BREAKING: Ray Allen will not play this season

@rayn34

@rayn34

In a statement released by his agent, ten-time NBA All-Star Ray Allen will not play during the 2014-15 NBA season but leaves the door open for 2015-16. As the picture above suggests, he sure seems to be enjoying his time off.

“Over the past several months, I have taken a lot of time to deliberate what is best for me,” Allen said. “I’ve ultimately decided that I will not play this NBA season. I’m going to take the remainder of this season, as well as the upcoming off-season, to reassess my situation, spend time with my family and determine if I will play in the 2015-16 season.”

Read the full release here.

Call it respect, call it a plea or call it both but even King James couldn’t sway Ray Ray this time…

 

UConn Basketball Social Media Week in Review: Valentine’s Day Edition

As it will lead us into Valentine’s day, this week’s UConn Basketball Social Media Week in Review is all about the love…

NBA

Just when you think no one cares…

Someone cares too much…

Westbrook should really show some of that love to Kemba…

or maybe James Ennis, not sure who needs it more…

Definitely not Ray though, he’s got em lined up.

UConn

Patriot fans mistakenly show love for Darius Butler…

Butler shows he loves to troll… (UConn football is funny off the field too?) 

Doug Gottlieb will never love UConn…

but UConn loves NOLA.

Recruits

Jalen Adams kisses his teammate off the backboard…

next year, it’s to this guy.

International

7’4 Boban Marjanovic did not expect this early gift from Marcus Williams (#9)…

the Germans still love Niels Giffey…

Jerome Dyson has always loved to score (@sliceanddice)…

…but most importantly, shows he can give too.

UConn Basketball’s Week on Twitter Review

Here is a recap of UConn Basketball’s week on Twitter for Huskies past, present and future.

NBA

Kemba Walker may need surgery on meniscus (would miss 6 weeks)…

Jeremy Lamb to Brooklyn? Or maybe Charlotte?

LeBron James recruits Ray Allen to Cavs by staring until he agrees…

Shabazz Napier plays with Reggie Evans (peek-a-boo)…

Roscoe Smith records NBA D-League leading 20th double-double…

International

The German BBL begs the question of Khalid El-Amin for MVP (update to come) and other stuff I don’t understand…

Niels Giffey plays in the German BBL All-Star Game…

Jerome Dyson keeps it simple…

Marcus Williams shows play-making is not the only play he’s making…

UCONN

Ryan Boatright moves into 18th on the all-time scoring list…

…on a career-high 28 points.

Daniel Hamilton does a little bit of everything (turning the ball over included)…

…while Omar Calhoun does something (forgot he could dunk).

High School

UConn ESPN Top 25 commit Jalen Adams puts on at the Hoop Hall Classic…

…and future teammate Steve Enoch does the same.

UConn stars return for 2014 Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic

7,000+ crowded Mohegan Sun Arena Friday night for the 2014 Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic. Featuring heroes of UConn past, the game is more than just a UConn All-Star game, but raises money and awareness for the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the UConn Health Center. According to their website, the charity is dedicated to “research on new non-invasive techniques to diagnose and treat patients at risk for heart disease and also endows a cardiology research fellowship.” Since 1999 the Celebrity Classic has raised over $6.5 million for cardiology research. You can learn more here and like the event on Facebook.

Jim Calhoun watches his charity game.

Jim Calhoun watches his charity game.

