Friday, May 31, 2013

AAC Builds on the Big East

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Transfer Epidemic in College Basketball

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Meet Terrence Samuel

Terrence Samuel is a 6’3” and 175 lbs combo guard from Brooklyn, New York.  He leans more towards the point guard position because his strength is in his unselfishness with the basketball, sometimes to a fault, and his ability to dribble penetrate.  He still needs to work on his handling, strength, and jumper.  His basketball journey began after breaking his ankle playing football.  His mother, who he has a very close relationship with, refused to let him play football again so he luckily decided basketball where he thrived.

His coach of Christ the King, Joe Arbitello, said, “ Terrence is a pure point guard, and you don’t see many of those guys walking around.  He’ll make the pass that leads to the pass, and a lot of point guards have forgotten about that.”

 Kevin Ollie also raves about Samuel's skills, saying, “ Terrance is going to be a solid guard for us.  He’s a big guard, 6’ 3” and 200 pounds and chiseled as a rock.  He makes people around him better.  He’s a great passer with great vision, getting people open shots. And he's got a great smile, great enthusiasm about the game. He's not going to be a guy who comes in here and dazzles you — one and done, he's not that. But kind of like me, he'll just matriculate his way through the system and continue to get better. I think the sky's the limit for the kid, because he works exceptionally hard."

He’s been a huge fan of UConn for a long time and looks up to the great UConn guards that have come out of New York like Taliek Brown and Kemba Walker.  He recently got to meet Shabazz Napier and said, “He shook my hand and said, 'UConn is the greatest school in the world,' but I already knew that," Samuel said. "I've got big shoes to fill. I see myself being kind of like Shabazz Napier, but I've got to improve my jump shot.”

It is hard to tell what type of player Terrence Samuel will become.  He could be the next superstar to come out of the Bronx or he could be a utility player like that of a Craig Austrie, but what is known is that UConn is getting a hard worker that is willing to learn and is likeable.  He has the talent to thrive in Ollie’s system, but he will personally have to set the bar on how far his game will go.  Only time will tell.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Incredible Mr. Ollie

There was no owners manual for Kevin Ollie to fall back on.  Sure he had the shoulder of Jim Calhoun who was there during practices and on the sidelines at games, but Kevin Ollie, who had no previous coaching experience, had the reins of a major college program that had just won a championship a few years ago.  He had to show not only an athletic director that he could do the job, but the rest of the state that had grown up with the security blanket of Jim Calhoun.  To top it all off, he had to do it with a team with an unproven star point guard, a scoring guard that had signs of ability but had never put it all together, a wing player that was a total mystery, and a makeshift front court of second stringers and underachievers.  What he did with this team was nothing short of miraculous.

Kevin Ollie has all the tools to make a good coach.  He’s gotten plenty of knowledge from the various coaches he played for in the NBA which gives him credibility when dealing with players in practice.  He’s only a few years removed from his professional career and can lace up the sneakers and demonstrate plays hands on.  One of the big questions leading into his first year was how would he be able to handle the day in and day out execution of the program and he has so far passed those tests with flying colors.  The word coming out of the practices is that his kids are working hard and prepared for the games.  His team never looked overwhelmed or lacked effort, but were simply out played in their losses.

There were some noticeable changes of philosophy between Calhoun and Ollie. Calhoun was stringent when it came to having a player sit with two fouls in the first half of ballgames no matter who it was.  There were times last season when Napier had two fouls and with the shifting of momentum late in the first half, Ollie didn’t hesitate to reinsert his star.  Another difference was in Ollie’s use of the zone defense.  Calhoun would only use zone as a last resort.  He felt that the man-to-man defense held more accountability, but Ollie employed it throughout the season though it had limited effectiveness.

The last true test for Ollie was after the season.  Could he lure top recruits to his program?  He answered that with a resounding yes.  Sure Purvis, Brimah, Facey and Samuel aren’t blue chips recruits, but they are foundation builders and are in the mold of what Calhoun has had success with; players with raw talent that want to get better.  And Kevin Ollie has proven over the last season that he can mold players like Nolan and Daniels and make them better players.

Kevin Ollie’s success has yet to be truly determined, but he has shown in his first year that he has all the tools to bring UConn year in and year out success at a high level.  He’s already earned the respect of other coaches in his profession for his character and professionalism and for him to be at his dream job right off the bat, UConn won’t have to fear other teams swooping in to snatch him away like they had to do with Randy Edsall. It is early but it really is a blessing and a lucky break for UConn to be able to land such a young and decorated person in Ollie. It is still early but what had once seemed like murky waters, UConn is now on stable footing with a talented new coach and the NCAA penalties and conference implosion behind them.  They have set themselves up nicely to keep this program on a steady course which is something  no one expected after just one season.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Five Keys to a Successful UConn Huskies 2013-2014 Season

1. Rebounding:  It is no surprise that this was UConn’s biggest deficiency last season.  Olander massively underachieved, Wolf had some bright spots and some very low ones, and Nolan showed promise but still has a ton of work still to do.  They will get some much needed size in Brimah but Ollie can not expect the freshman to come out and contribute much right away.  So UConn will have to lean heavily on the wings and guards to help out which was what they had to do last year and that didn’t turn out that well.

2. Outside shooting:  This is going to have to be the strength of this team.  Napier and Calhoun were consistent though streaky from deep for much of the season and will have to shoulder the load again.  The improvement needs to come from Daniels and Boatright though.  When they were knocking down jumpers, UConn usually won games.  With little post presence, UConn will have to rely on knocking down jumpers against the zone and open up driving lanes against man-to-man defenses.

