STORRS - The UConn menâ€™s basketball team wants to take things a little more slowly in the New Year.
The Huskies, who have played a rather frenetic pace so far in coach Dan Hurleyâ€™s first season, may not be quite as fast when they take the court in conference play.
â€śYou will see us play as fast,â€ť Hurley said after practice Monday. â€śYouâ€™ll certainly see us play as fast off misses and turnovers but Iâ€™m not sure youâ€™ll see us quite play as fast off of makes.â€ť
UConn (9-4), which opens American Athletic Conference play Wednesday night in Tampa against South Florida, plans on down-shifting just slightly beginning with its game against the Bulls.
â€śI think weâ€™ve gotten irresponsible off makes. I think some of our worst shots have come off makes,â€ť Hurley said. â€śFor me as a coach thatâ€™s embarrassing.â€ť
One of the reasons the Huskies are tweaking their style slightly is the play of point guard Alterique Gilbert. The Huskies feel their sophomore floor leader will perform better with a few minor changes.
â€śWe were looking at the numbers and weâ€™ve been turning it over more. I think we have more turnovers than assists right now. I think itâ€™s a great idea,â€ť said Gilbert, referring to the teamâ€™s 184 turnovers and 183 assists.
The changes, made soon after UConnâ€™s loss to Villanova Dec. 22, have already been implanted in practice with apparently positive results.
â€śEveryoneâ€™s accepting the new changes. Itâ€™s helped us a lot in practice, gave us chance to thoroughly run through our offense, let plays digest and not just take the first good looking shot we get,â€ť guard Jalen Adams said. â€śWe kind of play it through and get a great shot.â€ť
In addition to helping themselves, the Huskies are also hoping to make it a little tougher on their opponents.
â€śMake the other team spend 22 seconds guarding us occasionally,â€ť Hurley said.
The changes also go along with Hurleyâ€™s New Yearâ€™s resolutions.
â€śFor these guys? Oh, man. How many resolutions are you allowed to have?â€ť Hurley said. â€śIf I could have just one Iâ€™d say just take care of the ball better. Itâ€™s a new year, letâ€™s take care of the ball better.â€ť
DIARRA RETURNING SLOWLY
Sophomore Mamadou Diarra has been practicing a little more with his teammates lately, but the UConn big man is seemingly not close to returning to action.
â€śHeâ€™s probably doing a little bit more live work,â€ť Hurley said. â€śBut heâ€™s dealt with so many knee issues dating back to high school, weâ€™re being as conservative as we can with him. For both his short-term and long-term knee health.â€ť
Diarra, a 6-foot-8 Queens native who went to Putnam Science Academy, had offseason surgery and has yet to play in a game this season.
WILLIAMS BACK AT PRACTICE
Kwintin Williams also practiced with the Huskies Monday. UConn officials have been vague on Williamsâ€™ status, saying only that he was ill and unable to even appear at the Huskiesâ€™ recent games and practices.
â€śKwintinâ€™s back around,â€ť Hurley said Monday.
Williams, a 6-foot-7 forward from Anchorage, Alaska, has played in seven games for the Huskies this season, none since Dec. 15. He has scored a total of seven points.
Williams posted a number of vague messages on his social media accounts recently, leading many to believe he was planning to leave the team. But although Hurley would not go into detail, it seems the high-flying senior is not ready to end his Husky career just yet.