Friday, October 24, 2008


October 24, 2008

It is late October and Cincinnati is still undefeated in the Big East football conference, albeit 1-0. Saturday's high noon showdown in the Nutmeg state against Connecticut is the beginning of six conference games in six weeks for the 5-1 Bearcats, whose only loss has come against highly ranked Oklahoma on the road.

UC's top 15 rush defense will be highly tested by Connecticut star back Donald Brown, who has already ammassed 1,174 yards on the ground along with 12 touchdowns through the first 7 games of the season (168/game).

The Huskies got off to a 5-0 start and where generating some talk around the country. However, a 34-12 pasting on the road at the hands of North Carolina and a tough 12-10 loss to Rutgers have knocked UConn back a bit. Now they will have to deal with the distraction of head coach Randy Edsall being a top candidate to replace Greg Robinson at his alma mater at Syracuse. Reports have surfaced that a search firm that the Syracuse administration has reached out to has pegged Edsall as the #1 candidate.

UConn is 1-1 in the Big East, winning at Louisville and suffering the loss last week at RU. WVU, USF and Pitt remain onthe conference schedule for both teams, so winning this one will help one team get the inside track at challenging for one of the four Big East NCAA Bowl Game tie-ins. The College Football Odds list the road Bearcats as a 2 1/2 point favorite, with a stout run defense and UConn's quarterback merry-go-round, look for the road team to make their play in the conference this weekend.


Cincinnati 24
Connecticut 21


Read more!


by Zach Smart

For UConn Husky loyalists, it’s about as easy to forget as the night you lost your virginity.

Standing behind the podium following an 82-49 drubbing of lowly Quinnipiac, Jim Calhoun pointed out a clear trend to the sea of media people. In the journalists’ eyes, there had been as eye-opening experience.

When the Price is right, UConn has a perfect storm. Calhoun said there's a direct correlation between UConn victories/marquee matchups and Price's exceptional showings. "Look it up in the notes," said Calhoun, the loquacious, longtime Husky coach.

Read More...Click Below!

It was December. A chain of blistering snowstorms hit Hartford that week and not even half the 16,294 seats at the XL Center were spoken for.

The joint was so empty and quiet, you could be sitting two sections behind the basket and still hear A.J. Price running the team, spitting instructions and calling out plays before UConn blew the game open with a flurry of alley-oops and fast break bangers.

Price was in the press room, checking the messages on his cell phone while his coach was behind the podium, singing him praises and pegging him as the key that could eventually drive the big Husky bus into familiar, championship territory and a favorite in the March Madness Betting frenzy that follows.

Moments later, a flock of reporters cornered Price. They summarized what his coach had just told them and asked Price for his reaction.

"That's everything I could have dreamed of," said Price, he of the propensity for wetting pull-up jumpers.

“It’s an honor…"He (Calhoun) has been trying to get me to do that (step into a leadership role) for a long time," said Price. "Now, things are coming along. Sunday was the first day where we were clicking on all cylinders. I think (Sunday) was the beginning of something real special with this team."

The moment was significant for Price. Underneath the surface, it injected the new, revitalized confidence in him and led to Price’s emergence as a top Big East guard last year. It’s when he first officially recognized his role, understanding he had some management of the team.

After a second-rate sophomore campaign in 2006-07—a rust-smeared season in which Price was mired in a shooting slump—A.J. Price came into his own last season. The then-junior averaged 14.5 points and 5.8 assists, helping lead UConn to the NCAA tournament after a rare one-year hiatus from the gargantuan sporting event.

Against several critical Big East opponents, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to name a few, Price hit the winning shot,had the final say, or turned in an eye-opening performance. More often than not, he was a lead guard and gave an efficient account of himself.

UConn hit their pinnacle in late January, reeling off five straight victories—three coming against nationally ranked opponents. It occurred, oddly enough, following the suspension of high-octane guard Jerome Dyson.

For Price and UConn, however, it wasn’t supposed to end in the fashion that it did.

Joe Alexander slammed UConn out of the Big East tournament, hitting them up for 34 points as West Virginia stamped a 78-72 victory.

