Blaney called it "a treat."
"Ray had played the night before and just drove up," Blaney said. "He called [assistant coach] Kevin Ollie and said, ‘I want to come to practice.' He watched practice and then we brought him into the locker room and he spoke to the team a good 20-25 minutes. It was vintage Ray Allen.
"That's what Jim [Calhoun] has built here, that family atmosphere of great, great players who have done tremendous things for Connecticut and for the state, and gone on to do even greater things in the NBA. They still have that feeling of closeness to the team. Ray talked about working out with the guys [in summer] and helping each other get in shape. He said he was here to help them and he wanted them to listen to what he had to say."
Blaney said Allen's talk was very helpful and he couldn't have been "more appreciative" of the gesture. He said Allen talked about working through trouble, how to respond and how to get everybody on the same page.
"He talked about the Celtics and he talked a lot about Kevin [Ollie]," Blaney said. "He talked what it was like when he was here and how Kevin drove him to be better than he was. He said Kevin's work ethic was still engrained in him today."
Forward Tyler Olander called it a great experience, something the Huskies needed to hear after losing six of their last seven.
"He was trying to get our minds right again," Olander said. "He said to forget about things that have happened and move on as a team. He's up here a lot but I was surprised he took the time to come and talk to us. He said some real good things. He reminded us that mistakes happen in basketball – even at the NBA level. You've got to play through that. And I think we've let mistakes get to us."
Swingman Niels Giffey said Allen's talk included personal experiences – things that Allen went through in the NBA – and how to be a team leader. Guard Ryan Boatright said Allen was trying to get the Huskies back on track, and he used last year's UConn team and the Super Bowl champion New York Giants as examples of teams that didn've give up. "He said you've got to bring it every day and just because you are down right now doesn't mean you can't turn it around," Boatright said. "He told us to keep fighting and said we can turn this thing around if we come together as a team."
DePaul (11-13, 2-10 Big East) at UConn (15-9, 5-7 Big East)
Date: Feb. 15, 2012
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn.
TV: SNY (Justin Kutcher, Kara Lawson)
Radio: UConn Radio Network/WTIC-AM 1080 (Joe D'Ambrosio, Wayne Norman)
Series: UConn leads, 6-1
Notes: The Huskies have won the last five meetings. . . . DePaul's only victory came on Jan. 31, 2007, a 66-58 win at Allstate Arena in Chicago. . . . UConn is 2-0 at home against DePaul, including 64-57 win on Feb. 6, 2010 at Gampel.
Last meeting: UConn 97, DePaul 71 (March 9, 2011)
Kemba Walker had 26 points and Jeremy Lamb added 19 as five UConn players scored in double figures in this first round game of the Big East tournament in New York City. UConn jumped to a 45-28 halftime lead and then scored 52 points in the second half. It was the first of 11 consecutive wins for the Huskies as they won the Big East championship and the NCAA national championship.
DePAUL PROBABLE STARTERS
G 00 Worrel Clahar Jr. 5-11 179 6.4 ppg
G 32 Charles McKinney Fr. 6-3 182 4.0 ppg
C 10 Derrell Robertson Fr. 6-10 233 0.8 ppg
F 21 Jamee Crockett Fr. 6-4 202 8.0 ppg
F 12 Cleveland Melvin So. 6-8 205 18.1 ppg
UCONN PROBABLE STARTERS
G 13 Shabazz Napier So. 6-1 171 13.0 ppg
G 3 Jeremy Lamb So. 6-5 180 17.2 ppg
G 11 Ryan Boatright Fr. 6-0 160 10.6 ppg
C 12 Andre Drummond Fr. 6-10 270 9.9 ppg
F 34 Alex Oriakhi Jr. 6-9 240 6.4 ppg
LIMPING ON IN: Blaney probably won't know his starting lineup until some time during the day on Wednesday. Things are complicated by the injuries to Drummond (sprained right ankle), Lamb (sprained right big toe) and Roscoe Smith (pulled left Achilles). Drummond and Lamb didn't practice Monday and Smith was pulled out of practice with his injury. On Tuesday, Smith didn't practice at all and he is listed as questionable for the DePaul game. Drummond and Lamb both went the full 90 minutes of practice Tuesday and are listed as probable. Lamb struggled to get through practice. Drummond turned that ankle in the second half of Saturday's loss at Syracuse and has been getting treatment since. Drummond said it was feeling better prior to Tuesday's practice, but any sharp turn causes him pain. On Sunday morning, Drummond was very uncomfortable. "I texted James [Doran, UConn's trainer] that you might want to come and get me because I can't walk. I was struggling to get out of my bed," Drummond said.
CALHOUN UPDATE: It appears Calhoun will miss his fourth consecutive game with his back problems. He was at a New York hospital Tuesday, gathering more information about the possible treatment options for his spinal stenosis. "I talk to him every day," Blaney said. "He's still hurting. In fact, it sounds as if the pain has intensified again. He's still trying to sift through all the information and then make some decisions. As we all know, there are so many answers to back ailments, what you should do and shouldn't do. That's what he's sifting through right now. Hopefully he'll be able to make a decision shortly and hopefully it will be a quick cure. The players would like him back, the coaches would like him back."
BLANEY ON DePAUL:The Blue Demons are led by talented sophomore Cleveland Melvin. They've gone 2-10 in their last 12 games. "They've played everybody exceptionally well. They've had trouble winning but they've played everybody exceptionally well. I watched their Marquette game and they turned Marquette over - and you don't turn Marquette over very often. They can score. They play very hard. It will be a tough game."
HUSKIES OF HONOR: Worthy Patterson and the late Bill Corley will be honored Wednesday night and their jersey numbers will be added to the Huskies of Honor display at Gampel. Patterson was traveling to Connecticut from his California home on Tuesday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We've got to get these wins. It's as simple as that. Get these wins and move on forward to the Big East tournament." – Drummond on UConn playing the next two games and four of the last six regular-season games at home.