Tag:Andre Drummond
Posted on: January 9, 2012 11:06 pm

Kevin Jones is not Pete Maravich, by the way

Jones has been very good, but he had a season-low five rebounds Monday night. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

HARTFORD, Conn. — Kevin Jones is in the midst of a First Team Big East campaign. He’s been the type of player this season most expected he’d be last season, when Jones was seen by some as the 2010-11 preseason league player of the year. He’s been a joy to follow, and the kid’s not yet gotten his due, by and large.

But he can’t live life 22 feet from the hoop. Kevin Jones is not Pete Maravich. And what Maravich was to LSU Jones is not to WVU. Why am I comparing Jones to one of the best, most creative, dazzling players in the history of basketball? I’m not. I made the mistake of asking WVU coach Bob Huggins if Jones taking eight 3s (he made three of them Monday night) is a worrisome thing for the Mountaineers. Huggins then said this.

“I don’t know, did Press Maravich worry about that with Pete? You’re an idiot if you don’t throw the ball to your best player. Are you worried Calhoun’s going to wear out Jeremy Lamb? Part of what we do is KJ shoots 3s.”

If KJ is going to shoot eight 3s per game, it’s unlikely West Virginia’s going to find happiness. He’s only matched his long-bomb output from Monday night once from earlier this season — but you can afford to shoot 3-of-8 from 3 against Alcorn State. When Jones shot seven 3s? A loss to Seton Hall. Six? WVU fell to Mississippi State.

Monday night, Jones was truly pushed out of the paint for the first time this year too, snaring a season-low five rebounds (he averages 12) in West Virginia’s 64-57 Mountaineers loss to UConn. Jones, who said is confidence is way up this year, admitted he “was assuming the shooting role more than the rebound role.” Jones is at his best when he’s everywhere, not acquiescing and merely taking what the other team gives. Sometimes teams give for a reason, a good reason. UConn does have a terrific front line, but the versatile WVU forward averaged 11.4 boards against Mississippi State, Miami, Baylor, Kansas State and Seton Hall — all teams with plenty of respectable, if not great, talent down low.

Jones was barked out of the paint by recently underwhelming Alex Oriakhi, and by Andre Drummond, who had the best game of his college career. The future NBA lottery pick was smiling throughout the second half as his game and his team’s momentum escalated. Drummond finished with 20 points, 11 boards, three blocks and two steals.

“Coaches said to be physical and he (Jones) won’t like it much because a lot of players don’t like getting pushed around,” Drummond said.  

Jones and West Virginia gave it away down the stretch, giving up the ghost unofficially with 4:58 to go, when Jeremy Lamb sunk a triple coming off a Jones turnover, giving UConn a lead they’d never hand back. Six and a half minutes prior to that, the ‘Eers had a 10-point advantage. Huggins said his freshmen panicked — and they did — but with Drummond in foul trouble, only Deniz Kilicli tried to make things happen inside.

You get Jones in there, the Huskies (already in the bonus) might make the game tighter, and even give back the lead in the final three minutes.  Huggins criticized his learning guards, when Jones, who was good but tunnel-visioned in how he wanted to score tonight, couldn’t adapt inside.

“Just dribble it and dribble it and dribble it and dribble it — and we don’t pass the ball. We don’t have Jeremy Lamb. We don’t have a guy who can create the good shot,” Huggins said. “If those guys were quarterbacks, they’d be terrible quarterbacks, because they just look at the first option.”

If we’re going to fully examine why WVU is flawed, Truck Bryant also must be drawn into the picture. Because while I’m focusing on what Jones didn’t do tonight, Bryant gave a patented Bad Bryant performance, and in the wake of some really nice ones the past two weeks. He was 2 for 13, “forced a bunch of stuff,” according to Huggins, and really didn’t help the offense out at all. There was no offense for much of the second half for WVU. Credit to UConn, sure, but if the Huskies knew nothing would happen inside, and the frosh guards weren’t able to handle it, then Jones had to do more than roll about the perimeter.

