Friday, August 31, 2012

Kemba Walker Greater Hartford Pro-Am Highlights

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Giving Back: Caron Butler in China

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Coaching Profile: Jim Calhoun

Looking Back:  Calhoun was coming off one of his best coaching job of his Hall of Fame career, taking an upstart young team to a National Championship.  The 2011-2012 season looked just as promising with a young and experienced nucleus coupled with a five-star recruit.  What was supposed to be a team that had a chance to repeat quickly became a dysfunctional unit that struggled to put together 40 minutes of quality basketball.  Add some suspensions, internal squabbling, and the NCAA sanctions that was put on the team, the season became a train wreck, leading to the transfers of three players and two more leaving early for the NBA.

The Good: There is no doubt that he still has the eye for under the radar talent that he can develop into solid players.  There is a long list of players that are either playing in the NBA today or making a living at it overseas that owe Calhoun a ton of credit.  It helps that he runs an NBA styled offense and defensive scheme that allows players to thrive in a system that can easily convert to the pro game. No matter what people say about his program, he is honest to his players.  If they work hard, they will play.

The Bad: He’s abrasive, demanding, and refuses to back down and he’s not going to change his stripes any time soon, but that is how he got to where he has.  Players sometimes have problems with his coaching style and he’s forced many a transfer because of it, which might’ve contributed to such a poor APR score.  The program which he had built up is teetering and the blame lies squarely on his shoulders and he wouldn’t want it any other way.  Poor grades, recruiting bad characters, and catch and releasing players every other year have taken a toll on the program and it is desperately in need of stability before Calhoun retires.

Looking Ahead:  The NCAA has made UConn their example on how much of an emphasis they are putting towards student’s academic grades and Calhoun wants to send a message right back.  They can take the postseason, they can suspend him, but they can’t take away his legacy nor his team.  He’s going to be as fired up for this season then any he has ever coached before.  If there is one thing that Calhoun still has it is passion and he is going to get every ounce of potential out of this team.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Player Profile: Niels Giffey

Looking Back: Niels Giffey was coming into the season with some wind in his sails.  He had just won the three point shooting contest in UConn’s midnight madness and was praised by the coaching staff for how good he was in preseason workouts, but he was never able to translate that with a consistent presence on the court.  He shied away from open looks, especially after he missed one, and took the ball to the basket for a more difficult shot.  He never solidified his role and was in constant limbo with his minutes per game.

The Good: There is enough tape on Giffey to know that he should be a three point shooting specialist and if he wants the minutes, he will have to show Calhoun that he can knock two or three down a game.  He is a deceptively good defender laterally and does a great job of keeping his man in front of him without arm checking.

The Bad: Dribbling.  He needs to know his strengths and weaknesses and that is one aspect of his game that isn’t there yet.  It doesn’t mean he shouldn’t keep the defender honest and pump fake and drive, but it shouldn’t be his first option nor his second.  Rebounding is also an aspect of his game that he needs to focus on.  He’ll need to show a willingness to crash the boards and give those hustle plays that help the team out because he won’t be the primary focus of the offense.

Looking ahead: Giffey will have a great opportunity to get minutes and with this being his third season, he should understand what he needs to do to become successful.  If he can become a spot up shooter, learn to open his shooting hand by rubbing off on some screens, play solid defense, and get around five boards a game then he should be a major contributor to this team.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Player Profile: Enosch Wolf

Looking Back: Enosch Wolf had a great opportunity last year to get some minutes behind Drummond and Oriakhi and really solidify that first big man role off the bench, but he didn’t show Calhoun enough in practice to elicit consistent minutes. He found himself relegated to minutes in blowouts, which were far and few last year and when he did get himself in the game in meaningful stretches, Calhoun gave him a short leash. It all added up to a lost year for Wolf and one that frustrated him and had him considering transferring, but to his credit he is staying the course.

  The Good: He has the body to be a legitimate center in the Big East. He also has shown in his limited minutes an ability to hustle for boards or loose balls. He isn’t rigid with his bulk and has some mobility. With so little minutes under his belt there really isn’t a whole lot to base his talents on so far.

