Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rudy Gay with the Monster Dunk

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kemba Walker on Fab Melo

Ben Gordon to the hoop and Caron Butler block

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ten Reasons Why UConn Won't Finish 10th

1. Kemba Walker. Kemba Walker is one of the best guards in the country. The only thing stopping him from being a top pick in this years draft is a consistent outside shot. This team hasn’t had a pure leader like this for some time. He knows that this is his team and that this is the last chance at solidifying his legacy in the college game.

2. Jim Calhoun. Sure the NCAA violations and pending punishments have put some rust on Calhoun’s prolific career, but he still has an eye for talent and nothing can take that away. He is a master of rebuilding a team from scratch and he has another major project. He has the track record and there is no reason to doubt him now.

3. Parody in the Big East. Pittsburgh, who is projected to win the Big East, was given a similar ranking last year that UConn has now. The Panthers skyrocketed up the Big East standings due to great play and also some teams expected to do well, Notre Dame, UConn, and Marquette, who had mediocre seasons. There is no reason why UConn can’t have a Pittsburgh type season this year.

4. Sophomores. UConn had a tough year with their freshmen last year with Trice and Smith transferring and Coombs-McDaniels and Oriakhi stayed but had underwhelming seasons. Coombs-McDaniels will need to give Robinson like numbers, which he is capable of doing. Oriakhi will have more pressure on him since Majok left the program. He is molding himself into a Jeff Adrien type of player and he has all the tools to be that rebounding force. The offense will come around for him, but it is imperative that he averages double-digits in rebounds for this team.

5. Freshmen. This is an exciting class. There aren’t any blue chips or one and done players in this class, but it is an eclectic bunch of kids. Giffey, Lamb, and Smith can all shoot the rock, though for the past several years fans have heard this from players like Coombs-McDaniels and Harrelson. Olander and Bradley are long term projects but solid players in the mold of Edwards and Armstrong, and should solidify the front court for then next four years.

6. Underdog role. For some odd reason UConn performs at its best when they are underdogs, so that bodes well for them. If everyone expects them to be mediocre this year, they won’t have the added pressure on their shoulders before they even step onto the court. Not to mention the added motivation to get better in the weight room. By the start of the year, this team should be foaming at the mouth to get back to the Big Dance.

7. The Seniors. While all the attention will be on Walker, the sophmores, and freshmen, Beverly and Okwandu are getting lost in the shuffle. Okwandu has the length and size to be a serviceable big man, but he has the ability to be a shot blocker that this team lost when Majok left. He has shown glimpses of his ability and needs to build off that. Beverly will be a major piece to UConn’s puzzle. He has the ability to play both guard positions and this will allow Walker to play off the ball, which should be a major factor in UConn’s offense this year. But it is Beverly’s experience that will be the most valuable to this team. It will allow the freshmen to inch their way into the game instead of throwing them to the wolves.

8. Pride. There is something about putting on the UConn jersey and playing among the lineage of Allen, Hamilton, Gordon, Gay, Okafor, and Thabeet that instills a bit of pride in the players. Not to mention the pride that Calhoun wields on the sidelines. This team yearns to succeed.

9. Outside shooting. UConn has had problems with outside shooting for awhile now, but each and every year, they bring in players that have shown the ability in High School. This year is no exception with some freshmen that have proven themselves, but Walker and Coombs-McDaniels should be improved. They can’t be worse then a year ago and that can only be a positive.

10. Defense. By the end of the day, this team will hang their hat on the defensive end. They won’t be blocking shots like they have in the past, but Oriakhi, Okwandu, and Wolfe (mid-season) will be able to anchor the defense which they struggled with last year. They might have problems with help defense early on, with all the new editions, but with the speed and defensive attitude of this team, they will be able to keep defenders in front of them. If they can group rebound, then this team will be a solid defensive team.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Alumni Profile: Hilton Armstrong

Looking Back: Last season was the most chaotic for Hilton. He bounced around three teams from the Hornets, to the Rockets, and the Kings before getting cut. With all the moving, he never had a chance to put together solid numbers. He did play well with the Hornets and had his best rebounding numbers of his career, but he never had a chance. His experience and light salary were enough to give him another chance on a budding Wizards team.

