Saturday, February 24, 2007

More on Dyson

Here's a story that only ran in the Register's print edition on Friday and not the Web on UConn freshman guard Jerome Dyson.

Dyson emerging for UConn
Three-game stretch was needed for Huskies but is there any difference?

By Brett Orzechowski
Register Staff

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Jerome Dyson was not anointed when he first arrived in Storrs this summer. There have been observations from Jim Calhoun over the last four months that were misconstrued as comparisons, and with those, expectations evolved.

Except Dyson does not have Ben Gordon’s quickness or Richard Hamilton’s scoring sense or the same type of athleticism as Ray Allen. Calhoun watched these three former players grow into marquee names at the University of Connecticut. He has also mentioned them when discussing Dyson, the only perimeter player who has been efficient on offense for the Huskies the entire season.

Dyson is unique and the realization finally surfaced after UConn defeated Rutgers, 65-55, on Wednesday night to secure a spot at Madison Square Garden in two weeks for the Big East Tournament.

“He’s such a superior athlete. You’ve seen some of the catches he’s made and some of the plays that he’s made athletically and his incredible strength. There’s no weakness for any one of us to believe,” Calhoun said. “When Ray Allen first came to the program, I’m not comparing him to Ray, but athletically, he’s a different kind of athlete. He’s a power athlete. Ray was always more ballet, so beautiful. But both can do incredible things with the body.”

There are reasons why Calhoun has touted Dyson throughout the year, almost too much at times. The freshman guard has been the only player on his roster, save for Jeff Adrien, who has not changed since November. Dyson has played through injuries (elbow, ankle, thigh, losing teeth) and continues to play with a physical style (only Adrien, a forward, has stepped to the foul line more often, but just six more attempts).

Statistically, though, the only aspect of Dyson’s game that has changed is the opportunity given to him by the coaching staff to take more shots and chances, almost out of necessity (see chart).

A.J. Price, Doug Wiggins and Craig Austrie have rotated at point guard while neither Stanley Robinson nor Marcus Johnson has added much offense from the small forward position.

This leaves Dyson, but not completely by default.

Mentally, he is the only perimeter player that realizes when UConn is in a quandary, not only during a game, but during the season.

“I’ve been given an opportunity by coach to produce where they think I’m needed, and right now, I’m needed to score,” Dyson said. “It’s a role I’m still learning, but I think I understand it.”

Over the last three games, his most productive stretch this season, Dyson has picked spots to contribute. Against Seton Hall, it was in the second half. This was also after UConn turned in a lethargic effort against Georgia Tech and a stagnant first half against the Pirates.

This past weekend in Syracuse, Dyson fed off his own momentum from the tip, stretching the Orange’s zone with five first-half 3-pointers before finishing with 27 points. Against Rutgers, UConn fell behind by eight points after one of the more perplexing 15-minute stretches of the season.

Dyson scored seven of the Huskies’ next 14 points to close the half.

All three outbursts were at pivotal times. Proportionately, Dyson should be scoring more (see chart). How and when he’s doing it is more telling than any number.

After the win over Rutgers, Calhoun made his first stump speech on behalf of Dyson. When all the ballots are turned in from coaches in two weeks, the freshman guard’s name may appear on a few for Big East rookie of the year. With some objectivity, Calhoun also mentioned Scottie Reynolds of Villanova and Seton Hall’s Eugene Harvey as possible candidates and perhaps the front-runners for the award.

Calhoun also said he favors players on winning teams. Villanova is 6-7 in the Big East. Seton Hall is 3-10. Harvey has won conference rookie of the week honors three times while Reynolds, Dyson, West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler and Luke Harangody of Notre Dame all have been honored twice. The list of comparison continues.

Still, Calhoun is more concerned about Dyson’s development than accolades. There are still flaws in his game, but he is still only a freshman.

“Somewhere between the long–range game at Syracuse that you saw and the slashing game at the rim tonight is a mid-range jump shot. He has that, but he has to work harder on that,” Calhoun said. “And he’s going to develop a game.”

And a player who arrived as an athlete may turn into a basketball player.

Like everything this season, time is still needed.

Brett Orzechowski may be reached at

Jerome Dyson over the last eight games
(UConn is 4-4 during the stretch)
Providence 3-12 2-7 2-2 10
DePaul 4-11 0-1 8-9 16
Rutgers 2-8 0-2 9-11 13
Syracuse 1-8 1-4 7-8 10
Georgia Tech 4-14 1-6 4-4 13
Seton Hall 7-22 4-8 4-4 22
Syracuse 8-21 6-13 5-8 27
Rutgers 4-10 0-0 9-11 17

Last eight games
FG - 33-106 (31.1 percent)
3-PT - 14-41 (34.1 percent)
FT - 48-57 (84.2 percent)
AVG - 118/14.8 ppg

Last three games
FG - 19-53 (35.8 percent)
3-PT - 10-21 (47.6 percent)
FT - 18-23 (78.3 percent)
AVG - 66/22 ppg

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Some Big East notes

Here are some notes from the Big East office in Providence ...

Pittsburgh and Georgetown, both 11-2 in the conference, will play for first place on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

CBS will carry the game at 2 p.m. The Panthers won the first meeting, 74-69, in Pittsburgh on Jan. 13. Four of the last seven meetings between the two teams have been decided by three points or less.

Georgetown, which is on a 10-game winning streak, leads the Big East in field-goal shooting in league games at 53.5 percent. Pitt is second at 47.5 percent. Defensively, the Hoyas top the conference in scoring defense, giving up only 57.9 points per game. The Panthers are second, yielding 59.1 points per contest.


For the first time this season, the Big East has six teams ranked in the two national polls - Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Marquette, West Virginia, Louisville and Notre Dame – more than any other Division I conference.

Of the 30 starters on the six teams, only eight are seniors.


- On Wednesday, Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun won his 750th career game when the Huskies defeated Rutgers.

- Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon is in only his fourth year as a head coach, but he earned his 100th victory with the Panthers at Seton Hall on Monday. He reached 100 wins faster than any coach in Pitt history.

- Last Thursday, Notre Dame became only the 11th Division I program to win 1,200 games when the Irish beat Providence, 81-78. Of the 11 programs, the Big East also has St. John’s (1,704 wins) and Syracuse (1,699).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dyson earns Big East honor

University of Connecticut freshman guard Jerome Dyson earned Big East rookie of the week honors for the second time this season after scoring 22 points against Seton Hall on Wednesday and producing a 27-point effort Saturday at the Carrier Dome in the Huskies' loss to Syracuse.

Here's the story.