The Bad: He hasn’t shown the drive to get on the court and he needs a little more motivation to get better. He also doesn’t feel comfortable out there especially when the ball is in his hands. His lack of confidence and always looking over his shoulder when the whistle blows has him thinking too much on the court and not playing with instinct.

Looking Ahead: This is a golden opportunity for Wolf and he needs to show that he is ready for this challenge. He has to be the first one in the gym and the last to leave each practice. This is a make or break year for him and with little depth in front or behind him this team needs him to produce. Hopefully that will be motivation enough to get the best possible effort out of him.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Player Profile: Tyler Olander

Looking Back:  Olander was coming into the season with a lot of momentum from UConn’s championship season where he was a pivotal role player, providing much needed depth on the frontcourt, but things didn’t go as planned for the local sophomore.  He struggled to remain in the ballgame in consistent stretches, only averaging 17.6 minutes and he found himself getting yanked after picking up a foul or two.  Calhoun didn’t have to lean heavily on him, because of Drummond and Oriakhi, and Olander’s game suffered.  He only averaged 3.9 rebounds a game and only chipped in 4.2 points a game in his 17.6 minutes of action.  It wasn't the season that he would've hoped for, but it was a valuable learning experience and one that he can hopefully build on.

The Good:  Olander has the best jumper in the front court and can knock down the elbow jumper that will be there when teams go zone and they will.  He also shoots free throws well but needs to get there more than 44 times.  He is a Calhoun type of player that might not have NBA athleticism but gives you his all when he is on the court.  He’ll hustle for loose balls, bang inside for rebounds, and do the little stuff that doesn’t always get recognized.  He is that glue type of player that all good teams need to succeed.

The Bad: He doesn’t have the size to create space inside and bigger players can get a deep position on him.  He needs to position rebound much better and finds himself being pushed out of the way for rebounds.  He rarely plays through contact and either kicks the ball out or takes an off balance shot around the basket.  He fouls way too much on defense and needs to stop reaching which is the major cause of his quick yanks in ballgames.

Looking Ahead: Like many of the other Huskies, this is a big year for Tyler.  He needs to take advantage of this opportunity of playing time and put together some consistency, especially in the rebounding department.  There are some fresh faces that are looking for his minutes and if he doesn’t produce, he could be relegated to a role player off the bench.  He’ll have a leg up on the new comers and should solidify a starting role on this team by the beginning of the season.  From there the rest is up to him.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Player Profile: DeAndre Daniels

Looking Back:  DeAndre Daniels was the odd man out last year because the wing position was a no man’s land due to the three guard lineup.  Calhoun used him sparingly and Daniels never got the consistent minutes he needed to grow some confidence, averaging only 12 minutes a game.  When he did get his opportunities, he was trigger happy with the three ball with 50 out of his 91 shots from deep and they weren’t dropping, hitting a paltry .240, but it wasn’t a total lost year for him.  He got some valuable on the court experience, played with some NBA talent along side himself, and got a good sampling of Calhoun’s coaching style which will aid him in his next couple of years.

The Good:  He has a fluidity to his game and looks comfortable with the ball in his hands.  He has a nice outside shot, but with his limited amounts of attempts, he wasn’t able to make the most out of them.  He has shown an ability to drive the basketball, which gives him an edge on Giffey in that department, and he has an above the rim game.  He hits free throws, making 80% of them, but he only took 25 attempts.  He is also an underrated defensive player, having 18 blocks which is more than Tyler Olander, and had 11 steals.

The Bad:  He could use some more size to get comfortable with banging inside for rebounds which will be an important role for him next year.  He barely averaged 2 rebounds a game and needs to increase that number, because he will not be the major focus of the offense and will have to do the little things to warrant minutes.  He also needs to rely less on the outside shot and be able to knock down that 15-footer.  Turnovers have also plagued him, having 22 turnovers which averages out a turnover every 17 minutes of play.

Looking Ahead: The minutes will be there for the taking if Daniels is willing to step up and seize them.  He’ll need to show an ability to rebound, score in or around the paint, and play good perimeter defense.  This is a big year for him and a golden opportunity for him to seize a major role on this team.  He’ll have a leg up on the his competition with a solid year under his belt and he should prove a pivotal role in the rotation by season’s end.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012