Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Breakdown: Small Forwards

Finding a capable small forward has plagued UConn for years.  They’ve tried various options ever since Rudy Gay left but they never found that duel threat of a consistent outside shooter that can also play around the basket.  Truth be told it has been the bane of many college basketball programs.  But UConn might of found a potential superstar in DeAndre Daniels.  If anyone told you that Daniels would raise his game to the level that he did last season then they should be heading to Los Vegas right now, because Daniels ended his freshman year as primarily an outside shooter and he wasn’t that consistent either, but what happened in his sophomore year was truly astounding.  He demonstrated the use of both the right and left hand drives to the basket, developed a nice mid-ranged jumper, a hook shot, and an ability to score in traffic.  If he can add a post-up game as well as a more consistent jumper than he is a sure lottery pick.   Right now his upside is tremendous, but he needs to build on the momentum of last season.

Neils Giffey isn’t going to be an NBA lottery pick and he won’t put up monster numbers for the Huskies, but he is by far the most versatile player on the team.  Ollie leans on him heavily to hold down three positions.  He has the height to play the four, though he lacks the bulk to hold position on the block.  His natural position is at the three, where he can hit the outside shot, has enough lateral quickness to keep in front of his man, and isn’t afraid to bang inside the paint.  He can also slide into the two position though his ball handling skills are a weakness for him.  He’s developed into a solid 6th man and has demonstrated an above the rim game last year.  The one aspect to his arsenal that he needs to work on is his rebounding.  He must clear space better than he has so far and he also needs go after those second chance opportunities.

Tolksdorf is an intriguing player.  He has shown the ability to hit the deep shot, but has not demonstrated any willingness to enter the paint at all for rebounds which cost him valuable minutes last season.  That should be his major focus each and every time he gets on the court.  He should be thinking about where he is going to seal his man off to get that rebound, not where he should float to get his shot.  It will be an important pre-season for him to show Ollie that he can do the little things to warrant more minutes down the road because if he remains primarily an outside shooter, his minutes will remain inconsistent.

It will be interesting to see how Ollie uses the small forward position.  It is a lock that Daniels will average around thirty minutes a game and Giffey, with his versatility, should hover around fifteen to twenty minutes per game.  Ollie still needs to develop this position for the next season with the possibility that Daniels leaves, so he should give Tolksdorf plenty of opportunities to play early in the year, but come conference time, Daniels and Giffey will get all the playing time barring foul trouble.

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