Monday, July 22, 2013

The Breakdown: Center

The center position last season was a mess.  Coach Ollie tried to pull every string available to muster any production out of the position.  Olander struggled mightily to rebound the basketball, Wolf was inconsistent and then suspended, Nolan showed flashes but was thrust into a role he wasn’t fully prepared for.  To say UConn lacked production in the paint would be an understatement.  Teams repeatedly had two, three, and even four looks at the basket while daring UConn to toss the ball inside.  Opponents also had twenty more shot attempts then UConn had .  This upcoming season isn’t going to drastically change this position around, but with the addition of Brimah, they have much more size and a pure shot blocker.

Olander will continue to play the center position even if he is a power forward, but he must be better at clearing space.  He ball watched too much, allowing his man to sneak around him for rebounds.  He’s got the size and athletic ability to rebound in the paint.  It is all mental at this point.  It is important for him to play well right out of the gate and wash the memory of last year away.

Nolan was thrust into a major role last season with Enosch Wolf’s abrupt departure due to a suspension.  He made an impact instantly and outplayed Olander.  He is the better offensive center of the three. With Wolf’s decision to leave UConn, He’ll have a great opportunity to build on last season.  He needs more size and show a way to score on the block.  If he can then he’ll be the starting center.

It is hard to tell what Amida Brimah will bring to the game.  He’s raw, but he has the size to make an instant impact that is if he can show an ability to rebound.  Blocking shots won’t be a problem and something UConn hasn’t had in some time.  Ollie will probably ween him in, playing him off the bench until he gets a feel for playing against bigger talent.

UConn doesn’t need much out of this position.  Whoever can play the pick-and-roll, rebound, and defend without fouling then they’ll start.  This team will utilize the three guard line-up and Daniels will be on the court unless he is in foul trouble that makes the power forwards and the centers fighting for minutes.  So there is a lot of pressure on these two positions to show Ollie that they deserve the minutes.  There is no telling who will win the job but it will sure be interesting to watch.

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