Shabazz is Shabazz, Kemba is Kemba, Let’s Stop Comparing Them

Bazz KembaNEW YORK — Jim Calhoun coached Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier to a national championship in 2011.

Now that Napier has led the Kevin Ollie-coached Huskies back to another Final Four in Texas, the inevitable Kemba/Shabazz comparisons have resurfaced.

And we’re likely to get another week’s worth as UConn heads to North Texas to meet Florida in the Final Four on Saturday.

But Calhoun says it’s time to settle down on the comparisons between the two diminutive guards.

“There’s no comparison, they’re both great players,” Calhoun said in the middle of the Madison Square Garden floor after the No. 7 Huskies completed a 60-54 victory over No. 4 Michigan State in the East Regional final thanks largely to Napier’s 25 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists that helped garner him Most Outstanding Player honors. To read more of this story, click here

DeAndre Daniels Shines as UConn Advances to Elite Eight

DeAndre DanielsBy JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG

NEW YORK - Early in the second half of an East Regional semifinal between Connecticut and Iowa St. on Friday evening. Huskies junior forward DeAndre Daniels hit a mid-range jump shot. Forty-one seconds later, he hit another and 60 seconds after that, he converted on a driving layup.

At that point, it was clear what the Huskies’ offensive game plan was going to entail. Keep feeding the Los Angeles native and ride him to the Elite Eight. To read more of this story, click here

After Slow Start, UConn’s Samuel Coming Up Big in Postseason

SamuelNEW YORK — As he sat inside a math class at Victory Collegiate High for two months last summer, there were times when Terrence Samuel wondered what his future might hold.

“It was a definitely a little frustrating because I wanted to be in college around my coaches, just to be around the atmosphere,” Samuel told in the corner of the UConn locker room following the team’s 81-76 victory over Iowa State in the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden.

The 6-foot-4 Brooklyn native was informed by UConn in June that the NCAA had not cleared one of his math classes.

“My school [Brooklyn South Shore] gave me a math class that the NCAA didn’t approve so I was half a credit short,” he said. To read more of this story, click here

Napier Overcomes ‘Excruciating’ Pain, Leads UConn to Sweet 16 and Garden Party

NapierBUFFALO — The time Shabazz Napier spent grimacing in pain on the bench only seemed like an eternity to UConn fans.

In actuality, UConn’s star guard only missed 37 seconds of game action after a leg injury he called “excruciating.”

As soon as he re-entered the game, Napier swooped toward the basket with the ball and flung up a layup high off the window to put the Huskies up by nine points.

When it was over, Napier had another brilliant game with 25 points, hitting 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, 5 rebounds and 3 assists as No. 7 UConn ousted No. 2 Villanova, 77-65, to propel the Huskies to the Sweet 16 of the East Region at Madison Square Garden. UConn will meet the North Carolina-Iowa State winner on Friday in New York.

“Napier was just awesome,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright, whose team finished at 29-5, leaving Creighton as the lone Big East team in the tournament.

To read more of this story, click here

Boatright: ‘You can see in Calhoun’s eyes’ he wants to coach

CalhounBUFFALO — UConn guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright both said they believe 71-year-old Jim Calhoun wants to coach again and believes he can still be effective.

“It wouldn’t surprise me that he misses the game,” Boatright said in the locker room here Friday as UConn prepared to play Villanova on Saturday. “He’s around us all the time. You can see it in his eyes, when we were getting ready for the game  (Wednesday), then after we won the game – you could just see it. I know he misses coaching, but I don’t know what his process of thinking is right now. I’m just worried about winning this game.”

Said Napier: “If he feels like he wants to get back in coaching, then so be it. If he does, wherever he goes, I’m going to be a fan of that team. Hopefully, when I’m done with my career, he’ll give me a job. To read more of this story, click here

Facing End of Career, Napier Wills UConn to OT Victory; Consoles Roberts, Galloway in Final Seconds

BUFFALO -- With his team trailing St. Joe’s by five points at halftime here at the HSBC Arena, Shabazz Napier sat inside the UConn locker room aware that his college career was one half from extinction.

St. Joe’s was ahead of UConn by five points and was riding a wave of momentum when Napier, who had only 5 points himself at the break, had his moment of clarity.

“I told myself, ‘This could be it,’” Napier confided after the game. “I told myself this could be my last game if I don’t give it my all. That’s one thing I wouldn’t want. I would regret me not giving everything I possibly can for this team and I just told myself I didn’t want to lose.” To read more of this story, click here

UConn-Bound Prince Ali Wins State Championship, Talks About Possibility of Going Home For The NHSI


Special to ZAGSBLOG

LAKELAND, Fla.- After helping lead Sagemont to a perfect 33-0 season and a Class 3A FHSAA State Championship, UConn-bound junior guard Prince Ali said that he would love to head back home to play in front of his hometown crowd at the National High School Invitational, which culminates in a final at Madison Square Garden on April 5.

“It would mean a lot,” Ali, who grew up in the Bronx, told “Really it would. I heard it was in the Garden, I really hope that we get invited this year.”

To read more of this story, click here

UConn’s Napier Making One Last Run


Special to ZAGSBLOG

HARTFORD, Conn. – Joel Embiid was still more of a soccer player when we first discovered Shabazz Napier.

Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle?

They were just starting to generate some interest from college coaches.

Napier three years ago?

He was cutting down the nets at the Final Four and winning a national championship as a freshman at UConn. To read more of this story, click here

Willie Jackson to UConn (UPDATED)



Special to ZAGSBLOG

A nationally ranked guard from the class of 2015 has chosen to attend UConn.

Willie Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 175 pound combo guard from Athens Christian (Ga.), became the second 2015 UConn commit alongside Prince Ali, when he chose the Huskies over offers from Georgia, Florida, Memphis, Kansas, Georgia Tech and Alabama.

“I chose UConn because I love their style of play,” Jackson told “The school has great tradition and the coaches are great people that I feel will make me a better person and basketball player.

“And I feel like through Christ I will be able to be a great team player who will get everybody involved and also do my job as a combo guard.”

The news was first reported by To read more of this story, click here

Shabazz Napier Hits Game-Winner for UConn


STORRS, Conn. — Shabazz Napier has timing. He knows when the bright lights are on him. Napier knows when everyone’s watching. He can feel the tension in a building, such as the sell-out crowd at Gampel Pavilion against No. 15 Florida. When it all reaches a crescendo and the game is at a frenzied pace, Napier breathes and relaxes.

He waits, bides his time and never panics. Some players, even great players, run from the ball in the final moments.

Napier asks for it. He wants the game on his shoulders. He wants the game in his hands. He wants the responsibility of a win or loss.

So there he was, Monday night against Florida and the Huskies needing another last second shot.

Napier came out of the timeout with 17 seconds and the No. 12 Huskies trailing Florida by a point and knew a double team was coming on Monday at Gampel Pavilion.

UConn head coach Kevin Ollie drew up a simple play — “Shabazz make a play.”

Click here for the full story.