Monday, August 31, 2009

Caron Butler and Wizard's top ten plays

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Giving Back: Rip Hamilton Day

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Freshmen

Alex Oriakhi: There will be a lot of pressure on the young power forward to produce right out of the gates. He has all the talent in the world to solidify the position, but with the front court so thinly manned, UConn will need him to be a consistent defender and rebounder from day one. But for UConn to be a true sleeper team, Oriakhi will need to show some offensive prowess.

Ater Majok: Here is another player with all the talent in the world, but will his extended layoff hamper his development. He has been playing as much organized ball as he can find from Springfield Slamm to the Boomer Squad in Australia, but will is his game and ability translate to Big East success?

Darius Smith: He looks to play the role that Walker had last season, the first point guard off the bench and someone to handle the rock to allow Kemba to showcase his offensive skills. He has shown to be a defensive stud in the Pro-Am and has a Dyson-like knack of getting his hands on the ball. Will he be able to handle Calhoun’s style of coaching and the quick yank after a bad play?

Charles Okwandu: He has the size to man the position, but in his limited minutes last year, he didn’t show much. While it is unfair to judge him on last year, it is all we have. He will have a lot of pressure on him, since he is the only true center on the team, besides Mandeldove. If he can remain dependable on defense and focus on rebounding then he should do fine but he is a work in progress.

Jamaal Trice: He looks to be the backup for Dyson. He is a glue-like defender and is lightning quick. With the variety of guards at Calhoun’s disposal, Trice would benefit to have his jumper sinking early. If he can show that versatility and remain a staunch defender then he should find minutes off the bench. He needs to garner Calhoun’s trust early though.

Jamal Coombs-McDaniel: Jamal will have the hardest time finding minutes out of all of the freshmen. Robinson will start and Majok, if eligible, will get the majority of the small forward minutes. But with Robinson a senior and Majok looking to leave as soon as possible to the NBA, a year of tutelage under Calhoun could do wonders for Jamal. He needs to not get frustrated with a limited role and remain a hard worker and the minutes will follow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Player Profile: Gavin Edwards

Looking Back: Gavin emerged from the thin pack of power forwards/centers on UConn’s roster and solidified the first big man off the bench. He really was the only big man to come off the bench and became a valuable piece to UConn’s run through the tournament. He was big enough to play out of position and man the center when Thabeet needed to come out of the game and he was athletic enough to play his natural position at power forward. He was a reliable utility player that didn’t get the name recognition that the starters did but was just as valuable to the team.

The Good: He is dependable. You know what you are going to get when he goes on the floor. He will play solid man-to-man and rebound. He has shown the ability to play above the rim, demonstrating it with a massive dunk over Harangody. He hustles well around the basket and plays physical. He isn’t shy about banging in the paint and flaring those elbows for rebounds.

The Bad: He hasn’t shown the ability to score points other then on put backs or alley-oop dunks. He needs to demonstrate that he can play with his back to the basket and have an elbow jumper to create lanes for the guards. With a majority of the offense graduated or in the NBA, Gavin is going to have to make a greater impact on the offense or he will be relegated to the bench again.

Looking Ahead: It will be interesting to see how Gavin adjusts to the extended minutes and influence over the game. If he can become a reliable scorer and he produces into a double-double threat, which he is more then capable of, then he should solidify the starting position over the incoming freshmen. He needs to develop the fifteen foot jumper that Adrien had to be effective.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Player Profile: Kemba Walker

Looking Back: Kemba Walker came into UConn with high accolades and didn’t disappoint. He had problems at first handling his speed and finishing plays off, but by mid-season his lay-ups stopped rolling off the rim and started to drop. He was able to handle the ball pressure teams like to throw at freshmen, and he made them pay as he blurred by them. He rarely showed any freshman lapses on both ends of the court and became the best player off the bench, winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award. He had no problems taking over the point to spell Price, and the team never had the offensive lulls under his command that plagued them in the previous seasons, but that could be a testament to playing around experienced players. When Dyson went down for the season, Price and Walker played together and the ball was primarily in Walker’s hands, which shows the confidence that Calhoun has in his prize point guard. Kemba finished the season strong and became an integral part of the rotation.

