Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Follow the Leader

Lamb is testing the NBA waters, Drummond following suit, Oriakhi has jumped ship, and Bradley needed some new scenery that leaves UConn’s roster in a bit of flux with only Napier and Boatright as the stabling force. It is up to them to keep this team afloat in an upcoming season that feels like it is already a loss. On paper the team is a mess. They lost their rebounding and leading scorer off the team, but the season isn’t unfixable. They, as of right now, aren’t going to the Big East and NCAA tournament, but that could and should be changed in the summer when the NCAA meets. It is inconceivable that they don’t incorporate the previous year’s APR score. But no matter what happens in that department, the show must go on and Napier and Boatright must keep this ship afloat.

Napier tried desperately to become a leader last season, but it never gelled with the team, but that has to change next season. He is going to have to be that vocal leader on and off the court, but needs to keep the negative comments in house. No more pillow talk. While he had a hard time of taking over the offense and tried to force feed Lamb the ball, this upcoming season will be different. They will live and die by Napier’s impact on the game, much like they did with Walker, though Walker had a once in a generation season, Shabazz is going to have to take more high percentage shots. He'll have a lot on his plate. He'll need to be the primary offensive threat, while distributing the ball. It is a lot to ask of him, but he won’t be alone.

Ryan Boatright had a pretty good freshman campaign. He was able to show consistency with his outside shot, was deadly on the break, and began to get into the lane late in the season. He needs to remain on his progression and has a real opportunity to take his game to the next level next season. He’ll be more free to take shots and won’t feel like he is hijacking the offense. Being the second option on the team, Boatright will have some more responsibilities at point and play the role that Napier played in UConn’s Championship run. As long as he remains within his game and doesn't play too fast or take ill-advised three pointers then he should be a double-digit scorer all year.

Napier and Boatright will have to anchor this squad with R.J. Evans and Omar Calhoun coming in to give this team some depth, but it will be dependent on these two players to hold the team together through this tough stretch. If they can muster some respectability and vie for the Big East regular season crown then this will be a blip on the radar but if they tank and sink the ship then this could hurt the program long term. So this upcoming season is as important as any in UConn's recent history and it is on the shoulders of two combo-guards to captain this ship and bring her home in one piece.

No comments: