Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The first day of spring is here

I've been in college hockey mode for much of the last three months. I got back from Ithaca, N.Y. Sunday and will be heading back upstate (to lovely Albany, N.Y.) on Thursday to cover Quinnipiac University's quest for an NCAA tournament bid at the ECAC Championships. For those UConn hockey fans (if there are any) who haven't kept up with the Q since they departed Atlantic Hockey for the ECAC, let's just say things are going well. The Bobcats opened a state-of-the-art $52 million dollar arena in January which rivals UConn's new football facilities in terms of opulence, and are currently ranked 18th in the nation.

However, I was able to get up to UConn this afternoon for the first spring practice. I must say, it was quite different covering spring practice in the Shenkman Center. The last two years were spent staving off frostbite at the outdoor practice fields and being unable to write anything during the interview sessions because your hands were frozen into a claw. But it was warm and toasty Tuesday, with players and coaches in shorts and sleeves and no worries of slipping on wet turf or clearing phlegm for 45 minutes on the drive home.

Here's a quick roundup of what went down and what some of the players had to say.

  • If Dan Davis isn't elected captain, I'll personally petition for a recall election. He exudes leadership, at least in his dealings with the media. By the way, after sitting out the spring following arthroscopic surgery to clear cartilage in his knee, Davis says he'll have plenty of pent-up aggression to unleash once preseason practice starts in August. "My major will be violence," Davis said. I'll take a wild stab and predict Danny Lansanah and Larry Taylor will be selected as the other captains.

  • Davis was 287 at the official team weigh-in, but says he's dropped to about 280 in his search for the ideal playing weight at his new position, defensive tackle.

  • Donald Brown bulked up to 214, about five pounds heavier than he was listed last fall. He says the biggest difference between this spring and last spring is in his confidence.

  • It's amazing how much one can learn about sports injuries in this profession. Today's lesson was on distal clavicle osteolysis. Brown said he had surgery in December for the disorder (he says he's finished with his rehabilitation and is at 100 percent). After checking WebMD, I found the condition is caused by trauma to the shoulder and is also a common weight lifting injury.

  • Hamden resident Jameson Davis, who left the Wisconsin football team following an arrest last January, is at UConn practice as a walk-on. A speed demon who played quarterback and defensive back at Hamden High, Davis is eligible to play this fall. “He’s been admitted to the school and asked if he could come out for the team,” Edsall said. "Anyone who’s admitted and wants to walk on, we’ll give them a tryout. He’s here trying to earn his stripes."

That's all I've got for now. Gotta get back to the hockey rink.


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