Posted on: December 10, 2009 8:11 pm

Dear Gary (on UK-UConn)

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Wow, what a game between Kentucky and Connecticut! Great intensity with an even better crowd. I wish every game could be played at such a high level. I look forward to the rematch at the Final Four. There is no doubt that both teams will be playing in April.

-- John

I agree and disagree, John.

What we can agree on is that the game was exciting with great intensity. You can't have much more fun watching college basketball in December, or anytime really, than I had watching basketball Wednesday night. Lots of great athletes running up and down the court, bigtime players (like Kemba Walker and John Wall) making bigtime plays, and a crowd so hyped there were multiple fights in the stands.

Again, just a blast.

But, let's be honest, the game wasn't really played "at such a high level." A fast pace produced only 125 total points, there were more turnovers (32) than assists (20), neither team shot the ball well (combined 4-of-18 effort from 3-point range), so on and so forth. So it wasn't basketball at its finest. But still, damn fun.

As for UK and UConn meeting in the Final Four, sure, it's posible. But I wouldn't say there's "no doubt" about it. To do that is to concede half of the Final Four to UK and UConn despite many other viable teams (Kansas, Texas, Villanova, West Virginia, Syracuse, Michigan State, Purdue, Duke, North Carolina, etc.) having similar if not better chances. Truth be told, I'll almost certainly pick Kentucky to be there when it comes time to pick such things, but I'm not sure UConn is even one of the top three teams in the Big East. So I'd rather take a wait-and-see approach with the Huskies, see how the addition of Ater Majok (eligible Dec. 20) affects them, and watch the Big East season unfold. After that, there's a chance I'd pick UK and UConn to both make the Final Four. But right now, I don't believe that's how my bracket would look.
Posted on: November 24, 2009 11:31 am
Edited on: November 24, 2009 11:31 am

Dear Gary (on the best games for this week)

Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: What game are you most looking forward to this week? I, for one, am digging my Minnesota Golden Gophers testing out a big-time program in Butler on Thursday night. Your thoughts?

-- Magee

I'll be in Anaheim for the 76 Classic, so I'll see Minnesota-Butler. It should be great, as will the entire event. Six of the eight participants made the NCAA tournament last season, four of the eight are currently ranked in the AP Top 25 (specifically No. 8 West Virginia, No. 12 Butler, No. 19 Clemson and No. 22 Minnesota). So regardless of how this unfolds, it's going to be tremendous. The championship game is slotted for Sunday night. Butler against either Clemson or West Virginia would probably be the most intriguing matchup.

Elsewhere, we could get UConn vs. Duke on Friday night in the finals of the NIT Season Tip-off.

That would be excellent.

Looking forward to Florida-Florida State tonight, too.
Posted on: October 27, 2009 2:41 pm

Blue Devils/Bruins lead way in NBA players

It's Opening Night in the NBA, and there are a combined 28 former Duke Blue Devils and UCLA Bruins on NBA rosters, according to research done by Duke recruiting coordinator Dave Bradley.

Here's how it breaks down:

1. Duke (14)
1. UCLA (14)
3. Connecticut (13)
3. North Carolina (13)
5. Arizona (10)
5. Kansas (10)
Posted on: September 14, 2009 4:12 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2009 4:15 pm

Irving wants a big role immediately, it seems

Kyrie Irving told Scout.com's Dave Telep on Monday that his college decision will, at least in part, be determined by his "role in the offense." Best I can tell, that's code for "I'm not interested in playing behind anybody."

And I respect that.

Too often, prospects act like they don't mind learning from upperclassmen or waiting their turn. But the truth is that somebody as talented as Irving ought to look for a place where he'll be the top option at point guard from his first day on campus, and that seems to be what he's doing.

Ranked fifth overall in the Class of 2010 by Scout.com, Irving has scheduled three of his five official visits for Duke (Sept. 25), Indiana (Oct. 2) and Texas A&M (Oct. 9). Among the other schools vying for his services are Kentucky and Connecticut. But those two programs could be affected by the presence of point guards Eric Bledsoe (at UK) and Kemba Walker (at UConn).

(Note: I do not expect John Wall to still be at UK by the time Irving would enroll.)

Irving has set no timetable for a decision.

Duke and Indiana are widely considered to be the leaders in his recruitment.
Posted on: August 13, 2009 7:59 pm

Selby visits UConn

LOS ANGELES -- Josh Selby spent Thursday visiting Connecticut, according to Scout.com's Dave Telep.