Then, in college basketball’s biggest stage, dreams were shattered. The Huskies faced San Diego in the first round. On paper, it looked like a cakewalk to the second round.Then, the fourth setback in his four-year Husky career materialized. Price injured his left knee, landing awkwardly on it following a drive to the cup. He was forced to leave the game and did not return. Without him, the high-horsepower Huskies fell 70-69 in overtime. He’s been rehabbing the knee all summer and is back in full throttle.The curious case of A.J. Price has been explored time and time again. The saga continues for the kid who’s handled a mountain of adversity. Now it’s the last-hurrah, the final countdown for what’s been a wild, unpredictable collegiate career for Price.

For Price, the road to success was about as smooth as a trip up I-95 in snow-blanketed roads. Price would be sidelined his first two years due to health and legal issues before streamlining his career in 2006. In 2004, Price suffered a life-threatening condition. Instead of dishing out pin-point passes to then-Husky teammates Charlie Villanueva, Rudy Gay, and Josh Boone (all of whom now play in the NBA), Price was in a hospital bed having a thin cocktail of medications dished to him. What Price had was a brain hemorrhage, caused by an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a birth defect in his brain. For ten grueling days, the Amityville community and Husky fans were caught in a complete standstill. Price was in critical condition.

Two weeks later, Price's loved ones and supporters breathed a sigh of relief as he was released from the hospital. Price told reporters he was "happy to be alive" and was told by his doctor that he couldn't do any strenuous activity. In other words, kiss basketball goodbye. Radiation treatment was the next step on the road to recovery for Price, who was forced to spend hours walking on a treadmill just to get his leg mobility back. In the fall of 2005, before a season that Price still wasn't cleared to play in, the then-19-year-old was suspended and arrested for his role in the theft of laptops which he and then-teammate Marcus Williams attempted to sell. Two of the stolen computers were found hidden in Price's dorm room and he was slapped with three counts of felony larceny and lying to the police, a misdemeanor.

He was sanctioned by the University, suspended for the 2005-2006 academic year. Instead of spending his first two years at UConn operating offense, Price spent his first two years fading into obscurity and tarnishing the lasting legacy he left on the New York high school and AAU circuit, significantly. The pundits and skeptics surfaced, collectively, all saying that A.J. Price was done. He was done not only at UConn but done for good. No legit program would take a gamble on him. He would probably walk into a YMCA gym somewhere, a parole beeper strapped around his ankle, forever squandering talent.

Most kids would have packed their bags and went home. But most kids aren't A.J. Price. Most kids can't say they recovered from a life-threatening illness that derailed them to the point where walking became a challenge. Most kids can't say they put together a storied stay like the one Price did at Amityville High, blitzing teams to the tune of 29 points per game his senior year, collecting two state championships and three Long Island championships in three years. Price jumped into the fold last year, but was clearly slowed down by the two-year layoff. The Huskies floundered, and Price was rustier than a bad hardware store, averaging a meager 9.4 points in 23 starts. Frustrated with the way both he and his team was underachieving, he told the New Haven Register he was never asked to lead the team. It was a copout, some would opine.

He jumped into the 2007-2008 campaign a different player. Playing with a dish-before-swish mentality, Price handed out nine dimes in the first win of the season, a squeaker over a gritty Morgan State team in the opening round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic, benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer. Price dialed in from a different area code in the regional round against Buffalo, hitting two long-range treys that jump-started a 17-0 spurt. Price would finish with a game-high 24 points as the Huskies routed Buffalo, 82-57. Price was named MVP of the Storrs regional. Later, in hotly-contested games against No. 2 Memphis and No. 20 Gonzaga, Price averaged 22.5 points and 3.5 assists.

Then, one snow-stormy night in December, following a dump-off of Quinnipiac, Price rediscovered his basketball identity. He’s been bleeding confidence ever since. Still, a tough road lies ahead. Price has overcome another detrimental pothole on the road to success.

Every player of Price’s caliber longs for greatness. In his fifth and final season, Price has the chance to erase the past and make history.


