One of the tormenting aspects of this bump in the road is the unknown status of freshman guard Ryan Boatright. For the second time this season, Boatright is been held out of competition as the school cooperates with the NCAA in an eligibility review.
So the Huskies continue to practice – as they did in Guyer Gym Friday – with Boatright participating in all the drills. Jim Calhoun, the coaching staff, and Boatright's teammates see him doing all those things he did during the 10 games he was eligible. He came off the bench and average 10.2 points. More importantly he had the ability to change the game – offensively and defensively – with his speed and energy.
So it becomes painful to see what the Huskies are missing.
"One of the worst parts is it hangs there," Calhoun said. "Ryan has a great day of practice . . . it hangs there. It hangs with the kids a little bit. It gives them [the thought], ‘If we had him.' We don't right now."
The Huskies are 1-2 without Boatright in this stretch. Calhoun and his players are not using his absence as an excuse, and not saying they would be 3-0 with Boatright. But an important component is missing and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
After practice Friday, Calhoun said he had no idea whether the NCAA could issue a ruling – one way or the other – before Sunday's rematch with Notre Dame. Given the organization's track record, it seems unlikely that any decision would be reach until Monday at the earliest.
Calhoun said UConn's compliance department and basketball office personnel have been working extra hours this week to try to get the situation resolved. No one has said specifically what the questions focus on this time around. When Boatright was benched at the beginning of the season, his suspension was the result of extra benefits, believed to be an airplane ticket provided during his time of AAU participation.
Calhoun was asked if there has been any indication that Boatright's issue can be cleared up, allowing him to play again this season.
"There's no indication of anything," Calhoun said. "The only indication is that we are trying like crazy to get him back."
Freshman center Andre Drummond said Boatright is playing twice as hard in practice.
"He's the same person," Drummond said. "He wants to come back so bad."
Right now, the hard part for the Huskies is knowing what is missing.
"Having Ryan back, would that make a difference? A huge difference," Calhoun said. "But I have no idea when he's coming back. I've been trying to keep Ryan ‘up.' We are who we are. We'll play with the players we have. I think all of us want to have the best team possible that we can put out there.
"I know it wears on me. No one cares about that, nor should they. I'll coach my team the best I possibly can and get them ready. It's not an excuse why you win or lose. . . .We're a man down."
Calhoun said DeAndre Daniels will start at small forward Sunday replacing, Niels Giffey.
"DeAndre has had a great week, probably the best in his career," Calhoun said.