| ||Monday, January 10|
|NEW YORK -- Doug Wrenn owns Ray Allen-like skills and Richard
Hamilton-type scoring ability. But he has started college with an attitude
neither of them ever displayed.
Poor behavior in practice and in New York during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic earned Wrenn a seat on the bench for Connecticut's game against Duke on Friday. The one-game suspension came after a one-minute, one-turnover college debut against Iowa on Thursday.
Instead of sulking and looking into transferring at mid-semester, the 6-foot-6 freshman told ESPN.com he's staying at Connecticut.
"It was something that happened on this trip and I've got to use better judgment," said Wrenn, who had a brush with the law last year when he was charged with shoplifting while attending prep school. Wrenn's record was cleared after he paid a fine and did community service work.
"I'll be all right," Wrenn said. "I've got to stop all these little off-court incidents. You saw that team play. You see what they need. I'm the player they need. I can score anywhere. I know I can score. I've worked on my game so hard. It's just my choices. Everybody thinks I'm thinking about transferring or leaving early (for the NBA), but this is my home."
The buzz about Wrenn began in September. The indecisive Wrenn, who initially committed to Minnesota and signed with Washington out of Seattle's O'Dea High School in '98, finally seemed settled at Connecticut. He spent last year working on his game and working to become eligible. When he arrived on campus, he spent time going one-on-one with former Husky Ray Allen, a rising star with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Assistant Karl Hobbs said that Wrenn held his own against Allen and beat him off the dribble to the basket a few times. Wrenn was the natural choice to replace Hamilton as the go-to scorer (after Hamilton left after his junior season, going to the Washington Wizards in the first round last June).
Instead, Wrenn (12 points in the Huskies' lone exhibition game last week) took himself out of the lineup with his attitude. Calhoun went with Albert Mouring at shooting guard and Kevin Freeman as a perimeter-based small forward. Mouring was 2-for-10 shooting against the Hawkeyes, Freeman made one of two 3-pointers in No. 1 Connecticut's stunning 70-68 loss to unranked Iowa on Thursday.
"I definitely could have made a difference in the Iowa game and against Duke," Wrenn said.
Facing even more heat to produce Friday, Mouring and Freeman led the Huskies to a 71-66 victory over Duke in a rematch of the 1999 national title game. Mouring (6-of-12, 5-of-8 on 3s) and Freeman (7-of-17, 1-of-2 on 3s) shared the wings while Freeman also spent some time inside. Calhoun even had 6-10 Ajou Deng playing small forward and shooting 3s (1-of-4 in two games) in Wrenn's absence.
But it can't continue.
"We need him," Hobbs said of Wrenn. "He can play. It's not about defense or scoring or his talent. It's about his head, his attitude and how he respects his teammates."
Wrenn said he doesn't want the reputation of abandoning a situation when he's not happy.
"If I give up on (UConn coach Jim Calhoun), a lot of people won't trust me," Wrenn said. "I don't want to go to another school or take a chance and go pro. You see how many people came down here to see us play? I just got to be smarter. I've got a lot of maturing to do."
Calhoun stayed with only eight players against Duke, with Wrenn and senior Souleymane Wane suspended. Freeman played 40 minutes, too many for him on the perimeter or inside. Mouring's 30 minutes is acceptable when his shot is on. Freshman Tony Robertson played 15 minutes, but only five were spent spelling point guard Khalid El-Amin. Wrenn can get his time. He can earn it in Connecticut's system by having the hot hand. Calhoun will look for whomever is sharp and keep feeding him the ball.
"It's going to take a lot of patience on my side," Wrenn said. "I know I can go out there and play. I know I can. By January and February and March, that's going to be my time."
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