Selby is the elite prospect who garnered national attention last month when he decommitted from Tennessee under controversial circumstances . This is his first unofficial visit since re-opening his recruitment. MaxPreps.com ranks Selby as the 14th-best prospect in the Class of 2010. Scout.com has him 10th, Rivals.com has him seventh and the National Hoops Report has him 19th.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 14, 2009 4:51 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2009 4:55 pm

Thabeet will enter the NBA Draft

Connecticut junior Hasheem Thabeet will enter the NBA Draft, the school announced Tuesday afternoon.

"After spending time with my family and friends and speaking with Coach (Jim) Calhoun, I have decided to give up my final year at UConn and enter my name in the 2009 NBA Draft,” Thabeet said via a statement. "I have had a great experience at Connecticut and cannot thank my coaches and teammates enough. I look forward to the challenge of playing professionally and know that my time here at UConn has prepared me to be successful in the future. I also want to thank all of the fans in Husky Nation that have followed my career, especially those from my homeland of Tanzania, and hope they will all be as supportive of me at the professional level as they have been to this point.”

Thabeet averaged 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.2 blocks this season.

The 7-foot-3 center is a projected top five pick.

“Hasheem is more than ready to make the move to the next level,” Calhoun said. “He has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the history of college basketball and I am certain that where ever he ends up in the NBA, he is ready to be equally successful. He is a special player and even more special as a person. He will truly be remembered as one of the great players in UConn history, not only for his accomplishments, but also because of the type of person he is.”

(NOTE: This should come as no surprise given Thabeet's weekend in Miami, as I wrote about here in this very blog ).

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 14, 2009 12:04 am
Edited on: April 14, 2009 12:08 am

Funniest AP story ever?

Regardless of whether you're interested in Connecticut, you must read Monday's AP story on Hasheem Thabeet.


The 7-foot-3 center -- who officially remains undecided about whether to enter the NBA Draft -- spent the weekend in Miami, updating his Twitter account from courtside of a Heat game and an upscale restaurant (among other places) while giving the AP some great material for perhaps the funniest straight news story I've ever read.

At The Forge For Dinner!!! I didn't know food could be so expensive.... Ahhhh LOL!! Enjoyin MIAMi tho.. Fancy Life, Fancy Cars.... Mhmmm.

According to the AP, that was one of Thabeet's "tweets."

Here's another:

Swagga On A Zillion... Oewwwwww!!!! MIA-yooo Lets Go!!!!

That "tweet" was posted Sunday at 2:30 a.m.

I'm going to assume alcohol was involved.

If not, there's no excuse.

"He is definitely going to meet with the coach over the next couple of weeks," said UConn spokesman Kyle Muncy, who must hate his job at this point -- thanks to Jim Calhoun's health, Nate Miles' agent and Thabeet's adventures.

As for Thabeet's upcoming meeting with Calhoun, it should be brief and conclude with Calhoun insisting the sure-bet lottery pick get as far away from campus as possible, as soon as possible. Remember, to play college basketball you have to be an "amateur", and unless Thabeet has more expendable cash than any Tanzanian I know (actually, I don't know any Tanzanians outside of Thabeet, but you get my point) then there's no way his amateur status is still intact. Honestly, the notion is laughable, especially when you consider that Miles reportedly had an agent before he ever stepped on UConn's campus. So even if Thabeet now had a sudden urge to play one more year in the Big East, Connecticut couldn't afford to let him given the weekend's developments combined with the fact that the NCAA is already looking into allegations of impropriety within the basketball program.

In other words, as Cheese might say , Thabeet is gone, baby gone.

I suspect he'll be tweeting about it any minute.

Posted on: April 9, 2009 4:33 pm
Edited on: April 9, 2009 4:36 pm

Calhoun plans to return to UConn

Jim Calhoun has announced his intention to return to Connecticut next season.
"It is my full intention to return for the 2009-10 season,” Calhoun said in a statement released by the school. “I look forward to coaching next season and to continuing as the head coach at Connecticut into the future. In many ways, the journey of this past season has made me realize how much I love coaching this game, how much I love my kids and how much I enjoy being at Connecticut.”

Calhoun just completed his 37th season as a collegiate head coach.

This past season was marred by health concerns and an ongoing recruiting scandal.

Category: NCAAB
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