Notebook: Samuelson wins bronze at shootout

By Carl Adamec

Katie Lou Samuelson is hopeful that she’ll be able to return to action Friday when the United States U-18 3×3 team has two Group B games at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

The 6-foot-3 native of Huntington Beach, California, has been sidelined at the YOG with a slightly sprained left ankle suffered in a scrimmage last Saturday. It’s the same ankle the University of Connecticut Class of 2015 commit injured at the USA U-17 national team trials May 25. USA Basketball lists her status as day to day.

But Samuelson showed signs Thursday she may be ready to help. She won the bronze medal in the 3-point shooting contest that featured 62 YOG competitors.

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Huskies lose Stevenson, Boland and Roderick

John F. Silver

UConn lost three scholarship players during camp as junior corner David Stevenson, redshirt freshman defensive end Michael Boland and true freshman linebacker Tom Roderick have left the football team.

No reason has been given for their departure. Hat tip to Jim Fuller at the Register for scouring the updated website.

Stevenson, a Stone Mountain, Georgia native, looked to be the odd-man out at cornerback and was in contention for a spot as a nickelback corner. His small frame, 5-foot-8, 164-pounds, always seemed a detriment to more than role-playing minutes.

Boland, a Dunmore, Pennsylvania native, was converted to tight end last year and redshirted. He moved back to the defensive line during camp and head coach Bob Diaco was encouraged early on with his progress.  Roderick is a true freshman linebacker from Leicester, Massachusetts.



Ex-UConn star Moore named WNBA’s MVP

By Carl Adamec

Maya Moore made plenty of history with the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team and she’s helped the Huskies make some now that she’s in the WNBA.

Moore was named the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player the league announced Thursday and she will receive the award Thursday night in Minnesota prior to Game 1 of the Lynx’s Western Conference semifinal matchup with the San Antonio Stars. The story was first reported by the Associated Press.  

With Moore’s honor, UConn becomes the first program to have three of its players win the MVP. Tina Charles won the award as a member of the Connecticut Sun in 2012 while the Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi was selected in 2009. Southern California (Cynthia Cooper and Lisa Leslie) and Tennessee (Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker) have had two players win. Leslie (3), Cooper (2), and Parker (2) have won the award multiple times. Moore was second to Parker in the 2013 MVP voting and was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2011.

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UConn men to play Ohio State, Arizona

John F. Silver

UConn announced a home-and-home schedule in men’s basketball with Ohio State and Arizona over the next four years.  

The Huskies will play Ohio State in 2015-16 in Connecticut and in Columbus in 2016-17 season.

UConn will play at Arizona in 2017-18 and home in 2018-19.

UConn is 2-3 all-time against Ohio State with win in the national semifinal in 1999 and in the NIT Championship game in 1988. UConn is 5-0 against Arizona, including a win in Anaheim, California in the West Regional final in 2011.


Knappe likely out for opener

John F. Silver

UConn right tackle Andreas Knappe wasn’t at open practice on Monday and with good reason. The converted sophomore right tackle is nursing a leg injury and his chances of playing in the season opener is unlikely per Desmond Connor of the Hartford Courant, who talked with head coach Bob Diaco after a breakfast at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

Knappe was locked in a camp battle with Dalton Gifford at right tackle and appeared to have the edge. Knappe, from Denmark, is in his first season as an offensive lineman after being converted from the defensive line this past spring. The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Knappe has the size and strength of a prototypical tackle prospect.

Gifford, who started late last season, now appears to be the odds on favorite to start at right tackle against BYU in the opener on Aug. 29.

“He’s coming around. It’s going to be awhile,” Diaco said. “I mean awhile in terms of is he going to participate against BYU, I don’t think so. We’ll see what the athletic trainer says.”


Team USA stays perfect in YOG 3×3 play

By Carl Adamec

The United States 3×3 U-18 team had a game against Thailand Wednesday, but for Napheesa Collier it was more like a layup drill.

The University of Connecticut Class of 2015 commit was 10-for-11 from the floor and finished with 13 points as Team USA downed Thailand 21-5 in pool play at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

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Creating separation in QB depth


John F. Silver

The redshirt year of a player is valuable. When that player is a quarterback, a fifth year becomes such an incredible advantage it would take a special player to not take it (imagine UConn’s Dan Orlovsky with a fifth year in 2004?).

In almost all circumstances, a fifth year QB will be more productive than a first-year quarterback, and when UConn head coach Bob Diaco talked about protecting sophomore Tim Boyle, it was protecting that fifth year.

Tim BoyleBoyle was pushed into action, a decision that Diaco is highly critical of, and with it the 0-4 record, the zero touchdowns and eight interceptions, and the  44 percent passing against USF, Louisville, UCF and SMU were essentially a waste of a year. Boyle wasn’t ready last year and was pushed into action out of desperation.  It was an awful experience for Boyle. Pushed into action when other viable options were around and not much gained from the endeavor except how to take a humbling. His talent and skill set are superior to Cochran and Chandler Whitmer. But, quarterbacking takes times. Giving him a year to digest the offense and allow a proper training is going to pay off down the road.

The Huskies aren’t desperate now. Diaco, with the help of several small injuries that has slowed Boyle, have committed to gaining that year back as he sits out as the third quarterback.

Here’s Diaco on Boyle:

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Diaco at QB: A bold move, a risky one

John F. Silver

Bob Diaco brought in his four quarterbacks and then talked about them — right in front of them — analyzing their strengths and weaknesses.

Casey Cochran is the starter, Chander Whitmer is the key backup. Both will play.

It was the first major decision for Diaco as a head coach and it was a risky one.

If Diaco picked Cochran, no one would have said a word. If Diaco picked Whitmer, no one would have batted an eye-lash. If Diaco picked Tim Boyle as the starter and said the program hangs its hat on his potential, there would be euphoria. The selection of a quarterback is like naming a general for your army. There should be only one general in charge.

That’s conventional thinking. Diaco is not conventional. Instead, Diaco went with the unconventional setup that will leave him open to second-guessing.  Diaco’s setup makes sense to him.

“They just do different things better than the other guy,” Diaco said. “When we are going to do those things in the game, why wouldn’t we ask the guys to do those things? (not doing that) doesn’t make sense to me.”

Makes perfect sense. But, there are few cases where it has actually worked. That is what makes him going out on this limb bold. Yes, it’s risky, but it also shows Diaco has conviction in what he’s doing.

“Hopefully, it works out,” Diaco said.  “If not you guys will be chasing me with torches and pitchforks. “

The point Diaco was making on Monday is there are no winners and losers in the quarterback competition. That kind of competition, winner-take-all, isn’t how UConn manages any other position.  If you have a good run defensive tackle, and a good rush defensive tackle, why would you not utilize both in those situations?

Diaco is doing that at the QB position.

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Cochran named starter, Whitmer key backup

John F. Silver

STORRS, Conn. — Casey Cochran had to lose weight and prove last year wasn’t a fluke. Chandler Whitmer came back to clear his name.

UConn head coach Bob Diaco has given both players a chance to achieve their ultimate goals.

Diaco, after an 8-month long quarterback battle, named sophomore Casey Cochran his starter at quarterback for the opener on Aug. 29 at BYU. That leaves senior Chandler Whitmer the backup for the Huskies, but both figure to be a big part of the Huskies’ offense.

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