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UConn's Olander will miss Saturday's finale

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published March 08. 2013 4:00AM
Beat up Huskies host Dunn and Providence

A few weeks ago, UConn was dreading that the season would end on March 9 because of a postseason ban.

Now the injury-plagued Huskies might be looking forward to the offseason. They're just hoping to have enough healthy players to take on Providence Saturday in Storrs.

Junior Tyler Olander is the latest Husky to join the injury list. He'll miss the season finale after suffering a fractured left foot in Wednesday's 65-51 loss at South Florida. He'll visit with a surgeon on Monday and likely need surgery.

Olander, who averaged 4.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 29 games, is the third member of a thin frontcourt rotation to be sidelined this season. Junior Niels Giffey was lost after fracturing his right index finger in Saturday's loss at Cincinnati. Fellow reserve Enosch Wolf was suspended indefinitely on Feb. 11.

Two backcourt starters also are dealing with injuries and considered day-to-day.

Junior Shabazz Napier, the team's leading scorer, has missed the last two games with a right foot injury. He shed his walking boot, wore both sneakers and did some light movements on the court on Thursday.

Freshman Omar Calhoun continues to be hampered by a sore right wrist. His performance against South Florida was painful to watch, as he converted just one of 14 field goal attempts and had three points.

Even if Napier and/or Calhoun can play Saturday, they clearly won't be even close to 100 percent.

So that leaves the Huskies with just six "healthy" scholarship players on the roster - Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, R.J. Evans, Phillip Nolan, Leon Tolksdorf and Brendan Allen. Only the first two players average more than 3.3 points per game.

With a depleted roster, the Huskies (19-10, 9-8) played their worst game of the season at South Florida, suffering breakdowns on both the offensive and defensive ends. They lost their season-high third straight game, falling short in their bid to secure their first winning Big East record since the 2008-09 season.

Providence (17-12, 9-8) comes to Storrs as one of the hottest teams in the Big East, winning six of the last seven games. Motivation will clearly be on the Friars' side, as they're attempting to keep their slim NCAA tournament berth hopes alive and seeking to avenge an 82-79 overtime loss in the first meeting on Jan. 31.

The game will mark the end of Evans' brief one-season UConn career. A Norwich Free Academy graduate from Salem, he's started the last two games in place of Napier. He's averaging 3.3 points and 1.6 rebounds.

It will also be former New London standout guard Kris Dunn's first collegiate game in his home state. Dunn is averaging 5.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 20 games, making 14 starts, for the Friars. A shoulder injury kept him out of the first nine games.

• In other news, UConn coach Kevin Ollie is one of 10 finalists for the Joe B. Hall Award, which is given to the top first-year coach in Division I.

Rider's Kevin Baggett, Mount St. Mary's Jamion Christian, Brown's Mike Martin, Wagner's Bashir Mason, Illinois State's Dan Muller, Long Island University-Brooklyn's Jack Perri, Florida International's Richard Pitino, Southern Utah's Nick Robinson and Tennessee State's Travis Williams also are in the running. The winner will be announced April 5.

g.keefe@theday.com

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