2008 NCAA Tournament Capsule: UCONN
by Joel Welser
Last NCAA Appearance: 2006, Elite Eight loss to George Mason
Coach: Jim Calhoun (41-17 in 19 NCAA appearances)
A.J. Price, Junior, Guard
Jerome Dyson, Sophomore, Guard
Stanley Robinson, Sophomore, Forward
Jeff Adrien, Junior, Forward
Hasheem Thabeet, Sophomore, Center
Doug Wiggins, Sophomore, Guard
Craig Austrie, Junior, Guard
Gavin Edwards, Sophomore, Forward
Curtis Kelly, Sophomore, Forward
Why They Can Surprise:
This year Connecticut has done things the right way on the court. The team plays efficient basketball on both ends of the floor and has very few things they do poorly. However, it is their defense that truly stands out and that all starts with 7-3 center Hasheem Thabeet. The sophomore averages over four blocks a game and is an absolute beast in the paint. Forwards Jeff Adrien and Stanley Robinson are solid shot blockers as well and the team leads the nation in blocked shots per game. It is extremely difficult to get any points inside against the Huskies and it is understandable that the opposition shoots a meager 37.9 percent from the floor.
Not to overlook the frontcourts ability to score, but besides their defense, the best attribute they bring to the table is their rebounding ability. Adrien leads the way, but all three will hit the glass very effectively. Few teams in the country can rival the Huskies ability to get easy buckets on offensive rebounds and that can be extremely demoralizing for the opposition.
Why They Can Disappoint:
A.J. Price is the team’s leading scorer and has developed into a superb point guard. But other than him, the team has a tendency to commit a few too many turnovers. Overall the numbers are not bad, but players like Adrien and guard Jerome Dyson will commit nearly three turnovers a piece per game. Most of the time there will not be two players on the floor that can handle the ball at the same time and that can become a problem when the team is being pressured. Dyson is an excellent scorer so Uconn wants to keep him in the game, but if he becomes a liability when teams are pressing, the Huskies will lose his scoring prowess in favor of Doug Wiggins or Craig Austrie who can handle the ball a little better.
Who To Watch:
Guard play is so important come tournament time and the Huskies guards will need to be prepared. The group may be young, but they do not lack in experience. This is a group that has survived last year’s debacle and has had a great season this time around. Price has nearly doubled his scoring and assist numbers this year and brings some much needed leadership to the unit. There is some quality depth to the group as well with Wiggins and Austrie, both of whom have earned some starts over the last two years.
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