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.

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