Friday’s game featured current NBA players Andre Drummond, Ray Allen, Kemba Walker, Jeff Adrien, Ben Gordon, Jeremy Lamb and Charlie Villanueva as well as former stars Taliek Brown, Khalid El-Amin and Donyell Marshall. The White Team came away with a dramatic 114-112 victory on an all-but-too-familiar game winner from ’99 Champ El-Amin. Drummond led a stacked White Team with 24 points/12 rebounds while Walker (21 points), DeAndre Daniels (18), Allen (15) and El-Amin (13) all scored in double figures. Villanueva led the Blue Team dropping 24 points with Rashad Anderson (22), Lamb (21 points/8 rebounds) providing help in the scoring department and Jeff Adrien (12/13) handling the dirty work as usual. Lamb was originally on the White Team roster but crossed sides after Rudy Gay was was deemed ineligible due to language in his contract with the Sacramento Kings. It should be noted that although Gay was unable to participate in the game, he is rumored to have dropped $80,000 on a private plane to sit on the bench and support the cause. Caron Butler and Shabazz Napier were not in attendance due to prior commitments.

Pictures below:

Ray Allen Pregame

Ray Allen Pregame

Tip Off

Tip off at the 2014 Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic.

Andre Drummond rises for a dunk at the 2014 Jim Calhoun Charity Classic.

Andre Drummond rises for a dunk at the 2014 Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic.

Rudy Gay poses for a selfie with Jeremy Lamb.

Rudy Gay poses for a selfie with Jeremy Lamb.

After party with Kemba Walker

After party with Kemba Walker

UCONN 2011 First Night Dunk Contest

I recently found videos I took from quite possibly the most epic dunk contest in the history of UCONN First Night (more commonly known as Midnight Madness). This particular contest featured a semifinal matchup between hyper-athletic big man Andre Drummond and bouncy guard Ryan Boatright. Both Drummond and Boatright made it difficult for the judges- consisting of Kemba Walker, Hasheem Thabeet, Ray Allen and ESPN’s Doris Burke- to announce a winner with a flurry of impressive dunks that I was lucky enough to catch on camera directly behind the basket.

#12 Andre Drummond

#11 Ryan Boatright

The judges ultimately awarded the honor to Boatright for his dunk over the seated Napier. Were they right?

Dallas: A Run For The Ages

The University of Connecticut has won the 2014 NCAA National Championship. 4 months ago, after knocking off Florida in December, I had a conversation with Skip Olander about a spring trip to visit his son (my friend) in Lithuania. We had previously discussed plans to check out the European Basketball scene but after the Florida victory, plans changed. We already had big wins under our belt on neutral courts (Indiana/Maryland) but this was a statement win. My first post, and motive behind starting this blog, originated from what I saw during the Florida game. In that post, I predicted a return to the Final Four referencing elements of the winning formula that would ultimately lead us to Dallas. Let’s see how these keys played out in the 2014 Final Four:

Games will be won/lost in Shabazz Napier’s hands

Shabazz  was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 NCAA Tournament and for good reason. In the National Championship game he dropped 22 points/6 rebounds/3 assists and knocked down clutch shot after clutch shot to discourage any Kentucky run. The most important plays his hands made however were not the 3 pointers swishing through the net but rather the rocket passes they flung to Deandre Daniels and swarming pressure they put on opposing guards (more below). Deandre could not have gone off for 20/10 in the semifinal without his point guard actively looking to get him involved with the right plays at the right time. Shabazz Napier not only made all the right plays in the 2014 NCAA tournament, he made winning plays.

Chemistry

Throughout the season one of my biggest concerns was the Boatright/Napier relationship on the floor. Too many times it became a back and forth between the two with the rest of the offense stagnant, watching. I worried role players would not be able to establish themselves or get into any type of sustainable rhythm. North Texas is a testament to the substantial progress this team has made throughout the year. Boatright was a pest defensively and his one-on-one move in the closing minutes on Julius Randle was nothing short of Kemba. Most importantly? He played within himself and let the game come to him yet was not afraid to rise to the occasion when the moment called. Giffey also came up big with 10 points/4 rebounds vs Florida and two huge 3’s vs Kentucky. The Nolan/Brimah duo got it done against much larger centers (more below). Olander came off the bench to provide relief. Lasan Kromah pulled down 5 rebounds in the championship game. Terrence Samuel gave big minutes. Yes, UCONN breeds NBA players but most importantly, UCONN breeds WINNERS.