The Good:
Armstrong has made a career of playing fundamental basketball. He isn’t the biggest, strongest, or most athletic player, but he battles hard on the boards, plays solid defense, and is a solid bench player.

The Bad: He doesn’t rely on an outside shot and gets most of his points from hustle plays around the rim. He fouls a ton, one for every six minutes he plays. He can be overpowered by stronger players and has a hard time of getting points with his back to the basket.

Looking Ahead:
Hilton is in a perfect situation. The Wizards are going young and he is one of those elder experienced players that can come off the bench or start in case of injuries. If he can provide some rebounding and blocks then he should get around 15 minutes a game.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Alumni Profile: Hasheem Thabeet

Looking Back: Being picked second in the NBA draft leaves fans with a lot of expectations. They saw players throughout the first round that delivered more in their rookie seasons. There was little doubt that Thabeet struggled in his limited play last season. 3.6 boards and 3.1 points a game doesn’t cut it, not for a player with the second pick in the draft. While it wasn’t all bad, he showed improvement towards the end of the year, but he had a humbling experience of being sent down to the D-League where he produced solid numbers, but he never made a significant impact on the Grizzlies.

The Good:
Length. He is intimidating when he can set his feet and play the ball. He is a natural in blocking shots and has a soft touch at the line. While there was some rumblings that he didn’t like the minutes he was playing, he is a coachable player and has the hunger to get better. For a young player, he has a charitable side, taking trips to Africa and China to help in various causes.

The Bad: He is so raw on the offensive side of the ball that he is a liability. 3 points is horrible but it is the rebounds that is most aggravating. He should be flirting with double digits every game with his size and he just hasn’t. He has a hard time of fighting for position to get boards and finds himself blocked out a lot of the times.

Looking Ahead: Thabeet has improved on each and every season that he has played basketball. He should get more minutes then his 13 a game and he needs to produce. While the offense will be lagging behind his defense, he needs to rebound and find ways to get to the line for points. He will always be hindered by his high draft status and the expectations that come with it, but Memphis knew that he was a long term project. He needs to continue to bulk up, work hard, and the rest will fall into place.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stanley Robinson and Ray Allen Interviews

Alumni Profile: A.J. Price

Looking Back: Price entered his first NBA season on a team that was in rebuilding mode. He settled into running the second team and did well. He wasn’t flashy but did have a 23 point game versus Oklahoma city. His team didn’t make the playoffs and during the off-season Price injured his knee, setting back his development.

The Good: He has great floor vision and can keep the defense honest with solid shooting. He isn’t deadly from deep, hitting only .345 from there but he is proficient. He only averaged 15.4 minutes a game and 7.3 points, but for a rookie point guard,those are solid numbers.

The Bad:
The injuries, especially to the knees, are a major concern. He will not have the first step speed that other guards at his age possess and he will have to look over his shoulder at younger guards nipping at his heels for playing time. His turnovers, though aren't excessive, they equal his assists and he needs to do a better job of controlling the ball.

Looking Ahead:
Price’s rehab looks to be on schedule and he is primed to build off his last season. Granger is an up and coming scorer that Indiana is building around and they are still in search of a solid point guard. T.J. Ford is that player now, but hasn’t shown the consistency that the Pacers want. That leaves the door open for Price to earn more playing time. The ball is in his court to do so and he needs to take advantage of the situation.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Alumni Profile: Charlie Villanueva

Looking Back: Villanueva signed a new contract with the Pistons and had a poor season. He struggled with scoring, barely averaging double digits. While Detroit wanted Charlie to step up and justify starter minutes, he only averaged just 23.7 minutes a game, his career worst. Villanueva struggled in providing that offensive spark off the bench that the Pistons desperately needed and the team fell into mediocrity.

