Monday, September 19, 2005

Connecticut Recruiting Report

VERBAL COMMITMENT ALERT: Jonathan Mandeldove (C), Hargrave Military Academy

Projected 2006-2007 Roster:
Seniors: Marcus Williams (PG), Josh Boone (PF/C)
Juniors: Rudy Gay (SF)
Sophomores: AJ Price (G), Marcus Johnson (WG), Jeff Adrien (F), Craig Austrie (G), Robert Garrison (PG).
Freshmen: Curtis Kelly (BF/C), Will Harris (F), Ramar Smith (G), Jerome Dyson (G), Jonathan Mandeldove (C)

Hartford Courant Story on Mandeldove's decision: Mandeldove Picks Huskies.

Links to our previous Connecticut recruiting write-ups: Sept 18 Report, Sept 6 Report, July 8 Report, July 25 Round-Up.

Newly enshrined Hall od Fame coach Jim Calhoun hit the daily double this weekend by gaining commitments from Jerome Dyson and Jonathan Mandeldove, giving the Huskies a "fab 5" group of Dyson, Ramar Smith, Will Harris, Curtis Kelly and Mandeldove.


Even though the 2006-2007 roster looks full, up to four additional spots could become available. So, recruiting is far from over in Storrs. In fact, official visits are still actively being pursued with Lazer Hayward, Lance Thomas, Raymar Morgan and others. Recent visitors Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson are also not out of the mix, despite a pretty full load.

Mandeldove is the latest commitment to UConn. The 6'11 Shiloh High School product out of Georgia averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds as a senior. He signed with VCU last year, but re-opened his recruitment after failing to qualify and showing an improved game on the summer AAU circuit. Mandeldove is a bit raw, especially offensively, but has the length and athletic ability for a big man that has coaches drooling over his upside. How much can he contribute from day one in the physical Big East will depend on his physical development over the next 12 months and playing for coach Kevin Keatts at Hargrave Military Academy with several other Division 1-A major recruits will only help him (Vernon Macklin, Tyler Smith, Marreese Speights, Armon Bassett, Stefan Walsh etc).

Even with the commitment of Mandeldove and the previous commitment from Curtis Kelly, it is still likely that the Huskies will pursue another big man to add to the mix in the front court. Deon Thompson has the bulk that could be a nice compliement and the ability to play both big man spots for UConn. It is widely expected that Josh Boone will graduate in just three years and take his talents to the NBA. This, along with the graduation of Ed Nelson and Hilton Armstrong would leave a big void in the front court for UConn. Taj Gibson is another player they have been trying to get on campus this fall, but things have been quiet on him. Also, do not rule out a JUCO ready to make an impact, with already 10 players committed to the freshmen and sophomore class, and the possibility of having no juniors or sophomores, adding a JUCO could help ease the burden of class balance and give the team a little extra maturity and experience.

Nothing is a given, but it has to be considered pretty much a given that Rudy Gay enters the NBA draft after this season. Widely considered a draft lottery lock, Gay would be a difficult player to replace. Connecticut continues to try to pursue Raymar Morgan and will look forward to hosting him in the near future. Morgan also has serious interest from Michigan St, Michigan and Ohio St of the Big 10. Lance Thomas is still more of a power forward, but could also play a physical wing position, much like Morgan. Thomas visited Arizona this weekend and should have Connecticut on his short list of schools when he pares it down this week. He could also be in the mix. Robert Garrison's AAU teammate, Lazer Hayward of Notre Dame Prep, will also be visiting in the next couple weeks. Hayward is an excellent long range shooter who has improved his overall game in the last couple years. Marquette might be the early leader, but if he comes to Storrs for a visit, do not rule out UConn. They do have the need for a perimeter shooter on the wing.