Read more!

Friday, October 17, 2008


October 17, 2008

Connecticut and Rutgers might be on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to records, with the Huskies at 5-1 and the Scarlet Knights at 1-5, they do have one thing in common, both have been blitzed by North Carolina this season. RU lost to the Tar Heels 44-12 back on September 11th while UConn fell to UNC in their last outing, 38-12, on October 4th.

Last year, Ray Rice was the engine that made the Scarlet Knight's train go, this year, however, No Rice has Meant No Dice for RU Football as their offense has been awful to date, scoring no more than 21 points agains Division 1-A foes. Their lone win, a 38-0 trouncing of Morgan State, really means little as Greg Schiano is watching the shine dim very quickly from his coaching star.

What UConn has this season is their own version of Ray Rice as running back Donald Brown continues to pile up astronomical rushing totals despite not much backing from the passing attack. Brown has rushed 179 times for 1,067 yards (6.0 yds/carry) and 12 touchdowns in six games. He also leads the team with 14 receptions on the year. UConn will continue to ride Brown as far as he can carry them and do not expect anything different on the road this weekend.

College Football Odds currently have Rutgers as a 1 1/2 point underdog on their home field in this match-up. Are the Scarlet Knights ready to turn the tide on their season and make some noise in the Big East...expect another tight game, but so far, RU has not shown they can win this kind of game this year, until they prove otherwise, don't count on it.


Connecticut 23
Rutgers 20


Read more!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


By Zach Smart

The most controversial legal issue in Storrs since the 2005 computer thefts that made Marcus Williams and A.J. Price primary heckle targets at every arena in the country, appears to be far from over.

Jim Calhoun, the longtime, eccentric Husky coach who broke his back trying to get Miles—he of the subversive reputation and rough upbringing—accepted into the University, is nowhere to be found for comment.

Judging by the way Calhoun lashed out on the Constitution State media circus the last time a situation of this ilk emerged, that is probably a good thing.

“I'd like to have you working hard on the team and do your (blanking) job instead of trying to hurt younger people because you feel someone's pressuring you. It's really unfortunate, it really is,” said Calhoun, following the arrests of Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins in January. Dyson and Wiggins, who has since transferred to Umass, were caught with bottles of Cognac and a small amount of marijuana on campus. Such a shocker that a college student would be engaging in such activities.

Read More...Click Below!

Still, for the beat writers who jumped on the story like it was the 1994 O.J. Simpson trial, the lesson was learned.

“Messing” with Calhoun, perhaps one of the most powerful individuals in the state, is like hurling spitballs at a battleship.

"You've done your job, things were reported, and you'll know the information as soon as it comes out. I told you they would not be playing tonight or the next game and I told you this week that something would come out but that's not good enough for you, you've got to go into P.I. (private investigator) mode. If that's what you want, go ahead. Just make sure when you make that call and it doesn't get answered, that you're fooling with my kids. Fool with me now, say I'm a bad coach, I shouldn't discipline. OK? Just so we understand that, just so we all understand each other."

As for the situation with Miles, there seems to be something fishy about it. Price and Williams, both essential elements of the 2008 and 2006 UConn teams, respectively, stole labtops. Yet, they were reinstated.

Ben Gordon was arrested for allegedly slapping a woman in the face. Reinstated.

So, how does Miles go from savior to villain before the blink of an eye when what he did (violating a restraining order) wasn’t much worse than what’s happened in recent years?

Could his checkered past (five high schools in less than five years, a boot from the Patterson school, the lack of a parental figure other than Sean Patterson, his former guardian who also happened to be his AAU coach), have anything to do with the short chain he was put on during his brief stay at UConn?

Patterson, who is very serious about appealing the decision made by the UConn administrative board, feels that Miles was “railroaded.” He feels that he was guilty by reputation and is exasperated at the decision.

The clock is ticking. First Night, UConn’s midnight madness, is Friday Oct. 17, at the Gampel Pavilion.


