Friday, August 29, 2014

Andre Drummond Practices With Team USA

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rudy Gay Dishes to Demarcus Cousins for Team USA

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Player Profile: Omar Calhoun

Looking Back: It couldn’t have been a worse season for Omar Calhoun. He was coming off a shoulder injury that limited him throughout the summer and he had to shake off the rust during the preseason. He looked really good in those early games but when it came to game time against better talent, he just couldn’t get anything positive going. With each brick, turnover, or defensive lapse, his confidence sank which led to even more mistakes. Whenever a shot did go in, everyone let out a collective sigh of relief that he was finally getting back on track, but he could never sustain any momentum and put two consecutive positive plays together. With each poor outing, Kromah and Samuel began eating into his minutes until he only played sparingly which didn’t give him much of an opportunity to break out of his awful slump. It all added up to a lost year for him and a major step back in his development.

The Good: It has to be his resilience. For a player to go through what he had last year and just continue to fight through it shows his heart and toughness. He has the tools, it is there on tape, but he just couldn’t get a break. He has a good handle, has the ability to knock down jumpers, and plays solid defense. He just needs the confidence that he can make a positive impact on the court.

The Bad: It is easy to lay blame on a wide variety of his game simply because he had a horrible season, but if there is one aspect of his game that he needs to get better at it is his jumper. It is quick but the release is all wrong and over his two seasons it has proved to be inconsistent and streaky. Now this is tough to ask of a player to do. To change something like their jumper is a long and arduous task and a gamble. There is no telling if it will truly work out for him, but right now, his release isn’t working and something has to change. He also needs to know how to make other contributions if he isn’t scoring. That means attacking the glass, causing havoc on defense, and getting to the line.

Looking Ahead: It can only go up from here, right? He is healthy and will have an entire off season to work on his game, get bigger and play, play, play. If he can figure out how to get to the line two or three times a game then it would drastically help his game. What he lacked is confidence and to see a few baskets drop for him early in the game might pay huge dividends for him. Hopefully he can get back on track because this upcoming team has a plethora of young and hungry guards that will be nipping at his heals for some playing time, but for now there is no telling which Calhoun will show up this upcoming season.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Player Profile: Amida Brimah

Looking Back: Heading into the 2013-14 campaign, there was no telling what Amida Brimah would bring to the Huskies. Ollie knew that he had a shot blocking presence which would be vital in the new freedom of movement NCAA, but like all big men it takes longer for them to adjust to the game. With that all said, Brimah exceeded all expectations. He showed both an ability to score on the block with a soft touch and also finish plays strong on the pick and roll. He continued to grow throughout the season developing a much better free throw shot and began defending without fouling which was a major issue earlier in the season for him. On top of all that, he also made one of the biggest plays of the year with a three point play on an offensive rebound that helped pull off the win in the NCAA tournament. At the end of the season it came out that he had been dealing with a shoulder injury that he had been playing through and had to undergo shoulder surgery.

The Good: It starts with shot blocking. Brimah has great instincts and has a knack for blocking the ball and keeping it in play for him to secure. He has great feet that allows him to slide over and help. He also has a soft touch for a big man and should have a much better free throw percentage in the upcoming year. With that soft touch, he should develop a ten to fifteen foot jump shot. He also showed great toughness with dealing with a shoulder injury and playing through it. His upside is tremendous and NBA scouts are probably drooling over his overall potential.

The Bad: With his height Amida needs to rebound much better. He had a hard time holding his ground and was pushed out of position for rebounds time after time. He needs to bulk up to allow him to stop being bullied out of the paint. He also has a hard time of keeping his hands off his opponent and he picks up needless fouls which keeps him from getting into the flow of the game. Another issue is his inability thus far to play through contact. He needs to go right into a move towards the basket and finish strong. It will allow him to draw his opponent to reach and get him numerous opportunities at the charity stripe.

Looking Ahead: The sky is the limit for Brimah. He is already hovering around a late first round draft choice just by size and upside alone, but if he can develop better fundamentals then he could be a top ten pick for sure. He will need to block out better, defend without fouling, and be a legitimate post threat. He has shown flashes of each and needs to continue to improve his game. If he can do that then he should have a fantastic season.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Player Profile: Ryan Boatright

Looking Back: Ryan Boatright had a roll-a-coaster of a season. It started out strong and he looked to be taking a huge leap forward in production and leadership. He was knocking down key shots and playing tough nosed defense but then something happened in the middle of conference play and the wheels fell off his game. His jumper stopped dropping for him which led to him turning the ball over in key stretches and not running good sets. There were many times that he would dribble out the shot clock and then take an off-balanced jumper. Finally Kevin Ollie had to bench him in the crucial final five minutes of games. It didn’t look good for him heading into the American Conference and NCAA Tournaments, but that would change quickly.

No one is exactly sure what flipped the switch for Boatright, but he not only came out of his slump, he exploded out. He became a menace on defense, creating easy scoring opportunities. His jumper that had been streaky finally started dropping for him and he cut down on his east to west dribbling and became a much more north to south player. It all added up to points at the line, easy plays for the big men when the help arrived, and convertible plays in the paint. Without his stellar post season play, UConn would’ve been early exits in both tournaments.

The Good: It starts with his handle. He can change direction in the bat of the eye. He likes to lull his defender to sleep in one direction and then blast by him going the other way. When he does get a step, he has the athleticism to finish plays through contact. He has a lightning fast release and usually gets the shot off before his opponent can even react. He’s a tough nosed kid that will not back down and sometimes thrives after taking a hard shot. His on the ball defense is outstanding and he has the ability to lock down and take a player entirely out of the game.

The Bad: While each year it has gotten much better, he still dribbles the ball way too much and without any concrete decision as to where he wants to go. It usually ends up with him running down the shot clock and heaving the ball up. His outside shot is also very streaky and tends to go on a two or three game stretch where his shot doesn’t drop for him. It is hard for him to adjust when that happens and he has some low scoring outputs. He also has had a hard time being in the right position, most notably when Napier had to shove him in the right direction in the National Championship game.

Looking Ahead: The biggest question heading into the new season is his ability to handle the leadership role. The offense will flow through him much more and he will need to be more consistent which means get into the offense quickly and allow time to reset. If he can find ways to get to the line to counteract those poor shooting days and play defense like he did at the tail end of last season then he should have a great season.