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Inside Scoop: UConn Is Ready To Defend Their National Title

By 10.14.11
Alex Oriakhi

Alex Oriakhi (photo. UConn)

But it’s not just the backcourt that looks to be in top form this preseason; the UConn frontline has been revamped since March.

The Huskies return Oriakhi, who was second in the Big East in rebounding with 8.5 per game in 2010-11. The Huskies also return sophomore Tyler Olander who started 21 games, and redshirt freshman Michael Bradley should be able to contribute.

But the biggest addition came in late August. Oriakhi received a phone call from heralded recruiting prospect Andre Drummond. The freshman center was looking for Calhoun’s number to inform him of his commitment.

“At first I thought he was joking,” said Oriakhi. “When I heard he was coming I said we could be really special.”

The upcoming season looks promising for UConn, but the Huskies don’t feel pressure of defending the title.

“Even though we won the championship, we’re not really worried about (pressure),” said Napier. “Once we got the championship rings that was the end of the celebration.”

With the good, comes the bad. For the 2011-12 edition of the UConn Huskies the bad includes not having the Hall of Famer Calhoun on the bench for the first three Big East games, due to recruiting violations. This season also includes a cloud of uncertainty floating above them. Syracuse and Pittsburgh have already bounced to the ACC, leaving the Big East in a state of flux. However Calhoun still believes the Big East is a top-flight basketball conference.

“The basketball league only has nine teams returning that made the NCAA Tournament,” said Calhoun, who excluded Syracuse and Pitt as two of the remaining Big East teams. “That keeps getting left out of the picture. I hope through all of this we can stay in the Big East and it may work out just fine. But the single, most important point I have is to be loyal to the what’s best for the University of Connecticut going forward.”

The relaxing and the uncertainty of its future ends tonight at midnight for UConn, when practice officially begins.

“We’ve all been waiting for this,” said Napier. “We’ve been counting down the days. It’s here for us right now. We just have to capture it.”

Do you think UConn can win back-to-back national championships?

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TAGSAlex OriakhiANDRE DRUMMONDCOLLEGEHasheem ThabeetJeremy LambJIM CALHOUNKemba WalkerMichael BradleyShabazz NapierTyler OlanderUConnUniversity of Connecticut

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