So, with the departure of Miles, a scholarship is ruined. Unless UConn can pull something out of its rear end quickly, they will be without a true three-man. Not that they’ll need one for the first ten games of their schedule. In order for the big Husky bus to drive deep into the NCAA tournament, however, it would be necessary.

UConn might have to employ a three-guard system. Miles had all the tools to emerge into the starting small forward. The staff and teammates were sold on his versatility and considerable NBA talent during the team’s scrimmages. Considering Craig Austrie’s experience (he was an emergency starter for the 2005-06 team that featured NBA players Williams and Rudy Gay) and the way he enhanced his image (during Dyson’s absence) last season, Price, Austrie, and Dyson could make up this three-guard attack.This creates a problem.Dyson and Price both love to dominate the ball and matchup difficulties could result. Dyson, who wasn’t the same player after coming back from his suspension, is the best defender out of the trio. Still, Stanley “Sticks” Robinson, whose been a question mark over the past few months, can’t get back to Storrs soon enough to rescue the Husky's falling college basketball odds.

Calhoun added recently that it's about "90 percent" that Robinson will be with the Huskies by their December 15th game with Stony Brook, according to the Bristol Press. Of course, the scholarship issue might be a little questionable, since Miles was kicked off the team, his scholarship must be vacated for the season, meaning Robinson is out of luck unless working full-time in the sheet-metal industry can pay for a semester at UConn.

The coach also said in the Bristol Press there's a "very, very good chance" that Ater Majok, a 6-foot-10 recruit from the Sudan via Australia, will be with the team at the same time. Majok has to pass muster with the NCAA Clearinghouse, which is complicated because he'll be a foreign student, however, if he does not, that could be a source of a scholarship for Robinson.


Read more!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


by Zach Smart

The Uconn Huskies will look to bounce back from a frustrating 38-12 loss to UNC today, as they’re slated for a 12:00 PM date next week with longtime Big East nemesis Rutgers, at East Piscataway, N.J. The game is to be televised on the ESPNU network.

For this week, it’s business as usual for Randy Edsall and 5-1 UConn, who are closing in on being eligible for NCAA Bowl Games.

The Huskies, who took the world by wildfire while emerging into a reputable football talent for the first time in school history last year, will look to erase last week’s disgraceful dumping.

I know that’s a harsh way of putting it. Let’s be serious, though. Edsall has raised the bar for this Connecticut football team and has watched his image skyrocket after last season’s success. Edsall, who was supposedly actively pursued for the Georgia Tech job, knows there are no excuses for last week’s walloping.

Against the Tar Heels, the Huskies shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and blocked punts. Penalties didn’t seem to help much, either. The 11 gaffes committed by the Huskies computed to 97 total yards.

The barrage of follies helped negate the Huskies’ offensive output. Oddly enough, the Huskies posted 378 total yards to the Tar Heels 263. Plays-wise, they outran the Tar Heels by a 84-49 advantage while eating up the clock in Godzilla-size bites (the Huskies had a 36:22 to 23:38 clock possession edge.

Read More...Click Below!

The absence of 6-4 tight end Steve Brouse (15.0 yards-per-catch) has been a slight, but the Huskies will need to resuscitate itself against Rutgers, which has had their fair share of difficulties this season.

The Scarlet Knights, still undergoing residual effects from the loss of stallion running back Ray Rice, are a dismal 1-4. Their exasperation has been particularly evident after QB Mike Teel’s snuff shot around the world.


If this was the NFL, the media circus would be going nuts. They would be blowing the Mike Teel story up the way they did the Plaxico Burress story. The NFL writers would string together a weekly talk show about Teel, T.O., and that Chad (Ocho Cinco?) guy, dissecting every little aspect of their antics and loving it like a little kid on Christmas morning.

Brown Reaches The 1000 Mark: After running for 161 yards against the Tar Heels, Donald Brown etched his name in the record book. The 5-foot-10 running back from New Jersey has now rushed for 1,067 yards this year, making him the ninth player in program history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone in a season. A great running game certainly increases the NCAA Football Odds of winning.

