#4 UConn Huskies: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The UConn Huskies are coming off a year in which they put together one of the most memorable post-season runs in college basketball history.  They won five games in five days to claim the Big East Tournament Title and didn’t cool off once the NCAA Tournament began, cutting down the nets in Houston.  Even though Jim Calhoun loses the heart and soul of his team, Kemba Walker, the early arrival of Andre Drummond will once again make UConn a national title contender.

UCONN HUSKIES
Last Season: T-9th, 9-9 in Big East, 32-9 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
C: Andre Drummond (Fr)/Michael Bradley (Fr)/Enosch Wolf (So)
PF: Alex Oriakhi (Jr)/Tyler Olander (So)
SF: Roscoe Smith (So)/DeAndre Daniels (Fr)
SG: Jeremy Lamb (So)/Neils Giffey (So)/Brendan Allen (Fr)
PG: Shabazz Napier (So)/Ryan Boatright (Fr)

Gone: PG-Kemba Walker, C-Charles Okwandu, G-Donnell Beverly, G/F-Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (transfer-Hofstra)

2011-2012 Outlook:
Drummond was expected to be part of the 2012 class but ended up reclassifying and enrolling at UConn a year earlier than expected.  He is a polished big man with great size, strength, and ability.  That is part of the reason he is projected to be the top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.  He adds to the recent tradition of Husky big men and should be able to dominate inside from day one.

Drummond and Alex Oriakhi will combine to give UConn the most physical frontcourt in the country.  Oriakhi is a tank inside who knows how to clean up the glass and block shots.  Drummond’s presence will take some of the pressure off Oriakhi but it will also limit his touches.  There aren’t many teams in the country that will have the size or strength to match-up with the Husky duo inside.

Tyler Olander will be the main option behind Drummond and Oriakhi.  He has a solid face up game and actually started both preseason games instead of Drummond.  I would be shocked if that continued when the real season got underway.  Redshirt freshman Michael Bradley received a lot of pub this off-season for giving up his scholarship so that Drummond could come to UConn.  Unfortunately, he fractured his ankle in mid-October is expected to be out until at least early-December.  7-1 Enosch Wolf gives Calhoun another big body if the Huskies need to go deep to their bench.

With a ton of talent in the starting five, Roscoe Smith will be the fifth option.  He is long, athletic, and pretty physical for a small forward.  He thinks he is a better three-point shooter than he actually is and unless he shows more consistency from the outside, probably needs to cut down on his triple tries.  Freshman DeAndre Daniels will be a major contributor who will bring scoring and versatility off the bench.

After terrific freshmen campaigns, Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier are expected to make the leap this season.  Lamb became the second banana to Kemba as last season progressed and hit some huge shots down the stretch.  He has a terrific stroke from the outside and is also capable of getting to the basket.

Napier played well beyond his years as a freshman, bringing a maturity and sense of calm when running the show.  Like Lamb, he is a dual threat offensively and is also a solid on the ball defender.  He played a big role off the bench last year but now takes the responsibility of becoming the primary ball-handler.  (I really, really like Napier by the way.)

Ryan Boatright’s eligibility remains in question stemming from a plane ticket that was bought for him prior to arriving in Storrs.  If Boatright is not able to play this season, it will leave a hole at point guard behind Napier.  Back-up shooting guard Neils Giffey is battling a hyper-extended knee which might limit him early in the season, further affecting the depth in the backcourt.  Giffey will add a shooter on the wing when he gets healthy.  With the Huskies stretched thin at guard, freshman walk-on Brendan Allen could end up being a valuable reserve.

UConn has four players in their starting five who could end up being first round picks next summer.  There are concerns about the depth of their team since the Huskies have less available scholarships due to poor academic performance.  If Drummond is as dominant as many expect and Lamb and Napier take their games to the next level, UConn has the talent to cut down the nets for a second straight year.

jeremy lamb uconn

Player to Watch: Jeremy Lamb
I was fairly surprised to see Lamb earn preseason First Team All-American honors, but that shows you just what kind of leap he is expected to make this season.  He was the top offensive threat for the U.S. U-19 team this summer and it will interesting to see how he handles the pressure of being the team’s number one option with Kemba gone.  Lamb won’t have to do it by himself, but will still shoulder a much larger load this year.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25 vs. UCF/Charleston (Battle 4 Atlantis)
11/26 vs. Florida State/UMass/Harvard/Utah (Battle 4 Atlantis)
12/3 vs. Arkansas (Big East/SEC Challenge)
12/8 vs. Harvard
12/22 vs. Fairfield
1/21 at Tennessee

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#4 UConn Huskies
#5 Duke Blue Devils
#6 Syracuse Orange
#7 Baylor Bears
#8 Pitt Panthers
#9 Vanderbilt Commodores
#10 Memphis Tigers
#11 Florida Gators
#12 Xavier Musketeers
#13 Louisville Cardinals
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 Wisconsin Badgers
#16 Alabama Crimson Tide
#17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#18 Marquette Golden Eagles
#19 Texas A&M Aggies
#20 Michigan Wolverines
#21 New Mexico Lobos
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs

#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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