Monday, July 8, 2013

The Breakdown: The Guards

Everyone who follows college basketball knows that success depends heavily on the backcourt and Connecticut has a three guard tandem to rival any in the country.  Starting with Shabazz Napier.  He is already getting NBA draft buzz and is knocking on the door of an All-American award.  He has all the tools to be one of the best pure point guards to leave Storrs.  Sure Walker and Price have shown that they can handle the point with success, but Napier has a smoother stroke from deep and has comparable to better court vision.  Shabazz doesn’t have that killer instinct nor the ability to light it up like Walker, but he does possess more of a point guard mentality.  He has shown progression each and every year and there is no reason why he shouldn't flirt with 20 points and 10 assists a game this upcoming year.

Ryan Boatright is heading into an important season.  He showed glimpses of a pesky two-guard that has the ability to score twenty a game, but he lacked consistency last season and struggled mightily when Napier was injured.  He needs to show that he can take care of the basketball and play with purpose.  Too many times he dribbled himself into trouble while improvising.  He needs to trust in the sets that are called.  His jumper also needs to improve.  Teams were driving him off the line and he didn't have a second option.  If he can work on the mid-ranged game, get to the line more, and limit his careless turnovers than he should have a great season.

The biggest X-Factor is Omar Calhoun.  He has shown the ability to hit the deep ball and his mid-ranged game began to emerge late in the season.  This year should show a much more mature game in Calhoun.  There is just too many options for the offense that Omar needs to contribute in other ways other than camping out for the deep shot.  He’ll need to battle for those mid-ranged rebounds that plagued UConn last season and also find ways to get points at the line, which will mean playing more downhill.  If he can do these things, then this three guard line-up should be tough to handle for any team in the country.

Lasan Kromah also joins the team, transferring from George Washington University.  Kevin Ollie loved what R.J. Evans brought to the team last year.  A confident, tough nosed, senior guard that is willing to do all the little things from solid defense, rebound in traffic, run sets, and play within himself.  Kromah should be able fill that role.

With the plethora of guards at Ollie’s disposal, he can mix and match his lineup, but he’ll more than likely use Napier, Boatright, and Calhoun to start and end the halves with Kromah and Giffey to slide into the shooting guard roles when necessary.  It all leads up to a very deep line-up and one that can win the new American Athletic Conference and make a deep run into the NCAA tournament.

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