Published February 27. 2012 9:43PM Updated February 27. 2012 9:47PM
Providence associate head coach Andre LaFleur spent 10 years on Jim Calhoun’s staff in Storrs.
So he would qualify as an expert on UConn basketball.
LaFleur believes the Huskies are capable of another late-season run.
“Just like last year, they are capable of catching fire,” LaFleur said. “It could still happen. Last year’s team was 9-9 (in the Big East) and went on a magical run. I don’t think anybody wants to play against Connecticut in the Big East tournament.”
So why are the Huskies a disappointing 17-11 overall, 7-9 in the Big East, heading into tonight’s game at Providence?
“Everybody talks about leadership,” LaFleur said. “When you take such strong leaders in Kemba Walker and Donnell Beverly, replacing them is a little bit of a process. Maybe there’s a little identity crisis.”
LaFleur is adjusting to his own new identity, joining Ed Cooley’s staff at Providence last April after UConn won the national championship.
He’s enjoying his new job and home.
“It’s exciting,” LaFleur said.
The Friars (14-15, 3-13) expected to struggle this season with only nine scholarship players. They’ve fed off of Cooley’s enthusiasm, fought hard, but often faded down the stretch.
“We have a lot of near misses,” LaFleur said. “We’re knocking at the door. We’ve been in a ton of games.”
The future looks promising for the Friars.
New London’s Kris Dunn, a McDonald’s All-American, is part of a strong recruiting class. The Friars are involved with some top-notch recruits, a sign that the program is gaining ground.
“He’s having a great season,” LaFleur said. “He’s going to be a great addition for us. He’s a McDonald’s All-American. He’s going to be a special player.
“We’re going to build off of him.”