GEICO SportsNite: Bob Diaco from media day

On UConn Football Media Day, head coach Bob Diaco shows excitement for the season, and envisions major success for his program…


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Does Bent want to be in that number?

By Carl Adamec

The three players currently in the University of Connecticut’s recruiting Class of 2016 have something in common. Molly Bent (10), Crystal Dangerfield (32), and Kyla Irwin (25) wear uniform numbers for their respective high schools that are displayed in the Huskies of Honor at Gampel Pavilion.

But 25 has been worn at UConn by Mel Thomas and Michala Johnson since Svetlana Abrosimova graduated in 2001 as a three-time All-American, and 32 has been worn by Kalana Greene and Heather Buck since Swin Cash graduated after her All-American senior campaign of 2002. But not one player has worn No. 10 since Sue Bird graduated in 2002 after being the national Player of the Year and leading the Huskies to a 39-0 national championship season.

Bent — a 5-foot-9 senior point guard from Centerville, Massachusetts, and Tabor Academy — thought the tough decisions were over when she made her oral commitment to attend UConn on June 4.
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Irwin on the rise entering senior year

By Carl Adamec

Kyla Irwin knew what she was getting into last October when she made an oral commitment to play for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.

The last 10 months haven’t disappointed as her opponents at State College (Pennsylvania) High and on the AAU circuit deliver their best shots verbally and physically.
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Connecticut Huskies head coach Bob Diaco reacts during the second half of a game against the Temple Owls at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

UConn football expected to improve

UConn coach Bob Diaco has different expectations for the upcoming season than those who picked his Huskies to finish at the bottom of the American Athletic Conference in the league’s annual media poll.

“We’re going to win every game,” Diaco said at the conference’s media day earlier this month. “We’re going to play as one of the four teams in the playoffs and win the national championship.”

While few would agree with that assessment, there are some indications the Huskies will be better than the team that finished 2-10 during their first year under the former Notre Dame defensive coordinator.

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Shirreffs cementing No. 1 QB role

It’s not official yet, but it’s becoming clearer that Bryant Shirreffs will be the starting quarterback for UConn when the Huskies open the season Thursday Sept. 3 against Villanova in East Hartford (7:30 p.m., SNY).

Shirreffs took all the first-team snaps in Thursday’s scrimmage at Pratt and Whitney Stadium. According to unofficial stats kept by New Haven Register reporter Jim Fuller, Shirreffs was 12-for-17 for 128 yards and two touchdowns playing against the second-team defense.

Coach Bob Diaco told reporters he won’t name a starting QB until the week of the Villanova game. But when asked if he’s ready to do so, he said, “I am, but I’m not going to.”

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Knappe left Denmark for American football dreams

His teammates call him Thor and UConn is counting on junior Andreas Knappe to be a hammer on the offensive line this season.

The 6-foot-8, 310-pound tackle, who sports a bushy reddish-blonde beard and flowing hair, is actually from Silkeborg, Demark.

He grew up playing team handball – an Olympic sport that looks like a cross between basketball and soccer – and was a world-class archer on the Danish junior national team.

“They were training me to see if I could get to go to the Olympics or the World Championships or something like that,” he said Tuesday during the annual American Athletic Conference’s media day in Newport, R.I. “I got tired of it. I grew out of it, I guess, because I started to have a lot of growing pains and I was young.”

He didn’t start playing American football until he was 18-years old, and it was a case of love at first snap, he said.

“My best friend joined a football team in my town, and said to me, ‘You should come, this is great,'” Knappe said.

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MVP Nurse lifts Canada to gold, Olympic bid

By Carl Adamec

After Kia Nurse scored 33 points for the Canadian national team against the United States in the Pan American Games final last month, Nurse’s University of Connecticut teammate — but opponent that night — Breanna Stewart gave her a hug and said, “Really? You picked today to do that?”

Now Cuba’s national team knows how Stewart felt.

Nurse scored 20 points Sunday night and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as Team Canada won the FIBA Americas Championship gold medal and clinched a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with an 82-66 victory over Cuba in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
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