Friday, October 19, 2007


October 20, 2007


Official Website of Connecticut Basketball

2007-2008 Official UConn Roster & Bios

Meet Coach Jim Calhoun

Connecticut Athletic Facilities

2007-2008 UConn Basketball Schedule


Jim Calhoun is determined not to have another 2006-2007 season anytime soon. The UConn Hall of Fame coach watched his young team struggle through the Big East schedule last season and miss the post-season all together, an occurrence not too common in the last 20 years in Storrs.

As owner of two national championships (1999 & 2004), Jim Calhoun knows what it takes to win. The NBA 2006 draft also highlighted how strong his program has become as they became the first school in history to have five players drafted in the first two rounds of the draft, including four in Round One. The high paced offense, the two national titles and UConn now having had a total of 21 players drafted under head coach Jim Calhoun, 14 of those in the first round and nine lottery selections, are all testament to the remarkably strong program Jim Calhoun has built in Connecticut.

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Prior to coming to UConn, Jim Calhoun posted a 248-137 record in 14 seasons as head coach at Northeastern (MA) University. He then took on a major rebuilding task at Connecticut, a program than had won just four NCAA Tournament games in their history and one winning record in the Big East among their seven years in the league. In his time at UConn, Calhoun has won 36 NCAA Tournament games, 10 Big East regular season titles and six more Big East Tournament championships. With a resume like that, do not expect UConn to stay down very long.

THE 2006-2007 SEASON:

Life after Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong, Denham Brown, Rashad Anderson and Ed Nelson proved very challenging for Connecticut. With three players leaving early for the NBA and four more graduating, the Huskies entered the 2006-2007 season with 13 freshmen and sophomores, having nine of those players never logging a single minute previously as a collegian.

Playing a soft schedule, exclusively at home, the Huskies built up a strong record with an 11-0 record to start the season. The early success was quickly squashed when the Big East season got underway, along with tough non-conference games with LSU, Indiana and Georgia Tech, the Huskies lost 14 of their last 20 games and their season ended with a Big East Tournament loss to Syracuse, meaning no post-season for the Huskies for the first time since the 1986-1987 season, Jim Calhoun’s first in Storrs.

Traditionally, UConn is a team that likes to score a lot of points. Last year’s team seemed incapable of doing so. Inexperience led to questionable decisions with shot selection and with the basketball and overall poor shooting from the field, 3-pt line and foul line caused the young Huskies to fail to reach the 70-pt plateau in 16 of their last 20 games. Defensively, UConn was very good and always put forth a tremendous effort, like all Calhoun-coached teams, however, their offense was anemic more often than not.

There was a couple bright spots last year. Jerome Dyson proved to be one of the league’s best young scorers and could cement himself among the league’s best players this year. Dyson finished the season averaging 13.8 ppg. His numbers in the Big East were very impressive for a freshman, averaging 15 ppg on offense and adding more than four rebounds and two assists a game. From January 31st on, Dyson scored over 17 ppg as he became the go-to guy for the Huskies. On top of that, Dyson is one of the very best perimeter defenders in the league. With Dyson on the outside, Jeff Adrien patrolled the paint for UConn. Usually, Adrien found himself as the lone scoring threat inside and still managed 13 ppg and nearly 10 boards a game on the season. The numbers dipped a bit in Big East action and Adrien is at his most effective as a garbage-style player that can use his strength and tenacity to attack the opponent in the paint. The development of those around him is a very big key to his success. The development that UConn needs to see the most will come from Hasheem Thabeet and AJ Price.


Jim Calhoun is always pressuring his guard to PUSH the basketball. He wants to play at a frantic pace and utilize his team speed. With a backcourt that includes Jerome Dyson, AJ Price and Doug Wiggins, speed and athleticism is definitely present. However, much too often, decisions with the basketball were not very good. Price carried the burden of those bad decisions more than most as Calhoun made his displeasure known several times on his number of turnovers. Price also struggled tremendously shooting the ball and showed signs of being rusty from two years away from game action and fatigue definitely played a role as he seemed to wear down as the season went along. Price has a tremendous amount of physical abilities to excel in this league. If he can put the last three years behind him, develop some amnesia, and find the right mix of distributor and scorer, he can certainly work his way into one of the better guards in this league quickly. However, he will be on a short leash as it is quite clear, Jim Calhoun is determined NOT to have a repeat of 2006-2007 this season.

