Friday, November 09, 2007

A mark-up in Price

While Stanley Robinson has (deservedly) got the bulk of the ink following his 10-point, 13-rebound, 6-assist display of boundless athleticism Thursday night, A.J. Price's performance has been lost in the shuffle a little bit.

Price was rewarded as the Storrs Regional's MVP after scoring a career-high 24 points in Thursday's win over Buffalo and dishing out a career-best 9 assists in Wednesday's win over Morgan State.

"That's what we think of -- a point guard who can score," coach Jim Calhoun said after UConn advanced to next week's semifinal-round game with upstart Gardner-Webb at Madison Square Garden. "(Price) showed both aspects in two games."

When Calhoun talked about the Huskies getting more scoring out of their point guard position a couple of weeks ago, it seemed he may have been referring to Jerome Dyson, who took over the starting point guard role for UConn's exhibition opener last week against Assumption. But Price popped off the bench for a game-high 22 points that night and has been starting at the point ever since. And that's good news for the Huskies.

This team is best-served with Price at the point and Dyson at the two. Dyson is a decent shooter but is at his best utilizing his athleticism slashing to the hoop and getting out on the break for transition points. Price runs the offense better at the point. Both players have shown impressive on-the-ball defensive skills early on -- Price has six steals in the first two games, Dyson has four, and both have come up with the type of swipes that are borderline reach-ins, a la ex-Providence defensive maestro John Linehan (spoken like a guy who used to cover the Friars).

The other eye-opening stat from Thursday night -- 15 blocked shots (after swatting away 10 the previous night). And only four of those 25 blocks so far have come from 7-3 center Hasheem Thabeet, who still hasn't really established himself as the defensive force he was last year. Jeff Adrien blocked seven shots against Morgan State and Robinson had six vs. Buffalo.

"I was overall happy with the fact that we ran, and with the fact that we started forcing the ball to the middle again, which leads to our shot-blocking ability to come into play," Calhoun said Thursday night.


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