Hasheem Thabeet: The Tanzanian Phenom


JF-Expert Member
Feb 4, 2007
March 3, 2008
Men's Basketball
7,600 Miles From UConn, Thabeet Is Big Man Off Campus

STORRS, Conn. — An airplane landed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in May 2007 with a man of immense stature aboard.

The crowd that had gathered to greet him was so large the street by the airport had to be closed. And when he set foot in his home country for the first time in more than two years, he was overwhelmed by the reception in his hometown of 2.5 million people.

Hasheem Thabeet’s physical standing had always been large. But his social importance and celebrity in that East African nation had risen to heights congruent to that of the crown of his head — 7 feet 3 inches.

Thabeet received a king’s welcome, and even visited with his country’s president during his two-week stay. Strangers wearing Connecticut Huskies T-shirts and his No. 34 jersey cheered his arrival and hung posters of him all over town.

All of this fuss even though he was a relative unknown when he moved to the United States in 2005.

“I was not expecting to see all that,” Thabeet said. “At the time when I was leaving, nobody really believed I was going to be the person who I am right now.”

Now Thabeet, who Americanized his name from Hashim Thabit Manka, is a 21-year-old sophomore studying psychology at the University of Connecticut. He is a source of inspiration for Tanzanian children, who continuously send him letters hoping for advice, help or money.

The Connecticut basketball team is receiving the immediate benefits of Thabeet’s emergence as it continues its rebound from a one-season fall after finishing 30-4 and reaching the Round of 8 in the N.C.A.A. tournament in 2006.

Last year, Thabeet was one of eight UConn freshmen who experienced a bumpy season (17-14, 6-10 Big East). A year later, the No. 15 Huskies (23-6, 12-4) are in third place in the conference, one loss behind Georgetown and Louisville.

Connecticut’s improvement is a direct correlation to the maturation of its young players, including Thabeet, who began playing basketball only five years ago.

Thabeet’s size and 7-5 wingspan have made him a defensive force. He is tied for second in career blocked shots at UConn (245) and twice he has tied a program record with 10 blocked shots in a game. This season, Thabeet has more blocks (127) than nine Big East teams.

“If somebody beats us off the dribble or in the post, it’s really good to know you have that help,” the junior forward Jeff Adrien said. “It’s almost like having six players instead of five.”

But Thabeet grew up a soccer player, and the offensive part of basketball has proved difficult for him to master.

He runs the floor with ease and displays exceptional footwork. In fact, he juggles a basketball with his feet and knees like a soccer ball so frequently in practice that his teammates are no longer impressed.

But learning how to use his hands has been another story. He has worked hard to become a more consistent contributor on offense.

“The whole summer, that’s all I did was offensive workouts,” Thabeet said. “Last year, I couldn’t buy a basket.”

But last year, his potential was already so intriguing that Thabeet said he continuously received telephone calls and text messages from agents trying to lure him into entering the N.B.A. draft.

After lengthy consideration — made more difficult by the fact that after the death of his father, he has felt obligated to provide for his mother, brother and sister still in Tanzania — Thabeet returned to school. He said his mother struggled to support the family by selling traditional African clothing.

So not only is he receiving an education, but he is also being groomed for a once unthinkable job playing basketball, which would enrich his family living 7,600 miles away.

UConn coaches have tried several tricks to improve Thabeet’s comfort level with the basketball, including throwing passes to him as he sits on a rolling office chair and making him wear special gloves that force him to use his fingertips.

During the summer, he worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon and Emeka Okafor, among others, and he has developed a jump hook he is comfortable taking with either hand.

He is far from a dominant offensive player. But with plenty of scorers, the Huskies do not need him to be one. They need Thabeet to be a threat, and that he has become.

Thabeet has scored 22 points or more three times this season (his high as a freshman was 15), and dominated a victory against Georgia Tech last month with 24 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. All of his major averages are up, too. He has improved to 10.2 points a game, from 6.2; 7.8 rebounds, from 6.4; and 4.4 blocked shots, from 3.8. He is also shooting at higher percentages.

The assistant Andre LaFleur, who recruited the then lightly (or barely) regarded Thabeet, says today’s Thabeet is “light years” apart from the raw player he first saw two years ago.

