UConn prepares for Harvard, plus updates, video

Coach Jim Calhoun and several players met with the media earlier this afternoon to preview UConn's game against No. 25 Harvard Thursday in Storrs.

Here's a rundown:

-- Check out the attached video of Calhoun's talk.

-- Calhoun expects a stiff challenge from Harvard (8-0), which entered the top 25 poll for the first time in school history on Monday. He says Harvard is similar to the Butler team that UConn beat in the national championship game in April.

"They do remind you of Butler," Calhoun said. "They're tough physically and rebound the ball well. I just thought they physically couldn't stand up to Florida State. They more than stood up. They did a great job against Florida State and still run their offense. They more than held their own on the boards.

"They're a good team. It will be another test for us. We break for 10 days after this. It's an important test."

-- The Huskies had a chance to check out Harvard in the Bahamas during Thanksgiving week. Harvard won the Battle 4 Atlantis championship but didn't face UConn.

"We saw a little bit of them," sophomore Tyler Olander said. "They've got some good athletes. They play real smart. They stick to their stuff."

-- Freshman Andre Drummond expects to shed his mask any day now. He's been wearing it since breaking his nose in preseason.

Expect a "surprise" on Thursday, he said.

"I think I'll feel more comfortable without it on, because I'll be able to see a lot more," Drummond said.

It will be up to team trainer James Doran to decide when Drummond gets rid of the mask.

-- Calhoun plans to stick with the same starting lineup, using both Drummond and fellow big man Alex Oriakhi together in the frontcourt for the second straight game.

-- The Big East officially announced expansion plans this afternoon. Boise State and San Diego State will be football only members starting in 2013. Houston, SMU and Central Florida will participate in all sports.

"I don't think it will really drastically change us all that much…," Calhoun said. "In basketball, I don't think we'll truly replace West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. But Houston has a chance and a few of those other schools have a chance to be pretty good."

Calhoun would like to bring in a few more "name" basketball schools. He'd like to see Temple added in all sports.

-- Red-shirt freshman Michael Bradley, who's been out with broken ankle, is close to returning to the team full-time. He participated in practice today on a limited basis.

"He'll start going full speed next week," Calhoun said. "He'll run up and down and do drills today, but he can't do any contact yet."

-- Oriakhi, who's from Lowell, Mass., knows two players – Kyle Casey and Keith Wright – on the Harvard roster. He played against them on the AAU circuit and also faced Casey, who's from Medway, Mass., in high school.

-- Assistant coach Glen Miller has been working the big men on spacing up front.

"One thing that coach Miller has been stressing is we have to start making contact with people, that way it will be easier for the guards to pass us the ball," Oriakhi said.

When reminded that Miller played point guard during his playing days, Oriakhi said: "He knows his stuff, man."

-- Sophomore Jeremy Lamb on the state of the Huskies: "There's always room for improvement. But we're coming along good, though. We have a lot more in us. We're just practicing every day to get that out of everybody. I wouldn't say we're where we should be but we're taking footsteps in the right direction."

-- For regular updates on UConn basketball, follow me on Twitter @GavinKeefe

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