One feeling that doesn't sit well with Alex Oriakhi is losing. Last season the UConn Huskies suffered close losses down the stretch that derailed their chances of going to the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskies lost in the second round of the NIT and finished the season 18-16. It was one of the worst seasons under coach Jim Calhoun and disappointing because there was a departing trio of seniors in Robinson, Dyson, and Edwards.
They are all gone now as this UConn team looks to redeem itself after struggling down the stretch last season. Alex Oriakhi had an up and down freshman season, but all in all he showed glimpses where he was a force in the post.
Oriakhi was named to the All-Rookie team in the Big East Conference and started all but five games. That experience and valuable playing time during his first year of college should be a big help moving forward.
Last year, Alex averaged 6.6 rebounds per game to go along with 5.0 points per game. One of the areas where he is looking to improve on is his scoring. During the offseason he has worked hard on establishing some low post moves which should help him facing the basket.
Oriakhi also grabbed 14 rebounds in two games last season. As a freshman he is only the third UConn player to achieve that mark. The other two players were Okafor and Josh Boone.
Since the season ended Oriakhi has been focused on improving his game. He has been in the gym lifting twice a day. He realizes that the stronger he is the more of a force he will be in the paint. He has the size (6'9" 240 lbs) to be a very successful now and at the next level.
It takes hard work, dedication, and commitment. All are attributes that Oriakhi has as he strives to have a breakout sophomore season.
During the summer Oriakhi has been playing in the Greater Hartford Pro-Am League. This league has an uptempo pace, but Alex's game has been in good form. He has looked more comfortable in the post and is starting to use his new moves down low on the block.
As he continues to work on his skills, Alex could become an important asset in the UConn offense once the season arrives.
Oriakhi was the Gatorade Player in the state of New Hampshire in 2009. He came in last season and contributed right away. This year he and his teammates are determined to get back to the winning ways that UConn basketball is known for.