Friday, January 04, 2008

Connecticut Preview

The Huskies defeated Seton Hall at the Prudential Center last night, so we can break down a little Big East play in addition with their overall schedule.

Jerome Dyson had a career night and all the starters reached double figures in a high scoring 98-86 affair. The Pirates actually led 48-47 at the break, but improved defense helped UCONN pull ahead for good.

Connecticut is 10-2, with losses to Memphis and Gonzaga at neutral sites. No top 100 nonconference RPI wins, but they do have a road win at Central Florida to their credit. The young team likes to play uptempo, averaging nearly 75 possessions a game, 16th in the nation. They have scored 80 or more eight times this season.

Dyson and Jeff Adrien take up a big chunk of their possessions, about 25% each, while the offensive liability from the starting rotation is shot-blocking extraordinaire Hasheem Thabeet. Though Dyson scored 27 last night, he can do more harm than good to the Huskies' attack when under pressure. His season shooting average is 40%, but has logged five games missing 2/3 or more of his shots.


#11 Dyson- 15.9 PPG, 38% from three
#12 A.J. Price- 12.9 PPG, 6.0 APG, 38% beyond the arc


#4 Adrien- 13.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG, not a deep threat
#21 Stanley Robinson- 11.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 39% long range
#34 Thabeet- 10.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.5 BPG


#3 Doug Wiggins- 6.2 PPG, under 30%, backup point guard
#24 Craig Austrie- 4.7 PPG, 33%, another guard
#14 Curtis Kelly- 3.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, no range
#33 Gavin Edwards- 4.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, like Kelly another 6'9" sophomore forward

Wiggins plays 19.0 MPG, Austrie is around 15, the other two at ten or less.

Thabeet will be an interesting matchup. He plays 28 minutes a game, so definitely a much improved post presence over West Virginia. 7'3", 263 pounds. With UCONN lacking a three-point shooter over 40%, the Irish could go zone to double team Thabeet down low or Harangody and Kurz will man him up. Offensively, the guy is extremely raw. On defense, he can shut down the lane with those long arms and great swatting ability. Harangody is a much better overall player under the basket, but he gives up at least 7 inches. The rest of the Huskies are undersized, with Adrien the heaviest at 238 and no other starters over 210. When Thabeet is off the floor, Kurz, Harangody, and even Hillesland will be able to push around with impunity.

Dyson is the big scorer, but can hurt the Huskies if he is cold and well defended. Adrien and Price are the leaders on the team with no senior. Adrien can rack up some points and rebounds, but is a terrible free throw shooter (59%). Price likes to shoot from outside, but is pretty hit and miss.

Overall, I like how we stack up much more against UCONN than against the Mountaineers. Still, it's a Big East game and those are always hard fought. Need to control the turnovers and get those rebounds. Memphis and Gonzaga were able to keep the Huskies under 40%, so good defense should allow us to get ahead and put this one away. Let's get the win, extend the streak, and keep the good play going.

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