UConn Huskies Basketball: Will Jim Calhoun's Team Meet Expectations?
After what can only be described as one of the best runs in college basketball history that culminated in a rather lackluster victory against the Butler Bulldogs, many pundits believe this year's UConn Huskies team will be even better than last year's.
That is not such an extraordinary claim, as last year's squad was picked to finish 10th in the Big East in the preseason coaches poll. We remember their historic runs in the Big East tournament and NCAA tournament, but the team only finished ninth in the Big East.
Amazingly, despite being an absolute force, Kemba Walker didn't even win Big East Player of the Year. That honor went to Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough.
Although I believe this year's team will finish with a much better record in Big East play—they were 9-9 last year before the Big East tournament—they will not be as dangerous come tourney time because of the graduation of the aforementioned Walker.
College basketball is a guard-oriented game, and Walker was truly one of a kind. Of all of the superlatives associated with Kemba Walker, it was his confidence that made him impossible to contain.
Kemba was the team's go-to guy whenever the game was in doubt, and with a head full of steam, no one could stay in front of him, especially not Pittsburgh's Gary McGhee.
This year's version of Jim Calhoun's Huskies will be very deep, especially on the wings, but they will be missing the gutsy play of the “Allen Iverson” of college basketball.
This year's squad will have a ton of talent with incoming freshmen Ryan Boatright (point guard), DeAndre Daniels (small forward) and Andre Drummond (center) to complement a core group of players featuring Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier, Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith.
However, give me a senior guard like Donnell Beverly who knows what to do with the ball—give it to Kemba—as opposed to a very talented mix of upperclassmen and freshmen across the board. Of course, I am not saying Beverly is an ideal player, but when you have Walker out there, you just need people willing to give him the ball.
If this were the NBA, I would agree that having one player run the show is a recipe for disaster (see Monta Ellis). But in college, one player can take 30 shots and the team can win if the rest of the team plays their respective roles well. Alex Oriakhi, for instance, can rebound and get putbacks...that's about it.
I foresee a team in the same mold of UConn's 2006 club which featured Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong and Marcus Williams and lost to George Mason in the Elite Eight.
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