The Good: Charlie has a versatile game. He is athletic, long, and can create his own shot off the dribble. He has a decent jumper, hitting .351 from deep last season, a career best and does a great job of not turning the ball over at only .95 a game. While his offensive numbers mostly went down from last season, he is fluid with the ball in his hands and can attack the basket off the dribble. One of the best sides of Villanueva is off the court where does a lot for his charity in helping those with Alopecia, which he suffers from.

The Bad: He isn’t known for being physical and needs to do a much better job of attacking the glass for rebounds, only averaging 4.7 a game, his career worst. He is not known for his defense and averages under one a game in both steals and blocks. He has a small forward game trapped in a power forward's body. He needs to be able to fight for position on the block and bang more down low for second chance opportunities.

Looking Ahead: Villanueva is determined to put last season behind him. He is primed to get more minutes behind aging starters ahead of him in the rotation and needs to prove that he can be a secondary scorer on the team to solidify the wing position that has been a mystery for Detroit last year. If he can pick up the scoring, provide some defensive tenacity, and rebound better, then he should have solid season.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Alumni Profile: Emeka Okafor

Looking Back: Emeka was traded from the struggling Bobcats to an up and coming Hornets team with an All-Star point guard in Chris Paul. Okafor never filled the shoes of Tyson Chandler who had a great friendship with Paul. Okafor didn’t have a bad year from his overall numbers, but he was expected to produce more with a more complete team around him and he didn’t. His team struggled throughout the season and dug a hole that they couldn’t climb out of and missed the playoffs.

The Good: Okafor is one of the most consistent of the UConn Alumni. He has remained relatively healthy other then some back issues that creep up and will give you double figures in rebounds and points every year. He is an all out effort player and a serious presence on the defensive end that can change the momentum of a game with a single swat. He has a serviceable post game and does a good job of not turning the ball over. There are plenty of flashier players at his position, but only a few do a better job of having a complete all around game that Okafor possesses.

The Bad: He is only 6-10 and 255 pounds which puts him at a disadvantage against bulkier centers and he isn’t as athletic as other power forwards, which puts him at a disadvantage at both positions. Since he does not have a jumper to rely on, it limits his game when he plays the power forward position. He also had his worst rebounding, blocks and field goal numbers of his career and needs to be much better.

Looking Ahead: Hopefully the drama of Chris Paul leaving is behind this team and they can settle on getting the chemistry right. Okafor needs to rebound, pun intended, from last season, and try to make a push for a playoff spot. New Orleans has a solid team and should be flirting with one of the bottom playoff positions and Okafor will be a key piece to their success.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Alumni Profile: Ben Gordon

Looking Back: Ben signed a sizeable contract with Detroit but didn’t live up to it. He was bothered by injuries that had him miss twenty games. He was back to his sixth man role for much of the season, starting only seventeen games, the least since his rookie year. While he doesn’t mind coming off the bench, his best year was in 08-09 where he started seventy-six games. His team struggled to find an identity and was out of contention early.

The Good: Gordon is such a versatile player. He can start, come off the bench, be a primary ball handler, a pick-and-pop shooter or pure jump shooter, can create his own shot, and hit the clutch shot. There is no doubt that he has all the offensive tools to be an elite player, but he just hasn’t reached that echelon yet. He has not yet become a major starter in the league, even with his starter like offensive numbers.

The Bad:
Defense isn’t what comes to mind when thinking of Ben Gordon. He is serviceable, but he picks and chooses his efforts at this end of the court. He is also a streaky shooter and he was mostly off last year, hitting only .321 from three, a drastic dip from the year before of .410. He isn’t the best passer either. If the ball is in his hand then it is more then likely going to be shot.

Looking Ahead:
Ben will be healthy and ready to redeem himself from the poor season that he had. He was on some bad Bulls teams similar to the one he was on last season and was never discouraged. He should be an offensive spark off the bench again. It is unsure what Detroit will be able to do in the East, but they should be better then last year. How better is still to be determined.