“It’s hard, and we’re not going to get it until there’s more games, but we need experience more than anything,” Jones said. “We’re up 10. We need to know when to take good shots and when to pass the ball around and pick.”

Jones wasn’t distraught afterward. He took the loss well because he sees the youth on this team. He said he takes the loss personally, but remains as confident as he’s ever been.

“Win or lose, I’m always confident with my team, but I’m bothered because this is the third game we’ve given away,” Jones said.

I think the senior’s got to get that final piece into this repertoire. To be an undisputed First Team Big East player, he’s going to have to take games before the freshman and Bryant are able to give them away. That means playing more inside and not taking the burden upon himself to shoot 33 percent of his team's 3s, as he did in Monday's loss.


Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:56 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:30 am

Scholarship issue a very sensitive one at UConn

By Matt Norlander

HARTFORD, Conn. -- “Jim, this is our first chance to ask you about Andre Drummond—”

And then the statement was cut off before it could turn into a question.  It was uttered by Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs, the state’s most frequent and fearless prodder of Jim Calhoun. The agitated UConn coach knew what was coming. Before it came, he rambled on for a few minutes in a terse tone regarding his team’s 79-71 win over Fairfield, a game in which the Stags outscored the Huskies 45-33 in the second half. Calhoun was already his usual ornery self in the wake of a miserable final 20 minutes — he didn’t want questions regarding a scholarship situation that was secretly resolved weeks ago.

“Andre Drummond gave the information at the time, which was correct,” Calhoun said, referring to Drummond taking (not possibly taking — taking) teammate Michael Bradley’s scholarship at the start of the season. “It was then received by the NCAA, it us took two and a half months to work it out. My first responsibility was not to tell the press what was going on, because it’s not any of your business. It’s a private matter between two young men. ”

This is UConn, a public university and the biggest sporting deal in this state. The goings-on of the program are of constant interest and curiosity by the public, privacy matters be damned. May not be fair, but Calhoun reaps so many benefits of all he’s done, he knows how the game works from the opposite end. He was just defending his players and his team.

His reputation too, yet again, which is connected to the fact the No. 1 prospect of the 2011 class strolled onto campus after fall text books hit the school store shelves. No matter: Drummond had a spot on the team, nary an hurdle. There are skeptics of that, fair or not.

For many, it seemed wrong that Calhoun — now about to serve his three-game Big East suspension, handed down by the NCAA last season after — was able to get Drummond on the team. That’s why questions and curiosity abounded. The two don’t connect, but uneasy connotations lingered with how the Huskies got off getting arguably the best player in this class and could squeeze him in despite only have 10 scholarships available.

Calhoun stood there Thursday night and continued his defense/attack all at once.

“I’m not going to tell you about their private life. One’s a walk-on, that’s Andre Drummond, and the other one has a full scholarship,” Calhoun said. “I don’t know why it’s your business or anyone else’s business, to be honest with you. ‘Because we need to know.’ You need to know what? … I don’t know what this has to do with anything.”

Calhoun wanted to get back to bitching about his 10-1 team’s bad game.

"It's a very unusual situation, but we'll go into full detail later about this, so we can tell everyone, so they can hear the story." – Jim Calhoun to me, outside Gampel Pavilion on  Oct. 14 of this year.

Calhoun himself never went into full detail. Outgoing sports information director Kyle Muncy did this week. We’ve heard the story, and we want to know more. Now Calhoun and Drummond don’t want to share anything else. Yes, it’s also an extremely sensitive issue for Drummond. For Bradley? I don’t know. The redshirt freshman wasn’t made available to speak after the game.

“Before I was coming in, Mike called me and said I’m going to give my school, and I was like, ‘Man, you don’t gotta do that,’” Drummond said. “I don’t really need to say anything to anybody because that’s between me and him. It really doesn’t need to go out publicly to anybody, you know what I’m saying? Besides, no one asked me what’s going on, so I’m not going to make it my problem to go and tell somebody, ‘OK, me and Mike decided not to do anything.’ So I just kept it to myself.”