“The first time I saw him, he looked like a soccer player that was playing on a basketball court,” LaFleur said. “His size, his physical coordination was very intriguing. Then I remember seeing him improve in just months, learning subtleties of the game and post play, he’d come so far. Put it like this: the first time I saw him play, I didn’t think he’d be able to play in a college game right away.”

Part of Thabeet’s learning curve was to stop shying away from the physical nature of the game — something he acknowledged caused him to avoid basketball growing up. And since coming to Connecticut — a place he initially balked at when he looked at a map and realized how cold it would be compared with his homeland — he has become more comfortable on the court and in his environment.

Last Friday in Storrs, with snow on the ground and the wind chill making it feel like 16 degrees, Thabeet arrived for practice bundled beneath a letterman’s jacket and multiple sweatshirts but with socks and sandals.

“He always wears sandals,” Adrien said. “So I don’t think he can be too cold if he always wears sandals.”

The Huskies, who have won 12 of their last 13 games with Thabeet filling up the stat sheet several times, could just be warming up. They look poised to make a deep postseason run.

If they do, perhaps Thabeet, surely wearing sandals, will walk with his teammates in another hero’s welcome when they fly back to Connecticut from the N.C.A.A. tournament. Just like the one he received in Dar es Salaam.
Hasheem baba, tunakushukuru sana kwa kuweka Tanzania kwenye ramani. Nadhani ni lazima vijana hawa wapongezwe maana wanaenda kutafuta maisha lakini pia wanafanya kazi kubwa ya kujenga reputation ya Bongo!
[media]http://bp2.blogger.com/_HO8ijU76ZcQ/R8xXiw557nI/AAAAAAAAOW0/sZmdomn_qVc/s1600/h.jpg[/media] Hasheem
Achana na huyo m'Nigeria look at Hasheem's stats.Way to go kiddo
we support you 100%

Mbona links dodgy?
But big up to the bredren and hope he does well.. Getting someone in the NBA itafunika hata wakenya na wakimbiaji wao. Sports markets a country big time.
UConn men: Centerpiece


Thabeet's growing talents make all the difference for Huskies

By Phil Chardis
Journal Inquirer

Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:49 AM EST
STORRS — Hasheem Thabeet still laughs when he thinks about the perception of him when he first arrived on the University of Connecticut campus.

“When I told people I was from Tanzania, they thought I had to run away from lions and tigers,” the junior center said.

That perception seemed much easier to change, however, than the perception of Thabeet as a player who was far too much of a project to ever contribute to a big-time college program, beyond blocking a few shots because of his 7-foot-3 frame.

Two years later, not only is Thabeet being touted as a probable top-five choice in the 2009 NBA Draft, but he is clearly the key element in UConn’s mission to reach this season’s Final Four in Detroit. Thabeet, who is the difference-maker between a good UConn team and a championship one, has come a long way from his homeland in order to come even further on the basketball court.

“I work hard all the time when I play, so I’m expecting myself to get better every day,” Thabeet said. “My freshman year, I didn’t know nothing. Sophomore year, I took that as a lesson. And this year, I’m about to graduate. I’m excited for the season.”

In reality, Thabeet is a big-city boy, from Dar Es Salaam, which is about the size of Chicago. Despite the 2 million-plus people who live in the city, however, Thabeet, 21, is well-known there, because he plays big-time college basketball in the United States.

“I go there and there’s a lot of attention,” Thabeet said. “I am the first basketball player to come here from Tanzania, so yes, a lot of people know who I am. They come up to me, but sometimes they just want to see what you look like. They see the name and want to see you. Over there, they follow it a lot. Some people stay awake until four in the morning to watch the games, because of the time difference.”

Thabeet’s father has passed away, but his mother, Rukia Manka, and older sister Sham, 22, still live in Tanzania, while younger brother Akbar, 17, has come to the U.S. and is a student at St. Thomas More in Montville. Hasheem has become a hero at home.

“It’s cool,” he said with his broad smile. “There’s nothing wrong with that. People are interested in what you do. That’s how it is.

“I came here to get my education and to play ball but at the same time, I am Tanzanian and I am representing my country pretty well. I am there for them. They don’t really have a basketball team. When I went there (last summer), I got to talk to kids and tell them what life is like here. I try to do my part.”

On the court, Thabeet will have to do his part, and more, if the Huskies are to have a memorable season. Thabeet has established himself as one of the top defensive forces in the country, finishing third in the country in blocked shots last year and earning the Big East Defensive Player of the Year award. It is his scoring and rebounding averages (10.5, 7.9) that must improve to take the Huskies to the next level.

