UConn suspends Adams on the day before regular-season opener

On the eve of the season opener for the UConn men's basketball team Thursday, the status of star guard Jalen Adams was questionable. Adams was suspended from the team after being charged by police for evading responsibilty. (Jessica Hill/AP Photo)
On the eve of the season opener for the UConn men's basketball team Thursday, the status of star guard Jalen Adams was questionable. Adams was suspended from the team after being charged by police for evading responsibilty. (Jessica Hill/AP Photo)

Storrs — After a rocky, adversity-filled season, UConn hoped for a fresh start in Friday's regular-season opener.

But the Huskies may be without star guard Jalen Adams, who was suspended from Thursday's basketball practice after being charged with evading responsibility for leaving the scene of a scooter accident Wednesday night.

UConn issued the following statement Thursday about the incident: "Junior guard Jalen Adams has been suspended from practice today because of conduct detrimental to the team. Going forward, his status will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis by head coach Kevin Ollie."

According to a UConn police department report, Adams was racing three other males on separate scooters when the junior crashed on Hillside Drive near the intersection with Gilbert Road in Storrs. Then Adams hopped on the back of another scooter and rode away, witnesses stated.

UConn police found Adams, 21, and the other riders at a nearby business. The report stated Adams admitted to police that he engaged in a race before having the accident and leaving the area. He was transported back to the scene and issued the misdemeanor summons. He was released on a $500 non-surety bond and he's scheduled to appear in Rockville Superior Court on Nov. 21.

Ollie also briefly addressed the matter following Thursday's practice. He hasn't decided whether Adams will play on Friday against Colgate in a 7 p.m. nonconference game at Gampel Pavilion.

"It's a day-by-day situation," Ollie said. "Tomorrow, it's another day. It's a distraction. But guys are going to step up and we're going to play hard and play aggressive. We'll see about tomorrow."

Adams, an All-American Athletic Conference preseason first team selection, is the team's top returning scorer and a team leader. He's just one of two players who saw action in more than four games last season during which they lost three players with season-ending injuries. Terry Larrier, Alterique Gilbert  and Mamadou Diarra are healthy now and ready to contribute to a team that has eight newcomers.

The Huskies will try to avoid repeating a disastrous start. They opened last season with home losses to Wagner and Northeastern. The season went off the rails from there, as UConn finished with a losing record (16-17) for the first time in 30 years.

"After the first two games, the adversity didn't stop," Ollie said. "It kept going and we kept learning from it. We've got to come out with juice. That team was that team and this team is a whole different team. That's what I respect about a new season."

The early upsets taught them a valuable lesson. They insist they won't take Colgate lightly.

"We have to play every team like they're the best team we're going to play all season," sophomore Christian Vital said. "That's the mindset we've been practicing with. ... I think that has put us in a great situation going into tomorrow."

Colgate, a member of the Patriot League, has a more experienced roster than UConn. The Raiders welcome back their top five scorers and 13 returning players from a team that went 10-22 overall.

UConn experienced some growth during its three exhibition games. The Huskies dominated inside at times, created turnovers off their defensive pressure and saw some promising play from their young frontcourt.

But the Huskies didn't plan on dealing with an early-season distraction and the possible loss of their best player for the opener. They may need to lean on their backcourt depth depending on Adams' status. Adams averaged a team-high tying 14.7 points during exhibition play.

Ollie is happy Adams didn't get hurt. He addressed the potential dangers of riding a scooter with his team.

"Anything can happen," Ollie said. "A crash can happen. Anything like that. So we addressed that with the team and how to handle the situation better. ... They've got to understand that that's serious. And you need to wear helmets and all that stuff. That can be something dangerous. Hopefully, he learned from that. Hopefully, all of our players learned from that."

g.keefe@theday.com

UConn vs. Colgate

Location: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs

Tip-off: 7 p.m. (SNY)

2016 Records: UConn 16-17, Colgate 10-22

Probable starters: Colgate, 6-2 sr. guard Sean O'Brien, 6-2 jr. guard Francisco Amiel, 6-6 jr. forward Seam Lindgren, 6-8 soph. forward Will Rayman, 6-9 jr. forward Dana Batt.

UConn, 6-0 redshirt fr. guard Alterique Gilbert, 6-2 soph. guard Christian Vital, 6-8 redshirt jr. forward Terry Larrier, 6-9 fr. forward Josh Carlton, 6-9 jr. forward Eric Cobb.

Noteworthy: Regular-season opener for both teams. ... Series: UConn leads 18-7, winning last meeting 77-63 in 2009 in Storrs. .... Huskies opened last season with upset loss to Wagner and are 4-1 in openers under coach Kevin Ollie. ... Status of jr. Jalen Adams (suspension) yet to be determined. Graduate transfer David Onuorah (hip) remains sidelined. ... O'Brien (12.5 pts) and Rayman (14.6) top two returning scorers for Raiders, who bring back five starters and 13 letterwinners overall. ... Three-point shooting a team strength, so defending perimeter will be key for UConn. ... Top reserve: forward Jordan Swopshire (made 66 3-pointers last season). ... Huskies went 2-1 in exhibition season. Forced 67 turnovers but made 47. Vital tied for team lead in scoring (14.7) and led in rebounding (5.3) during preseason. ... Up next: UConn hosts Stony Brook

— Gavin Keefe

 

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