Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Emeka Getting Comfortable with Hornets

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ray Allen on Empty Banner

Friday, September 25, 2009

UConn has Big Question Marks

There is no doubt that UConn fans see the glaring weakness to the UConn Huskies is at the center position. While Okwandu is a major question mark, there are still a multitude of solutions for Calhoun to implement. He could use an Edwards, Oriakhi, and Robinson lineup and remain a pretty consistent rebounding and defending team. Edwards did hold down the center position for Thabeet whenever the big man was in foul trouble. It would be a smaller lineup than what they have had, but Edwards, Oriakhi and Robinson’s strength is in their ability to rebound. Majok and Coombs-McDaniels will also play heavily into the rotation. While Majok looks to be a more fluid offensive player then defensively, it is hard to see where he fits in until we see him in December. Coombs-McDaniels is going to be an important asset. He can play both guard positions and hold down the small forward spot. He could be a match-up headache for smaller guards.

So the question arises as to where Okwandu fits into this team. Will he be able to hold down his defender in the post, block out effectively, and block shots? That is basically what UConn needs out of the big man. If he can do those things, then this team will have a wealth of options in the front court. But there is just no certainty at that position. When dealing with freshmen there is a wait and see approach, especially in the first couple of months. Will Calhoun opt for a bigger but slower team in favor of a smaller but faster squad? Either way, having the option is a good thing.

What is in serious jeopardy though is UConn’s stranglehold in the block shots leader board. Unless Majok, Oriahki, and Okwandu contribute mightily in that department, that only leaves Robinson as a shot blocking threat.

With the departure of UConn’s core front court of Adrien and Thabeet, UConn is left with a wealth of potential, but potential has a tendency to lean both ways. By January this team could have a deep and talented frontcourt that could be a major strength or it could have an inconsistent and young line that is a liability against experienced teams. UConn will have to have a wait and see approach on where the center position stacks up, but they surely aren’t lacking talent or options there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Role Players

With the incoming class of freshmen, it is now or never for these two experienced role players to show that they deserve the right to minutes on the court. Unlike last year, where the bench was only three deep, UConn will have a depth not seen in some time and if that doesn’t put some fire into the backside of these two players then far end of the bench will.

Donnell Beverly: Beverly has shown that he can handle the rock and play solid defense in his limited time off the bench. He hasn’t displayed anything offensively and looked tentative in jacking up shots. He has the potential to fill in the role that Austrie had, but with younger guards nipping at his playing time, he needs to show that he can remain a reliable ball handler and also contribute on the offensive end, especially from beyond the arch. UConn will need to find scorers right away and the guard that can contribute at that end will find the playing time.

Jonathan Mandeldove: He has the height to play the part of a legitimate center but he hasn’t shown Calhoun that he deserves the minutes. If he bulks up and shows something in practice, then he could possibly end up in the box score, but he hasn’t done it so far and he’s about out of time. There is so much talent coming in that his best opportunity to get minutes was last year.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coach Profile: Jim Calhoun

Looking Back: Calhoun entered the year with a team that had not won a postseason game and a squad that was full of talent but hadn’t reached their potential. He had a dynamic backcourt and a strong frontcourt but they hadn’t found a way to take their game to the next level. The roster was also full of seniors and it was now or never to show the finished product on the floor. The talented forward, Ater Majok, was deemed ineligible and Calhoun’s work in progress center, Charles Okwandu, fell to the wayside too. But he had Kemba Walker and the late arriving Stanley Robinson. The team battled hard through Big East play, lost in an epic game against Syracuse, and found it’s stride through the NCAA tournament, ending with a Final Four banner.

The Good: No one in the college basketball ranks has a better eye for talent then Calhoun. He simply has the vision for under the radar talent that he can mold into quality stars and role players. He stuck with Price and made him a second round pick. He molded Thabeet from a mid-second round pick last year and into the second pick in the draft this year. It is this ability that has made Storrs a beacon for top talent. Even though he draws elite players, he doesn’t coddle them. It is his toughness on his players pushes them to overcome and surpass their own expectations.

The Bad: He has been battling health issues from cancer, stomach issues, to self-inflicted broken ribs. While this is all beyond his control, it is troublesome to see him miss games, especially in the Big Dance. He is also unashamed to catch-and-release talent and this year is no difference in Scottie Haralson. This policy has caused the careers of Marcus Johnson and Curtis Kelly to stumble into mediocrity. Calhoun has also let his emotions get the best of him with his press conference outburst that had the Mayor of Connecticut shaking her head.

Looking Ahead:
Calhoun is retooling and not rebuilding this year with a core nucleus of Dyson, Robinson, Edwards, and Walker to solidify the roster but Calhoun will need to mold his incoming frontcourt into shape and in a hurry. Okwandu, Majok, Coombs-McDaniels and Oriakhi are all inexperienced but talented. If he can solve that puzzle then he should have a solid squad to make a run at the conference title and become a tough out in the Big Dance.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Top Five Reasons Why UConn Could Be Better Next Year

1. The Backcourt Starting Talent. It is no secret that the backcourt is the most important element for NCAA success and UConn is loaded there. Dyson is in his last year and should be primed to take over as the leader of this team. The opportunity is there for him to showcase his skills. Most of the offense will be funneled through him and he needs to make the most of it. Walker looked seasoned in his freshman year and that leaves UConn fans salivating at what he has in store for this upcoming campaign. The Dyson/Walker combo could be the best in the country.

2. The small forward question. For the past three years, Calhoun had tried to figure out this position with Marcus Johnson and Stanley Robinson fighting for the job. Robinson ultimately won the spot but hardly solidified the position. He would play fantastic in spurts but disappear in crucial stretches. Upon his return last year, he finally played consistent ball and with the likes of Majok, fingers crossed on eligibility, and Jaamal Coombs-McDaniels, this position is as packed with talent as it has been since the Rudy Gay brief era.

3. Depth. Unlike last year where only three players consistently came off the bench, this season has solid role players for each position other than at center. The starters last season ran out of gas towards the end of the year and the minutes began to pile up, but with the depth at Calhoun’s disposal, he should be able to keep the minutes reasonable and have the starters fresh towards the end of the season.

4. A good mix of youth and experience. Unlike last years team, which was loaded with established roles, this team will have a good competition for several slots. Will Gavin start over Okwandu or Oriakhi? Will Majok win the job over Jaamal? Will Beverly hold the spot over Smith? This healthy competition should keep the practices heated and ready for the real games.

5. Under the radar. While this team is ranked anywhere from 10th to 25th in polls, they are flying under the radar. UConn seems to play better when the target isn’t squarely on their shoulders and it won’t with Villanova and West Virginia garnering most of the spotlight for Big East supremacy. That falls right into Calhoun’s lap. He can rile up his troops with the disrespect card and send them out foaming at the mouth.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Remember the name: Kyrie Irving

This 6’2” and 175 pound point guard is a blue chip player, ranking 9th in the country and 4th at his position. He has the unique ability in being a top of the line scorer and also making his teammates better at the same time. He has a consistent shot but is most deadly in open space and slicing into the lanes. He has all the skills offensively-a deadly cross-over, change of speed/direction, and a nasty first step. His only low grade is defensively which is average. He is a unique player that can legitimately play both guard positions, which is rare. Any school that has the privilege to have Kyrie play for them is getting not only a bright basketball player but a bright student. Kyrie is planning to major is journalism.