Thabeet is obviously surrounded by solid talent, as evidenced by UConn’s lofty No. 2 national ranking. Senior A.J. Price is an all-conference point guard and senior forward Jeff Adrien has more career double-doubles than any player in the Big East. If junior guard Jerome Dyson can return to his freshman form and provide some scoring and if junior forward Stanley Robinson can pick up where he left off last season when he rejoins the team on Dec. 15, the Huskies will have five returning starters from last year’s 24-9 team that bowed out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Freshman guard Kemba Walker has already showed signs of becoming a major contributor off the bench, and somehow senior guard Craig Austrie always finds a way to add to the team. Up front, Gavin Edwards can help, but if freshman Ater Majok lives up to his advance billing, the Huskies will have a bench deep in talent as well.

Still, however, the key is Thabeet.

“Without a doubt, Hasheem is the difference-maker,” Price said. “Some people say a lot depends on what I do, and other people, but I’m confident in what I can do. I’ll be stable. All I have to do is get these guys the basketball and they’ll make plays. But Hasheem is the one piece that is irreplaceable. Just look at him — he’s 7-3, 270. He changes games on the defensive end and he’s added offense, so he’s the piece that really nobody can match up with. Nobody in the country can really match up with him.”

And Price claims that Thabeet has made almost as dramatic an improvement offensively as he did defensively one year ago.

“Just with catching around the basket and finishing,” Price said. “It sounds small, but he hasn’t been able to do that over the past two years as well as he does now. He catches the ball around the basket and he’s ready to do something with it when he does.

“I threw one off the glass the other day on a fastbreak and he went up and got it. I wouldn’t have even attempted that a couple years ago, but that’s the one thing he’s doing so much better. He’s ready to catch and finish. As long as he keeps doing that, he’ll have a lot of easy baskets this year.”

During the preseason, Thabeet has displayed much better moves around the basket, and much-improved passing, not to mention a jump hook in the lane and a short jumper.

“I think he’s ready to demand the ball,” Price said. “I know if he has somebody on his back and good position, I’m giving him the ball because I’m confident something good is going to happen with it. We’re funneling everything through him. That was an afterthought last year, to get him the ball every possession if you could, but now, the way he’s working for position … and he’s so big. When he gets the ball around the basket, he’s finishing with a jump hook, and finishing above the rim a lot more, like he should be.”

And the more Thabeet finishes, the more his confidence grows.

“I think more than anything, he’s gaining confidence in his own abilities,” associate head coach George Blaney said. “All of a sudden now, he’s starting to see that he can score, and once a guy gets that bug, that scoring bug, where they know they have the ability to score, it’s like a feeding frenzy — they want it more. And he’s starting to catch that, I think.

“I think Hasheem is running more, he’s offensive rebounding more. Coach is looking to get the ball inside more because Hasheem and Jeff can be so dominant physically. So we’re kind of going back to the days when Emeka Okafor was here and we’re trying to get it inside to him, to create other things.”

The UConn coaches have been trying to convince Thabeet of what he can be offensively with some hard work. He is now seeing the results.

“I have been working a lot harder than I used to and now, I go out there and I want to score everything,” Thabeet said. “I know I can be unstoppable in college basketball, so the coaches keep telling me every time I get the ball near basket, I should try to score and that’s what I try to do all the time. I have worked on it and I’m doing really good so far. So every time I get the ball, I’m expecting to do something good with it.”

Thabeet is still very much a work in progress and will make his share of mistakes and bad decisions. But it is his rapid improvement that has NBA scouts drooling over his future, and it will only make them more anxious to draft him if he shows the same learning curve this year.

“Hasheem has made more progress than any player I’ve ever had,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “I always thought Emeka did — 10 points a game in high school, six points a game his freshman year, to 19 as a junior, incredible progress — but I don’t know if there’s anybody close to what Hasheem has done. The first time we saw him on our court, we said, ‘Well, he can block shots.’ And then the rest broke loose.

“He’s got a good feel, he really does. He likes the gym and that’s important. He’s a great story of what happens when a kid stays in college. I think if he went to the NBA right now, he’d probably play because he can still block shots, but I think two or three years down the road, he’s going to be one of those special players in the NBA because there just aren’t that many 7-3, 270-pound athletes. I think he’s got a chance to be the Player of the Year this season.”

