UConn notebook: Thabeet comes up big for Huskies

Matt Stout

At 6-foot-9, 300 pounds, Maine’s Brian Andre usually is the biggest player to step on the court in any game. His combined 30 points and 18 rebounds against Providence and Florida State this year prove that.

But when asked why his senior center had such a hard time Saturday (two points and six rebounds), Black Bears coach Ted Woodward had a simple answer.

“Hasheem Thabeet,” he said, referring to the UConn men’s basketball team’s 7-foot-3 center who notched 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks in the Huskies’ 105-60 win. “I don’t know how else to say it. We don’t play against 7-3 guys against Providence and Florida State who are 275, 280 pounds and block shots. That obviously changes the game inside.

“Every single time it goes up, you’re hoping you either get a foul call or maybe a goaltending situation,” Woodward continued. “But he is tremendous defensive center, shot-blocker, as good as we’ve seen not just this year but in a while.”

Thabeet looked especially active, going after nearly every shot that came his way and when not blocking shots, certainly altering several more. Maine shot less than 35 percent for the game and finished with just 12 second-chance points. Thabeet is now averaging 3.4 blocks per game.

“Coach (Calhoun) talked to me and asked me, ‘Where did the last-year Hasheem go?” Thabeet said, a question Calhoun has asked in the past this season. “I just tried to go out there and block everything.”

Dyson slowed

Sophomore guard Jerome Dyson was severely limited Saturday by a sore right knee, playing 12 minutes and scoring a career-low two points. He was subbed out two minutes into the second half and spent the remainder of the game icing his knee.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun said team trainers would try a different type of treatment with hopes that the injury would respond to it, adding that he is concerned but not overly worried.

“The only worry I have is that the word MRI or something comes up,” he said.

Dyson entered the game as the team’s leading scorer at 15.4 points per game and had scored 15 or more points in each of his previous four games.

Around the rim

The Huskies meet in Florida on Christmas night, but don’t intend to practice. Calhoun said earlier this week the plan was to do a double-session on Wednesday and then practice again on Thursday in preparation for Friday’s game against Central Florida. … Gavin Edwards scored 10 points in nine minutes for his first double-digit scoring effort this season. He also grabbed six rebounds, the second most (seven) in a game this year. … The 105 points were a season-high for UConn, while its 11 turnovers and 13 fouls both matched season-lows. … Thabeet’s 10 free throws and 13 attempts either matched or set season highs for any Husky this year.

Reach Norwich Bulletin writer Matt Stout at 425-4250 or