UConn limped into January with a loss to Houston and compiled that up with another loss to SMU that dropped them out of the top 25. They bounced back with a tough win against Harvard, a dominating performance against UCF, and then an eye opening win against Memphis, buy then they hosted Louisville in a physical battle that had Kevin Ollie get ejected from the game on a controversial call. The Cardinals manhandled the Huskies and gave them their fourth loss of the season. Dusting themselves off, UConn once again put together another three game winning streak against Temple, Rutgers, and revenged their loss by beating Houston. With each loss, they have shown a way to bounce back. The rebounding has improved, the jump shots have started dropping again, and they are doing a much better job of finding different ways to get points from the free throw line and actually scoring in the post. This team has taken a huge step in maturing in the month of January and showed glimpses of potential that could flourish into a sleeper team in the next couple of months.
Napier was the most consistent Husky during the month of January. His jumper was on target and when he was in attack mode, he was unstoppable. He can score in a variety of ways from spotting up for a deep three, to coming off screens for dribble penetration, and playing off the ball for spot up jumpers. During January he has played without Boatright and Daniels in games and has carried this team in just about every category. The only knock against him is his slow starts in some games. He tends to try to get others involved which is his job, but sometimes his team needs him to carry them earlier because they dig themselves into a hole.
Boatright had a good start to the month but then hit a bit of a speed bump after the Harvard game. He had to deal with a heavy heart with the loss of his cousin, which was more like his brother. His jumper wasn’t as consistent as it had been in December and he continued to struggle to score in the open court. He tends to take off balance shots around the rim instead of going up strong. He has started taking some mid-ranged jumpers which are dropping and is attacking the baseline more. He tends to gamble too much on defense and allows his man an open lane to drive or a wide open look at the basket. The great sign for Boatright is that he hasn’t been dependent on his jumper to make an impact on the game.
Daniels had an up and down month. During the Memphis game, he was unstoppable but then backed that up with a no show against Louisville. He tends to disappear in some games and with this team in desperate need of post production, DeAndre is vital to UConn’s success. His outside shot has been outstanding, but his floater has been inconsistent and he has been rushing his shots in the paint. His rebounding has been much better as of late and when he is getting those rebounds, it tends to effect his offense. He needs to demand the ball in the paint more and concentrate on rebounding, because that usually fuels his offensive game.
Giffey has been shy to look for his own offense, taking shots only when he is really wide open. His 3-pointers weren’t dropping earlier in January but had started coming around late in the month. He has been one of the most consistent defensive players to come off the bench and is rarely in foul trouble. He still tends to have good first halves and disappear in the second, especially in the final ten minutes. His rebounding needs to improve and hasn’t utilized the pump fake.
Kromah has continued to provide UConn with a spark off the bench. He had his best game of the month against SMU and continued to play well. He has been able to score around the rim, has hit the outside shot though he tends to be streaky, and he plays hard defensively. His play really hasn’t diminished as UConn has entered conference play and he has earned the starting role.
Calhoun’s nightmare season continues. His confidence has left the building. His jumper is all over the map, though he has been able to knock down a few 3-pointers in January, and he is even missing wide open lay-ups. His minutes have dwindled to near single digits and he had to miss a game due to an ankle sprain. The problem with him heading forward is that he’ll only have a limited amount of time on the court to make shots to get back on track.
Brimah was the most improved player in the month of January. He finally began making plays against UCF and hasn’t looked back. He is starting to assert himself on the boards which is also giving him confidence on the offensive end. He is making plays in the post with a baby hook shot, getting offensive rebounds and put-backs, and is making great cuts to the basket on pick and rolls. He has come a long way since October with his hands and he is no longer making sloppy turnovers or bringing the ball down where it can get stolen.
Nolan has been a bit inconsistent during January. His post game is near to non-existent and he tends to lose position during rebounding. He does provide a shot blocking presence and when he is rebounding the basketball, he finishes plays. He just has a hard time making the same impacts in back-to-back games and staying out of foul trouble.
Olander has been a team player all year but has made little to no strides in getting more minutes. He is getting pushed around and out worked on the boards and when he does get in position, he isn’t able to secure the basketball. He plays hard out there though and isn’t shy about diving for loose balls, but January hasn’t been his best month as a Husky.
Whenever Facey came into the game during January, he has made positive plays. He has shown the ability to rebound but has had a hard time defending without fouling. He has proven during this past month that he can be called upon to provide a spark when the big men above him are either in foul trouble or can’t get the job done.
Samuel didn’t get much playing time and when he did finally get to see some action, he had a hard time controlling the basketball. He looked more comfortable driving to the basket instead of taking jumpers.
January showed a lot of progress and they were able to get a signature win against Memphis on the road, but they did counteract that with a bad loss to SMU, though they are playing well as of late. The frontcourt has made strides and they need to continue that progress heading forward because February is a monster of a month for UConn and they could find things spiraling out of control if they aren’t careful.