Friday, April 17, 2009
UConn Represents in NBA Playoffs
While UConn has a plethora of NBA stars, only four have survived the grueling regular season to make it into the 2009 NBA Playoffs. Caron Butler, Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, and Emeka Okafor have had solid seasons but their teams didn’t have enough to break through the middle of the pack. Husky Nation will be fully represented early in the playoffs with Rip Hamilton, Ray Allen, and Ben Gordon manning their squads in the East and Hilton Armstrong the sole representative in the West.
Ray Allen has been solid all season and unlike last year where he was in a horrible shooting slump entering the playoffs and quietly battling an injury, he is riding a spectacular year where his numbers remained consistent throughout. He is the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 18.2 points a game, and is hitting .409 from deep. He has solidified himself as one of the best shooters of all time and will be beside Calhoun in the Hall of Fame. He’ll need to remain effective from deep and be able to get to the line where he shoots a deadly .952 but without K.G. his road to another championship will be a challenge.
Ben Gordon had a tumultuous preseason in which he signed very late, fighting over money that the Bulls didn’t think he was worth. In the end Gordon had the last laugh, leading the Bulls in scoring at 20.7 a game. He earned a huge contract with his play this year, even with his public spat with his new coach. Gordon will have a tough match-up on his hands with facing the defending champs, and he needs to be lights out to give his team a chance.
Rip Hamilton has been through everything this year from injuries to losing his starting job to Allen Iverson, but by the end of the regular season it was obvious that his role in the starting lineup was invaluable and made the Pistons a much dangerous team. He led his team in scoring at 18.3 points a game, but most of his intangibles go beyond the stat sheets. He is a fantastic man-to-man defender. Even with Detroit’s resurgent play, they are going up against the best team in basketball in the Cavaliers. They’ll need a little luck on their side to pull this Mecca of an upset.
Hilton Armstrong is the only Husky in the playoffs that isn’t in the starting lineup but he has solidified a role off the bench. He isn’t an offensive threat to say the least, scoring double figures only 9 times all season, but he gives the Hornets size and defense off the bench, and his rebounding is getting better. While New Orleans is a young and upcoming team, they will have to beat the Denver Nuggets, which wouldn’t be a shocker even if they are a two seed. But don’t expect much from Armstrong but a sprinkling of minutes.