The Good: His speed is his deadliest weapon. He is one of the fastest players in the country and is learning to play at light speed. He can create havoc in the lane and has tremendous court vision. He doesn’t make silly mistakes that turn the ball over and makes the right reads. He likes to play up-tempo and looks to push the ball whenever he can. He is a great defender and if he finishes out his four years, which is unlikely, he could go down as one of UConn’s best. His speed lets him body up on a player and not have his opponent turn the corner on him, which creates a lot of charges.

The Bad: He hasn’t displayed an offensive game yet, other than fast breaks, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one. He was on a team with established players with set roles. His job wasn’t to score, but to give the scorers the ball, but he needs to be more of an offensive threat on this team and he hasn’t shown it yet. His outside shot isn’t reliable and he needs to be more assertive when the ball is in his hands which it will be a lot.

Looking Ahead: There is no doubt that Kemba can handle the starting job at point, but he will have to change his game somewhat and look for his shot more. If he isn’t averaging double digits in points, then this team has no shot at the conference title or postseason success. But if he displays that offensive game that he showed in spurts last season and he makes a deep run in the Big Dance, then he could find himself a lottery pick in next years draft.

Monday, August 10, 2009

49.1 points and 26 rebounds

49.1 points, 26 rebounds, 9 assists, and 5.6 blocks a game,that’s what UConn lost from last year. So who is going to step up? Will Dyson, who averaged 13.2 points a game, be able to up his offensive output to 16 to 18 points a game? Will Robinson, who ended the year strong and averaged 8.5 points a game, take his game up another level or two? There is no reason to doubt that he will be able to average 13 to 15 points a game, especially if he gets comfortable with his outside shot. Walker looks primed to be UConn’s biggest improver. He averaged 8.9 points and he should be able to bring that average up to 15 points a game. But after that, who will step up?

There will be a lot of responsibility falling on the shoulders of Freshmen. Oriakhi looks to be in the Jeff Adrien mold, but UConn can’t expect him to come in and be an automatic double-double threat. He should be a monster on the boards, but it remains to be seen what he brings on the offensive end. Gavin showed that he could battle on the boards and play above the rim, but will he be able to work with his back to the basket and show a mid-range game? Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel will be in the rotation, but there is no telling how his offensive game will translate on the next level. Majok has all the talent in the world, but his eligibility is still a question. Okwandu has the height, but in the few minutes he was on the floor, he looked to be a different type of player then Thabeet. He has a dribble drive to his game, but he didn’t look comfortable in traffic. Who knows what to expect from him?

The strength of the team will be in the backcourt and wings but once you get behind the first line of players there are unknowns. Will Beverly be able to be an Austrie type of player? Someone that can come off the bench, start, knock down jumpers, hit clutch free throws, and play solid defense. He’s shown the ability to play under control in spurts, and he’ll have his shot to earn some minutes. Jamaal Trice and Darius Smith must show the ability to hit from outside. It has been UConn’s weakness since the departure of Ben Gordon and Rashad Anderson. If they can show that, then they will find valuable playing time.

So where are the nearly 50 points and 26 boards going to be found? This team is going to need to find prolific scorers and do it before the rigors of Big East play. Though this team has a solid nucleus of returning players, a bulk of the scoring will be relied on inexperienced players. Calhoun has a tough challenge on his hands. He needs to find consistent points and avoid the droughts that plagued his squad when he was rebuilding in the 2005 season.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Get your facts straight

Everyone has that lasting image of Blair pulling down a monster rebound and grabbing Thabeet’s wrist, nearly breaking his arm, while he pulls him over his shoulder in a UFC style takedown. While that one play conjures up Blair’s dominance against Thabeet in that game in which Pittsburgh’s big man pulled down 17 boards and scored 22 points, everyone forgets what happened in the second match-up. UConn did lose both games but not due to Thabeet, who pulled down 13 boards and scored 14 points to Blair’s 8 boards and 8 points. So why are these so called experts bringing up Blair’s complete dominance over Thabeet if they each got the better of each other in their two games? Pittsburgh’s team matched-up better against UConn’s but the misconception is still out there.

Inside USA Basketball