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Hurley: What happened in closed-door scrimmage should stay there

Storrs — As far as Dan Hurley is concerned, what happens in a closed scrimmage, stays in a closed scrimmage.

Hurley sees no value in statistics or results leaking out to the public as happened after UConn scrimmaged Harvard on Saturday at an empty XL Center in Hartford. The Huskies won, 76-60.

“It’s so far away from a realistic game,” Hurley said after Tuesday’s practice at the Werth practice facility. “None of that stuff should go public. It should be kept in-house. I don’t know who leaked that. I imagine it was from our end because I know it didn’t come from Harvard’s end.

“You shouldn’t talk about individual players’ performances. There’s no game planning and no scouting going in. It’s not a game-like situation.”

Hurley does see value in facing an Ivy League power in Harvard.

He was happy with his team’s defense. He added the Huskies didn’t finish well at the rim or rebound up to his standards. They also fouled a lot, so he plans to bring officials in for multiple practices before the season opener on Nov. 9 against Central Connecticut State University in Storrs.

“Being able to scrimmage against Harvard, it’s such a good opportunity because Tommy (Amaker) is one of the best coaches in the game,” Hurley said. They play a motion offensive style, too, so it puts a lot of stress on the defense; you get exposed for what you’re not doing well.

“For us, I think we played 10 guys and no one played above 25 minutes for us. … When you get out there, you’re trying to win every possession. But going into these scrimmages, you’re not trying to win them. You’re trying to learn things about your team for Nov. 9. It’s useful.”

Hurley prefers to play closed door scrimmages against quality Division I programs instead of hosting an exhibition game or two against a Division II team. He’d also like to add a Blue-White scrimmage next season.

He considers being allowed to go out on the court during the closed scrimmages to coach his team a big plus.

“You actually get a chance to coach,” Hurley said. “It’s a great teaching tool. I couldn't believe the amount of leeway that the officials gave me the other day. They let me go wherever I wanted. No one yelled at me to stop. It was awesome the way I was able to bond with those three (refs).”

UConn will play its second and final closed-door scrimmage on Saturday. Hurley declined to name his team’s opponent.

After Saturday’s second scrimmage, Hurley will have a better idea about the direction of his team and how the rotation may shake out.

“Once we get through the two scrimmages, you have enough data and evidence and you move forward,” Hurley said.

Hurley is not ready to name a starting five.

You can pretty much count on graduate guard R.J. Cole, sophomore forward Adama Sanogo and senior guard Tyrese Martin in the starting lineup on opening night. Graduate forward Isaiah Whaley is another potential starter.

Cole’s starting backcourt partner has yet to be determined. Sophomore Andre Jackson is making his case to play a prominent role. Junior Jalen Gaffney is another possibility.

“Overall body of work, Andre has been better,” Hurley said. “He’s been more solid, which is what we need from him. He can do so many things to help this team — on the backboard, defensively, and with his passing. He’s probably our best post feeder.

“Our two best offensive players are R.J. and Adama. So if you’re really good at throwing the ball to Adama, you’ll do well. … Talent is there. (Andre) has got to learn the game and just keep getting better.”

Redshirt junior forward Akok Akok, graduate forward Tyler Polley, redshirt sophomore forward Richie Springs and freshmen Samson Johnson and Jordan Hawkins are all battling for a spot in a deep rotation.

Freshman Rahsool Diggins is getting close to returning to practice after being sidelined with a bruised knee. He’s ramped up his activity. Polley (ankle) also is nearing his return to full action.

“You want to be in the top eight,” Hurley said. “Then, obviously, if you haven’t earned a top eight (spot), then you need to settle into the role that we need you in. The starting lineup could change. It changed last year. … Stuff is going to be in flux.”

News and notes

UConn is holding an open workout for students and season ticket holders at 6 p.m. Monday at Gampel Pavilion. The team’s first public event this fall, First Night on Oct. 15, didn’t go well. UConn couldn’t run its intrasquad scrimmage due to a basket malfunction. ... Hurley recently talked to James Bouknight who played just one minute in four games so far for the Charlotte Hornets. Bouknight was selected 11th in the 2021 NBA Draft. Hurley’s advice to Bouknight: be the first guy in the arena every day, practice harder than anyone else and be more coachable than anyone else. “If you do those things, you’re going to have an unbelievable NBA career,” he told Bouknight. “Focus on that, don’t focus on anything else. Don’t be a baby.”

g.keefe@theday.com

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