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UConn trying to get back to normal

10/27/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

How does a team get back to normal when nothing seems normal anymore?

That's the question facing the Connecticut Huskies this week. Ten days ago, they lost a teammate when cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed to death on campus. After an emotional week and a tribute-filled game at West Virginia, the entire team traveled to Miami on Monday for Howard's funeral.

Now they will try to get back on a regular routine leading up to this week's game against Rutgers. Coach Randy Edsall said this week got off to a good start in that regard.

"Probably more so then any other time in the last nine or 10 days," Edsall said Tuesday. "We had our normal Tuesday morning meeting this morning and the guys were attentive, alert, everything, we didn’t have to talk about some of the other issues that have come up. It’s good to get back into that kind of mindset, knowing that we still will deal with our thoughts and how we’re going to handle Jazz from here on in on our own individually."

The Huskies have gone through a wide range of emotions in a little over a week. There was the shock and grief, of course. Then they rallied together for an inspired effort at West Virginia, only to lose on a touchdown in the final three minutes.

"We put all of our hearts and minds into that game," quarterback Cody Endres said. "Everybody recognized the effort we put forth, and we were all happy with that. But at the same time, we were disappointed to lose the game."

Then there was Monday's funeral, where about 1,700 people turned out for a three-hour celebration of Howard's life.

"It was weird because it was an open casket," linebacker Greg Lloyd said. "You see a guy who once was alive and talking with you and chilling with you and now he's gone.

"There was some closure there. But real closure will come when the guy who's responsible for this is prosecuted and a verdict is made."

On Tuesday came news that police had arrested John William Lomax III and charged him with murder in Howard's death. This Saturday brings the first home game since the tragedy; all the players will wear No. 6 T-shirts in Howard's honor on their walk into Rentschler Field, and there will be a moment of silence before the game.

The trick for UConn will be to try and match the intensity and emotion it brought to the West Virginia game while also trying to get over the loss.

"We all have to move on with our everyday lives and understand what we have to get done," Edsall said. "I am not going to interfere with anybody’s individual way of handling this situation with Jazz, but everyone knows it is time to move forward and go on."

That means it's time for the Huskies to rediscover some normalcy, at least as much as is possible right now.

"This is going to be something that only time will heal, and not just a couple of weeks will do it," Lloyd said. "It will take a while for everything to settle down and get right back to normal. We're still one man down."