At guard, the futures of Marcus Williams and AJ Price, both for multiple reasons, for this season and beyond remain in doubt. They added a late pick-up for the 2005-2006 season in Garrison and with spring signee Craig Austrie and recent verbal commitment Jerome Dyson, they can probably wait on adding a point guard as they just do not seem to be in on anyone to the point a commitment seems possible. You can bet they will pursue a top PG and land one in the 2007 class. The recent news that Ramar Smith has left South Kent prep school and returned home to Detroit might be a situation to monitor. Not sure if this will have any impact in Smith's commitment or his ability to qualify. Hayward could be a 2-guard possibility as well, or at least insurance.

So, even with, on paper, a full load of players for 2006-2007, the Connecticut roster could change quite a bit and up to 4 scholarships could become open. I think they will still pursue 2 additional players, one in the front court and one on the wing, before calling this class done. They should keep at least two spots for next season, because they will always have a shot at the cream of the crop and they will be in better position to balance their classes, which right now, could be somewhat of an issue.

We will continue to follo UConn recruiting.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Connecticut Recruiting Report

VERBAL COMMITMENT ALERT: Jerome Dyson, G (Proctor Academy, NH)

Projected 2006-2007 Roster:
Seniors: Marcus Williams (PG), Josh Boone (PF/C)
Juniors: Rudy Gay (SF)
Sophomores: AJ Price (G), Marcus Johnson (WG), Jeff Adrien (F), Craig Austrie (G), Robert Garrison (PG).
Freshmen: Curtis Kelly (BF/C), Will Harris (F), Ramar Smith (G), Jerome Dyson (G).

Hartford Courant Story on Dyson's decision: Dyson Picks Huskies.

Links to our previous Connecticut recruiting write-ups: Sept 6 Report, July 8 Report, July 25 Round-Up.

Connecticut is VERY close to having their own "Fab 5" committed prior to the early signing period. As expected from the last couple days, 6'4 guard Jerome Dyson pulled the trigger and committed to coach Jim Calhoun and his Connecticut Huskies. Dyson, a Maryland native, chose UConn over Boston College and Maryland, among others.


Now, the hot rumor around is that big man Jonathan Mandeldove, who was a commitment for VCU last year, before opening it up after he did not qualify and ended up at Hargrave Military Academy this season, has pulled the trigger and committed to UConn. If true, it would mean Mandeldove has beat some of the other big men that have visited UConn or are planning to visit UConn to the punch. We will have more on this as it becomes available.

Dyson is definitely more of a "combo" guard, but he might get a shot to play some point guard at Connecticut, especially if Marcus Williams is not with the team next year (2006-2007). Williams could opt to enter the NBA draft and, along with AJ Price, does have the outstanding issues of "laptop-gate" Price, as most already know, has medical issues that have kept him from getting cleared to play. With that said, I do not see UConn recruiting a point guard for the current class, but you can expect them to pull a top point guard in the 2007 class.

If the Mandeldove commitment is confirmed, that could mean they might be out of the mix with California big men Deon Thompson, who was also visiting this weekend, and Alex Stepheson. With the anticipated departures of Josh Boone and Rudy Gay, there are still scholarships potentially coming open, but they could opt for places with less immediate competition in their class. A spring JUCO player could be a nice addition to their class in the front court and compliment Mandeldove and Curtis Kelly in this class and Jeff Adrien from last year and give the classes some balance.

One situation to monitor is Ramar Smith. Smith recently left the South Kent Prep school and returned to Detroit, MI. We are not sure of the reasons or if this might impact his qualifying status or his commitment to UConn. We will keep an eye on this.

