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News Links, 10/24/14

Football
No. 18 ECU averts UConn’s upset bid, AP article from the Post
Huskies Finally Show Some Bite On Offense In Loss To ECU, Courant
UConn Scores A First: A First-Quarter Touchdown, Courant
The Wrap, Courant
Photos: UConn At East Carolina Football, Courant
East Carolina gets past UConn 31-21, News & Observer

Men’s Hoops
UConn’s NBA Connections: How They Rate In Preseason, Courant

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Huskies Fall to Pirates, 31-21

@MattSchonvisky

The Huskies put in a valiant effort tonight in Greenville, NC, but fell short to East Carolina and their powerful, up-tempo passing attack, 31-21.

The story was the awakening of the UConn offense, led by Chandler Whitmer, who threw for 303 yards and 2 touchdowns.

“We did some good things, made it competitive, but losing still sucks,” Whitmer said following the game. “I don’t care what environment you’re in, who you’re playing, you still don’t want to lose. We did some good things, we just didn’t do enough in the end to finish it off. We just need to be able to make plays at the end to finish off the game and get a good road win, but we got better and we are just going to continue to work.”

Without pass protection, Whitmer would not have been able to make the throws he did and that is a testament to the offensive line.

“That’s the effort we all put in the past week and a half, game planning and working really hard on our technique,” offensive lineman Gus Cruz noted after the loss. “The game plan was great, credit to the coaches for putting us in the right positions. We know we can move on from this and it will open up a number of other things for us to do so we can give Chandler some extra time.”

Junior WR Geremy Davis went out with an undisclosed injury and that enabled Thomas Lucas and Noel Thomas to step right in and produce. Lucas had two catches for 80 yards, while Thomas caught 3 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.

The play of the night may have been a third quarter run by RB Ron Johnson that went for twenty-two (22). Whitmer came from behind the play to take on a linebacker, eliminate him from the play and enable Johnson to gain an extra 17 yards, on what would have been a five yard gain. The play energized his teammates, something that was still there following the loss.

“Whatever it takes, these guys fight for me, I just do my job, whether it’s throwing the ball or getting blocks in those situations. Obviously I want to be smart, but I’m putting it out there to fight for these guys and they fight for me. We love each other, it’s been a great fight tonight, but we just didn’t come out on top.”

Cruz on Whitmer’s block: 

The Huskies return to action on Saturday, November 1st when they host UCF at Rentschler Field. Time is TBA, but the unveiling of the Jasper Howard statue, will take place.

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Live from Dowdy-Picken Stadium: Offensive Line Improvements Heading In

@MattSchonvisky

Gus Cruz on improvement of line since opening day: 

Cruz on mentoring young guys: 

Cruz on atmosphere expected at ECU: 

Final prediction: 27-10 ECU – UConn defense slows down ECU’s offense, but UConn offense again struggles. First time I’ve picked against the Huskies all year….

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News Links, 10/23

Football
UConn football game day, Post
UConn gets ready for potent ECU offense, Post
UConn football team excited for East Carolina challenge, Register
Big Test: Can UConn’s Solid Defense Stop ECU’s Potent Offense?, Courant
For UConn football, it’s a time to build, Day
For ECU, a chance to impress the nation (and voters), The State
No. 18 East Carolina, off to best start since 1999, plays host to new American rival UConn, AP article from the Daily Journal
Pirates, Huskies meet for first time, Daily Reflector
ECU football ready for prime-time, Thursday night showdown vs. UConn, Fayetteville Observer

Men’s Hoops
AAC’s Aresco In Town; Talks Up Tougher Nonconference Schedules, Courant
9 UNC employees fired or disciplined in scandal, Register

Women’s Hoops
Kyla Irwin’s Commitment To UConn Fulfills Childhood Dream, Courant
Why the Mo’ne Davis Ad Is OK With the NCAA, Wall St. Journal

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UConn in the NFL – Week 7

Week 7 has come and gone and our former Huskies did well to represent their alma mater on the gridiron.  Leading the highlights was Anthony Sherman catching the go-ahead TD to push the Chiefs to a big victory over the Chargers.  Blidi Wreh-Wilson turned in another fine game, and looks to be getting better in coverage each week.  He’s emerging as Tennessee’s top CB in his 3rd year as a pro.  Jordan Todman continues to be buried on Jacksonville’s depth chart at RB.  He does see his share of snaps in the backfield, but he rarely gets the opportunity to carry the ball.  In the few chances he’s gotten, he’s done well. Hopefully they give him more of a look as the season progresses, however for the moment, he’s 4th on the depth chart.

