UConn men's basketball assistant coach Hunter returns from medical leave

Published on Thursday, 5 December 2019 17:10
Written by NEILL OSTROUT

JOURNAL INQUIRER

STORRS - Kenya Hunter was anxious to return to work, apparently. So much so that his boss wasn’t at first sure if it was the appropriate thing to do.

Hunter, an assistant coach on the UConn men’s basketball team, had missed all seven of the Huskies’ games prior to Wednesday after taking a leave of absence from the team to deal with an undisclosed medical issue. But Hunter was back on the job Wednesday night at Gampel Pavilion and was on the bench for the Huskies’ 80-62 win over Iona.

“He came in with his doctor’s note (Wednesday) and I was like ‘What’s going on?’ I tried to authenticate it. It looked like his wife wrote it,” UConn head coach Dan Hurley joked.

Taliek Brown, UConn’s director of player development, had been serving as an assistant coach in Hunter’s place during the absence.

Hurley praised Brown’s work while also expressing relief that Hunter was back, too.

“Kenya is a real professional coach. He’s excellent with the bigs and he’s got a great way about him,” Hurley said. “Real calm, real poised and real smart professional coach. It balances off some of my insane emotional outbursts.”

MEDICAL LEAVE, PART II

While Hunter has returned, the other team playing in Gampel Pavilion Wednesday is still waiting for a member of its coaching staff to come back from a medical leave.

Iona head coach Tim Cluess has been absent for all of the Gaels’ games this season for undisclosed medical reasons, and associate head coach Tra Arnold has guided the team in his place.

“Coach is dealing with a medical issue right now,” Arnold said. “I talk to him quite often. He’s good-spirited right now. I think he’ll be back soon.”

AL STANDS TALL

UConn point guard Alterique Gilbert’s 10 assists and just one turnover Wednesday night were impressive, and Hurley admits that the UConn coaches were partially to blame for the junior not having such a breakout game earlier.

“I didn’t do a very good job of coaching him at that position early in the season,” Hurley said. “I think he’s made adjustments but as a staff I think we’re not letting him down the way early on we really didn’t have him playing to his strengths.”

Needless to say Hurley was pleased with Gilbert’s performance against Iona.

“I love where it’s going with him. He’s so focused on his leadership and trying to make people around him better,” Hurley said.

THE BOUK ON JAMES

UConn freshman James Bouknight had just two points in his first-ever game in Gampel Pavilion. He had at least 13 points in each of his previous three games.

Hurley was asked before the game if Bouknight was in line for more playing time in the near future but the coach said that wasn’t going to automatically happen.

“His defense has kept his minutes down, the fact that he wasn’t available to us to game plan, and the fact that we have a deep team,” Hurley said.

Bouknight played just 14 minutes on Wednesday, in part because UConn’s starting guards were playing well.

“If he played on last year’s team his minutes would have been a lot different at this point in the season,” Hurley said.

FREE THROWS

Iona center Tajuan Agee is the nephew of Arthur Agee, the latter of which was featured in the 1994 documentary “Hoop Dreams.” … Tyler Polley had 12 of his 14 points in the second half, thanks in part to some choice words from the coaches at halftime. “We got after him a little bit at the half, nothing crazy,” Hurley said. … UConn has used the same starting lineup in all eight of its games. … Vital missed a free throw with 3:38 to play in the game, snapping a streak of 20 consecutive makes. He has missed only twice in 33 attempts from the line this season.



Posted in New Britain Herald, UConn on Thursday, 5 December 2019 17:10. Updated: Thursday, 5 December 2019 17:13.