Big East Conference (17-14, 7-11)
Big Wins: 1/23 Texas (88-74), 2/15 at Villanova (84-75), 2/22 West Virginia (73-62)
Bad Losses: 1/17 at Michigan (63-68), 1/27 at Providence (66-81), 3/10 vs St. John’s (51-73)
Coach: Jim Calhoun
Why They Can Surprise:
Once again Connecticut is among the nation’s leaders in blocked shots. Gavin Edwards, who usually does not even start, leads the team with 2.1 blocks per contest. Freshman center Alex Oriakhi is not far behind, averaging 1.6 blocks. Add fellow forwards Stanley Robinson and Ater Majok to the mix and there is not a big man on this team who fails to intimidate the opposition under the basket.
All those blocked shots leads to quick baskets on the other end of the floor. Robinson is the best scorer among the frontcourt players and often the beneficiary of a blocked shot since he can quickly get down the floor. Edwards and Oriakhi are more traditional back to the basket players, but it is Edwards who is a bigger threat to score, while Oriakhi, who is just a freshman, is still coming into his own offensively, but does plenty of work on the glass. Majok missed the early part of the season for academic reasons, but almost immediately stepped into the starting lineup. He is not much of a scorer at this point in his career, nor is he as productive of a rebounder as Edwards or Oriakhi, but he is a great defender.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The Huskies play great in transition, but running the half court offense can be a problem. Jerome Dyson is an experienced player, but he has had trouble creating for his teammates. Sophomore Kemba Walker is in the same situation. Both are more than capable scorers who do dish out plenty of assists, but a lot of those come out of fast break situations. If Uconn cannot start being productive in their half court offense, they will continue to lose to teams that can sit back and simply stop their transition offense. Usually the Huskies do not need to come from behind, but that is not the case this year and the total lack of three-point shooting is a major concern as well. There are only a handful of teams in the nation that take fewer three-point shots than Coach Jim Calhoun’s squad and that can make it very difficult for them to come from behind.
Who To Watch:
Dyson and Robinson, the team’s top two scorers, are the only legitimate outside shooting threats. Dyson probably takes more long range shots than he should, but when he gets hot he is not a bad shooter. However, on the year he shot just 28.7 percent from beyond the arc. Like Dyson, Robinson is more of a slasher than a shooter, but he will get open looks outside and he can shoot over smaller defenders. Both of those guys do not have to be hot from outside for Uconn to win, but one of them better at least be a threat or the opposition can simply pack in their defense.
Kemba Walker, Sophomore, Guard, 14.8 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.2 rpg
Jerome Dyson, Senior, Guard, 17.3 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4.4 rpg
Stanley Robinson, Senior, Forward, 14.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg
Ater Majok, Freshman, Forward, 2.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg
Alex Oriakhi, Freshman, Center, 4.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Donnell Beverly, Junior, Guard, 1.6 ppg, 1.3 apg
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Freshman, Forward, 3.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg
Gavin Edwards, Senior, Forward, 10.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.1 bpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.2 (113th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.8 (145, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.2 (84, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.9 (16, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 3.7 (332, 16)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: na
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.9 (141, 6)
Rebound Margin: 3.7 (62, 7)
Assists Per Game: 14.0 (102, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.9 (258, 15)
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