Week 7 Stats:

Passing

  • Dan Orlovsky – DET: DNP

Rushing

  • Donald Brown – SD: INACTIVE
  • Jordan Todman – JAX: 0 carries for 0 yards, 0 TD’s, Long of 0 yds
  • Anthony Sherman – KC: 0 Carries for 0 yards, 0 TD’s, Long of 0 yds

Receiving

  • Marcus Easley – BUF: INACTIVE
  • Nick Williams – WASH/FA: DNP (Unsigned)
  • Ryan Griffin – HOU: 0 rec for 0 yds, 0 TD’s, Long of 0 yds
  • Donald Brown – SD: INACTIVE
  • Jordan Todman – JAX: 1 rec for 26 yds, 0 TD’s, Long of 26 yds
  • Anthony Sherman – KC: 2 Rec for 12 yds, 1 TD, Long of 12

Defense

  • Shamar Stephen – MIN: 1 Tackle
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson – TEN: 7 Tackles
  • Sio Moore – OAK: 5 Tackles
  • Tyvon Branch – OAK: INACTIVE
  • Robert McClain – ATL: 0 Tackles
  • Dwayne Gratz – JAX: 2 Tackles
  • Danny Lansanah – TB: BYE
  • Darius Butler – IND: INACTIVE
  • Kendall Reyes – SD: 3 Tackles

Special Teams

  • Jordan Todman – JAX: 0 KO Returns for 0 yards, 0.0 AVG, 0 TD’s
  • Marcus Easley – BUF: INACTIVE
  • Anthony Sherman – KC: 1 ST Tackle
  • Ryan Griffin – HOU: 0 ST Tackles

Season Stats:

Passing

  • Dan Orlovsky – DET: DNP

Rushing

  • Donald Brown – SD: 59 carries for 126 yards, 0 TD’s, Long of 16 yds
  • Jordan Todman – JAX: 8 carries for 21 yards, 0 TD’s, Long of 10 yds
  • Anthony Sherman – KC: 2 carries for 8 yards, 0 TD’s, Long of 4 yds

Receiving

  • Marcus Easley – BUF: 0 rec for 0 yards
  • Nick Williams – WASH/FA: CURRENTLY A FREE AGENT
  • Ryan Griffin – HOU: 2 rec for14 yds, 0 TD’s, Long of 8 yds
  • Donald Brown – SD: 13 rec for 76 yards, 0 TD’s, Long of 6 yds
  • Jordan Todman – JAX: 7 rec for 74 yds, 0 TD’s, Long of 12 yds
  • Anthony Sherman – KC: 4 Rec for 25 yards, 1 TD, Long of 12 yds

Defense

  • Shamar Stephen – MIN: 9 Tackles
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson – TEN: 34 tackles, 1 INT
  • Sio Moore – OAK: 34 tackles, 1 Sack, 2 Forced Fumbles
  • Tyvon Branch – OAK: 19 Tackles, 1 Sack
  • Robert McClain – ATL: 22 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 INT
  • Dwayne Gratz – JAX: 21 Tackles
  • Danny Lansanah – TB: 26 Tackles, 2 INT, 2 TD’s
  • Darius Butler – IND: 16 Tackles
  • Kendall Reyes – SD: 14 Tackles, 1 Sack

Special Teams

  • Jordan Todman – JAX: 17 KO Returns for 453 yards, 26.6 AVG, 0 TD’s
  • Marcus Easley – BUF: 5 ST Tackles
  • Anthony Sherman – KC: 5 ST Tackles
  • Ryan Griffin – HOU: 1 ST Tackle
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Weekly Conversation w/QB Chandler Whitmer (audio)

@MattSchonvisky

I had the chance to catch up with starting QB Chandler Whitmer on Sunday afternoon. Topics ranged from progress over the bye, preparation for East Carolina and a number of other topics. Hear the full interview below:

On the 2nd bye week: 

Offensive mentality against a high scoring opponent: 

Improvements made by the offensive line in run game: 

On comfort level in the pocket: 

Facing a hostile environment on Thursday night: 

On going against a ranked team & increasing tempo of offense: 

