By DOM AMORE, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
5:57 PM EDT, August 21, 2013
Two games against Louisville, the defending national champion, will headline UConn's first season in the new American Athletic Conference. The beginning, though, is also an end: Louisville will play in the AAC for just one year before moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But for 2013-14, the Cardinals will bring luster to the strong 31-game men's basketball schedule that UConn released Wednesday.
The Huskies will play Louisville at Gampel Pavilion on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. as part of ESPN's first "Game Day" program. They will play at Louisville's YUM! Center on March 8 on CBS.
The Cardinals were ranked No. 1 in the nation last Jan. 14 when they came to the XL Center and won by 15 points. Although Louisville struggled in its next few games, it recovered and played its best basketball in March, winning the title. Several of its top players, including Russ Smith, will be back for another run. UConn, returning nearly everyone, including guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright and forward DeAndre Daniels from a 20-10 season, is expected to begin the season ranked in the Top 20, if not the top 10.
No longer in the Big East, UConn has beefed up its nonleague schedule to try to offset the lesser AAC competition. Assuming that it remains in the AAC, it will have to do so even more in future years to cover the loss of Louisville, a perennial national powerhouse.
This coming season begins with a neutral-site game against Maryland at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Nov. 8. The 2K Classic features games at Madison Square Garden against Boston College on Nov. 21, and either Washington or Indiana on Nov. 22, as UConn strives to remain visible in New York City following the loss of the old Big East tournament.
Other highlights of the nonleague schedule are home games against Florida on Dec. 2 and Stanford on Dec. 18. UConn will travel to Seattle to play Washington on Dec. 22.
The league schedule, which begins with a 9 p.m. start on Dec. 31 at Houston, will require more travel to distant destinations, with SMU, Houston, Memphis and Central Florida joining this season. To help ease the travel burden, road games at Houston and SMU in Dallas (Jan. 4) have been positioned so that UConn can do them in one trip.
The best league matchups, outside of Louisville, figure to be against Memphis (home, Feb. 15), SMU (home, Feb. 23), coached by Larry Brown, and old Big East holdover Cincinnati (home, March 1).
UConn will play nine games at the XL Center, and 10 at Gampel — perhaps its two biggest games with Florida and Louisville ticketed for Storrs — but most of the home games are still to be assigned. If UConn, as expected, reaches an agreement to play one game at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, it could be an AAC game, possibly Central Florida on Jan. 11, Temple on Jan. 21 or Houston on Jan. 30, and it could be part of a separate-admission doubleheader with a women's game.
UConn freshman Terrence Samuel has been cleared to play. His academic issues have been settled to the NCAA's satisfaction. "I'm cleared — let's goooo," Samuel told The Courant via email at noon Wednesday.
Samuel, who played at South Shore High in Brooklyn, was planning to take summer classes at UConn, as most incoming freshmen do, but he was required to retake some summer classes before being cleared by the NCAA. Samuel and UConn got the word on Wednesday, and he will move onto campus Friday, he said, to begin with the fall semester next week. … UConn is still waiting to hear on Kentan Facey's eligibility. The NCAA is reviewing his path from Jamaica to the U.S. to determine when he could be considered a high school graduate and how much eligibility he has. It's possible that he could be required to redshirt this season. This issue, more complicated, figures to take some time for a resolution. … On the recruiting front, UConn was visited by Abdul-Malik Abu, a highly regarded 6-foot-8 forward from Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, on Wednesday, an official visit that was originally scheduled for last week. Abu has also visited Florida and Providence. Small forward Terry Larrier (6-7) from the Bronx is expected on campus next Tuesday. Point guard Quentin Snider (6-1), who has de-committed from Louisville, is planning a visit to UConn in late September, as is power forward Paul White (6-8) from Chicago. All are top-100 players from the Class of 2014.
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