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Martin's debut for UConn delayed for a game

Storrs — Junior Tyrese Martin's UConn debut was put on hold after he was declared ineligible for Wednesday's season opener against Central Connecticut State University at Gampel Pavilion.

He's serving a one-game NCAA penalty for participating in an unsanctioned summer basketball league, according to a school release.

A 6-foot-6 guard from Allentown, Pa., Martin is expected to be a key member of coach Dan Hurley's rotation. He spent the last two seasons at Rhode Island, averaging 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds while starting all 30 games last season.

While serving as URI head coach, Hurley recruited Martin to join the Rams but left for the UConn job before coaching him there.

Martin received a waiver from the NCAA over the summer that allowed him to become eligible immediately to play this season instead of sitting out a year.

UConn's next game is Friday against Hartford at Gampel Pavilion.

Marshall-Hurley connection

Hurley and CCSU coach Donyell Marshall, a former Husky great, have a strong connection that dates back to their AAU basketball days.

They continued to cross paths during their playing careers, with Hurley playing at Seton Hall and Marshall at UConn, and now their coaching careers.

"I got a chance to know him there," Hurley said of the AAU circuit. "And we were on the Olympic festival team together playing for Mike Jarvis. We were pretty inseparable that trip to LA. He gave me a bunch of problems when I played against him in the Big East. There's some videos circulating that aren't very flattering when I was the back guy in a 1-3-1 (zone) and he caught the lob and I was definitely in the vicinity.

"In the coaching ranks, I've gotten a chance to know him."

On Wednesday, Marshall returned to his former basketball home for the first time as a head coach. Reminders of his stellar career hang on the wall at Gampel Pavilion. He belongs to the Huskies of Honor and also is a member of the program's All-Century Team.

Marshall was Big East player of the year and top defender for the 1993-94 season and UConn's first consensus All-American. The No. 4 pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, he went on to enjoy a successful NBA career, playing for eight teams.

"He's one of the first greats that made the decision to come here," Hurley said. "He was a trailblazer along with coach Calhoun, Chris Smith and the late Cliff Robinson. So many great players, I don't want to miss any. He was one of the first big-time, big-time guys to make UConn their home.

"Ultimate respect as a GOAT here. He's a great basketball guy."

Losing fans changes dynamic

Back in October, Hurley talked about the possibility of playing with limited or no fans in attendance for home games.

"Sports is nothing without fans," Hurley said. "So losing fans in a sporting event, it changes the whole dynamic, which is something that we would have to obviously be able to adjust to."

Hurley added that it would take time for the Huskies to adjust to the new environment.

The adjustment period began on Wednesday night. Only a limited number of fans — basically friends and family — will be allowed to attend home games this season. Each player and staff member has access to four tickets apiece.

Hurley and his Huskies fed off their supportive home crowd last season, posting a 14-3 record at Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center in Hartford.

All home games will be at mostly-empty Gampel Pavilion season, greatly diminishing UConn's home court advantage.

Hurley said on Tuesday that he plans on supplying the intensity and energy on the sidelines. He's counting on his players and staff to follow his lead and do their part.

"We have a lively bench," Hurley said. "We have a lively head coach and coaching staff and guys that love the game and play with a lot of passion. So we'll be doing our deal during the games."

News and notes

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma wished Hurley good luck in the opener via a text message. "I appreciated that," Hurley said. ... Hartford, which UConn hosts on Friday, had its season opener against Merrimack Wednesday canceled due to a COVID-19 related issue inside Merimack's program. ... Wednesday's game kicked off a potential stretch of five non-conference games in 11 days for UConn. Hurley will likely make a decision later this week about playing the three games next week at the Mohegan Sun. Of course, the decision might be taken out of his hands if one of UConn's opponents is forced to cancel.

g.keefe@theday.com

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