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News Links, 10/22

Football
UConn football preaching patience, Post
ECU Quarterback Shane Carden Could Give UConn Fits, Courant
Well-Rested UConn Football Team Has Big Task With ECU Up Next, Courant
UConn Football’s Bye Week Over; Back To Basics In Prep For East Carolina, Courant
UConn’s Vann Among Top Tacklers In Nation, Lets Faith Lead Him, Courant
UConn, ECU Two-Deep For Thursday Game, Courant
UConn senior lineman Gus Cruz’s comeback almost complete, Register

Men’s Hoops
UConn’s Samuel believes in his abilities as ‘game changer’, Post
Shabazz Napier Forcing Miami Heat To Stand Up And Notice, Courant
Miami Heat’s Shabazz Napier proves LeBron James’ hunch was right on point, Miami Herald
Former UConn Star DeAndre Daniels’ Pro Career Off To Hot Start In Australia, Courant

Women’s Hoops
For UConn recuit Irwin, commitment ‘just awesome’, Post
SNY will broadcast 17 UConn women’s games, Post
Kyla Irwin: Her Dream, Her Passion – Her New Team, Courant
Kyla Irwin commits to play for UConn women, Register
State College’s Kyla Irwin picks powerhouse UConn, Centre Daily Times
Mo’ne Davis won’t lose amateur status from ad, USA Today

Hockey & Soccer
UConn Hockey Tops No. 15 Quinnipiac, 4-1, Courant
Loss to UConn compunds baffling start by Bobcats, Register
UConn Soccer Coach Ray Reid Going For Win No. 400, Courant

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Diaco Focused on Recipe for Success in 2nd Half of Season

twenty

Diaco has a plan and it’s a recipe for success
Photo credit: Kallie Elizabeth – THE BONEYARD BLOG

@MattSchonvisky

It is six games through his first season as a head coach, at any level, for Bob Diaco. The record may be 1-5, but it does not signify the growth and maturity that has taken place over those same six games for the UConn football program. The coaches know it and after speaking with several players during media availability this afternoon in preparation for Thursday night’s game at East Carolina, they realize it as well.

I asked Diaco what he needs to focus on, as he continues to grow as a head coach, halfway through his first season.

“Focusing on what our process is,” Diaco responded. “What our recipe is for turning this program into a champion, which we will. Not to get enamored, chase the flavor of the day, the story line of the day or get distracted by noise outside of these walls, these rooms and this locker room.”

With message boards, columnists and fans’ patience running thin following three uncharacteristically bad seasons for a program that expects to at least make a bowl game at the start of each year, skeptics have become abundant. However, it is far too early to judge in a results oriented business like college football.

Take Art Briles for example, who has turned Baylor around from a bottom feeder in the Big XII, to making their first and only BCS bowl appearance last season. The Bears were ranked No. 4 this past week, before falling to West Virginia on Saturday. It took Briles two 4-8 seasons before finishing with a winning record in year three, a 7-5 regular season.

The point? Patience is needed as habits are changed, talent is recruited and development ensues. In the meantime, the players on the current roster will be a main point of emphasis, as always.

“Having discipline to stay focused on the players, what they need and that barometer,” Diaco said. “That benchmark will keep us moving in the right direction, which we are, in virtuously every single category of our program.”

Diaco understands that the season thus far, in terms of results, is not what many expected, but there’s a plan.

“It’s not showing on the scoreboard yet, which it needs to, don’t get me wrong,” Diaco added. “I’m not new in the game, I’m not some naive person standing up here. I’ve been doing this for twenty years. I know it needs to and it will, but I need to be sure that I stay focused and drilled down on our recipe.”

Thursday night will be a prime opportunity to start changing the perception that has taken hold. If they do, there’s some opportunities the rest of the way, to make some noise.

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Recruits React to First Night

Friday night UConn fans from all over the state piled in to the basketball capital of the world. UConn’s men’s basketball team had their past, present, future, and hopeful future in the building. Both of UConn’s commits, Jalen Adams and Steven Enoch, were in Gampel with many other recruits in 2016, 2017, and 2018. On a night where championship banners were unveiled, thirteen championship trophies were displayed, the best three point shooter of all time was in the house, and the current men’s and women’s teams put on a show, there’s no doubt the recruits in the house were impressed. Here’s a look at who was here and some reactions from the recruits:

2015:
-Jalen Adams (PG): The explosive five star guard who committed this summer was on his official visit this weekend.
-Steven Enoch (PF): The four star big man committed to UConn last month really enjoyed the night. “It was great. The team and everyone involved put on a really good show for us. I enjoyed every moment of it. I can’t wait [until next year], but at the same time I can only imagine how hard they work day in and day out. It’ll take a lot of time for me to reach the level they play on the court.”

