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Even the diehards have had it with all this police blotter business

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published March 23. 2013 4:00AM

Storrs

Tyler Olander became the second UConn men's basketball player since February to be arrested early Thursday morning, booked for "trespassing in a structure or conveyance" during spring break in Panama City Beach, Fla.

The details: According to two school sources, Olander was trying to get into a hotel party. The sources said a wristband was required for access. Olander couldn't produce one and was uncooperative enough so that the arrest ensued.

It would be easy enough to rain hailstones on Olander for bad judgment, not merely for the arrest but for leaving campus in the first place while rehabilitating an injury. Surely, Olander deserves as many 6 a.m. suicides as coach Kevin Ollie sees fit, once Olander's foot has healed.

Under normal circumstances, Olander's transgression would be filed under "dumb things college kids do." You did them. So did I. We learn the lesson. And we move on.

Except that few programs in the country can match UConn's arrest log in the last 10 years. There was Enosch Wolf, arrested last month for third-degree burglary, first-degree criminal trespass and disorderly conduct stemming from a domestic altercation with a woman.

There was former player Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, who was arrested in 2011.

There was Nate Miles, who was arrested for violating a restraining order in 2008.

There were stolen laptops, Marcus Williams, A.J. Price

The list is an embarrassment.

Maybe that's why even UConn's staunchest defenders have lost patience.

What follows comes from The Boneyard, an Internet haven for UConn fans. I'm friendly with several posters. I can't stand many others. Generally, though, I admire their passion. I root for my teams the same way.

What I expected: Half of them would resort to the persecution complex and the other half would deflect news of Olander's arrest with, "What, we're the only school in the country whose players misbehave?"

Instead, what I found was stunning. The Boneyarders, UConn's No. 1 fans, sure sound as though they've had enough.

A sampling:

• "If it was not for 'Cuse, our program would lead the nation in arrests over the last decade, if it does not already. Pathetic and embarrassing."

• "Enough is enough. Kick Wolf and Tyler off the team. These weekly arrests are totally unacceptable and humiliating for the school. I don't care how minor the charge. Ollie needs to make an example of both that this will not be tolerated."

• "I guess we can't refute our name other schools call us: UConnvicts! We surely seem to want to emulate it. Ugghh! These are JC's recruits so I hope KO is recruiting a different breed."

• "Right now perception is everything for us and these morons are contributing to an already negative national perception. Not a strong message to send to potential conferences."

Hard to argue any of that.

It's worth noting that a small group of fans on the Internet don't necessarily speak for all UConn loyalists. But in this case, I believe they do. Here's why: I called a healthy number of other passionate UConn fans I know on Friday. Their feelings are similar.

I suspect that if fans from another team or a provocative, analytical columnist wrote the same things, the same fans would run to UConn's defense faster than Rob Britt, the attorney always summoned to run to UConn's defense.

But this is from true, blue UConn fans who have spent a decade trying to defend their program. Their comments suggest it's getting harder to defend.

It's sad. I believe in Kevin Ollie's decency. He's a good man who wants to do this the right way. And yet there are two arrests here in the last two months. True, it's not fair to equate Wolf's domestic incident with Olander's just-being-a dumb-college-kid stuff. At some point, though, no one will care to distinguish one arrest from another.

I believe Olander should be punished for embarrassing himself and the school, but should return.

I believe Wolf should be expelled.

But beyond any of our opinions, Ollie needs to convey the message - now - that second chances aren't a guarantee. Start honoring your scholarships, boys. Start honoring your family name, your teammates and your school. UConn is better than this.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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