Ability to win close games

How do you win close games? Foul shooting. Continuing with the trend of the tournament, in two Final Four games we shot a combined 87% (20-23). Our two primary ball handlers- Boat and Bazz- were a perfect 12-12 from the line. That is how you win close games. Kentucky? A measly 54% (13-24). When the opponent knows putting you on the line is an automatic 2 points it adds pressure to late game situations that young teams (Kentucky) typically mismanage (they did). Defense. UCONN held both Florida and Kentucky to under 40% with stifling on ball pressure resulting in a barrage of 3’s instead of working the ball inside. In short, we forced them out of their game plan. Boat/Bazz played with unmatched defensive intensity harassing the potent Florida backcourt of Wilbekin/Frazier into just 7 points on 3-12 shooting. Kentucky will beat us though right? With James Young/Harrison brothers standing at 6’6, they will see over our smaller defenders and feed the post, right? Wrong. Boat/Bazz (with help from Kromah) held the Harrison brothers to just 15 points on 6-16 shooting and combined for more steals than the Harrison brothers giving up over a foot in height. When NBA scouts knock Shabazz for his size (as they did Kemba), remember this game (he turned out just fine).

Will to battle for every rebound

If you were to squish together Daniels/Brimah/Nolan into one person you still could not equal the girth of Patric Young. The same could be said for Julius Randle. How then were we able to out rebound two physically imposing teams analysts projected to destroy us inside? Team Rebounding. Everyone crashed the defensive glass in Dallas. At 5-10 Ryan Boatright ripped down 6 rebounds vs Florida, Daniels 10 and Giffey 4. On Monday, given their tough defensive responsibilities, Boat/Bazz combined for 10 rebounds, Kromah 6 and Brimah 4 looking like a stick figure defending the NBA-ready Randle.  Where there may have been a potential weakness in a one-on-one matchup – aka Young or Randle- even they were no match for a one-on-five. UCONN recognized a potential weakness and worked as a collective unit to aid a disadvantaged teammate. The result? A 62-60 rebounding advantage for the weekend.

Faith in Leadership

The most important element on the list. If you ever doubted Kevin Ollie you are a moron. That was not the question. I mean damn, players stayed with him/top recruits gave commitments even with the uncertainty haunting the basketball program. Yes, Shabazz Napier had already won a National Championship yet he was still an unproven leader. Similar to a catcher in baseball and quarterback in football, the point guard in basketball assumes leadership of the entire team. But, just because you assume leadership does not mean you are automatically instilled with leadership qualities. That comes with time, with effort and with faith. Niels Giffey told reporters that after the loss to Louisville in the AAC Tournament Finals, Shabazz promised the team they would cut down the nets in Texas. Giffey’s response? “I looked into his eyes, and I really believed him.” That is faith.

What to take away from 2014

Statistics/rankings/matchups are glorified in college basketball and debated fiercely among analysts and fans alike. It dominates the media and ripples throughout the country causing one team to be viewed as a “favorite” while another a “Cinderella” based on seeding. Taking a look back at UCONN’s run, there are many statistics attributable to our national championship- free throw percentage, defensive field goal percentage, rebounding margin- but the only statistic that accurately describes the 2014 National Champions is not quantitative, but qualitative: faith. Faith in an idea, faith in ability, faith in a coaching staff, faith in teammates and faith in being a small part of a bigger picture. Kevin Ollie instilled a sense of faith in his players from Day 1. Shabazz Napier got it-he stayed, Niels Giffey got it-he stayed, Tyler Olander got it- he stayed, and now, their hands are heavier for it. You see, faith is contagious. Faith allowed me to follow the Huskies around the country as funds were running thin, faith allowed my friend to quit his job for a week in Dallas and faith allowed the UCONN Huskies to win the 2014 National Championship. So now, the next time a sibling, friend, analyst or Kentucky fan calls us a Cinderella respond: we’re not a Cinderella, we are UCONN.