With Mandeldove, UConn will have 13 scholarships committed to next season, but we have already mentioned the questions around Gay, Boone, Williams and Price and if they will return. We still feel UConn has the need for a perimeter shooter and Lazer Hayward, a native of Buffalo, NY who is prepping at Notre Dame Academy, is a real possibility. Hayward played AAU basketball with Robert Garrison and that could make a difference. Marquette has been a leader for his services for sometime, but he would be a good addition filling a much needed void for UConn. It is possible that Connecticut could end up without any seniors or juniors on their 2006-2007 roster, so it will probably be safe to assume they hold at least a coupel scholarships open, if the expected attrition takes place. Also, the aforementioned JUCO route could help balance the classes a bit, too.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Editorial View: Connecticut

I will preface this editorial by saying I have a lot of respect for Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun and the program he runs at the school. I have always admired his intense passion for winning and his willingness to speak his mind. I love watching him instill that same passion for winning into his team and how he molds those players to play the style he demands. He is a demanding coach that uses discipline and intensity to get through to his players and there is no grey area of what is expected of them on the floor.

With all that said, I have to say, I am a little disappointed in some of his public statements regarding two of his players, AJ Price and Marcus Williams, who have been accused of allegedly stealing laptops from campus dorm rooms and trying to sell them at a local pawn shop. Well, by now, we all know the charges that have been brought forth against AJ Price and Marcus Williams and the details of their arrest, so, I will try not to rehash all the old details we all already know.

Jim Calhoun has publicly come forward stating he would like to have the opportunity to set the punishment for these players. In fact, he actually came across begging as he stated his case to the New London Day newspaper:

“I want to be able to have the opportunity to discipline them and to bring them back and get them on track so they can understand fully that they are responsible for their actions, etc. I feel I can do this if the university grants me that right and the court system grants me that right.

“The court system, based upon precedent, will probably give me that opportunity and now I'm going to ask — to beg — the university to grant me the opportunity to discipline them and bring them back.”

In my opinion, Coach Calhoun should get third crack at these guys in the order of command in their punishment. First and foremost, they should go through the proper legal proceedings as any criminal case should follow. We have already seen Marcus Williams apply for a special state of Connectict probation program, called accelerated rehabilitation. If he completes all the requirments of the probation and stays out of additional trouble in the timeframe of the program, the charges would be dismissed. First time offenders of "non-serious" crimes are eligible to apply for accelerated rehabilitation, in Connectucut, Class D felonies, which are the most serious charges against Price and Williams, are eligible for the program.

Read rest of my editorial...click below!

However, this is not the first time Williams has let down his teammates. As a freshmen, Coach Calhoun suspended Williams for most of his freshmen campaign from the team for not taking his academics seriously enough. Williams was expected to be a key back-up on a championship contending ball club, but Coach Calhoun was forced to sit him down due to his efforts in the classroom early on in his Connecticut career. The Huskies went on to win the national title, but, apparently, Coach Calhoun was not fully able to make Williams understand that he is fully responsible for his actions, like he is asking to be be allowed to do again.

Price is an even more compelling case. His health issues as a freshmen, which are still keeping him from being medically cleared to play basketball for UConn, have been well documented, but he has also had his past issues off the court. In high school, Price missed several games for being suspended from school, for nearly 6 weeks, for his role in a fight outside of Amityville High School. It also has come out recently that he was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors, after a party in an abandoned house near his hometown of Massapequa, N.Y. This case is still "open" in New York and has not affected his criminal record, meaning he is still eligible to apply for accelerated rehabilitation, but, at this time, Price has not applied and entered a "not-guilty" plea in court.

Now, even before their legal matters are likley to be settled, the players both must face student hearings with the University of Connecticut community. This is where things get a little tricky. I think everyone can look back upon their collge life and remember on-campus incidents where students faced expulsion. Allegedly being involved in stealing $11,000 worth of laptops from dorm rooms of other students and trying to sell them at a pawn shop, for the average student, most likely would equal expulsion, am I right? "It's considered serious by me. I don't think it's punishable by expulsion," Calhoun told the Connecticut Post earlier. Calhoun went on to play the original actions off as a prank, "It was more horseplay than anything else, fooling around," Calhoun said. "(Former UConn guard) Ryan Thompson told me there were three computers one day in his room. The next day they were gone. They (Williams and Price) had nothing to do with those computers, by the way." Seems like a little bit of a stretch, according to text messages the police have as evidence, AJ Price being charges with lying to police and the attempts by Williams and Price to sell the computers at a local pawn shop, to be attempted to be played off as "horseplay".

