UConn Huskies' 2008-2009 Basketball Preview

gregory caldarellaAnalyst IJune 22, 2008

The Huskies had what can be described as a roller coaster year this past season. Coming off a year in which the men's team failed to reach a postseason berth of any kind, they had a lot of proving to do with expectations still high.

The past year's shortcomings were mostly chalked up to inexperience, but this year that would not be a sufficient excuse.

A.J. Price finally lived up to his potential and showed the UCONN faithful just how good he could be, as he emerged as the emotional and floor leader on the maturing team.

He stepped up big during a midseason 10-game win streak, in which guards Doug Wiggins and Jerome Dyson sat out with suspensions for off-the-court violations. A.J. elevated his game to new levels and led the team to a No. 4 seed in the tournament.

While this was a feel-good story, it did not end well for Price, as he suffered a partially torn ACL in the opening half of the tournament vs. San Diego. The rest of his teammates looked lost without their floor general and were unable to regroup in time to win the game.

A first-round exit did not sit well with the fans and the coaches. Many changes were promised by a disgruntled Coach Calhoun.

Sure enough, there came the announcements of transfers by Doug Wiggins and Curtis Kelly, once prized recruits.

Hasheem Thabeet, the 7-foot shot blocker, was also predicted to enter this year's NBA draft, as things once again looked hazy in UCONN country.

However, things changed as Thabeet announced he would return for his junior year in hopes of winning a national championship.

This year's recruiting class is also ranked among the nation's best. It includes standout NYC PG Kemba Walker and versatile PF Ater Majok. This team has been playing together for going on three seasons now, and chemistry was noticeably better last season.

With some key departures from other powerhouse teams in the Big East, UCONN is primed for a Big East Title run. A.J. Price has been right on schedule in his recovery program and can hopefully return to form.

The Huskies have plenty of guard depth and has added front line depth through recruiting. This should be an exciting year in Storrs, Conn.

However, there have been recent rumblings that junior SF Stanley Robinson might be academically ineligible for next season. That would be a bit of blow, considering his athleticism and highlight-reel dunks, but Calhoun hopes Robinson can right the ship.

Also, prized recruit Nate Miles has recently been cleared academically by the NCAA, as Calhoun hopes to add him to an already impressive recruiting class.

There should be a nice mix of new faces and experience for this year's Huskies. If they can recapture the intensity they played with during last year's midseason run, they will certainly be considered one of the top teams in the nation.