Huskies Down C.W. Post 91-61

HARTFORD – If Ryan Boatright gets a late start on his freshman season because of the NCAA review of his eligibility and, if Niels Giffey is sidelined a while by injuries to his knee and ankle, the Connecticut men's basketball team will need a backup point guard.

Who knows for how long? Maybe it's just four or five minutes a game. Or it might be 10, depending on foul trouble for Shabazz Napier.

Coach Jim Calhoun reasonably couldn't have expected to find a reliable substitute during UConn's two exhibition games. But freshman walk-on Brendan Allen is making an impression on the coaching staff and could get the opportunity to help.

Allen, a 6-3 guard from Windsor, Conn., played 16 minutes in UConn's 91-61 exhibition victory over C.W. Post Sunday before 7,215 at the XL Center. He was 1-for-4 from the field, hitting the only three-point shot that he took. He finished with three points, two rebounds, one assist and one turnover – without committing a foul.

More importantly, Allen might have found a spot in the rotation while the Huskies are shorthanded. And that's rather stunning for a guy who wasn't wanted by any Division I teams coming out of Bridgeton Academy (Maine).

"Let's just take Friday night [in the regular season opener against Columbia]," Calhoun said, "Friday night and Shabazz picks up his second foul [early]. He probably doesn't play the rest of the half. [Allen] right now is our backup point guard. He's moved ahead of Jeremy [Lamb] because we tried tonight to get Jeremy off the ball.

"He's not an end of the game guy. He's our backup point guard. He knows the offense. He can really defend and he's got a great body. There's no reason to believe he can't play on this level."

Calhoun had no comment on the Boatright situation and UConn has no idea when it will receive a decision from the NCAA. The review centers on an improper benefit, reportedly the purchase of an airline ticket during Boatright's time as an AAU player. If the NCAA determines it was a problem, Boatright will likely be suspended two to six game at the beginning of the regular season.

Giffey, who played 18 minutes and scored seven points in the first exhibition against AIC, was in street clothes because of a hyperextended right knee and a sore right ankle. He was wearing a protective boot on his right foot because of a bone bruise in the ankle that has been bothering him almost four weeks, Calhoun said.

Certainly, when they return, UConn's depth situation at guard will improve. But Allen has an unexpected chance to help for the time being. In high school, Allen played shooting guard and some small forward. He is learning the point spot, absorbing it quickly and gaining the confidence of his teammates.

"When I came here I always wanted to play, but it's a blessing to get on the court and backup a great point guard like Shabazz. I'm just really fortunate and happy about the opportunity I have right now. It's nice to be a part of the team."

Said Napier: "I have a lot of faith in him. He's going to gain more experience in games and practices. Right now, he's faring well. He did play high school basketball and he was good."

Five UConn players scored in double figures as the Huskies jumped to a 54-21 halftime lead and then shifted into cruise control. Lamb, without the concern of handling the ball, scored 23 points and was 10-for-14 from the field. Freshman center Andre Drummond had 16 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Napier scored 14 points, had 13 assists and six rebounds in a second consecutive all-around game. Freshman DeAndre Daniels had 13 points, three assists and four blocks in 18 minutes. And Tyler Olander continued to earn praise from Calhoun as he started, played 25 minutes, scored 10 points and had five rebounds.

"We took advantage by getting the ball inside," Calhoun said. "I thought the first half and the beginning of the second half, we played well. Then once we got up close to 40, we just played basketball. And that's not what we do really well. What we do well is play really solid defense and move the ball well."

UConn opens the regular season Friday at 7 p.m. against Columbia at Gampel Pavilion.

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