Updates from UConn practice, plus video
UConn is nearing the end of the exam period.
The Huskies host Holy Cross Sunday afternoon at the XL Center.
Here's a rundown from today's practice at Gampel Pavilion:
-- Coach Jim Calhoun spent a good deal of time talking about the challenges of practicing during the exam period. He shortened practice this morning, going for one hour, 20 minutes.
"Their minds are always going to be on school right now," Calhoun said. "The pressure is on them."
Calhoun told his players about former point guard Marcus Williams who was declared academically ineligible for the second semester of his freshman year, leading to him missing UConn's national championship run in 2004.
Williams watched national championship game from his dormitory room.
"I use the story of Marcus because he's told that story to a lot of people and told it to a lot of our kids when he comes back here," Calhoun said. "You've got to do your work in the classroom. I think they fully understand that. This group has been very good and will have another great semester."
-- Freshman DeAndre Daniels stayed after practice to work on his ball handling with assistant coach Kevin Ollie.
"I'm trying to work on that every day," Daniels said.
Daniels went to watch his sister, Keirstyn Schumpert, play basketball for Manchester High School the other night. Manchester lost to E.O. Smith. Tyler Olander's sister Morgan plays for E.O. Smith.
-- The exam break provides an opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the team and experiment.
For example, for the first time Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright played together today in the backcourt without sophomore Jeremy Lamb on the floor.
Calhoun also is increased the time that big men Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi are combining on the court.
The Huskies also have worked on zone and 1-3-1 traps. And the coaching staff also looked at their plays.
"We looked over what every play we've run in the first nine games and just see what has been effective for us and what hasn't," Calhoun said.
-- Calhoun already is preparing for his upcoming three-game suspension that begins on Dec. 28 a road game at South Florida. He'll also miss a home game against St. John's and road game at Seton Hall Jan. 3.
"I've made sure that the assistant coaches are coaching a lot more," Calhoun said. "I won't talk to the team about it until maybe a day or so before we get ready before Fairfield (Thursday). I've made those preparations."
UConn has contacted the NCAA to find out the parameters of Calhoun's suspension.
-- Daniels and sophomore Roscoe Smith have seen their minutes dwindle since Boatright came off his suspension. Calhoun is trying to find a way to increase their playing time.
"We're trying to get DeAndre back into the mix," Calhoun said. "Roscoe has made himself into the mix this week. We played him at nothing but the four.
"Right now we've got three guys playing a lot. We do play some teams that we'll need a quick four man and (Roscoe) is that." And he can still play some three."
Daniels is remaining upbeat about the situation.
"It was confusing at first," Daniels said. "But I'm just staying positive and working hard."
-- Reserve big man Enosch Wolf missed practice today. He's recovering from a concussion. He's expected to return in a few days, according to Calhoun.
-- Redshirt freshman Michael Bradley, who's making a comeback from a broken ankle, is still limited in workouts. He's not expected to be healthy enough to participate in full workouts for another two few weeks.
"Michael plays half court every other day," Calhoun said. "He's come along. He's strong and a physical rebounder but you can't see that right now because he can't really run. He doesn't do full court."
-- Calhoun had this to say about the recent Cincinnati-Xavier brawl: "It was kind of like watching slowly a mob gathering. It had an uncomfortable feeling. … No one likes seeing it. It's bad for basketball. It's bad for collegiate athletics."
He praised Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin for his reaction during the post-game press conference.
-- Sophomore Jeremy Lamb on practice during exam break: "Practice has been good. We've been going hard. We haven't been going too long, but we've still been having very productive practices and getting a lot of thing done and getting better as a team."
-- Check out the attached video of Drummond talking to the media.
-- For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @GavinKeefe
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