Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UConn's Diaco: "I am going to get it done"

Let's make no mistake, first-year UConn coach Bob Diaco's glass is half full approach to things even as the humbling losses have rubbed fans and media the wrong way.

The weekly dissertations about how the Huskies continue to get better seems little like nothing but mindless chatter in the wake of the program's worst home shutout loss in 75 years and the fact that the Huskies have lost three games by at least 25 points this season.

Diaco has often used the Tuesday press conferences to spout rhetoric about how the Huskies are all about the process and that they continue to get better.

His message was a little different and more based in reality than in recent weeks.

"One of the greatest disappointment for me and the team, we really feel bad that the record is the way it is for UConn country," Diaco said. "That hurts. That hurts that our Husky fans are not enjoying these Saturdays like they should be, need to and will be. Then we have this whole collection of former players and former athletes at the school that have created this incredible force of success and tradition. They deserve better, they should not be worrying if they will be putting their letterman coat on or not. They should feel like 'yes, I am going to the water cooler today like a peacock.'

"I am looking for more, I am looking for more with the team and we are going to get it solved. The problem has been identified. I am not a problem identifier, I would like to think I am a problem solver so we have enacted an action plan to solve it. That is why I was brought here by Warde (Manuel) to get it done. I am going to get it done and I am excited about getting it done."

In the wake of two more players leaving the team (former starting linebacker Jefferson Ashiru and receiver Kamal Abrams), it was interesting to hear Diaco talk about one of his main goals is seeing that kids that come in as freshmen stick around to take part in Senior Day festivities which is ironic since only six seniors are on the most recent two-deep chart for offense or defense.

"My pressure is about the young men on the team," Diaco said. "That to me is the pressure that I feel, the men on our team, they need to be there with the flower trotting out to midfield with their papers in their back pocket handing their flower to their guardian, that is a pressure and that is a culture that was present and will be present again. I feel that pressure. Not that we are going to be 100 percent successful at it but we will be close. These Husky fans, they deserve better than the record shows at this point. It is an awesome fan base, one that I am proud to be a part of. I am looking forward to growing it."

Diaco has spoken often times about players needing to improve day by day, week by week so I asked Diaco is he has seen the same growth from himself, a first-time head coach.

"I have," Diaco said.  "The guy who showed up in the middle of December is not the guy who is standing here now. Hopefully in May I can say the same thing for the guy standing here. Every day you learn something new in that chair, every day a new thing is presented to you. It is exciting. I don't mean it in a disparaging way. It is a job I am really loving and enjoying. I am growing, just like Andreas (Knappe) at right tackle, I am growing in the same way."

As for news coming out of today's press conference, he said that Ashiru was not dismissed from the team but he left the team. He also wasn't ready to proclaim that sophomore Tim Boyle was going to see the same number of snaps he did against Cincinnati when he got his first start of the season but that he'd like that to be the case. Much of that will be determined by how Boyle looks in practice. Although Gus Cruz is still listed as the starter at left guard, he referred to freshman Ryan Crozier as the starter. Also, he spoke publicly for the first time about quarterback commit Tyler Davis since all the paperwork has been filed and he is set to enroll at UConn for the spring semester. After the press conference I asked Diaco for some clarification on the status of sophomore fullback Matt Walsh after he did not dress for the Cincinnati game so he could address some "corrective" issues. Diaco said he is back to competing without restriction and that Walsh will practice and is expected to play on Saturday.


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