3. Turnovers:  This is the X-factor for this team heading into next season.  They will need to limit their turnovers because teams will more than likely have more shot attempts at the goal then UConn will simply by the rebounding discrepancy alone.  So they can not compound that by turning the ball over more than 10 times a game.  On the flip side, this team is built for the fast break.  They have fast guards and wing players that can finish.  A lot of their runs last season were a direct result of turning teams over.  So winning the turnover battle each game is a priority.

4. Pick and Roll Defense:  UConn had a tough time last year dealing with the pick and roll, mainly the roll. UConn’s big men had a hard time staying with their defender while also hedging the ball carrier.  It often led to easy looks and needless fouls.  They'll need to fight through screens better and the help defense needs to show quicker.

5. Expectations:  UConn has had a history of not dealing well with high expectations.  They weren’t expected to do much last year and surprised everyone, but this year the expectations are high.  They’ll have an experienced team and a conference lacking the same top to bottom fire power.  It will be important for UConn to come out of the gate with a high level of urgency and a killer instinct and not underestimate this new conference.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ray Allen's Process

Ray Allen Breaks down his process on shooting 3-pointers.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grading the UConn Alumni in the NBA

Ray Allen: A. Age hasn’t slowed down this sharp shooter and he has settled into his role off the bench with the Miami Heat.  He has enjoyed the space teams are giving him with James and Wade slashing to the basket.  At this rate he has three or more seasons left in the tank and he’ll stretch out that three point record to impossible heights.

Rudy Gay: A-.  It has been a tough year for Rudy.  He was traded mid-season from Memphis to Toronto.  While the transition took some getting used to, the Raptors started to gel towards the end of the season.  It is still unknown if he can carry a team, but he’ll have the opportunity next season.

Caron Butler: B+. He has all the talent in the world and is in the prime of his career yet Butler hasn’t broken out into elite status.  He’s shown glimpses of a 20 point and 10 rebound performer but his consistency game in and game out just isn’t there.

Kemba Walker: B.  Jordan and the Bobcats gave the team over to Walker and he did produce better numbers but it didn’t correlate into wins.  He’s shown the ability to score but doesn’t look as fluid in directing the offense as other point guards in the league.  If he keeps improving like he has in the prior two seasons then he should be fine, but if his progress flat lines than he might be looking over his shoulder for the next point guard.

Emeka Okafor: B. The Wizards desperately needed some leadership and Okafor provided it, anchoring the paint and giving them some consistent play.  He isn’t going to dominate a game but will provide a team with solid post play and a player that works hard on the boards.

Ben Gordon: B-.  The transition to the Bobcats did little for Gordon’s production.  He had career lows in points, minutes played, 3-point percentage, and assists.  The most disappointing thing was that this was on a team that he should have thrived in.  Hopefully he can bounce back from this disappointing season and find the old Ben Gordon from the Chicago days again.

Andre Drummond: B-. No one knew what to expect out of Drummond in his rookie year.  He underachieved in college and was labeled lackadaisical but he put all of that to bed.  He became a highlight reel with dunk after dunk and also contributed heavily on the boards.  He still is a liability at the line and needs to work on a post game, but his ability to score around the basket will keep him employed for years to come.

Hasheem Thabeet: C. There is no better story from an UConn alumni than Thabeet’s.  He was on his way out of the NBA as an epic bust, but found a spot on the Thunder’s roster, backing up Perkins.  He contributed right away and showed ways to rebound which was one of the major reasons for his failure in Memphis and Houston.  He’ll never be a starter, but his resurgent play in Oklahoma has given him new life in the NBA.

A.J. Price: C. While it wasn’t a breakout year for Price, he did thrive in Washington, getting more than 22 minutes a game.  He has limited his turnovers, passed the ball much better, and has been able to knock down open jumpers.  He’ll get less minutes next year because Wall is back from injury, but he should do well again.

Jeff Adrien: C.  Adrien is a testament to how hard work can pay off.  He has found a home in Charlotte and has settled into his role as a player that can scrap in the paint for rebounds and provide solid defense.  He even was able to start 5 games this season which is amazing considering his journey.

Rip Hamilton. D.  This year was supposed to be a bounce back season for Rip, but it ended up being an up and down year where he battled injury and sub-par play.  He ended up riding the pine in the playoffs and his storied tenure in the NBA is nearing its finale.

Jeremy Lamb: D. Lamb had a tough rookie season.  He got traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder which already had a deep bench and an abundant amount of young talent so he was sent down to the D-League for awhile.  He did get some game time in but other than one game, he never had more than 12 minutes of playing time.   His numbers won't jump off the page but that is understandable since he is a streaky player who needs some playing time to let the game come to him and with the sprinkling of minutes coming his way, he never got comfortable on the court.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ray Allen Knocks down 3-pointer vs. Bulls

Ray Allen creates just enough space to free up his shooting hand.

Monday, May 6, 2013

InkMonstarr: Ray Allen

Video has swears in it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Remember the Name: Kahari Beaufort

Kahari Beaufort from East Harford is a 6’4”, 185 pound, shooting guard.  He’s got connections all around the UConn program from being a cousin of Doug Wiggins to a close and personal friend of Kevin Ollie’s son, Jalen.  He’s a combo guard who can run an offense and also create his own shot.  He does play out of control at times and needs to have a bit more patience with the ball in his hands.  His defense is also a work in progress, but he is an excellent ball handler, passer, and shooter.  He’s looking to stay close to home and has his eye on UConn but has his options open at the moment.  Whoever lands Beaufort will get a hard worker with tremendous upside, but his overall projection is a mystery.