Jerome Dyson has already established himself as one of the better Big East guards and reports are that he was only scratching the surface of his abilities last year. He continues to impress the coaching staff this fall with his all-around abilities. If things do not go smoothly with the other guard candidates, Dyson could find himself running the point guard slot soon. Wiggins is a local product who might even play too fast for Calhoun’s liking at times. Playing fast, but under control, is one of the intricate details that some of the Huskies seemed to be unable to grasp at times and Wiggins was the perfect example of such. Defensively and offensively the sophomore can use his quickness to cause damage, but maturing his game, which also is being worked on off the court in the preseason, is going to determine his contributions.

The balance of the backcourt includes one of the Huskies most experienced players, Craig Austrie, and their lone incoming freshman, Donnell Beverly. Austrie started six contests last year and found himself in the backcourt merry-go-round that spun out of control at times. Austrie definitely struggled in finding his role and it led his shooting percentage plunging from the rate of effectiveness. Austrie also seems to struggle pushing the ball, something that does not endear him within the coach’s style of play. Beverly is an interesting candidate, possessing good size and showing the ability to play in the uptempo style of UConn’s. He was a late bloomer as a recruit, but he could work his way into the mix this year if others falter. Expect him to get tossed into the fire early to see if he can handle the heat.


Always strong and deep, the UConn frontcourt is a force to be reckoned with. Last year, however, the group was young, weak and not ready for the physical play of the Big East, outside of Jeff Adrien. The junior forward returns as the leader in the post, but hopefully this season he will have some help, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The Connecticut staff will deplore 7’3 sophomore C Hasheem Thabeet to become more of a force on the offensive end. Obviously, with that height, catch and dunk and scoring on offensive rebounds will be available for the big man. It is the development of an offensive game in the halfcourt, understanding what to do with the ball in the post when double-teammed and playing more physical to establish and hold position in the post will determine if he is to be the force that the staff hopes. Ready or not, Thabeet is likely headed for the NBA draft after this season, so it will be interesting to see how much he improves over his short career in Storrs.

The other position that will be watched closely this season is at the wing. Traditionally, the UConn wing position has been among the strongest in college basketball. Last year, the torch was supposed to be passed from Rudy Gay to Stanley Robinson. Unfortunately, when the meat of the schedule hit, Robinson pulled one of the greatest disappearing acts we have seen. After a 21-pt, 9-board performance on national TV against Indiana, Robinson was hardly heard from again. The 6’9, 200 lb long, lean and athletic wing has the look of a star, but what happened last year shows how far he has to go. The difference between being a bubble NCAA team and a team right in the mix for higher and loftier goals might hinge on how much progression he makes. The inconsistent Marcus Johnson also returns for his junior season. Johnson is a very good defender, but a jump shot that comes and goes has hurt his development at UConn and Jim Calhoun wants his team to score.

The depth in the frontcourt is also impressive and has the potential to produce some exciting talent. Curtis Kelly, Jonathan Mandeldove and Gavin Edwards all will get opportunities to play this year. Kelly is a very confident and skilled 6’9 forward. He might envision himself as a wing, but his skills are still more suited to be a power forward. He could be a difficult match-up in this league, but needs to get stronger and allow the game to come to him. Edwards is more likely to play within himself and give a full effort. He is likely to always be in the mix because he could provide consistency, if not the exciting potential. Mandeldove is a 7-footer that is the heir to Thabeet’s position. He can be effective in a back-up role as he continues to develop his game for the future.

2007-2008 PREDICTION:

The Huskies are determined, from the top to the bottom, not to repeat last season. The talent is there, how much of it has moved from raw, unrealized and unpolished to talent ready to compete night in and night out in the Big East is to be determined and will likely be unknown until January. The Huskies will be challenged more early this season so they can make adjustments and fix the holes before being run over in conference play. Of the four teams predicted at 10-8 in the mass jumble that is the middle of the Big East conference, UConn probably has the most upside and could be a team likely to win much more. That is why they get the ‘6’ next to their name instead of a Notre Dame or Providence. Those teams are probably more of a guarantee to win 10, maybe 11, but they do not have the upside of Villanova and Connecticut, who might be as likely to only win 7 or 8 games as they are of winning 12 or even more.

It will be interesting to see how these teams sort themselves out, I am going to put them together, but give a slight nod in ranking to the higher upside, which is not always transferable to actual wins…



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