Heady talk about a guy who looked all but lost on the court two years ago.

“I’ve always believed in myself,” Thabeet said. “I wanted to work hard. I wanted to be better than everybody else.”

And, just maybe, take his teammates there with him.
UConn Men's Basketball: Thabeet will decide how far Huskies go


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Posted Nov 14, 2008 @ 12:49 AM

It’s late one night in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s most populated city and home to more than 2 million people. One of its largest, Hashim Thabit Manka, walks home, no doubt with a smile across his face.

This was a good night. With $400 in hand, he can proudly walk through the door to his mother, Rukia, and prove his hard work has paid off.

Sometimes it’s come at the expense of school. Sometimes it’s come at the expense of sports. But when you’re 6-foot-8 in Tanzania, no one asks your age — not when you’re on the runway, not even at the clubs. There just aren’t 14-year-olds that big. And there aren’t 14-year-olds that big giving modeling a shot to support a family that has lost a father and a husband.

“That’s how I used to live my life,” he says. “But that’s before I got the chance to come to school over here.”

Hasheem Thabeet, as he goes by now, is sitting inside a 10,000-seat arena as he talks.

In the time that followed the death of his father, Thabit Manka, seven years ago, basketball replaced soccer, the sport his father coached, and the awkward 6-foot-8 adolescent was replaced by a 7-foot-3 man. He’s approaching 270 pounds now, a 21-year-old muscular specimen who confidently proclaims he “can do anything I want with the basketball at any time.”

He’s confident, out-going and friendly. In some ways, he’s the same person who quit school more than once to find work in Tanzania. In others, he’s totally different: This time, he stayed in school, confident everything he wants will find him if he continues to do the work he’s done.

But he also wants to be so much more. Already a sports icon in his home country, Thabeet wants to be a humanitarian and a flag-bearer for Tanzania. He still wants to create a better life for his family. And starting today when he begins his third — and most likely final — season with the UConn men’s basketball team, he wants to be something unforeseen a half-decade ago when he first picked up a basketball.

“I think I can be unstoppable in college basketball,” said Thabeet, who’s a projected top-five NBA lottery pick. “I think I’m getting better every day, and by midseason, I think I should be unstoppable if I keep working the way I’m working right now.”

‘The one piece’

It’s almost a mystery how Thabeet became so tall.

His father stood just 5 feet, 9 inches. His brother, Akbar — on a soccer scholarship at St. Thomas More in Oakdale — is maybe an inch taller. Some of his uncles on his mother’s side of the family grew to about 6-foot-5. But no one is as tall as Hasheem.

In fact, few in his country — or this one — are.

“He didn’t really like playing basketball at first,” Akbar said of his brother. “Over there (in Tanzania), everybody is so short and they’re all looking at him and laughing at him because he’s so tall. He was like, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it.’”

But you could. And in a well-documented journey that took him from Kenya to Mississippi and California to Houston and now Storrs, Thabeet has gone from project to prodigy.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun proudly says that Thabeet’s “made more progress than any player I’ve had.” It may seem like it’s been overnight, but in transforming from a big man who can just block shots to one that dunks, rebounds and now has a national Defensive Player of the Year award to defend, it’s been a process.

He’s done countless drills. Prone to falling early in his college career, he’s improved his balance by spending time each week palming two heavy balls and standing on one foot for 30 seconds. Then, he’ll switch and do it again. Then he’ll do it with his eyes closed.

Thus, as his hands and feet have gotten stronger and his confidence has grown — “I think he understands how good he really is,” A.J. Price said — so have his abilities. Thabeet averaged 10.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and blocked 147 shots last season. This year, the UConn coaching staff is hoping for 15 to 16 points game, rebounds close to double digits and … well, Thabeet has always blocked shots.

“I threw (a pass) off the glass today, and he went and got it,” Price said after a recent practice. “I wouldn’t have even attempted that a couple years ago.”

Neither would have Thabeet.

“He’s a great story of what happens to a kid when he stays in college,” Calhoun said. “I think if he went into the NBA right now, he’d probably play because he can still block shots. But I think two or three years down the road, he’s going to be one of those special players in the NBA because there aren’t too many of those 7-foot-3, 270-pound athletes.”

