Monday, July 28, 2014

Caron Butler: My Appreciation

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rodney Purvis: Driven

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

UConn Alumni In The NBA

Ray Allen: With age catching up with him, his minutes have dropped as well as his production, but that doesn’t limit the fact that he is one of the best free throw shooters and clutch shot makers still in the game which gives him those late minute opportunities to contribute. His numbers have dipped in just about every category though. He only hit 37.5% from deep which is his worst since the 2009-2010 season. He is now contemplating retirement and if he does, he will be the first UConn Huskies player to be accepted into the Hall of Fame which places him automatically on top of this list.

Kemba Walker: Walker took a major step forward with his maturity this past season. He has improved his jump shot and with the addition of Al Jefferson, the Bobcats/Hornets finally found a legitimate low post threat which helps out the spacing on the floor and can create lanes for Walker to drive into. His three point shooting still needs to come up from 33% and he needs to get to the line more, attempting 34 less than the year before. The biggest improvement has been on his ball control. He cut down on the turnovers and has remained steady with the assists and is now hovering around four assists to one turnover.  His post season play was memorable, especially after Jefferson went down with an injury. He kept on fighting despite the lopsided scores and showed his major strength which is his heart.

Caron Butler: No other UConn Alumni had to go through what Butler had to this prior season. He was traded to the Bucks at the start of the season and was happy to play in front of his home crowd, but the team was dismal and traded him to Oklahoma City Thunder where he had a chance to be a contender for a Championship. While his numbers were pedestrian on the Bucks, once on the Thunders they sky rocketed in just about every category. He once again found himself on a different team though and landed in Detroit where the Pistons have been mired in mediocrity for almost a decade now.

Rudy Gay: Rudy still remains an enigma. He has all the tools to be a legit star in this league but hasn’t been able to rise to that next level. He has a silky smooth jumper but it is streaky. He has great ball handling but forces things too much and creates turnovers. He has hops that can rival anyone in the game but settles for jumpers. His defense has always been his Achilles heel and he doesn’t put the same intensity into that end of the court as he does the offensive end. He should be in the prime of his career but he yet again found himself traded from the Raptors to Kings. Where trade rumors are still swirling around him.

Andre Drummond: Drummond has improved in each and every season and has become one of the up and coming big men in the game. He has a natural ability to get boards and rebounds and looks to supplant Okafor as UConn’s preeminent double-double guys in the NBA.

Jeremy Lamb: Like Rudy Gay, Lamb has a silky smooth game and still has plenty of growth to go. He took a small step forward this year and showed that he could be an important second unit piece but he never showed the consistency to be in the constant rotation come playoff time.

Ben Gordon: This has to be one of Gordon’s most disappointing seasons. He was on a team that could use the talents he usually provides, but he just couldn’t find the consistency to break into the second unit. His price tag wasn’t worth his production so Charlotte let him go. It will be interesting to see where he goes after this. He still has plenty of talent left but if he doesn’t find a suitable team, he could be playing overseas.

Emeka Okafor: Okafor has been battling injuries for much of the past two years but this one put him on the sideline for much of the season. He’s an expiring contract and will have to make the veteran limit to probably land on a good team looking for depth.

Jeff Adrien: Jeff Adrien is that tough nosed and hard working player that teams just like having around, but he has yet to find a team that has shown him some commitment. He played the first half of the season on the Bobcats but found himself shipped off to the Bucks where he played that bruiser inside. He has just inked a one year deal with Houston.

A.J. Price: Price has hung onto his NBA dreams with the Timberwolves last season but only played sparingly. It is hard to find veteran point guards and Price has that but his solid playing days are now past him.

Hilton Armstrong: Armstrong is a testament to perseverance. He has bounced back and forth from the NBA to overseas to the D-league, but he never gave up and found himself on a Playoff team in Golden State where he was able to make a small enough impact to warrant a second look from teams.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two Distinct Paths for Daniels and Napier's NBA Success

Now that the draft is over and Napier and Daniels have landed on NBA rosters, it is up to them to see how far they can go. They both were drafted right around where they were projected to. Napier is heading to a team that is the perfect spot for him while Daniels has settled on a team with no real sense of direction and isn’t known for keeping players around for that long. It will be interesting to see the direction of careers for these two young UConn stars.

The Miami Heat got the man that they wanted in Napier and he fits all the right metrics. His leadership, accountability, and work ethic put him on Riley’s radar, while his winning ways put him on Lebron’s. Shabazz couldn’t have landed on a better team. He’ll have all the talent around him, barring that the big three return which is at this point still looks to be a possibility. On top of that, he isn’t going to be asked to do much other then run the second unit. If he flourishes and begins getting starter minutes then that is fantastic, but as for now, he just needs to continue to improve his pick and roll defense, consistently knock down open jumpers, and limit his turnovers.

