‘Cantankerous’ Calhoun enjoying ride with Huskies


The UConn basketball team goes through a drill during its public workout Wednesday night at the KFC Yum! Center. (Neill Ostrout photo)

The UConn basketball contingent just met with the media here in Louisville to talk about Thursday’s game against Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament’s round formerly known as first.

Here’s a quick synopsis:

— Head coach Jim Calhoun says the Huskies are having more fun since he returned to the bench.

“I always felt this team pushed too hard, too much to try to be something it wasn’t yet,” Calhoun said. “That’s somewhat why we had an up-and-down season for us.”

Calhoun reiterated his proclamation the the Huskies aren’t the “defending” national champions. They’re not defending anything, the coach swears. They’ve already won it and it can’t be taken back.

“They’re not chasing something now. They’re playing basketball,” Calhoun said of his current group. “They put pressure on themselves they never had to.”

Of course, it could just be because of Calhoun’s sparkling personality.

“Cantankerous is usually the word associated with me,” Calhoun deadpanned. “A barrel of laughs, I think most people would refer to me as. Most of the officials do, by the way. They really think I’m just a hell of a guy.”

— UConn C Andre Drummond will probably draw the task of guarding Iowa State star Royce White, at least to start the game.

“I watched a couple takes on him already by myself,” Drummond said. “I heard we were playing Iowa State so I took some time to look at his highlights and some of the things he does in the game.

“He’s a great player,” Drummond continued. “I’m just going to make it tough on him, make sure he does things he’s not used to doing.”

UConn’s Alex Oriakhi played against White during his AAU days and at the Jordan Classic.

“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Oriakhi said. “And it’s definitely something me and my frontcourt players are looking forward to.”

DeAndre Daniels’ sister Keirstyn Schumpert underwent surgery Sunday to have a tumor removed from her brain.

Daniels said Wednesday that Schumpert, who plays basketball at Manchester High School, went through a lengthy procedure but that the result was generally positive.

“She’s doing a little better,” Daniels said. “They got all the tumor out, so that’s good. And it was cancer-free.”

Schumpert remained hospitalized as of Wednesday night but may be released soon.

“They said she might not be able to feel the right side of her face but everything else is good,” Daniels said.

— Calhoun pointed out that the Huskies have done a much better job recently of guarding the 3-point line but that Iowa State presents a new threat.

“Dribble penetration for us means an alley-oop for Andre or Alex or whoever it may be,” Calhoun said. “Dribble penetration for them means a three. Because they want to suck the defense down, get you to put a foot in the paint, and the ball is going back out.”



About Neill

Neill Ostrout covers the UConn men's basketball team for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. He has been a member of the "Horde" for more than 16 years.
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