Jim Calhoun: UConn can still win
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun told ESPN.com on Saturday he remains optimistic the Huskies will have a winning season in 2013 and be a team that will challenge for an upper-division finish in the Big East despite a number of defections and an NCAA postseason penalty next year.
The latest possible defection was reported on Saturday morning by CBSSports.com. The father of sophomore forward Roscoe Smith said his son would seek a transfer.
Michael (Bradley) may be leaning toward staying at UConn while Roscoe (Smith) is going the opposite way. If they both decide to leave then we wish them both luck.” -- UConn coach Jim Calhoun
Calhoun said Smith is leaning toward leaving. But Calhoun said there is a chance redshirt center Michael Bradley could remain with the Huskies, despite a report that Bradley is leaving.
"Michael may be leaning toward staying at UConn while Roscoe is going the opposite way," Calhoun said. "If they both decide to leave, then we wish them both luck."
The Huskies already lost rising senior forward Alex Oriakhi as a direct result of the postseason penalty resulting from a poor Academic Progress Rate score. Oriakhi transferred to Missouri and can play next season without having to sit out the year.
"We've had 25 years without a losing season and we want to keep it going to 26," Calhoun said.
Calhoun said the backcourt of returnees Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright and newcomer Omar Calhoun, who hasn't shown any sign that he won't honor his commitment, will be one of the top in the Big East.
"Scoring-wise, we'll be fine," Jim Calhoun said of the three guards. "We'll need help up front."
The Huskies do have face-up forward DeAndre Daniels coming back with forwards Tyler Olander, Enosch Wolf and Niels Giffey as well as Holy Cross transfer R.J. Evans. Calhoun said none of the other returnees have expressed a desire to leave. Calhoun said Evans and Daniels will be solid shooters for the Huskies as well as Omar Calhoun, Napier and Boatright.
The Huskies do have two more scholarships for this season available, a result of one part of the APR penalty being lifted.
Jim Calhoun said the Huskies would have nine scholarship players (assuming Bradley and Smith depart) and the potential to add two more, likely big men, in this spring signing period.
Calhoun said the staff is wrestling with whether to balance the classes and go heavier in the 2013 recruiting period.
"We have to decide if we'll load up now or wait until '13," Calhoun said. "We're looking to balance the classes."
UConn is still holding out hope that the NCAA will change the conditions of the APR and judge a four-year period that includes the most recent two years rather than not including the past year as it stands now. If that were to occur, UConn officials say it would be eligible for the postseason.
Calhoun, who turns 70 next month, has two seasons left on his contract.