UConn ousted by San Diego in 1st round; what’s next for the Huskies?

It’s funny. I had a feeling deep down in my stomach for four days about this tournament, the San Diego game in particular, that the Huskies just weren’t going to have an easy time by any stretch of the imagination in making it to the sweet sixteen. I saw Drake (if they were to advance) giving us a lot of problems and the Torreros as well after watching the Huskies finish down the stretch (3-3 and not playing well at all).

And then it happened. San Diego came to play and the Huskies…not really. We lose A.J. Price — the heart and soul of our team — midway through the first and Husky fans all around the country had to be feeling ill all of a sudden. The game was tied at 16 and now we’re without our best player and team leader for who knows how long?!?

Ultimately, the OT loss was more of a result of San Diego just making a great play and winning the game more than it was UConn losing it, in my opinion. Now, do I think that the Huskies should’ve won this game regardless? Of course I do. But to fault them and sit here and blame their second half play down the stretch I think would be a wrong thing to do. I thought they played well.

However, there are some things scheme wise, strategy wise, coaching wise that need to be addressed going into next year and that is what this post is going to try to address.

First a look at the team next year…

Current Roster (scholarship players):

PG A.J. Price (Junior) — Craig Austrie (Junior) — Donnell Beverly (Freshman)

SG Jerome Dyson (Sophomore) — Doug Wiggins (Sophomore)

SF Stanley Robinson (Sophomore)

PF Jeff Adrien (Junior) — Gavin Edwards (Sophomore) — Curtis Kelly (Sophomore)

C Hasheem Thabeet (Sophomore) — Jonathon Mandeldove (Sophomore)

**Departures for ’08 /09 season indicated by strikethrough

I see Thabeet going pro and whether he should or should not is debatable. I definitely don’t think his game is anywhere CLOSE to good enough for the NBA at this point but I want him to go simply because I hate how we play as a team with him. Not to mention he hinders us from adding a great recruit. I also believe that Donnell Beverly will transfer as he notes his current position on the depth chart and realizes that we’re adding two guards at least, probably three for next season.

Probable ’08/09 roster: 

PG A.J. Price (Senior) — Kemba Walker (Freshman) — Craig Austrie (Senior)

SG Nate Miles (Freshman) — Jerome Dyson (Junior) — Doug Wiggins (Junior) — Scottie Haralson (Freshman)

SF Stanley Robinson (Junior) —

PF Jeff Adrien (Senior) — Curtis Kelly (Junior) — Gavin Edwards (Junior)

C Jonathon Mandeldove (Junior)

Outlook:

Given the makeup of this squad and the depth in the backcourt, I really hope that Jim Calhoun turns the Huskies loose next season. We should be a run and gun team that averages over 80 ppg in Big East play and EASILY over the entire year.  I think we’d still be very good defensively (with guys like Dyson, Wiggins, Walker, Price and Mandeldove) and on the glass (with Adrien and Robinson and Dove).

The big thing is though, we’d be a much better drive and kick, shooting, and transition team and I think that’s the style of play that we should incorporate again. I love that style of play and for a long time that was the identity of UConn basketball, the speed and transition game. We’ve always had great wing players and with the additions of Miles and Haralson and the emergence of Robinson we should be great there. I think this team could really be dangerous if Calhoun manages the team well and each guy accepts their role and plays up to their abilities.

Can’t wait for next season.

(Will have another post in a few weeks when more news comes out and the roster really starts to take shape, there are still a lot of question marks in terms of personnel for next season i.e. will Thabeet go pro, what’s Miles’ situation and who will transfer)

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