News and Notes

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UConn’s new basketball practice facility continues to take shape (Neill Ostrout photo)

I spent the afternoon in Storrs Wednesday. Sorry for the late post but had other work to take care of.

Anyway, a few items from the UConn basketball team as the season approaches:

— Forward Tyler Olander (foot) is back on the court and seems healthy. He played, seemingly “full go”, with his teammates during a pick-up game Wednesday.

— Guard Omar Calhoun (hips) remains out of action. He should be ready for the start of official practice or soon thereafter.

— Guard Ryan Boatright (groin) didn’t work out with his teammates Wednesday but he doesn’t appear seriously injured. Should be back at full strength in a few days.

— Senior forward Niels Giffey made a pretty good splash in his first game in the European Championships (EuroBasket 2013).

Giffey scored 14 points as Germany upset France on Wednesday. Some guy named Tony Parker had 18 points in the loss for France.

Giffey is still slated to return to Storrs when the tournament’s over. Germany’s last game in Group play is Monday. If they don’t make the next round, Giffey could head to school immediately after that.

Still, Giffey might get a pro offer from a German team that he can’t refuse. We’ll see.

— Decision day is looming for Abdul-Malik Abu. The 6-8 PF from Boston who attends Kimball Union in Meriden, N.H., is holding a press conference Saturday with his AAU teammate Jared Terrell to announce their college choices.

Abu is down to UConn, Providence, N.C. State and Florida. It looks like the Gators have an edge but who knows?

PC is on both friends’ lists but it doesn’t look like they’ll be a package deal.

— As reported a few places recently, 6-8 SF Devin Robinson of Christchurch, Va., and 6-5 SF Bonzie Colson Jr. of Barrington, R.I., will both be at UConn for First Night/Midnight Madness on Oct. 11.

— As for some scheduling stuff, the Husky Run will be Sept. 25 and the first official day of practice will be Sept. 27. The NCAA is giving teams more days to practice this season, though UConn is keeping the traditional date of the “First Night” fun.

R.J. Evans has signed to play professionally in England. The venerable Gavin Keefe has the story in The Day.

— The Huskies’ full schedule (ie, locales for home games) should be out soon. The new deal to play game(s) in Bridgeport, as well as the unfinished deal with the XL Center are apparently holding things up.

It seems Webster Bank Arena wants to make some sort of grand unveiling of its lineup of game(s). Originally there was going to be one non-conferenence ‘guarantee’ game played there this season by the Huskies but it might turn out to be a conference game now. We’ll see.

— A few thoughts from watching the Huskies play for an hour-plus, especially on the newcomers:

DeAndre Daniels hasn’t lost the confidence (offensively) he had late last season. He doesn’t look any bigger (it’s apparently hard for him to add weight, a problem he and I don’t share) but his game is a bit more polished. He isn’t Kevin Durant but some time spent with the OKC star at his camp this summer clearly helped Daniels.

Phil Nolan has put on some weight and has improved his game over the summer. His experience in Europe as part of that traveling team seemingly paid off.

Rodney Purvis can’t play this season but when the N.C. State transfer becomes eligible next season Husky fans will be pleased. He’s smart, pretty big for a guard and the jump shot that supposedly is his weakness was on target Wednesday.

Amida Brimah is raw, of course, but can be a defensive force almost immediately. Shabazz Napier showed Brimah a few times how guards are going to try and trick him to get through his long arms and the big man made a few nice adjustments later.

Kentan Facey doesn’t seem to be letting his eligibility issue (The NCAA is reviewing his high school situation on Long Island and in Jamaica, and he may lose a year or two of eligibility) bother him on the court. He was active and played well at both ends of the court.

Terrence Samuel might not play a ton in his first year in Storrs but that’s not because he can’t. The Huskies obviously have a bunch of good guards ahead of him but Samuel will see the floor at some point. He made a couple of great passes Wednesday that drew some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from teammates.

Lansan Kromah, the Huskies’ recent transfer from George Washington, is already something of a finished product. Three-plus years of D-I college basketball will do that, obviously. Kromah is not the same kind of player Evans was for the Huskies but he’ll help right away. Kromah knows how to score and isn’t shy about doing so.

I won’t go through every player on the roster but just wanted to add that Shabazz is still Shabazz. He had a couple silly turnovers and missed a bunch of shots as I watched…then he made about a dozen in a row including a circus layup.

Neill

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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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