After the University Hearing takes place and the review board renders their decision on their punishment, then, by all means, Coach Calhoun can have his crack with the players. Afterall, they are members of society first and the University of Connecticut community second and part of the basketball program third. The rules and laws of Connecticut and the University should be dealt with first and second, before any basketball related punishments are handed down by Coach Calhoun.

Again, I have a lot of respect for Coach Calhoun and the program he has built at Connecticut and the way he has done it with his players. He has always been one to speak his mind, but this time, I think he has opened himself up to a lot of crticism and second-guessing on how the process will play out for Marcus Williams and AJ Price. His statements could definitely be interpreted as someone looking out for only his best interests and those of the other members of his basketball program. Knowing the person that Coach Calhoun has always been, that does not seem to be consistent with him as a person or a coach. I think he would have been much better off in this scenario just letting the process play out and then speak when it was his turn in the case. He has left himself open to a lot of people to come in and look for the University to come down hard on the players to make sure they are not perceived to give in to the pressures of their basketball program. In my opinion, some of his comments on the situation have put those ahead of him in the decision-making process in a very difficult spot.

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Connecticut Team Notes

Articles compiled from the last week.

Another article about Quincy Pondexter and his visit to Connecticut. Sounds very much like coach Jim Calhoun and his Connecticut program made an excellent impression on Quincy and his mother, Doris. Here is the Journal-Inquirer article on their experience: Pondexter's Impressed with UConn visit. It is a busy couple weeks around the UConn program with a Hall of Fame induction and recruiting visits. Stay tuned as we will have additional coverage on the UConn program!

With September comes football season and official visit season around college campuses. At Connecticut, the UConn staff and players welcomed Quincy Pondexter to campus. Pondexter made the cross country trip from Fresno, CA and got a glimpse at the Husky program. Pondexter was very impressed with coach Jim Calhoun's track record of getting wings to the NBA and very impressed with current UConn star Rudy Gay. Here are some of the article on his visit: Courant on Pondexter Visit and Conn Post on Pondexter Visit.

The Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs has an editorial view on the process that Williams and Price should face to determine their punishment for their alleged roles in case of stolen laptops on the UConn campus: Jacobs on Price, Williams and UConn.

The Courant also has a nice feature running on the career of UConn coach Jim Calhoun in preperation for his basketball Hall of Fame indiction: Calhoun Hall of Fame Coach. We have also linked an article on Coach Calhoun and the impression his high school coach has made on him...and, the impression he left on his high school coach: Calhoun's High School Coach.

Today's Hartford Courant article on the Price/Williams case at UConn: Price Has Previous Arrest.

A brief Connecticut Men's basketball notebook appears in today's Connecticut Post: UConn Notebook. Mentions a deserved promotion for Husky assistant coach Tom Moore and some more of Coach Calhoun's thoughts on Price and Williams.

The New Haven Register reports that this is not the first time AJ Price has found himself in legal troubles and could make some things a little more difficult on him: Price Has Been in Trouble Before.

The Day.Com also has a UConn notebook from Coach Calhoun's media conference recently and also they give an update on recruiting: Calhoun can Talk.

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Connecticut Recruiting Report


Projected 2006-2007 Roster:
Seniors: Marcus Williams (PG), Josh Boone (PF/C)
Juniors: Rudy Gay (SF)
Sophomores: AJ Price (G), Marcus Johnson (WG), Jeff Adrien (F), Craig Austrie (G), Robert Garrison (PG).
Freshmen: Curtis Kelly (BF/C), Will Harris (F), Ramar Smith (G)

Hartford Courant Story on Smith's decision: Smith Picks Huskies.

