RESULTS| STATS| HISTORY | MESSAGE BOARD | CONNECTICUT INSIDER
RECORD: - REGION: South SEED: 5|
COACH: Jim Calhoun CONFERENCE: American
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
The Huskies are an explosive transition team that is
young and inexperienced. When UConn plays with poise, this is a difficult
team to beat. Jim Calhoun wants his team to explode out on the break and
get easy baskets in transition. With Ben Gordon on the perimeter, UConn has
a star who can score in a variety of ways and get his own shot. With Emeka
Okafor inside, UConn has a devastating defender who allows everyone to get
out and pressure the ball with confidence. When UConn plays with toughness
and consistency, this is a Sweet 16 team.
|Player to Watch|
When his shot is falling, there isn't a more dominating low-post player in the country than this defensive player of the year.
How They Got Here
Connecticut has been streaky all season, and the key for the Huskies is to catch a good wave -- and not the kind of wave that almost drowned their NCAA Tournament hopes in January and early February -- in the tournament.
The good news for Connecticut is Coach Jim Calhoun (prostate cancer surgery) and point guards Taliek Brown (broken finger) are back after missing five and four games, respectively, and that the team didn't exactly fall apart without either; the Huskies were 3-1 in games in which both Calhoun and Brown were out.
The bad news is, both were back when the Huskies lost twice near at the end of the regular season, including a disappointing 76-70 loss at home to Providence, although the Huskies rebounded to wax Boston College 91-54. But that's been Connecticut's season in a nutshell.
After opening the season with nine consecutive victories, the Huskies' perfection was punctured 73-63 at Oklahoma on Jan. 7, and Connecticut would lose five of nine games to take on the aroma of a fraud. The Huskies would right themselves, even with Calhoun and Brown going through their health issues, to win five of six games before losing at Pittsburgh and against Providence in three days of early March.
In the final analysis, though, Connecticut has managed quite nicely without Caron Butler -- imagine this team if Butler had stayed in school -- thanks mainly to the development of sophomores Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor, whose combined scoring average jumped from 20.5 to 35.7 points per game.
What We Like
What don't we like? At guard the Huskies have junior Brown, senior junior Tony Robertson and Gordon, who average a combined 37 points and 12 assists. They have explosive athletes on the wing in Denham Brown and Rashad Anderson, and they have the country's best interior defender in Okafor, whose offense skills are catching up to his defensive skills. Okafor is good for 11 rebounds and five blocks per game, the main reasons the Huskies have a plus-6 rebounding edge and have held opponents to 38.5-percent shooting from the floor.
What We Don't Like
Remember our question in the previous section, what don't we like? Well, we don't like this: Frankly, the Huskies are too talented to have the record they have. And that scares us.
This, in our view, is an underachieving team that played at an unacceptable level in midseason, and this was before the losses of Calhoun and Taliek Brown. If the Huskies can flinch against a handful of mid-level Big East teams, they can definitely flinch against anyone they will encounter in the NCAA Tournament, beginning in the first round.