That’s created expectations that far exceed even Thabeet’s wingspan. He’s graced magazine covers and NBA mock drafts boards. The Huskies, ranked No. 2 in both major preseason polls, haven’t won a postseason game in two years. And yet, they’re back on the national radar, with Thabeet providing the signal.

“A lot of people say it depends on what I do and stuff like that,” said Price, a second team All-American, of UConn’s success. “I’m confident in what I’ll do. I’ll be stable. But he’s the one piece that is irreplaceable by all means. … He’s the piece that really no one in the country can match up with.”

Carrying the banner

At the moment, Thabeet’s focus remains on UConn, and more specifically tonight, Western Carolina, the Huskies’ opponent in their season opener.

But he has aspirations far beyond basketball. Sure, one day, he wants to go back to Tanzania to run camps. He also wants to be involved in Basketball without Borders, which runs programs around the world using basketball as a common language. In the two times Thabeet’s returned home to Tanzania since coming to UConn, he said the sport has exploded in popularity.

“He’s the reason,” Akbar said.

Thabeet’s been touched by more, though. During his last trip, he did a tour speaking and visiting with children at five orphanages in his country. Some of the children suffered from HIV and AIDS. All lived in conditions that Thabeet called “devastating.”

He was told it doesn’t cost more than $50 a day to feed an entire orphanage of more than 50 children. So Thabeet gave what he could, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for the day that he was there.

“I’m not a rich guy,” Thabeet said. “But maybe one day I’ll be able to go back and help (more).”

He’s in a good position as a sports figurehead for a country not known for producing star athletes. Thabeet has been invited several times to meet with Tanzanian president, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the most recent being at a United Nations summit in New York in late September. When he traveled home following his freshman year, Thabeet’s plane was met by a crowd of hundreds of well-wishers.

“I think early on when he was just beginning to develop and come into his own as a player, even until last year, I think he never really thought about how big it can really be for him,” said UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur, who spear-headed Thabeet’s recruitment.

“It goes beyond just being a professional basketball player for him. The things that he can do with his life can touch a lot of people, especially in his country, and I think he’s smart enough to understand that he doesn’t want to sell himself short on it,” LaFleur continued. “This is bigger than him. We’re talking a country that really he’s carrying the banner athletically for, and the things that he can do for that country are priceless.”


For now, Thabeet will enjoy at least one more year in Storrs.

In choosing to return to UConn last spring instead of entering the NBA, Thabeet gave himself more time to develop, possibly contend for national Player of the Year honors and improve his draft stock.

But he also genuinely loves college. And college loves him.

“He’s the guy who the NCAA should be really excited for because he’s come to college and really embraced it,” UConn assistant Pat Sellers said. “He goes to the volleyball games, the soccer games, he’s real popular on campus. He talks to everybody.”

You can’t miss him either — besides his height. If Thabeet isn’t flashing his 1,000-wat smile, it’s sunglasses. Or a pair of flashy earrings. Or a scarf. Imagine that: a 7-foot-3 Tanzanian rocking a scarf.

“He’s Hollywood Hasheem,” Sellers said.

And he’s always been. On Thabeet’s first visit to Storrs, he walked into Gampel Pavilion for a shootaround prior to the Huskies’ game with Louisville dressed in a white velour sweat suit and sunglasses.

“And everybody was like, ‘Why is he wearing sunglasses?’” LaFleur said.

Even this past summer, Caron Butler, the former Husky and current Washington Wizards star, noticed it. While talking to reporters prior to Calhoun’s Charity All-Star game, Butler looked to his left and saw Thabeet signing autographs in the first row. “Thabeet,” Butler said with a smile and a shake of his head, “he’s a celebrity.”

There’s no denying that. But perhaps he always had the movie-star personality anyway.

“He’s just finding himself and he’s understanding what he’s capable of,” teammate Jeff Adrien said. “And he’s having fun with it.”

Family first

But this year is more special for a different reason. With his brother, Akbar, now 45 minutes away at St. Thomas More, Thabeet finally has family around. He and Akbar visit almost every weekend, and both keep in touch with their mother and sister, Sham, nearly every week.

Akbar, 18, doesn’t play much basketball — “I’m short,” he said. But he and Hasheem have similar humor and in many ways, act the same. It’s probably because they did everything together as children.

