Published September 26. 2013 4:00AM
Storrs — Junior DeAndre Daniels sized up his competition before attempting to win his third straight Husky Run, the annual race that signifies UConn's basketball season is about to begin.
Daniels figured walk-on Pat Lenehan was a threat.
Freshman Kentan Facey issued a challenge prior to the race.
"He came out here and said he was going to take it from me," Daniels said of Facey.
Not so fast, freshman.
Daniels had other ideas, setting the pace on the way to becoming the first Husky to cross the finish line of the 3.4-mile race, posting a time of 19:52 and nipping Lenehan (19:52.5). Facey was fourth in 20:52.
Daniels plans on setting a good example for the younger players this season, too.
"There are times like this when it's hard and you just have to keep pushing through," Daniels said. "It's a good experience for the young guys. (Kentan) thought he was going to beat me but I had the experience. I already had the run in my mind and knew what I was going to do."
Junior Ryan Boatright also couldn't catch Daniels, finishing in 20:28.
"There was a point during the run that I thought I was going to die," Boatright said. "… I thought my heart was going to stop. I've been put in those situations before and know how to push through. I got it done."
College basketball season also is off to a fast start this season.
Normally, the Husky Run and first official practice would be in mid-October but the NCAA approved an earlier start. The Huskies will begin practice Saturday. First Night festivities are set for Oct. 18.
Of course, the coaching staff is all for the extra practice days. Coach Kevin Ollie is trying to figure out how to map out practices.
"I don't know how long we're going to go, but, trust me, we're going to go hard," Ollie said. "It's a tradition. We're going to be in our grays. You've got to earn it to get that jersey on. We've been doing that forever."
Entering his second season, Ollie is eager for his team to build off of last season's success. The Huskies will be eligible for the postseason after sitting out last year due to academic issues.
"I'm still excited," Ollie said. "The players know what to expect and I know what to expect from them. We pretty much got the same team back. … It's going still to be teaching the younger guys. But some of the veteran guys know what to expect so it's going to be a little easier."
Facey still in limbo
UConn is still waiting for the NCAA to rule on Facey's eligibility. A freshman forward from Jamaica, he can still practice with the team.
Ollie hopes to hear something in the next couple of days.
"Everything happens for a reason, I truly believe that," Ollie said. "It's kind of tough to tell him that when he's going through it. … Seventy-five percent of success is just showing up every day. I just told him to show up every day and when the NCAA gives its ruling, it gives its ruling."
On the sidelines
Two Huskies didn't compete in the Husky Run.
Omar Calhoun, who had off-season hip surgery, was held out for precautionary reasons, although Ollie said he expects him to practice Saturday.
Senior Tyler Olander also didn't run. He remains suspended indefinitely.