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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 7th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Connecticut Huskies

Overall Rank: #33

Conference Rank: #7 Big East

 

2005-06: 30-4, 14-2, 1st (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

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. 

 

Whoís Out: The 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. 

 

Whoís In: 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: The 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.

 

Final Projection: 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.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

A.J. Price, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season

Craig Austrie, Sophomore, Guard, 3.3 points per game

Marcus Johnson, Sophomore , Forward, 3.8 points per game

Jeff Adrien, Sophomore, Forward, 6.5 points per game

Hasheem Tahbeet, Freshman, Center, DNP last season

34 Virginia Ľ Complete List Ľ 32 Kentucky

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