Drummond said he’ll take a scholarship next year, an indication he won’t look to leave for the NBA draft. Another conversation for another time, but I did find it interesting he dropped reference to returning next year a few times, as if to try to give this story some spin.

“All I know is, me and Mike, we did what we had to do,” Drummond said. “I let him keep his scholarship, because I feel like deserved it. I can pay my way in. Nobody needs to know what I’m doing, like if I’m paying my way, I don’t need to go around and tell [people].”

Drummond’s only been on campus for a few months, but he knows what the program means; he grew up in Connecticut, which is also why he took the loan on. It makes much more logistical sense that an in-state kid who will make NBA millions in the coming months or years accept walk-on status, rather than a player from a poor background in Tennessee accepting the burden of tens of thousands of dollars in dues.

Drummond being a walk-on also does not count against UConn’s APR, which is also why the Huskies are in a scholarship crunch.

The hazy details of this story still float out there. It was originally reported that Drummond got the scholarship. Calhoun, Drummond and everyone else accepted those reports and responded accordingly, despite the fact all the time Bradley and Drummond were technically of walk-on status. When Bradley took the scholarship in late October, no one surrounding the program made any effort to clarify the situation. It’s a positive thing — why not put it out there? The Huskies and Calhoun were lambasted for how this originally came about.

When Drummond and the school did the smart, sensible thing, they kept quiet. What a strange thing to do.

Photo: AP

Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 3:37 pm

Calhoun knows Napier is the key for UConn

By Jeff Goodman

Everyone can talk all they want about Jeremy Lamb, how he's primed for a mammoth season in which some even have pegged him as a Preseason First Team All-American.

They can talk about the new guy, talented freshman Andre Drummond - who could well become a lottery pick after this season.

They can talk about veteran big man Alex Oriakhi and how if he becomes consistent, this UConn team could go back-to-back.

But none hold more to the Huskies success this season than Shabazz Napier.

And it's got nothing to do with the fact that backup point guard Ryan Boatright is still dealing with NCAA eligibility issues, either.

With or without Boatright in the fold, Napier is the most important man in Storrs, Conn., this season - and one of the most important in all of college hoops.

"Shabazz is the key to UConn," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun admitted to CBSSports.com.

Napier was the guy who played alongside Kemba Walker a year ago. He was a relentless defender who brought toughness to the table. Now he'll be asked to run the show.

Thus far, in two exhibition games, Napier has dished out 28 assists and committed just four turnovers.

"He was better running the team in the games than he's been in practice," Calhoun said.

Some question Napier's ability to shoot the ball - after he shot just 37 percent overall and 33 percent from long distance as a freshman.

"I'm not worried about that at all," Calhoun said.

Two things that Napier can do: Guard and shoot the ball.

Running the team will be the key for the Huskies, though.

Photo: AP
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:35 am

UConn's Bradley out 6 weeks with ankle fracture

By Matt Norlander

The player who gave up his scholarship so Andre Drummond could play for UConn this year will miss the first four weeks of the regular season.

Michael Bradley, a freshman forward for the Huskies, tweaked his right ankle over the weekend in one of UConn's first practices. After initial hopes of a sprain, it was discovered he had a fracture in that ankle. He's scheduled to underdog a routine surgical procedure and then endure six weeks of rehab.

UConn's season begins Nov. 11 against Columbia.

It's an ironic situation, given how much attention the school, Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, Drummond and Bradley received over the scholarship issue, which still hasn't been publicly explained by Calhoun. Bradley, who wasn't expected to be a player of large impact this year, grew up in a group home in Tennessee, is on financial aid for this season.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:10 pm

Dunk contest highlights from UConn's First Night

By Matt Norlander

STORRS, Conn. -- UConn's First Night has just ended. Gampel was loud as hell -- particularly because I sat in front of the subwoofers. I can't even hear myself typing this.

