Discussions of the new standards passed this week put UConn's program back in the national spotlight for its recent poor performance on the Academic Progress Rate scale. Based on the model passed Thursday by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, there appears to be no way UConn could avoid a postseason ban in 2013 – the first year the rule will be applied.
Calhoun took offense to the suggestion UConn might be hard pressed to avoid that ban. Answering questions for the first time on the subject, Calhoun said he is confident the APR plateaus used to determine postseason eligibility will be tweaked to give schools such as UConn the opportunity to meet the criteria.
Walter Harrison, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance and president at the University of Hartford, told the Associated Press Thursday there is a possibility an adjustment will be made in the reporting dates that would allow schools to use their most recent data to qualify for postseason play. In that case, APR scores from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years would be used to determine participants in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
UConn officials and Calhoun believes the men's program will show noticeable improvement in those two school years – enough to qualify and not be banned.
"I feel comfortable that we're certainly going to meet the standards that we need to meet," Calhoun said after practice Friday. "And if it is somehow or other thrust upon us too quickly, I don't have any great concerns about that because I know Walt Harrison. I trust him. I think he'll do what's right for the kids. I think eventually the NCAA will do what's right for the kids, and we'll go on."
Calhoun said he shares the philosophy of new UConn president Susan Herbst, whom he met with Friday morning to discuss the new rules. Herbst released a statement Thursday saying that UConn endorses the measures passed by the board of directors.
"However, we believe that punishments should be applied as soon as possible after violations are found and not two years later," she said. "Students who have enjoyed academic success should not suffer because of the shortcomings of individuals who played in prior seasons."
Calhoun said for the time being, the Huskies will focus on playing the 2011-12 season, when there will not be a procedure in place to ban teams from the postseason – even teams with an 826 score, which was UConn's APR for the 2009-10 academic year. That score cost UConn two scholarships for this season.
"You can't play the 12-13 season until it comes," Calhoun said. "We had a bad class a couple of years ago that hurt us, no question. We're on the right track now. We have a president now and people at the university who are very well aware of the situation. I know we did a good job last year. By every indication we're going to do a great job this year."
Injuries to Andre Drummond (broken nose, mild concussion), Michael Bradley (ankle surgery) and Enosch Wolf (groin pull) have left the Huskies very think along the front line in practice. But Calhoun seemed more concerned about UConn's offensive execution with the first exhibition game coming up next week.
"We're turning the ball over," Calhoun said. "We're not shooting well. In the past few days we've shot 39 percent. We're not making threes. Defensively I actually think we're looking pretty good. I'm happy with the defense, I'm happy with the rebounding. We don't have an offensive leader."
Calhoun said Jeremy Lamb, Drummond and Alex Oriakhi have been the top scorers in practice. Freshman Ryan Boatright was moved into the starting point guard spot Friday because Calhoun said Shabazz Napier is "not playing particularly well, either emotionally or otherwise."
Oriakhi says it hasn't been easy for Napier as he tries to take over for Kemba Walker.
"It's kind of hard to ask so much from a sophomore, but that's the role that's been given to him," Oriakhi said "They wouldn't have asked that of him if he wasn't able to do it. I just think he needs to slow down a little bit. He's definitely been hitting shots and playing great defense, but he needs to slow down, take his time and be a little patient – especially with the big men. His passes are hard to catch and my hands aren't the best. I tell him he's got to be patient with me sometimes."
Freshman DeAndre Daniels was one of the happiest guys in Connecticut Thursday when the first snowflakes fell. Daniels grew up in Los Angeles and attended school in Florida last year.
His tweets Thursday night included, "ITS SNOWING ITS SNOWING IM SO HAPPY :) and "IM GOING OUTSIDE 2 PLAY IN THE SNOW WHO WANTS TO JOIN ME"
"I was out all last night, just running around," Daniels said Friday. "Trying to make snowballs and throw them. Everyone was like, ‘Enjoy it now because you're going to hate it in January.' "
WVU TO EXIT BIG EAST
The Big East waited all week to see if the Big 12 would offer membership to West Virginia or Louisville. The answer came Friday morning.
"Who won that wrestling contest today?" Calhoun asked after practice.
"West Virginia," he was told.
"OK, good. I thought they might be able to pin [Louisville] in the third round."