Shorthanded UConn men's basketball pushes forward without Bouknight

Published on Monday, 18 January 2021 10:32
Written by NEILL OSTROUT

JOURNAL INQUIRER

Dan Hurley’s wardrobe expanded exponentially over the weekend as he celebrated his 48th birthday. And his new clothes brought with them some life lessons.

The UConn coach was presented a T-shirt after Saturday’s practice proclaiming him “Captain Brutality” with a knock-off Captain America shield as a logo.

“I thought that was a beautiful gift,” said Hurley, who is known for his brutal practices. “One of the nicest gifts I’ve ever gotten.”

He sported another new shirt on Sunday during his Zoom call with reporters, one with a picture of Mike Tyson and the boxer’s famous proclamation: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Both messages were appropriate for his 25th-ranked Huskies’ situation.

UConn took a brutal blow when star James Bouknight had elbow surgery last week - he’ll be out roughly three more weeks as he recovers - and another one of the Husky players, Tyler Polley, took a punch of sorts on Friday in practice and was sporting a swollen left eye.

Polley was expected to play this afternoon as UConn (7-1, 4-1 Big East) took on St. John’s (7-7, 2-6) at Gampel Pavilion, and Hurley wasn’t overly concerned with the sharp-shooting senior’s prognosis.

“He took a shot. He was fine. He had pretty significant swelling and he missed a part of the next practice,” Hurley said.

Long an aficionado of boxing and boxing metaphors, Hurley didn’t seem to mind that Polley will be playing with a shiner today.

“I think it’s appropriate that he’s kind of got the swelled-up look of a boxer, because we’re in for a fight with these guys (today),” Hurley said, referring to St. John’s.

UConn (7-1, 4-1 Big East) has been off since a Jan. 11 win in Chicago over DePaul. St. John’s (7-7, 2-6) lost to Marquette 73-71 Saturday

Bouknight had surgery Jan. 12 in New York to repair “bone spurs” according to Hurley. He is expected to be out for a total of four weeks, or roughly three weeks from today.

“That 4-week window, maybe a little bit before, a little bit after, is when you should probably start looking for him,” Hurley said.

Bouknight was leading the Big East in scoring when he went down.

“He’s handled it well. He’s into his rehab. Obviously he’s very antsy; he wants to play,” Hurley said. “A couple weeks here that he has to rehab that injury. Hopefully we see him again soon.”

Today, against a St. John’s team that likes to press and push the pace, Bouknight would have been a key performer for the Huskies.

“They make it hard to have any semblance of an offense, really,” Hurley said.

“The court’s going to be open and you’re going to have space. “By far and away your best attacking, shot-creating, playmaker hurts,” Hurley added.

Without him, the Huskies might have considered giving Andre Jackson a chance to play more, but the freshman from Albany is injured and also out of action.

“This would have been a beautiful opportunity to get Dre some experience,” Hurley said.

Jackson, who broke a bone in his wrist during practice three weeks ago, has an appointment this week that could determine how quickly he returns to the lineup, Hurley said.

In addition to some of his roster’s unpredictability, Hurley, like many coaches, is dealing with sometimes last-minute COVID postponements.

UConn is scheduled to host Xavier on Wednesday but the Musketeers have been dealing with COVID issues and it’s unclear if that contest will be played as scheduled.

“This has been a tough season. It’s a tough season to manage when literally you’re waiting for the text messages from medical people to see if you have it (a game) tomorrow,” Hurley said.

It’s something someone like Captain Brutality, perhaps, can withstand.



Posted in The Bristol Press, UConn on Monday, 18 January 2021 10:32. Updated: Monday, 18 January 2021 10:34.