryant, Delaware State, Buffalo, and Stony Brook. The first real yardstick game is Dec.20 v.s. Gonzaga. They open up their Big East schedule against Georgetown Dec. 29.


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Tuesday, September 09, 2008


September 9, 2008

by Zach Smart

The road to redemption nearly hit an early pothole for the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team this off-season. Stanley Robinson, a freakish 6-foot-9 junior forward and a significant cog in the starting lineup his freshman and sophomore seasons, entertained thoughts of leaving the NBA factory he was sold on as one of the top high school players in Alabama.

It turns out the kid the UConn fan base knows as “Sticks” won’t be taking his 10.4 points, 6.5 boards and ultra-athletic frame that screams NBA draft elsewhere. Whether or not he will suit up for the 2008-2009 campaign, one which looks promising for the Huskies, is still up in the air.

Jim Calhoun, the eccentric, longtime Husky coach has made it clear that Robinson’s services will not be available for the first semester of the season. Robinson has said he still needs to pass a sociology course that he’ll be taking via the internet (at his uncle’s house in nearby Vernon, Conn.) and he’ll be ready to return before the start of the second semester.

Robinson has indicated that he’d like to return to UConn, just weeks after weighing his transfer options.

“I don’t want to jinx myself and say I’m coming back and then the class doesn’t go well,” said Robinson during a recent interview with the New Haven Register. “But I’m determined, because I have to be back in that uniform.”
But is it really an academic issue?

Throughout Robinson’s stay at UConn, he’s been a big man with a big question mark tattooed on his forehead. He’s shy around the media and is known to keep to himself. He’s a polite kid, with a smile as wide as the Withlacooche River who UConn fans love and his teammates would love to understand.

“Few people understand Stanley Robinson and I’m not one of those people,” said teammate Jeff Adrian, following the Huskies’ early-season drubbing of Buffalo in the 2K College Hoops Classic at Storrs. Robinson registered his presence that game (10 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks), after being called out by his coach for a paltry 0-point, 0-5, six turnover performance the previous game (Morgan State).

He’s the kid who hit up Maine for 32 and 11 but went to sleep against Providence (four points, five turnovers) despite cracking an ESPN Top Ten Play with a vicious rim-rattling putback in the first half.

He’s feast or famine. A ball of athletic potential, Robinson finds the frantic-pace northeast colossally different from his stomping grounds of Birmingham, Ala. Fitting, as the UConn family finds him to be different as well.

One second he’ll be chatting it up with Hartford Courant writer Mike Anthony. Moments later he’ll duck away from a media interview, as he did following his 18-point, eight-board effort in a 96-51 walloping of Cincinnati. UConn Sports Information Director Kyle Muncy said he literally chased Robinson down, to no avail, following that game.

Like Robinson’s game, this whole situation is inconsistent.

“Right now, he’s in a pretty good place,” Calhoun said. “He always wanted to go home to Alabama, then he couldn’t wait to get back here. He’s a young man that has a lot of work to do.”

While Robinson may need some time off and possibly a redshirt season, he’s certain he wants to continue to play in a Huskies’ uniform.

“There were so many rumors back at home — the papers were like, ‘he’s going to UAB, he’s going to Alabama.’ But I never said that,” explained Robinson.
“People asked me what I’m going to do, I said I’m still a part of the UConn family, I never left, I don’t want to leave. It’s my home, so I’ll keep it a home.”


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Friday, September 05, 2008


September 5, 2008

A high noon showdown in the city of Brotherly Love will pit current Big East football member Connecticut against former Big East football member Temple. The Owls are showing some signs of life since becoming a member of the MAC, going 4-4 in league play last season (4-8 overall) and opened their 2008 season with a 35-7 win over Army last week.

UConn swallowed the pride of Hofstra last weekend 35-3 as they hope to challenge again in the Big East. Last year the Huskies finished 9-4 on the season, however, the did drop three of their last four contests.

One of Connecticut's nine wins last year came against Temple, a hard-fought 22-17 home victory. The Owls held a 17-16 lead into the 4th quarter before falling to UConn.

With starting QB Adam DiMichele returning and looking solid against Army last week, a team that blasted Temple in 2007, the Owls are likely to take another step forward this season as a program. I am not quite ready to predict an outright upset as NCAA Football Betting houses have made the Huskies a 7-point favorite, but like last season, I expect this to be a close one with UConn running back Donald Brown, fresh off a four-TD performance in the opener, getting the key yards to put the Owls away late in game.


Connecticut 27
Temple 23


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