Rank: #7 Big East
30-4, 14-2, 1st (t)
As far as
preseason rankings are concerned,
Connecticut can end up
anywhere from second to seventh and itíll be hard to argue
with. While we are talking about a super talented squad coached
by Jim Calhoun, it is always dangerous to expect so much out of
unproven freshmen. Whether it be second or seventh, itís still
a trip to the NCAAs.
top six scorers are gone with Rudy Gay (15.2 points per game),
Rashad Anderson (12.8 ppg), Marcus Williams (12.3 ppg), Denham
Brown (10.7 ppg), Josh Boone (10.3 ppg) and Hilton Armstrong
(9.7 ppg). Throw in frontcourt roleplayer Ed Nelson and that is
tons of talent.
After a life
threatening case of Arteriovenous Malformation, which caused
bleeding in his brain, in 2004 and being suspended by the
University in 2005, the highly touted A.J. Price will finally
make his debut for the Huskies in 2006-2007. The 6-2 point
guard is a great athlete and quality shooter who is expected to
run the point from day one. Weíve had the Thad Five, the
Fantastic Four, but rarely do we have a class so large and
talented that we get to use the moniker the Great Eight. Weíll
start in the back with point guard Doug Wiggins. The 6-1, East
Hartford, Connecticut native wonít be too high on the depth
chart this year, but if things go bad, he has the ability to
start sooner than later. Shooting guard Jerome Dyson is a
tremendous scorer with amazing range. The starting role may not
be his in November, but it very well could be in March.
Stanley Robinson will contend for the starting job at small
forward. In high school, the 6-9, 220 pounder played in the
post due to his size and will need a little time to adjust to
his natural position. However, that wonít limit Robinsonís
minutes too much, even early in the season. Fellow small
forward Ben Eaves is a raw talent and has plenty of potential,
but that may take a little while to develop into productivity on
the court. It should be a crime to pick up so many quality post
players in one recruiting class. Hasheem Tahbeet, Jonathan
Mandeldove, Gavin Edwards and Curtis Kelly are all great
prospects. Tahbeet is the best of the bunch and the 7-3, 265
pound Tanzanian is expected to start under the basket from day
one. Tahbeet is a great defender and can score under the
basket. He needs to develop a mid-range game and like most 7-3
people, heís not the best in transition. None of that matters
though, because Tahbeet is such a presence under the basket.
Mandeldove compliments the skills of Tahbeet quite nicely. The
6-11 center isnít a great scorer under the basket or much of a
defensive presence, yet Mandeldove is a great athlete and solid
rebounder. Edwards will find himself down a ways on the depth
chart for the time being, but will be a decent option off the
bench at either post spot. Kelly knows how to use his length
and quickness under the basket and should be a quality player
once given the opportunity.
Who to Watch:
backcourt returns Craig Austrie, Marcus Johnson and Rob
Garrison. Austrie started 24 games last year, averaging 3.3
points and 2.6 assists. Austrie can play either guard spot and,
at least early in the year, should be starting alongside Price.
Either of those guys can play the one or two and having two
point guards on the floor that can score is never a bad option.
Johnson averaged just 3.8 points per game in limited minutes as
a freshman, but showed plenty of promise to grab a starting job
on the wing. It is Johnsonís to loseÖor incoming freshman
Robinsonís to gain, but the year of experience for Johnson gives
him the early leg up. Garrison is a quick and tough point guard
who will provide emergency depth on the perimeter.
Jeff Adrien is
the teamís leading returning scorer and rebounder at 6.5 and
5.0, respectively. Adrienís hardworking attitude, toughness and
relative experience should get him the starting nod.
Considering we havenít talked about an upperclassmen, youth and
inexperience is the lone problem for the Huskies. It will be
interesting to see how the team develops as the year goes on,
but one thing is for sure, the talent is there for this group to
be extremely dangerous come March.
Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Sophomore, Guard, 3.3 points per game
Sophomore , Forward, 3.8 points per game
Sophomore, Forward, 6.5 points per game
Freshman, Center, DNP last season