Drummond Promises a Surprise

STORRS, Conn. – Connecticut freshman Andre Drummond might have impaired vision when he wears his protective mask during basketball games. But, with the mask off, he can read a calendar just fine.

And he knows that Friday will be six weeks since he broke his nose in practice. When the accident happened, Drummond was told he would need to wear the mask 6-8 weeks. It turns out five weeks and six days might end up being enough.

"There's a surprise on Thursday, you'll see," Drummond said when asked if he knew how much longer he would be wearing the mask.

Hmm. Let's see. What could that surprise be? It wouldn't be a surprise if he still had it on, would it?

"Six weeks coming up," he said.

So fans in attendance at Gampel Pavilion Thursday (7 p.m., ESPN2) when the No. 9 Huskies take on No. 25 Harvard will finally get to see what Drummond looks like without the mask. The question is whether or not Drummond will start playing like the future No. 1 NBA draft selection he was hyped to be when he arrived at UConn.

He might start averaging a double-double – just by removing that mask. Through eight games, four of them as a starter, Drummond is averaging 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. And the mask has been driving him crazy.

"I think I'll feel more comfortable without it on because I'll be able to see a lot more," Drummond said. "I'll have my peripheral vision back and I'll be able to see things along side of my face."

UConn's medical and training staff has done regular evaluations, asking Drummond if his nose is sore or tender. He has taken a few blows to the nose during games with the mask on and it obvious he doesn't have his normal vision. Bobbled rebounds and missed layups really shouldn't be a regular part of his package.

Asked if he would lie just to get the mask off, Drummond said, "Probably." That drew a round of laughter from reporters. "I tried it a few times and it didn't work."

UConn coach Jim Calhoun said he wasn't sure if Drummond had been cleared to play without the mask.

"It's either Thursday or next week," Calhoun said. "I'm not holding back. I don't know. I don't keep asking because I know he doesn't like it. And he keeps asking to get rid of it."

Guess everyone will have to wait for the big surprise.

RULES OF TWEETING

Since Alex Oriakhi's news-making comment on Twitter from the Bahamas, the Huskies have had a team meeting with the coaches and gone over the basic rules of tweeting.

"We had a team meeting about everybody doing that," Oriakhi said Wednesday. "That's pretty much over."

When Drummond replaced Oriakhi in the starting lineup for the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, Oriakhi's former high school and UConn teammate Jamal Coombs-McDaniel tweeted at Oriakhi, "Got my guy @aoriakhi34 coming off the bench . . . sheesh . . . two year starter where's the loyalty."

Oriakhi wrote back, "I know sum bs."

Tweeting privileges have not been taken away from Oriakhi or his teammates.

"They said we just got to watch what we put on there," Oriakhi said. "For me, if I'm going through something emotionally, I try to do it through myself. I don't like to bring it on my teammates, because I never want to seem selfish. I'm a team guy."

Oriakhi said it's hard to believe how things can get out of hand so quickly through social media. And he also finds it hard to believe he has over 10,000 followers.

"It's really crazy," he said. "Any little thing you say, you've got to really watch. It blows up fast. I didn't really think it was that serious. Apparently it is. . . . I don't look at myself [like an icon]. That's always been weird. Me and Jeremy [Lamb] always talk about how weird it is that people look at us like that. We just look at ourselves like normal dudes."

BRADLEY CLOSE TO RETURN

Calhoun said forward Michael Bradley should return to full-speed practices next week. Bradley broke his ankle in the preseason, had surgery and has been held out of workouts and games since the first day of practice. "He's going to run up and down and do drills today but he can't have any contact yet. So he'll be back next week." . . . Harvard is not only ranked for the first time in school history, the Crimson is also No. 22 in the RPI. Last week, Harvard was even higher – at No. 14. . . . The Huskies got a chance to watch Harvard a little in the Battle 4 Atlantis, which the Crimson won. "They play smart and stick to their stuff," Tyler Olander said. "We need to play our tempo and make sure we're running. We need to limit their shots. You can't let them get offensive rebounds because they'll run their stuff all the way down to five seconds on the shot clock. We can't let them have second shots. We've got to make sure we rebound." . . . Calhoun said he is likely to use the same starting lineup as he did against Arkansas and bring Ryan Boatright (23 points against Arkansas) off the bench again.


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