The highlight of the evening, truly, was Kemba Walker and Ray Allen being introduced. Both ovations were enormous and roof-rattling. Hasheem Thabeet's fashion choice of a shiny-blue Hartford Whalers winter-type vest was also astounding and didn't go unappreciated by the fans. I particularly adore the face that he's wearing a men's large.

But the dunk contest is what you want to see. I got onto the baseline and captured the video for your pleasure. Freak freshmen Ryan Boatright (who's about the size of an average American ninth-grader) and Andre Drummond made it to the finals, with Boatright winning it. In the final video, kind of thought for a millisecond I was going to relive this.

Here's Boatright's chair dunk.

Drummond's between-the-legs: not likely to be duplicated in game action this year.

Boatright's dunk from the baseline was plenty nasty ...

... but Ray Allen said Drummond's baseline flush was worthy of being among the best in the NBA's contest.

Posted on: October 12, 2011 7:23 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 7:25 pm

Video: Drummond dunks on Norlander's face

By Matt Norlander

STORRS, Conn. -- I spent Wednesday afternoon on UConn's campus, primarily talking to stud Huskies freshman Andre Drummond for a feature you'll be able to read later this week. After the interview ended, Drummond got on the court and started shooting. Naturally, I asked him if he'd be interested in dunking on me. He wasn't.

He preferred to dunk over me. And he very nearly did -- on the second take. In the video below, Drummond and his 41-inch vertical leap nearly clear by terrified dome. To keep his rep in tact, I promised I wouldn't publish the first take, wherein he chickened out at the last second and clanked a dunk.

Posted on: September 2, 2011 11:37 am

Alex Oriakhi was blindsided by Drummond news

By Jeff Goodman

The bombshell that Andre Drummond dropped exactly one week ago caught everyone by surprise.

Even his new frontcourt mate, Alex Oriakhi.

"I was shocked," Oriakhi admitted. "I didn't think he was coming."

But Oriakhi received a call on Friday evening from Drummond in search of UConn coach Jim Calhoun's number, saying he wanted to commit for this year.

"It was crazy," Oriakhi said.

Now the speculation will begin with how Oriaki and Drummond can co-exist. However, what people fail to realize is Oriakhi is about as team-oriented a kid as you will find.

"It doesn't bother me at all that he's coming," Oriakhi said. "I want to win another championship. That's what's important to me."

"I know I'm going to get the ball in the post," he added. "The addition of Andre isn't going to hurt me; it'll help me."

Oriakhi expects that both he and Drummond will get the opportunity to step out and expand their game on the perimeter. But that'll be the interesting scenario to watch - whether teams respect either or just pack it in, dare them to make shots and congest the middle.

- Oriakhi said he's been impressed with freshman DeAndre Daniels' ability to shoot the ball. "He's athletic and can defend," Oriakhi said. He said that Daniels and sophomore forward Roscoe Smith are similar players - with the primary difference being versatility and that Smith is stronger and also be play some power forward.

- Oriakhi also admitted that the key to this year's team is Shabazz Napier, who will likely become the full-time point guard with the departure of Kemba Walker. "He's our general," Oriakhi said. "As he goes, we go. He's ready - especially after a year of learning and talking to Kemba." Oriakhi also laughs when people question Napier's shooting ability. "That's crazy," he said.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 8:00 pm

Andre Drummond commits to UConn for 2011

By Jeff Borzello

What a way to make an announcement: a Friday night at 7:30 p.m., on Twitter.

Andre Drummond, the No. 2 prospect in the class of 2012, is headed to Connecticut – in the fall.

“It’s official,” Drummond tweeted. “I’m heading to the University of Connecticut to be a Husky this year!”

The news was confirmed to CBSSports.com by a source with knowledge of the situation.

Earlier this month, Drummond made an announcement that he was doing a prep year at Wilbraham & Monson, and also narrowed his list of schools to five: Connecticut, Georgetown, Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia.

With Connecticut out of scholarships, sources have told CBSSports.com that Drummond could become a walk-on and pay his own way this year.

He joins a 2011 recruiting class that also includes Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com