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Brown-Ferguson ‘exactly’ what team hoped for; more from Hurley presser

UConn men’s basketball’s head coach provided some updates on his squad during a recent press conference.

Dan Hurley
UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley lauded freshman Javonte Brown-Ferguson’s tenure with the team. (Ian Bethune - The UConn Blog)
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Earlier this week, Coach Hurley held a Zoom teleconference with media members to provide player updates and share results from summer workouts. He spent quite a bit of time reviewing the team’s conditioning process, while also going in-depth on Javonte Brown-Ferguson’s initial UConn experience, the team’s COVID-19 prevention protocols, and a slew of other intriguing topics.

The best bits from Coach Hurley’s call have been outlined for your reading pleasure:

Conditioning and injurie updates

After missing so much in-person time together, a major focus for the team right now is their conditioning.

Since the team hadn’t seen the court in nearly 130 days, Hurley said that he feels they’re about six weeks behind their normal schedule. He chalked up the perceived delay to the different levels of access to facilities among the players, so they’re taking their time to ramp up workouts to avoid potential injuries.

“It definitely hurts us because we’re relying on so many young players still, or players that haven’t really been part of winning big,” Hurley said.

The UConn coach shared that the team is practicing for an hour a day, four days a week, and they are potentially going to be ready for five-on-five next week. They did 30 minutes of live court work Monday, with some three-on-three play. This could increase as far as 45 to 50 minutes of live, situational play once they reach five-on-five.

Hurley applauded Jalen Gaffney, Akok Akok, James Bouknight, and Andre Jackson for adding “much needed” muscle mass to their bodies after working with new Director of Sports Performance, Mike Rehfeldt. Others players have shed pounds with Josh Carlton down 25 pounds from last year’s listed weight and Adama Sanogo down from 260 to “right around the playing weight we would want him to be as a freshman,” Hurley said.

He mentioned that Akok, Jackson, and Tyler Polley are all doing non-live shooting drills while they recover from injuries and added that Polley and Jackson are doing drills with a bit of movement, while Akok is just doing jump shot workouts for now.

Javonte Brown-Ferguson

Brown-Ferguson, a Canada-native, has been on campus for about a week after resolving an issue with his international student paperwork. The law that allows international students to come to the United States for school requires at least one in-person class, which was not viable to start the summer with the pandemic.

“He’s exactly what we hoped he’d be,” Hurley said. “A seven-footer with some really nice back to the basket ability and a guy that’s pretty skilled for, you know, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that he’s 17 years old.”

Hurley spoke to his competitiveness and said he anticipates him bulking up with the help of Refheldt – whose Instagram stories show off the insane gains players have experienced since he took the reins. Brown-Ferguson already started with some work during the middle of last week, with plans to ramp up his reps this week.

Precautionary protocols

Hurley touched on the different COVID-19 prevention protocols the team is following including morning questionnaires, temperature checks, walking with directional arrows, and wearing masks at required times.

“It’s a lot that we’re asking, but you know, if you want the opportunity to have a chance to play a sport that you love this year, both as coaches and players, you know you better be able to follow the follow the guidelines and try to keep each other as safe as possible.”

He also said the team is looking forward to campus filling up when the other students return, which will begin August 14.

“I know these guys are excited for students to get back,” Hurley said. “They’ve been here, it’s like a ghost town. I think it’ll be nice to have the students back.”

Other notes:

  • Hurley expressed some doubt in the season starting on time, saying:

“We would do anything as long as we’re confident in the safety of whatever those plans would be. I do think it is unlikely that we’ll be able to go from where we’re at right now to playing in November.”

  • When asked about the NCAA’s decision to allow players to have social justice messages, Hurley said:

“Anything that we can do to get our players to think more. To study and learn and then speak intelligently about real issues that affect their community, and our communities, and in this country. I think it’s a great thing.”

  • Coach Hurley did not have an update or timetable with Tyrese Martin’s waiver process, but Martin is still pursuing the waiver to play for UConn this season.
  • Hurley called guard James Bouknight a “marked man” that played “as well as almost any freshman guard in the country” down the stretch last season.