Links to our previous Connecticut recruiting write-ups: July 8 Report, July 25 Round-Up.

It does not come as much of a surprise that Ramar Smith has pulled the trigger for Connecticut (see linked article from Saturday’s Hartford Courant above). Smith is a 6’3 180 lb combo guard that uses his strength and athletic ability to excel on the court. Smith does need to improve the accuracy of his perimeter shooting, but he has the overall game to be an impact player early on in the Big East. His style of play will be perfect for the system that Jim Calhoun has been so successful with at Connecticut. Smith might also be heading to Connecticut to play his high school ball as there seems to be word that he will enroll at South Kent Prep school for his senior season.


On the surface, the Smith commitment, along with the late addition to the 2005 class in Robert Garrison, would indicate the Huskies have just two more scholarships available. However, it is a pretty safe bet that among Rudy Gay, Josh Boone and Marcus Williams that more scholarships will open as each player will likely be possible NBA lottery picks in the 2006 NBA draft. Add in the uncertain medical situation of AJ Price, and you can see, the Connecticut recruiting action is still warming up!

It seems that the hottest race is for another big man to team up with previous commitment Curtis Kelly and there are big names interested. The biggest is Spencer Hawes, a 6’11 C from Seattle, WA, who is one of the top players in the country and would be a boon for any program to land. Connecticut seems to be in really good shape and has a very good shot at adding the big fish to the class. Also in the mix are Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson, and it is interesting to note the similar schools on each of their lists (UConn, UNC and UCLA in on each list and Washington, Arizona and others are very close), so it will be very interesting when these dominoes begin to fall. Connecticut has also been amongst the leaders for athletic BF/C Taj Gibson and they have also evaluated 6’10 230 lb skilled big man Ryan Anderson.

I am still trying to gauge interest in bringing on a point guard in the 2006 class. With Garrison in the fold in the 2005 class, they do have a true PG on the roster and the status of Price and Williams might make a need to add at the point. However, they are already in great shape with a few 2007 point guards that has made me wonder. I think they could land someone like Will Walker out of Illinois or Eugene Harvey of NYC if they were to put the full court press on them. Ramar Smith is a combo guard and UConn is in very good shape with Derrick Jasper, another combo guard out of California.

At the wing, Quincy Pondexter, an AAU teammate of Jasper’s, has seen a rise in the interest from UConn and has really taken his recruitment to another level with several schools. Both Pondexter and Jasper seem to include UConn and Washington as their favorites and Pondexter also has a liking for Arizona, but they have a shortage of grants at this point. There are also three combo forwards with very similar styles in Lance Thomas, Deshawn Sims and Raymar Morgan to consider. Each plays hard and tough near the glass and is working on expanding their games to the wing. Connecticut probably has the best shot at Thomas as he seems willing to let things play out longer and UConn has the room in scholarships to let it all play out, too.

Perimeter shooting is also an area of concentration in their recruitment. In the last month or so, a pair of Oregon natives, Phil Nelson and Seth Tarver, have seen a lot of interest from the Connecticut staff. New Jersey’s Dennis Horner has also been followed a bit by the UConn staff, but he seems to be narrowing things down between Notre Dame, West Virginia and NC St. Jerome Dyson and Donnel Mack are other WG/WF-types that have been watched at times by Calhoun or members of the UConn staff.

Connecticut definitely has what is shaping up to be the conference’s best class. There are still plenty of targets available to UConn that are very interested and Connecticut has the scholarship available to accommodate the interest. I really think they have a great shot at landing one of the top targeted big men in Hawes, Stepheson or Thompson. I will not count them out for Lance Thomas and a combination of Derrick Jasper and Quincy Pondexter would be a tremendous haul for coach Jim Calhoun. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a spring addition of a JUCO big man either, someone to add depth to the mix and a little experience since this team has a real possibility of getting very young very quickly. However, like most of the Husky teams under Jim Calhoun, they will be extremely talented.

