UConn men: Evans progressing, N.C. State on tap

Connecticut's R.J. Evans, left, is fouled by Massachusetts Lowell's James McDonnell during the first half of an exhibition college basketball game in Hartford, Conn., Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

Connecticut’s R.J. Evans, left, is fouled by Massachusetts Lowell’s James McDonnell during the first half of an exhibition college basketball game in Hartford, Conn., Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

John F. Silver

The football team lost, the soccer team lost, but there was a little bit of good news this weekend in Storrs.

Senior guard R.J. Evans is progressing quickly from a chest injury and could see action in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday against No. 18 N.C. State. Evans has missed two games, wins against Stony Brook and New Hampshire after suffering an injury in practice. Evans is a rugged 6-3 guard who brings a wealth of experience to the Huskies after a standout career at Holy Cross. He transferred in as an immediately eligible graduate student and he’s a player head coach Kevin Ollie has relied upon playing 20 minutes a game as a reserve guard. 

“R.J. was playing 20 minutes when he left, and he was averaging eight points,” Ollie said to reporters after practice on Sunday . “And his numbers don’t even entail all the things he brings and the added dimension he brings to our team — his energy, his leadership, just being an extension of the coach.”

The Huskies will play N.C. State on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in commemoration of Valvano, who died in 1993 after a battle with cancer. Valvano, who won the 1983 National Championship while coach of the Wolfpack, has ties to UConn having started his career there under Dee Rowe in 1970.  Valvano coached two years at UConn before taking the head coaching job at Bucknell in 1973.

The Huskies are 6-1 on the season, though are taking another step up in class against the Wolfpack. UConn forward Tyler Olander is the cause of concern as he has struggled shooting this season at 38.6 percent and has been saddled with foul trouble in several games. As the Huskies’ most experienced big man, he needs to right the ship as UConn faces an imposing N.C. State frontline led by Richard Howell (14.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg) C.J. Leslie (11.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg).

The Wolfpack are coming off a 79-73 loss to No. 3 Michigan.

Links

Evans is hoping to return Tuesday (Journal Inquirer)

R.J. Evans Close To Being Back For UConn (Hartford Courant)

UConn Ready for Big Bout with NC State at MSG Tuesday Night (New Haven Register)