UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley held a conference call on Wednesday morning to address the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the nation and to give some updates on team activities throughout the last month.
After welcoming new recruit Adama Sanogo to the program, Hurley shifted to the nationwide protests ongoing.
“These guys right now, they’re hurt, they’re angry, they’re sad they’re frustrated,” he said on his team’s current emotions.
Hurley said they are focusing on how they can be active in the community to make change, get educated and reach out to community leaders to figure out where they can help. He later said that it added a new focus outside of basketball.
“There’s fear, guys have lived in fear in this world,” Hurley said. “There are players that are angry, that are saddened. A lot of those emotions right now are directed toward conversations of things that we’ll be able to do at UConn aside from pursuing championships...”
He was also asked about the players view on a National Anthem protest, which Hurley and his players at URI did a few years back. He said that the team and the staff have had several conversations about speaking out, organizing and planning.
Hurley released a statement on May 30, expressing his “sorrow” and saying that the team and staff were engaged in conversations on the topic.
“Changing the culture of social injustice and racial inequality must finally be fully addressed. I have an important role moving forward. As a leader I must use my platform to create change,” he said in the statement.
Hurley welcomes Adama Sanogo
Before touching on the protests, Hurley kicked it off by taking the opportunity to welcome new recruit Adama Sanogo to the program following Sanogo’s commitment on May 5.
“We’re thrilled with his addition to the program. He’s a winner, he’s a warrior, he’s like an old-school type of guy in terms of his work ethic,” Hurley said.
He is an athlete big who should help on the glass and around the post, which is something UConn has lacked over the past few years. Last year’s top-rebounder Christian Vital graduated after led the team with 6.3 per game last season, good for 12th best in the conference.
Hurley also touched on the role of RJ Cole in recruiting Sanogo, calling Cole a “difference maker” both on the court in the locker room.
“(RJ Cole) makes it easier for us to recruit for us as a program,” Hurley said.
Hurley also offered some updates on the team’s summer activities and return planning.
“This summer, we are having conversations,” Hurley said. “We have been on a couple of calls in terms of when we’ll be able to return to campus.”
The team is engaged in conversations to return this summer, which Hurley noted was personally encouraging that the conversations were taking place at all. They are currently trying to develop a plan to come back.
He pointed to the balancing the varying state guidelines as well as trying to get the athletes on campus to continue their education.
Hurley has also seen Akok Akok during his rehabilitation on campus from a torn Achilles tendon and plans to meet both Akok and James Bouknight at some point Wednesday. Hurley has also seen Josh Carlton, who is living on campus.
Hurley said he hasn’t visited with Tyler Polley, who is returning from a torn ACL, but reports from team trainers and Polley himself point to him being fully ready for the season opener in November.
Meanwhile, the team is still waiting to hear if URI transfer Tyrese Martin will receive a transfer waiver to play this upcoming season. He committed to UConn back on April 7.
“That’s something we’re exploring, no update on that,” Hurley said on the possible transfer waiver. “I do think that Tyrese is a different situation than RJ, who was really looking for that year to build up his body and to use that redshirt year.”
The 6-foot-6 guard originally committed to Hurley when he was still with URI. He averaged 12.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game for the Rams last season.