“Everywhere it was me and Hasheem, me and Hasheem, me and Hasheem,” Akbar said. “We’re really close.”

“He’s just like me,” Hasheem said, “but a smaller version.”

It’s also brought into focus for Hasheem how badly he wants his whole family to be here. When he does turn pro, bringing his mother and sister here is one of his first goals. Since his father died, Thabeet — the oldest son — took upon the responsibility of providing when he can.

Even his name reflects that. His brother goes by Akbar Manka. But when “my dad passed,” Thabeet said, “I had to change my name” to take his.

“You go somewhere and mention that name and people know directly who you are,” he added.

Everyone knows who Thabeet is by now. But from the boy who once modeled to make money to the man whose basketball talent has been described as “scary,” Thabeet still remembers the man he wants to be.

“Once you don’t have somebody who you really love and was always there for you, you start to realize, ‘I have to do something with my life,’” Thabeet said. “This was a great opportunity for me (to come to UConn). I think I’m taking the most out of it.”
Connecticut survives scare from unranked Buffalo


AMHERST, N.Y. -- After watching Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet foil his team's spirited effort to upset the second-ranked Huskies, Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon echoed a familiar refrain.

"He's really improved," Witherspoon said. "It's too bad he didn't go to the NBA last year."

Thabeet had 21 points and 18 rebounds, Jeff Adrien added 18 points and UConn survived a big scare, holding off the Bulls 68-64 on Thursday night.

"Today was a big challenge," said Thabeet, who also had four blocks and played 39 minutes. "Their guards were making everything and our guards couldn't make a shot and we were still able to win."

The Bulls (3-3) nearly upset then-No. 2 Pittsburgh at Alumni Arena two years ago, losing 70-67 after leading by 10 points with 14 minutes left. A repeat performance seemed unlikely against the Huskies (8-0), who won their first seven games by an average of 24 points.

But Rodney Pierce had other ideas, scoring a career-high 28 points to keep Buffalo close the entire game.

"I feel proud of my team," said Pierce, who was 10-for-19 overall from the field, including 2-for-2 on 3s, and made all six free throws he attempted. "We were pretty confident. We felt we had to step it up even more to win. It's just a steppingstone for what we can do in the future."

There were 15 lead changes and four ties in the game, and the outcome was in doubt until the final seconds.

Connecticut gained the lead for good after Thabeet blocked a layup attempt by Andy Robinson and Adrien hit a hook off the glass to put UConn up 52-51 with 9:56 to go.

Thabeet's bank shot from the lane gave the Huskies a 63-56 lead with just over four minutes left, but the Bulls refused to fold and two free throws by Pierce closed the gap to 66-62 with 75 seconds left.

Jerome Dyson then missed a drive in the lane, Thabeet was called for a foul, and Pierce made two more free throws to make it 66-64 with 40.6 seconds left.

UConn's Kemba Walker was called for a travel on the inbounds pass, giving Buffalo the ball with 37.3 seconds left.

Pierce first tried a baseline drive but couldn't get the ball past Thabeet underneath. Pierce snared the rebound after it caromed off the rim and called time out with 18.9 seconds left to set up the final chance.

"I was just thinking I've got to get to the basket," Pierce said.

Pierce had a chance to force overtime, but instead of shooting opted to pass to Max Boudreau in the lane. Thabeet tipped the ball before it reached Boudreau, who bobbled it with four seconds left and Buffalo never got off a shot.

"If Pierce turns and throws up a 3 as the clock goes off, they get themselves a win," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "They were that close."

Despite his team's struggles, Calhoun remained relatively low-key, no doubt expecting his Huskies to eventually take charge. They really never did, but they escaped, and that's all that mattered.

"I think they get surprised all of a sudden that the other team is going to fight back," Calhoun said. "It doesn't make sense to me. It's never going to make sense to me."

Craig Austrie finished with 10 points and A.J. Price and Dyson each had six. Austrie and Dyson, who entered the game averaging a team-leading 16.7 points, didn't arrive in Buffalo until three hours before tipoff because of academic commitments back in Connecticut.

Buffalo matched the Huskies on the boards with 37 rebounds, held an impressive 10-6 edge on the offensive glass, committed only six turnovers but was called for 24 fouls to 10 for UConn.

The Bulls will likely lament for a while what might have been.

