WATCH NOW - Media Day Interview with Donnell Beverly
WATCH NOW - Media Day Interview with Alex Oriakhi
WATCH NOW - Media Day Interview with Kemba Walker
The Big Picture: After a Final Four run two seasons ago, UConn posted an 18-16 record and a 7-11 BIG EAST mark last year. The Huskies had four double-figure scorers, but there was a dropoff in production after that group. Two full-time starters return for coach Jim Calhoun who will try to assemble cohesive combinations to put the Huskies back in their accustomed role of BIG EAST contenders.
Who's Back: Guard Kemba Walker became one of the BIG EAST's top guards last season. He averaged 14.6 points and was first in the league in steals (2.1) and second in assists (5.1). A 6-1 junior who led the team in minutes played (35.3), Walker garnered All-BIG EAST Third Team honors. The other full-time returning starter is sophomore center Alex Oriakhi. A BIG EAST All-Rookie Team pick, Oriakhi averaged 5.0 points and 6.6 rebounds. Six-eleven Ater Majok started 22 games, though he played only 14.6 minutes per contest. An athletic forward, Majok averaged 2.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and blocked 42 shots. Sophomore Jamal Coombs-McDaniel averaged 3.3 ppg last season as a reserve. The 6-7 wing is the Huskies' other outside shooting threat with Walker and will push for starting duty. Senior guard Donnell Beverly (1.6) saw action in 32 games and has been a steady backup. Senior center Charles Okwandu (1.0, 1.6) served as a reserve to Oriakhi.
Who's Missing: Guard Jerome Dyson was the team's top scorer with a 17.2 average. He averaged 4.2 assists and joined Walker on the All-BIG EAST Third Team. Forward Stanley Robinson, an NBA draft pick, averaged 14.5 points and led the team with a 7.6 rebounding mark. Forward Gavin Edwards enjoyed a productive season in a sixth-man role. He averaged 10.6 points, grabbed rebounds at a 6.5 clip and finished second in the BIG EAST in field goal shooting, making 59.2 percent.
Storylines: Despite "only" finishing with an 18-16 record, the Huskies put up their customary strong defensive numbers. In league games, they allowed opponents to shoot only 40.4 percent, best in the BIG EAST. UConn has led the league in field goal defense in seven of the past nine seasons. The Huskies, as usual, were first in blocked shots with a 6.7 mark in league play and were second nationally at 7.7. Calhoun would welcome some stronger shooting from the perimeter. Freshman Jeremy Lamb may be able to help on the wing or in the backcourt. Guard Shabazz Napier has a good chance to offer some immediate help. The other freshmen are frontcourt hopefuls: 6-10 Michael Bradley, 6-8 Roscoe Smith and 6-9 Tyler Olander.