2016:
-Arkel Ager (SG): Ager was at last years First Night as well. He’s a recruit that UConn has been keeping their eyes on and he could become a bigger target depending on what happens with others. Here’s what he had to say on the night, “It was nice, I enjoyed myself. I liked all the way from the opening to the game and when coach Ollie gave us a nice speech in the practice facility.”
-V.J. King (SF): King’s a polished five star wing that made his first trip to Storrs this weekend. He was at First Night Friday night then was also back on campus for part of the weekend. King is a major target for the staff in 2016.
-Wenyen Gabriel (SF): He’s another recruit who UConn’s keeping an eye on. Like all the recruits he also had a very good time. “First Night was great. The new practice facility is great and the gym was unbelievable. Playing there must be so fun. I was happy that I could be there with all the Rivals [His and Adam's AAU program] family,” and on his favorite part of the night, “It has to be when Ray Allen came into the gym because I’ve never seen him in person before,” he explained.
-Omari Spellman (PF): The powerful big man is a top twenty player in his class. UConn has been on him for a little while now.

2017:
-Tremont Waters (PG): The talented four star Connecticut native received an offer from UConn this summer and has been on campus multiple times before Friday night. He’s a big target in 2017.
-Nate Pierre-Louis (PG): Another four star floor general that was in the house for First Night. Pierre-Louis came away extremely impressed saying, “It was great. I loved it. It is really the basketball capital of the world. I appreciate UConn for offering me and letting me experience such a good night. The beginning when they were showing all the championships was the best. When they had the short clips of the dual championships that was emotional.” Nate was also able to get a good look at the new practice facility. “It was great. Beautiful facility. Top notch. Coach Ollie gave us a great speech about family and UConn. It was a great experience,” he explained.
-Hamadou Diallo (PF): UConn got their first look at him this past week and saw enough to invite him to First Night. “The night was really great. I had a good time and enjoyed myself. My favorite part was the tour of the new practice facility and seeing the best three point shooter in the game of basketball was great as well. [On the practice facility] I like that they had a great training room, a great new basketball court, and the academic room was nice. I really liked everything about the practice facility,” Diallo stated.
-Zack Brown (C): A top five player in his class, the talented center made his way up from Miami, Florida to attend First Night. He, like V.J. King, stayed for part of the weekend as well. Zack may have came away the most impressed from his visit out of all the recruits. “UConn’s First Night was exciting. I had never been on a college campus like that before. It was beautiful and I was treated with such great hospitality. I enjoyed the game and seeing some of the players in action. The size of the players and the speed of the game showed me that I have a lot of work to do. I love how the team plays together. My high school coach (Jacob Shaw) develops me as a conventional big man. I like UConn for what they did in the past with the big men. Defensively they work almost the same system as my high school. The practice facilities were great. I like that both men’s and women’s programs don’t have to share the same court. There is a lot of history and trophies when walking in there. They like to win. Very impressive,” explain the big man.

2018:
-Louis King (PF): UConn is impressed with him already before he’s even played a game in high school. He’s certainly a name to watch in the next few years.
-Nazreon Reid (C): Another player the staff is extremely impressed with and has already offered. Reid is already considered a top five player in his class before playing a high school game.

Here are some other recruits that attended First Night that the staff is keeping an eye on.
2016- Saul Phiri, Unique McLean, Kashaun Hicks, Tyrique Jones, Mamadou Diarra, Chris Baldwin, and Samuel Japheth-Mathias.
2017- Makai Ashton-Langford.
2018- Aaron Clarke.

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News Links, 10/18/14

Football
Whalers’ Cespedes to play football at UConn, Day

UConn Basketball
UConn celebrates success at First Night, Post
Basketball Center Named For Peter Werth Of Woodbridge, Courant
Money Needed To Finish Center Could Use Some NBA Bling, Jeff Jacobs, CT Now
Pictures: UConn’s New Basketball Practice Facility, Courant
Photos: UConn First Night 2014, Courant
UConn puts on a show on First Night, Register
UConn basketball First Night live blog, Register
Huskies bring out past, present, future stars, Day

Men’s Hoops
Kevin Ollie Fulfills The Banner Guarantee At First Night, Courant
UConn junior Omar Calhoun shaping up for a bounce-back year, Register
Napier Continues to Grow, Hot Hot Hoops

Women’s Hoops
UConn Women Alumni Well-Represented At First Night, Courant

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