The UConn basketball team just hit the practice court here at Gampel Pavilion, preparing for Wednesday’s game against DePaul. We had a few minutes to talk with George Blaney and a few players before they got started.
First things first, let’s get to who is going to be on the court Wednesday and who isn’t:
— Coach Jim Calhoun (back) is probably going to miss his fourth game in row.
He was at a New York hospital Tuesday afternoon and though UConn officials won’t say he’s officially out, it looks doubtful that he’d return Wednesday.
“I talk to him every day. He’s still hurting. In fact it seemed like the pain was intensified again,” Blaney said. “He’s still trying to sift through all the information and make some decisions.”
“The players would like him back, the coaches would like him back,” Blaney added. “We’d all like him back as soon as possible.”
— C Andre Drummond (sprained right ankle) has “improved” and went through practice Tuesday with his teammates. He was on a “short leash” however.
“It’s getting better,” Drummond said before practice. “I’m going to try and go at it today in practice and see how I feel. We’ll go from there.”
On Sunday morning, it seems the ankle was in bad shape.
“I texted James (Doran, UConn’s trainer) that you might want to come and get me because I can’t walk,” Drummond said. “I was struggling to get out of my bed.”
Now, however, it’s improved.
“I can walk and all but if I make like a sharp turn somewhere, it just gets me,” Drummond said.
— SG Jeremy Lamb (sprained right toe) is also improved and went through most of Tuesday’s practice.
— Also, PF Roscoe Smith (sore left Achilles) was pulled out of practice Monday. He, too, may be limited this afternoon.
— Former UConn star and longtime NBA star Ray Allen paid a visit to practice Monday.
He also addressed the team in the locker room for 20-25 minutes after.
“It was vintage Ray Allen. It was vintage, classic talk,” Blaney said. “That’s what Jim has built here, the family atmosphere of great, great players that have done tremendous things for the state of Connecticut and have gone on to do greater things in the NBA and still have that feeling of closeness to the team.”
The players were apparently riveted for most of Allen’s talk.
“He reminded us that in the game of basketball mistakes happen,” Tyler Olander said. “Even at his level in the NBA people shoot air balls, people dribble off their foot. But you have to keep playing through that. I think that’s one of the things, we’ve let mistakes get to us and bring us down.”
— New UConn AD Warde Manuel visited practice Monday as well, Blaney said.
“He came down to practice and spoke to the team for three or four minutes and shook hands with each individual player,” Blaney said. “He called coach Calhoun and had a good conversation with coach.”
— DePaul has been playing even more poorly than UConn lately (losing four straight and nine of its last 10) but the Huskies aren’t in a position to overlook anyone.
“We need to come in here (Tuesday) and play the best game we’ve played all year,” Blaney said.
“You’re looking at six games left, with four home and two away,” Blaney said. “So to me every game is really key. This is the one that’s right in front of us, this is the one that we need.”
And it’s not like the Blue Demons have been getting blasted very often.
“They have played everybody exceptionally well,” Blaney said. “They’ve had trouble winning but they’ve played everybody exceptionally well.”
— Olander posted a message on his twitter account Monday calling out fans that have apparently jumped off the Husky bandwagon and are giving the players something of a hard time. It was later removed.
“They want to kick you when you’re down,” Olander said of some of the twitter messages he and his teammates have received recently. “That’s frustrating.”
— Worthy Patterson and Bill Corley will officially join the “Huskies of Honor” tonight in a ceremony that will reveal their jersey numbers high above the floor at Gampel.
Patterson, UConn’s first NBA player, is expected to be on hand. Corley passed away some years ago.