Overrated UConn Debuts at AP #7

The Huskies made a huge leap into national rankings this week, going from unranked to #7 in the AP poll.  I’m not ready to drink the Kool Aid yet.

Let me say (even before tonight’s near debacle against New Hampshire), this is way too high for the Huskies. Granted, the Huskies knocked off #2 Michigan State and #8 Kentucky, along with a decent team in Wichita State on their way to the Maui title.  But this Huskies team is too inexperienced, too small, too thin and too dependent on Kemba Walker to stay at #7.

Look, this is very close to the type of UConn team that I lobbied for last season.  I’ve repeatedly stated that the Huskies traditionally have been better and more consistent when they were undersized and more athletic than when they’ve been overly loaded in the front court.  Last year it seemed that too many scholarships and too much playing time was allocated to the front court, leaving a back court that was fairly thin (5 players) with too few legitimate options (pretty much Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson). Stanley Robinson at small forward was dependent on others to feed him the ball; he was not the type to create his own shot.

This year’s team has three legitimate guards in Walker, Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier, and three pretty good options at small forward in Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Niel Giffey and Roscoe Smith.  This is a lot more in the mold of the Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton teams, perhaps even Caron Butler.    The Huskies have a pretty good post player in Alex Oriakhi.  But this team has no depth in the post, and no legitimate power forwards.  With Ater Majok gone, Michael Bradley likely to redshirt (and probably not ready anyway), and Enosch Wolf not even on the roster yet, this team really needs someone to step up at the power forward spot.  The only real candidates are Tyler Olander, who has seemed overmatched thus far, and Roscoe Smith, who is probably talented enough but doesn’t seem to be living up the hype.  The Huskies don’t need a Jeff Adrian, Hilton Armstrong or Kirk King type of power forward but they need someone to fill the position like a Donny Marshall or Kevin Freeman.  So far, no one has stepped up.

Young Jim Calhoun teams always seem to struggle in January, going through painfully long 5 and 6 game losing streaks.  I’m not sure why that is – it may be that the Calhoun system takes time to learn, and UConn doesn’t bring in Kentucky, Duke, Carolina, Kansas or Texas-like classes that can win on sheer athleticism – but this seems to be a trend.  I don’t think this version will finish in the Top 25, and my prediction is that the Huskies will miss the tournament again.  As always, I’d love to be proven wrong.


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