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2005-2006 Connecticut Team Preview


2005-2006 Team Roster from Official Team Site: ROSTER.

The Connecticut Coaching Staff: UCONN STAFF.

Home Court: Gampel Pavilion (on-campus) and Hartford Civic Center (off-campus): FACILITIES.

OVERVIEW: Prior to the 2003-2004 season the popular pick to win the National Championship was Jim Calhoun’s Connecticut Huskies. This year, the Hall of Fame coach might be entering the season with a similar target as one of the early favorites to cut down the nets in early April. The Huskies are once again loaded with talent, but they are not without some lingering question marks that could make accomplishing their ultimate goals a little more difficult than in 2004.

The Huskies are as talented and deep as any team in the country. They took a hit this June when prized big man recruit Andrew Bynum opted for the NBA draft, but that still shouldn’t detract too much from their talent advantage over most clubs in 2005-2006. After all, there are not many teams that can boast a line-up that features three potential NBA lottery picks in the 2006 draft and, possibly, six players overall being taken in that draft. That does not even include a past ACC freshmen of the year that will be a 5th year senior for the Huskies. Last year’s national champions North Carolina Tar Heels probably did not go this deep in talent.

But, there are questions. At this time, highly touted redshirt freshmen AJ Price has not been cleared to resume basketball related activities. As most know, Price suffered an Arteriovenous Malformation which caused bleeding in the brain and left Price fighting for his life. It will remain unclear until later this fall whether Price will be cleared to play. On top of that, Price and starting point guard Marcus Williams are subject to a Connecticut campus police investigation of stolen laptops. Williams is currently in Argentina competing with the USA Under-21 team in the World Championships, and a decision on the case is expected upon his return. The uncertainty at the guard position is a major concern that the UConn staff has attempted to cover with some late period additions to the roster.

STEPPING UP: For Jim Calhoun’s first national championship there was Richard “Rip” Hamilton. For Coach Calhoun the second time, there was Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon. Who will step up this time? Well, the player most expected to do so is sophomore Rudy Gay. Gay averaged nearly 12 points and over 5 .5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a freshmen for UConn. Gay is a versatile player that shot over 46% from the floor and beyond the 3-pt arc and was able to hit over 70% of his free throws. Standing nearly 6’9, Gay is a nightmare match-up on the wing with his length and athletic ability, he also has the skill to dominate from the wing. As a sophomore, he will have to take more of an assertive role on this team and become more consistent. He began to make strides toward that effect down the stretch last year scoring double figures in 12 of the teams last 14 games leading up to their 2nd round NCAA loss to North Carolina St. In that time he averaged nearly 15 PPG, shooting over 50% from the floor. Even with all the talent surrounding Gay, the Huskies will still need to have that one player that can be counted on to be there every game and when they need a big play, to look in his direction. Gay might be the most talented player in college basketball when combining everything he brings to the table and if he is able to step forward for the Huskies this season, they could all follow him VERY far!

