Friday, November 10, 2006

UConn v. Quinnipiac

With a new college basketball season beginning in about eight hours, here are some things to note.

First, let’s begin with the Register’s preview.

Now that he’s reached his mid-60s, people wonder how much longer Jim Calhoun will coach. His current and former assistants say they do not know, but each give an interesting perspective on why he has been able to endure.

Also, you can find a feature on Jeff Adrien, who has been in a similar role before: upperclassmen who shaped him are now gone and he is left to become a leader. Quiet on the floor, the introspective sophomore now understands his purpose at UConn.

In addition to the men’s preview, UConn women’s basketball writer Jim Fuller takes a closer look at Geno Auriemma’s program. Some great features and analysis of the upcoming season.

Now, tonight.

Today, we looked at a few freshmen who are making noticeable pushes for starting roles, leaving some sophomores to elevate their game.

Jerome Dyson will start over Craig Austrie but Marcus Johnson remains in his starting slot while freshman Stanley Robinson comes off the bench. Calhoun believes Robinson will come off the bench in the same capacity as Rashad Anderson to start the season, but two things to note:

- With the way Robinson is playing, he will not start games on the bench much longer.

- Robinson will not stick around UConn for four years.

Hasheem Thabeet, A.J. Price and Adrien round out the starting five. Look for Gavin Edwards and Doug Wiggins to earn significant minutes as well.

The coaching staff has been slightly impressed with Edwards’ performance but his strength is still a concern. After Monday’s exhibition win over Bryant, Calhoun said he noticed Edwards was boxed out beyond the lane three different times. This won’t fly in the Big East. But Edwards is one of the smarter players on this year’s team. He knows how to read rebounds, how to use his still-developing body and when to take smart shots. Strength is developed over time.

As for Wiggins, he has earned his minutes with creative play and some flashes of physicality that are deceiving because of his 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame. He takes chances, but said he is quickly learning what flies at UConn and what doesn’t.

On the Quinnipiac side, head coach Joe DeSantis said he will use 6-foot-9 forward Karl Anderson accordingly. The junior does have range beyond 10 feet, therefore, the UConn defense may be extended.

But Thabeet was able to step out and defend the jumper and even blocked a jumper from about 15 feet out. This is not an easy test for Thabeet. In both the American International and Bryant games, Thabeet covered a number of players who do not have Anderson’s offensive capabilities.

Even though Anderson is not Pitt’s Aaron Gray or Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert, he does give Thabeet a chance to play against a different type of frontcourt player.

Not a Big East test, but still, a good test.

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