By BEN BASKIN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
NEW YORK – The Connecticut Huskies started their 2013-14 season in nail-biting fashion on Friday night with a 78-77 win over Maryland at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
While the game was notable in that the Terrapins closed what was once a 17-point second-half deficit all the way down to 1 with seconds remaining and then survived only when Maryland guard Dez Wells’ last-second jumper didn’t go down, it also marked a fresh start for UConn basketball.
The Huskies were, of course, barred from postseason play last year as a result of the program’s low Academic Progress Rate scores. UConn became the first team from a Bowl Championship Series conference to be punished under the NCAA’s recently amended A.P.R. score policy, which requires program’s to have an average four-year score above 900 or an average two year score above 930. So while the Huskies finished 20-10, their sanctions precluded them from participating in either the Big East or NCAA tournaments. To read more of this story, click here
NEW YORK — It didn’t have nearly the same caché as the Big East Tournament, but Kemba Walker came up big at Madison Square Garden yet again.
The former UConn star went for 18 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists — including the tiebreaking basket with 1:31 remaining – as the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Knicks, 85-83, in a preseason game at the renovated Madison Square Garden.
“It shows us that we can play because the Knicks didn’t just give us that game, we worked for that game,” Walker said, according to the AP. “So it shows us that we can go out there and compete with the best of them.” To read more of this story, click here
UConn announced that freshman forward Kentan Facey has been granted a waiver by the NCAA and will have a full four years of eligibility, beginning with the 2013-14 season.
“I am so pleased and excited that everything has worked out for this outstanding young man,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said Friday. “It’s great to see him go through this situation and persevere. He just kept working very hard and believed in our university.”
The addition of Facey should help the Huskies in the frontcourt, where they are thin. They also added 7-foot freshman Amida Brimah, whom Ollie is high on.
Facey grew up in Trelawny, Jamaica, and attended school at Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran for the past two years. The 6-9 forward was the N.Y. State Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012-13, after averaging 14.8 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per game. To read more of this story, click here
UConn finally got some good news on the recruiting front Wednesday when former Maryland commit Sam Cassell Jr. pledged to the Huskies.
Cassell Jr. told SNY.tv he decided on Monday.
“I thought it was the best place for me,” Cassell Jr. told SNY.tv. “I felt at home and I will bring whatever it takes to [win] a national championship.”
The 6-foot-3 Cassell Jr. is the son of Sam Cassell, the former NBA guard and current Washington Wizards assistant. Cassell Sr. played with UConn coach Kevin Ollie in the NBA.
“He definitely spoke highly of him,” Cassell Jr. told Dave Borges of the New Haven Register. “Coach Ollie having a good relationship with my father was big.”
Cassell Jr. had cut his list to Louisville and UConn, but Louisville pulled out of recruiting him. Cassell Jr. also previously considered Marquette and Missouri.
To read more of this story, click here
Rakim Lubin, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound power forward from Buford (Ga.), has committed to UConn.
“He’s pretty agile,” Buford (Ga.) High School coach Allen Whitehart told Gavin Keefe of The Day. “He runs well. He’s a good athlete. He defends well in open space. He’s so strong. He’s physically college ready now.
“…Strangely enough, he’s got a pretty good face-up game. If you get him on the block, you’re going to foul him or he’s going to score. He finishes extremely well.”
Last weekend the Huskies hosted Canadian power forward Ray Kasongo, and the staff was said to be high on him.
Kasongo spent this weekend at Oregon, which happens to have two natives of Scarborough, Ontario on its roster.
Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter
And like ZAGS on Facebook
Ray Kasongo, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound big man from Grassroots Canada, was one of three recruits at UConn this weekend when they honored former coach Jim Calhoun.
Kasongo was joined by Louisville decommit JaQuan Lyle and former Maryland pledge Sam Cassell.
“It was very good, we enjoyed our visit. I was there with my wife [Kazady] and Ray,” Vincent Kasongo, Ray’s father, said by phone from Toronto.
“It’s a good university and they have a good program. And about basket [ball] they have a good coach. Everything seems good.” To read more of this story, click here
Team Scan wing Terry Larrier enjoyed his visit to UConn on Tuesday and has more visits upcoming.
“The visit was great,” Team Scan coach Terrance “Munch” Williams told SNY.tv. “The entire staff was able to make sure that Terry knew as much as possible about UConn. They were able to design a plan for him both in the classroom and on the court.
“Based off of who will be there his freshman year, they will need him to come in and play right away. I personally think UConn is in a great position to win in the next few years and the staff are all on the same page.”
Larrier also got to speak with former UConn star Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats, who was on campus. To read more of this story, click here
Having visited his three other options already, 6-foot-8 forward Abdul Malik Abu is on UConn’s campus today (Wednesday) for an unofficial visit, his AAU coach, Tyron Boswell, confirmed to SNY.tv.
Abu recently cut his list to Providence, UConn, Florida and N.C. State, and has visited the other three schools.
He and Expressions Elite teammate Jared Terrell share only one school in common in Providence and are expected to announce at a press conference in Boston sometime next month.
As first reported by SNY.tv, Quentin Snider, a point guard who decomitted from Louisville, will also visit UConn Sept. 20.
UConn is also among the final six for Bronx wing Terry Larrier, who has not finalized a visit to the campus.
Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter
And like ZAGS on Facebook
UNION, N.J. — All college basketball players compete to make a run in the postseason, but Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier and their UConn teammates didn’t have that chance a year ago.
UConn was banned from the postseason because of their sub-standard APR scores and the Huskies missed out on the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.
A year later, Boatright and Napier are starving for a chance to get back into the postseason. To read more of this story, click here
Rodney Purvis will have a lot of time to practice in the upcoming year.
After transferring to UConn from N.C. State, the 6-foot-4 Purvis must sit out the 2013-14 season.
He will be able to practice with the Huskies, but won’t play in games.
Purvis has gotten another golden opportunity to practice this week as he tries out for the U.S. U19 World Championship team by battling guards like Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Texas‘ Javan Felix, among others.
“With Rasheed he’s really quick off the dribble and he can really shoot and he has a really quick release, and same thing with Marcus,” Purvis, who averaged 8.3 points and 2.4 rebounds as a freshman at N.C. State, told SNY.tv by phone from Colorado Springs, Colo. To read more of this story, click here