"You always think about the final play, but we had a lot of things we had to do right to be in that situation," Witherspoon said. "We did a lot of things right. I'm going to go home with the last play, but I'll go home with a lot of other plays, too."

Alumni Arena wasn't a sellout, mostly because Buffalo's football team was to play Ball State for the MAC championship on Friday night in Detroit and many fans had already departed for that game.

But Pierce had the hometown fans that did come on their feet at the outset, hitting his first four shots from the field in the first three minutes as the Bulls raced to an 8-2 lead.

The enthusiasm never waned as the Bulls matched UConn shot for shot in the opening half behind Pierce, who made his first seven shots and scored 17 points before the break.

ESPN - Connecticut vs. Buffalo - Recap - December 04, 2008
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Kuna watu watabisha kwamba dogo anatisha..........huna crip?
Video yake hii hapa....

Hii mechi watu walikuwa wanaizungumzia kwenye elevator leo asubuhi nilivyokuwa nakuja ofisini.

A good look for the kid.
nimewahi kwenda kwenye mechi zake wakati yuko high school in Houston, ila last year nilikwenda walivyocheza na Villanova na sasa hivi ukimuona kwenye TV, ameimprove kinomaa. Hata stat zake zinaonyeshaa. Ameongeza namba za offensive maana alikuwa na deffensive number nzuri, ila sasa anajitahidi sanaa.
Hasheem will go top 5 in this coming NBA Draft. Nafikiri ku work out na Hakeem Olajuwon wakati wa summer kumemsaidia ku improve game yake. My NCAA top players include Thabeet, Tyler Hansbrough wa Tar Heels, yule chalii wa Sooner (OU) Blake Griffin na yule chalii anayecheza point Davidson anaitwa Stephen Curry. Watch out for these names!

Naomba kusema neno kuhusu sentensi yangu ya kwanza hapo juu. Thabeet ni mchezaji mzuri kwenye college level. Atahitaji ku work extremely hard on both conditioning (add muscles) na u-quickness kwa ajili ya ku prepare na NBA monsters kama akina Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudamire, Yao Ming, Shaq (should he keep playing instead of retiring), KG, 'Sheed' Wallace, na kadhalika.
Nasema haya kwa sababu akiwa drafted top 5 lazima apate guarantee playing time ya at least 20 minutes as a Rookie. He better be ready for that, and I hope he will.
nimewahi kwenda kwenye mechi zake wakati yuko high school in Houston, ila last year nilikwenda walivyocheza na Villanova na sasa hivi ukimuona kwenye TV, ameimprove kinomaa. Hata stat zake zinaonyeshaa. Ameongeza namba za offensive maana alikuwa na deffensive number nzuri, ila sasa anajitahidi sanaa.

Alifanya uamuzi mzuri sana wa kubaki chuoni. Hongera kwa wote waliomshauri kubaki chuoni. Yuko tayari kwenda NBA mwakani na atakuwa katika 3 top picks ambapo atapata pochi zuri sana. Kila la heri Thabeet.
Alifanya uamuzi mzuri sana wa kubaki chuoni. Hongera kwa wote waliomshauri kubaki chuoni. Yuko tayari kwenda NBA mwakani na atakuwa katika 3 top picks ambapo atapata pochi zuri sana. Kila la heri Thabeet.

Bubu...huyu chalii katulia, angekuwa mapepe angekuwa ameenda NBA siku nyingi wakati hayuko ready na ungekuta ni laughing stock sasa hivi. Tuzidi kumuombea aendelee kuwa humble.
Bubu...huyu chalii katulia, angekuwa mapepe angekuwa ameenda NBA siku nyingi wakati hayuko ready na ungekuta ni laughing stock sasa hivi. Tuzidi kumuombea aendelee kuwa humble.

I see him making it big time in the NBA.Ile kubaki chuoni imesaidia
na conditioning ya mwili wake.Akiingia NBA najua atabeba chuma kinoma
na atapata trainer wa kulipwa.Katika gemu kabika madunk ya nguvu
mpaka makocha wa unyamwezini wanajua amefika.
We wish you well Thabeet.

Connecticut Huskies center Hasheem Thabeet, left, dunks the ball in front of Buffalo forward Calvin Betts during the second half of an NCAA basketball game in Amherst, N.Y. on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. Thabeet scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as No. 2 Connecticut survived a big scare, holding off Buffalo 66-64 on Thursday night.
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