DeAndre Daniels has a much tougher uphill climb. He’s on a team that is in flux and loaded with wing players from Terrence Ross, Steve Novak, Amir Johnson, and Landry Fields. They are also not known for the patience of keeping guys lingering on the bottom of their roster for long. He has already come to terms with this and has taken the unusual route to play overseas rather then in the D-league. If he can show some improvement then he will work his way up mid-way through the season. If he does get called up, he needs to show something on tape immediately so that he can land one of those lucrative roster spots, but for now it is not going to be easy for him.

Hopefully Daniels will be able to continue his development and transfer his ability to get points in the paint, extend his range, and handle screens, because it will be hard for him to break through the group of forwards ahead of him if he does not and there are plenty of athletic wings coming up behind him each and every year, but for now he has that coveted upside and should be secure for the next three years. Napier on the other hand has the greatest opportunity but also the highest pressure of producing in year one. There is no doubt that he has the will and tenacity to make it, but no one truly knows if their game will transfer to the next level. So far his summer league has shown flashes of brilliance, but these games sometimes produce fool’s gold.

These two UConn stars have their feet in the door. They both need to continue to work on their craft and show their respected teams that they need to play them more. Many UConn fans can remember these recent names like Majok and Oriakhi. Late round draft choices that are still trying to get onto the NBA court. It will be interesting to see if Daniels ultimately made the right decision to enter the draft early, but for now these two UConn stars have achieved their dreams to be drafted by and NBA team and for that we should be proud of them.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

American Conference Thinking About A Much Needed Change In The Shot Clock

Word came out recently that the American Conference was considering changing the shot clock to thirty seconds and they couldn’t be more right. This is exactly what this conference needs. They know that with the departure of Louisville this upcoming season that the strength of this conference will take a major hit, but by moving forward with a faster paced game that resembles more of the professional version, they are putting themselves at the forefront of what is an inevitable change in college basketball and one that is far more appealing to watch.

The NCAA has already instituted more freedom of movement around the perimeter in hopes to get scoring up, it doesn’t take a doctorate degree to know that giving teams more possessions will also do the trick, but for them to institute the change throughout the entire game is an uphill climb. Underdog teams use the shot clock to their advantage and try to limit possessions in hopes to get the coveted upset and resume building win. They are going to be resistant to any change in the game that is detrimental to their success and to be honest, they are right. On the grand scheme of things, there are only a handful of teams that this will benefit, even if it is for the good of the overall sport. So it is wise for he NCAA to let conferences take the lead in this one and it would be fantastic for the American Conference to take the leadership role.

First off it would lead to more scoring and more scoring leads to better games. No one likes to see games in the high forties to low fifties. It is just not fun to watch teams pass the ball around until the last eight seconds and then take a shot. With the new shot clock, teams will need to attack and then reset right into a play. There will be no double reset of the offense and then a possible trip to the line. It all adds up to a more pleasing and bettered tempo game which is a win-win.

The NCAA has always been a guard oriented game and it will only increase with a new shot clock. Once a team secures a rebound or in-bounds the ball, the guards will need to hurry into their offense right away. Teams like to take that shot around eight seconds to go, so it won’t limit great passing, but what it will do is limit the amount of resets or blatant passing of the ball just to waste time. It will important to have a point guard that can control the sets and that means the more experienced guards will have more of an impact. So those junior and senior guards will have even more of an advantage which is good for the sport.

There are some downsides to a quicker shot clock. The big man is slowly becoming phased out of the college sport. Teams are opting for either a point-forward or tall and athletic wings that can rebound and go with a three guard line-up. With the quicker sets, it will be hard for teams to run low-post sets and reset once a double team comes. It will also effect the offensive rebounding. Teams will have to be more conscious of protecting the outlet pass rather than crashing the boards. Another problem is it might effect American Conference teams from getting out of conference home games simply because teams might shy away from the shorter shot clock if it doesn’t suit their style. On top of that American conference teams will have to get used to playing two distinct styles, one with a longer shot clock and another with a shorter version. It won’t be easy, but the good certainly out ways the negative in this decision.  

This is a perfect opportunity for the new American conference. They have the National Champion in UConn but they are going to have to deal with a soft bottom to the league for the near future but with a new shot clock, they will have an uniqueness about them that will create some much needed buzz and attention. Not only that but it will change many of the styles of play to resemble more of a pro style which will only provide more incentive for high toted recruits. Those top recruits sitting on the fence might be drawn to a conference that plays a more NBA ready style and that infuse of talent across the league should hopefully create a more competitive bottom half of the conference.

Sure it is a bit selfish since a quicker shot clock does play into UConn’s play style which is more of a fast break first and pick and roll second, but for a young conference in American, it is important to not only stay relevant but to be on the forefront of what will be an inevitable change. Hopefully they can institute this change and show that it will be good for the league, because sometimes it is hard for coaches to be open to change if it is not ultimately clear if it is going to help a majority of them right away, but for those coaches they must come to the realization that the time is running out on this slow plodding style of play.