Had a chance to speak briefly with UConn center Andre Drummond, as well as coach Jim Calhoun Tuesday at Gampel Pavilion.
Look for stories in Wednesday’s Journal Inquirer but here’s a quick preview of what they had to say:
— Drummond swears he hasn’t made up his mind about a leap to the NBA. In fact, he says he’s not even thinking about it.
He went through a pretty intense workout on the court with teammates Enosch Wolf and Michael Bradley Tuesday afternoon, and immediately hit the weight room after it.
“People are going to speculate on what I’m doing. Nobody knows what I’m doing,” Drummond said. “I’m here. I’m working out. I’m working hard with my teammates and getting ready for next season. Nothing has been decided yet.”
As for teammate Jeremy Lamb, who Tuesday announced he was leaving UConn, Drummond laughed.
“I told him to go,” Drummond said with a smile. “I told him ‘You’re ready. You have to go. You can’t get much better than what you are right now. It’s time for you to go.’ ”
Drummond said he thinks he can get better.
“Definitely,” Drummond said. “Being coached by Jim Calhoun? Absolutely. Who wouldn’t want to play for him? He has a different method than some people. Some people can’t deal with that but I like the way he coaches me and I like being here.”
The postseason ban UConn is facing doesn’t seem to be weighing too heavily on Drummond.
“Yeah, it’s tough hearing we may not be able to play in the postseason,” Drummond said. “But you can’t really let that affect you. You can’t fight a losing battle. We just have to keep working hard and preparing for the season we’ve got coming up.”
“Control what you can. You can’t fight against the NCAA,” Drummond added.
— Despite Drummond’s words _ and I don’t believe Drummond was necessarily fibbing _ don’t be shocked if there’s an announcement out of Storrs this week about Drummond going pro.
— Calhoun offered a few words on the departing Lamb.
“General managers have called me and others have told me that he’s probably in the top 10,” Calhoun said.
Is Lamb ready? Yes, Calhoun says. But even if he’s not, Calhoun says Lamb will get the chance to adjust on the fly.
“Whether I think he’s ready or not ready, I know one thing: He’s going to be ready,” Calhoun said. “If he gets the unique advantage of being drafted there (in the lottery) he’ll be treated differently.”
As far as the body (aside from weight, perhaps) and the skills, Lamb appears ready.
“He’s one of the better shooters we’ve ever had come here. He’s a great kid,” Calhoun said. “Obviously his teams have won 52 games, a national championship, made two NCAA Tournaments. Yeah, we would have liked to have done more but we’re certainly going to miss him.”
— Calhoun said he’s focusing much of his time on the team’s academic work this spring.
“The thing we need to do is make sure we do what we need to do for this semester,” Calhoun said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to be here all the time. Last year was great (academically). We want this year to be equally great.”
— As for the APR penalty and the postseason ban, Calhoun is still holding out hope that the NCAA’s Committee on Academic Performance makes a last-minute change to the reporting dates.
Or, at least, that others see what UConn sees as an unjust sentence.
“We feel we’re in a very good position…we can’t do it, obviously, but maybe others can see the validity of what we’re asking,” Calhoun said.
“I think logic might take over. If we have problems over a two-year period, OK. The basketball program took its eye off the ball a little bit. The university took its eye off the ball a little bit. Not everybody watched as close as they should,” Calhoun continued. “The bottom line is we’re not complaining about the fact that the standards are being put up. We’re only complaining about the implementation of them. If we’ve got two really good years of academic information, we feel that should be shown and used.”
— As for perhaps playing a season without the hope of playing in the postseason, Calhoun says either way “Connecticut isn’t going away.”
“We can go out and prove we’re still Connecticut, we’re still going forward and whatever is thrust in front of us, that’s what we’ll take on,” Calhoun said.
— On his future, Calhoun was as usual vague. He certainly seems fully engaged in the day-to-day operations and doesn’t appear to be contemplating retirement. Some of that is just because he hasn’t had time to think about it, however.
“Right now I have work to do,” Calhoun said. “If we didn’t have all those things, I probably could have been a lot closer to kind of thinking about where I am. But we have a new athletic director. I kind of want to know what his vision is for UConn down the line, and not necessarily for me, personally.”