D.J. “Wooderson” Hernandez: I know I am exaggerating, but can’t you see UConn WR D.J. Hernandez evolving into a college version of Matthew McConaughey’s character in Dazed And Confused, “Wooderson?” I know it’s a bit far-fetched. Even though Hernandez is only a fifth-year senior, it feels like the Bristol native has been at Storrs for a lot longer. I mean, he was the starting QB before moving to receiver. Pretty much everyone at Storrs knows him. The media guys, cheerleaders, and diehards alike. He can basically own that place when he’s 32. I’m probably blowing this out of proportion just because I would love to be a fifth-year senior, perusing the goods (a buffet-life of beautiful blonde-haired girls) as opposed to being a pawn to some scumbag as the country continues to toil in this economic tailspin. I guess my envisioning DJ as the face of the program translates to my bizarre Wooderson comparison. All I know is, I envy him. If I were a college athlete with another year of eligibility and another year at a campus that’s front-loaded with babes, I would probably milk it for as long as I could. Shoot, I am the one that is closer to Wooderson. But for some strange reason, it feels like D.J. has been a fixture on the UConn football squad forever. “I get older…they stay the same age.” Great movie. Great character. Nothing to do with any of the above. Right on.


Read more!

Friday, October 03, 2008


by Zach Smart

There was never any question about Nate Miles’ ability on the court. A highly sought-after recruit, the 6-foot-6 guard/forward has notably stamped his imprint in the Huskies’ pickup games.

The skeptics began to surface, before Miles even laced up his kicks and threw on a UConn practice jersey, saying he brought baggage.

Before even the First Night festivities and the first official team practice, Miles has proved them right. The freshman was arrested and released on bond after he allegedly violated a restraining order.

Now, it turns out there’s more to the story. More facts, more hearsay, and more controversy that Miles’ name has been littered in.

The cut-throat Connecticut media circus has apparently stormed the cozy confines of Storrs, frantically fact-finding and frustrating Jim Calhoun.

The longtime Husky coach, who bent over backwards to get Miles into the school, gave the media a verbal pummeling the last time they jumped on a story featuring a player's run-in with the law.

According to the New Haven Register, a female student slapped the restraining order on miles’ spindly, ultra-long 190-lb. frame.

“The woman, a Manchester resident, said in an affidavit that she began a relationship with Miles on Sept. 6 and, within about a week, began encountering incidents of alleged abuse,” writes David Borges, the Register’s UConn Hoops beat writer/blogger.

“The affidavit reports multiple instances of Miles' aggressive behavior, including digging his nails into her skin when he became angry and, on at least three occasions, making physical contact with her – one time allegedly slapping her and pushing her out of bed after she had hit him.”

This is certainly not good news for the Huskies. Miles' arrest allows him to join the club, one that features Jerome Dyson and A.J. Price. He's the latest Husky to have a run-in with Connecticut’s boys in blue.

Now, the latest turn in the story is that Miles has been expelled from the University and has left Connecticut to return home to Toledo. There is the possibility of an appeal, but the damage has been done, again, and now the Huskies are not among a college basketball betting favorite to reach the Final Four as they might have been a week ago.

The CT State Penitentiary inmates that have been disguised in UConn basketball gear and armed with jump shots, otherworldly athleticism, handle and uncanny play-making ability, have helped keep the “UConnvict” image intact.

Miles, who had a tough time getting accepted into UConn, was kicked off the basketball team at the Patterson School (Lenoir, N.C.) for his academic issues. This prevented him from finishing his senior year on the hardwood. Miles was denied by the NCAA Clearinghouse in January, but he cleared the academic hurdle shortly afterward. He became officially enrolled as a UConn student during Summer Session II at UConn.

A 20-year-old freshman, Miles is the epitome of a well-traveled player. He played at six high schools in five years. Now he may have punched a plane, train, or bus ticket out of UConn.

Miles was a front-runner for the starting small forward spot after the self-exiled Husky, 6-9 Stanley Robinson left the team. Robinson is slated to re-join the Huskies during the second semester. The way things are looking right now, Robinson can't get here soon enough.


Read more!