UConn Basketball Preview

I am sophomore here at UMD, but grew up in CT and have been a UConn fan my entire life. They remain my second favorite team, obviously behind the Terps, so I know a good amount about what we'll be facing at the Barclays Center on November 8th. I've been looking forward to this game for a long time and have seen a lot of you share similar anxiety, so I figured I would stir the pot a little by posting this analysis of UConn I've done. Here is a quick summary of each significant player for UConn and what they bring to the table.

Shabazz Napier – Senior PG, 6’ 1’’, 180 lbs

2012-13: 17.1 ppg, 4.4rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.0 spg, 2.4 tpg, 37.3 mpg

Napier is a quick, shift guard that can shoot out to the NBA 3 pt line. He learned from the best, Kemba Walker, his freshman season, and has been a leader of the team the past 2 seasons. He shoots in high volume, but makes a lot of those shots (44% FG, 40% 3 pt FG, 82% FT). He's a senior, and will be unlikely to make many mistakes. He is naturally a point guard, but will play off the ball a lot, thanks to the next player in this analysis.

Ryan Boatright – Junior PG, 6’ 0’’, 168 lbs

2012-13: 15.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.5 spg, 3.0 tpg, 36.3 mpg

Boatright is even quicker than Napier, but not as good of a shooter from the outside(43% FG, 33% 3 pt FG, 79% FT). He gets into the lane in the blink of an eye, and then uses his supreme athleticism to finish the play. He is actually 5’ 11’’ max, but can do some crazy dunks, just to prove his athleticism. Someone is going to have their hands full guarding him on the defensive end. But then whichever one (Boatright or Napier) doesn’t guard Seth is going to be giving up a big size difference. Get one of these two guys into foul trouble and we’ll be in great shape to make a run.

Omar Calhoun – Sophomore SG, 6’ 6’’, 200 lbs

2012-13: 11.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.9 tpg, 32.1 mpg

Calhoun was asked to do a lot last year (32 mins/game) as only a freshman. He struggled at first, but then ended much better (scoring double digits in 7 straight game in February). He is not 6’ 6’’, more like 6’ 4’’ to 6’ 5’’, but will be asked to play SF in a 3-guard lineup. Also, he is from NYC, so will be playing in front of his home crowd. Expect him to be a good matchup for someone like Nick or Dez, size/skill wise. He is a streaky shooter that can be ice cold at times (1 for 14 in one game) or hot as fire at other times (8 for 11, 6 for 10, 6 for 10 during one 3-game stretch).

DeAndre Daniels – Junior F, 6’ 9’’, 195 lbs

2012-13: 12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.7 apg, 1.5 bpg, 1.7 tpg, 29.2 mpg

Think Jake Layman. Same size, same athleticism, same desire to play on the outside. Only difference is that because he is the only reliable Husky over 6’ 7’’, Daniels plays on the inside more. He will be a small forward at the next level, but for now is stuck playing the 4 (in normal lineups) or even 5 (in small lineups). He can shoot from the outside (47% FG, 31% 3 pt FG), but that is not where he’s deadly. He’s got a very good midrange game, especially from the baseline. I would imagine he’d be a good matchup for someone with a similar skill set like Smo or Jake. These first four guys are far and away the Huskies’ best four players.

Tyler Olander – Senior PF/C, 6’ 10’’, 230 lbs

2012-13: 4.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.9 bpg, 0.7 tpg, 21.6 mpg

He typically starts at center for UConn. However, this offseason he got in some trouble. He has been reinstated to the team, but I am not aware of whether he will be playing in the opener against us. I would assume he will be playing in the opener, since I have not heard anything stating otherwise. If he does play, he will be the center for them, matching up against Shaq, Chuck, or Dodd. He is not very athletic, but can stretch out the about 15 feet from the basket. If he is not available for the game, expect UConn to go with a lot of smaller lineups.

Niels Giffey – Senior SG/SF, 6’ 7’’, 205 lbs

2012-13: 4.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.8 tpg, 21.0 mpg

If Olander is unavailable, he will get a lot of run, out of position, playing the 4 in essentially a 4-guard lineup. He is known as more of a defender than anything else, and probably be matched up against someone like Nick or Jake. Assuming Olander is playing, he will be the primary backup for when Napier, Boatright, or Calhoun need a breather. He will probably do a good job shutting down whoever he is guarding, but should not contribute on offense as much as the first 3 guards listed.

Phillip Nolan – Sophomore PF/C, 6’ 10’’, 212 lbs

2012-13: 1.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.5 bpg, 0.4 tpg, 10.8 mpg

Again, Olander’s situation will primarily determine what Nolan does against us. If Olander is out, it will be up to Nolan and the next guy I discuss to consume his minutes in the paint. Nolan did not contribute much last year until the last 3 games (4 ppg, 6.7 rpg). I think Shaq or Chuck would be able to have their way with Nolan if matched up mainly from a size/weight perspective, but also Nolan is still a work in progress. If Olander plays, he'll be the backup center and probably get 5 - 10 minutes of action.

Kentan Facey – Freshman PF, 6’ 9’’, 200 lbs

2012-13: N/A

Facey is the lone freshman I would expect to contribute heavily this year. He was recently cleared by the NCAA after some issues. He is from Jamaica, and is still very raw (i.e. Shaq last year for us). If Olander is available, we may not even see Facey on November 8th. But, if Olander is a no-go, then Facey may be forced into the game to guard some of our bigs, especially if Daniels gets in foul trouble.

Lasan Kromah – Senior SG/SF, 6’ 6’’, 201 lbs

2012-13 (at GW): 10.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 2.2 tpg, 24.5 mpg

Kromah has transferred to UConn from GW. I would expect him to be a reserve guard/forward for the Huskies, spelling Napier, Boatright, and Calhoun when needed. He figures to not handle the ball much in this offense, and is not an exceptional outside shooter (22% 3 pt FG), but does seem to get in the lane and finish well (48% FG). He should not be an overbearing force against guys like Dez or Nick, but will provide some fresh legs and experience to this UConn squad.

I know this was a bit lengthy, but hopefully you've enjoyed it. All in all, I think we stand a very good chance against the Huskies. Napier and Boatright carry this team, and Calhoun and Daniels are the obvious #3 and 4 on this team. Past that, they really don't have much to be worried of. Assuming they have everyone above available for the game, I'd expect Napier and Boatright to almost never come off the floor. Then 2 of Calhoun, Giffey, Kromah, and Daniels will be at the 3 and 4, followed by 1 of Olander, Facey, and Nolan at the 5. They may even go extra small with Boatright, Napier, Calhoun, Giffey, and Daniels 1 through 5. I used to always go to the Big East Tournament at MSG, and UConn always had a lot of fans there. They are going to have a big fan base in attendance, one that is ready for the season after not being able to play in any postseason last year (APR issues that have been resolves since then). Hopefully our fans, including some of you guys, can bring a Terp-flavored energy to NYC.

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