Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Calm before the storm for new UConn coach

Other than perhaps a week here, a couple of days there Bob Diaco has been able to monitor the progress of the players who will comprise his first UConn team.

However, with the finals all wrapped up and the team not set to reconvene until June 2 for summer conditioning drills, these next few weeks are one that Diaco can only hope are extremely quiet.

Diaco is hopeful that when he sees the grades from the spring semester from the returning players, there won;t be anything to cause alarm. He also hopes that when the players are back hanging out with their friends, their idea of fun doesn't cross any lines that puts the university in a negative light. He is also optimistic that all the time he and his staff spent with the team on the importance of better diets and sleeping patterns will be followed by the Huskies when they are away from campus.

"I have no other expectations other than just try to get better every day," Diaco said on a post-spring practice conference call set up by the American Athletic Conference. "The team needs a lot of work, the culture of the team needs a lot of work, the physical portion in terms of conditioning, physical conditioning, speed, strength everything needs a ton of work. We are way behind. Thinking about how we are going to win games, right now we are talking about how not to lose.

"The team just finished finals, they are away but they are not off. We have worked to educate them of when they are on their own and away, how to eat, how to sleep, what the trappings of lack of sleep and poor food and inactivity can do. We have worked to educate them on something that at least on the short term has not been done in the past. Even in the time away I am focused on that the team has enough information and knowledge and investment made that they are going to be willing participants in these next three weeks when they are away so June 2 when we get started, we are not playing catch up and we are moving forward.
In the past teams come back and they have to get caught back up again. If we can not start the first week of training getting caught back up and we can spend the first week of training moving forward that would be an improvement just that alone, we are not even talking about training we are talking about the time away. If we can do that better that is going to make the first week to 10 days better when we start on June 2. When you talk about the science of time away, there is a lot more to think about than thinking about (playing) BYU on the 29th (of August)."

As for the players, Diaco was asked for a timetable of when he would declare a pecking order for his quarterbacks as Chandler Whitmer, Tim Boyle and Casey Cochran each started four games during the 2013 season.

"There is no set depth (chart)," Diaco said. "The guys need to get bigger, faster, stronger, they need to grow their relationships with their teammates and they need to learn how to protect the ball better collectively. All four players (including redshirt freshman Kivon Taylor) will be working on that well into August, well into the middle of August before there is any proclamation about who’s who and what’s what.

"There’s some positions where it is pretty clear who the guy is. Byron Jones is going to be one of the best corners in America, not one of the best corners on our team but one of the best corners in the country. There are a few players like that on our team that it is pretty clear that they are going to be stalwarts for us and need to be. Alex Mateas at center, he is going to be the center. There are other guys who are coming on and doing well but Alex is going to be the center."

He was asked for Taylor's status moving forward as he was suspended for part of spring practice before returning to the team.

"Kivon was working on his academics and finishing up his exams so the grades, my understanding is that the grades were due today for the student-athletes and we will have a great picture on just the total picture of everyone and how they finished up there at the beginning of the week," Diaco said "My understanding, all things being equal, he has finished strong and he will be up and running with the team in June and hopefully that can happen."

Before it was time for Diaco to answer questions, American Athletic Conference commissioner gave a 7 1/2 minute opening statement which pretty much was his opportunity to pump the tires of the AAC teams and the non-conference schedule. About the only newsworthy portion of his time on the call came when he said that no decision has been made on the divisional format in the AAC but that it is an issue which will be raised at the upcoming spring meetings.


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