RETURNEES: Rudy Gay might have been a little tempted to test the NBA waters last season, and UConn fans were certainly holding their breath, as Gay would have most likely ended up as a top 5 pick, but Gay is returning to lead a talented group of Huskies this season. Coach Calhoun also welcomes back seniors Rashad Anderson, Denham Brown, Hilton Armstrong and Ed Nelson along with juniors Josh Boone and Marcus Williams. Williams runs the show for the Huskies and once he grasped the idea of the Coach Calhoun-way, Connecticut was a much better team. Williams averaged 8.4 assists in league games and scored in double figures in 10 of their last 11 games. He returns as one of the top point guards in the country. Boone got off to a phenomenal start last year, averaging 17.5 PPG and 11.3 rebounds in UConn’s first 10 games, but tailed off the rest of the season and finished with averages of 12.4 PPG and 8.4 rebounds. As Gay and Charlie Villanueva became more consistent offensive threats, Boone’s offense became much more inconsistent. Still, he returns as one of the top rebounding big men and post defenders in the country. Senior Rashad Anderson also returns and was 3rd in scoring average last year for UConn with 11.9 PPG. Anderson also battled healthy problems as a skin abscess caused him to be hospitalized and the complications led to a dramatic weight loss and he missed 7 games late in the year. Obviously not the same player as before the infection, Armstrong managed just 11 points in their last 4 games. Denham Brown also returns on the wing and averaged 10.4 PPG last season. Brown and Anderson are very dangerous scorers that can fill it up quickly once they get going. Fellow seniors Hilton Armstrong and Nelson also return to bolster the front line. Armstrong is ready for a break out season after waiting behind stars Okafor and Villanueva the last few years. An excellent rebounder and shot-blocker, Armstrong can run and jump with the best of them in the front court. Nelson was the ACC rookie of the year at Georgia Tech in his freshmen season and transferred to UConn after his sophomore season. Nelson is a valuable reserve that accepted a lesser role and adds a physical toughness to the Husky interior that has been lacking a times.

INCOMING: Obviously it is a blow to lose a McDonald’s All-American C from your recruiting class, and Andrew Bynum’s decision of NBA riches definitely takes a little of the luster off the recruiting class. Marcus Johnson is a 6’6 WG out of California that can score from the perimeter and Jeff Adrien is a hard-working 6’6 forward that can go inside and mix it up and is working on extending his game out a little more. Both would be top freshmen on any team and would expect a lot of playing time in most situations, however, with the talent going so deep for Coach Calhoun this season, neither will be called upon to do much more than add to that depth. Late in the recruiting period, UConn added combo guard Craig Austrie and, very recently, point guard Robert Garrison. Neither are high-level recruits, but both would be very solid system players over the course of their careers and could blossom as they both are talented. Connecticut’s hope is that AJ Price is medically cleared to play and the laptop investigation is nothing serious, if so, Austrie and Garrison would be a nice source of depth this coming season. If they are pressed into action at the point guard spot, things get a tad bit dicey, but both should be able to do a competent job with the talent surrounding them.

LOSSES: Another draft, another Husky in the lottery, get used to it, it should continue at least another season as Charlie Villanueva was the latest UConn early entry to go in the draft. Some may argue Villanueva never fully reached his potential at UConn, and, staying for just two seasons, that is probably true, but he was a player that really benefited from playing under the Hall of Fame coach that Jim Calhoun is. Antonio Kellogg was dismissed from school and Ryan Thompson, who had another season of eligibility, graduated and opted to move on.

SCHEDULE: When you are such a high profile program with the talent UConn has, the Big East will take advantage of this and match you up with the most attractive television opportunities and the conference has done this. With mirror opponents that include Villanova, Louisville and Syracuse, this schedule is obviously right there as the toughest in the conference. I am sure Jim Calhoun would not have it any other way as he is a master at molding his troops for the battles of March.

OUTLOOK: The talent is there and Jim Calhoun is one that always seems to be able to mold that talent into a group that plays their best basketball when it really matters in March. He also has the track record of getting to the final four and winning the whole thing, so they are rightfully taking their place amongst the nation’s elite programs and favorites this year to win it all. They have the point guard in Marcus Williams, they have the star in Rudy Gay and they are surrounded by other talent that would star for other teams across the country. Calhoun will have to juggle the players just a bit to keep the most efficient line-ups on the floor as they have at least seven players that could start on nearly every other team across the country and keep them cohesive and wanting to play defense. They might hit a couple speed bumps along the way as Calhoun works on different aspects of each player, he has a mentality as a coach to break them down over the first few months and build them back-up for the stretch. His track record of success from being able to do just that speaks for itself and this year, Storrs is one of the places to be, once again!

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