Monday, February 09, 2009
I admit, it took me a while to really warm up to Jeff Adrien.
Not as a person -- he's a terrific kid. Not even as a player, so much. I always recognized he was a very good player. I just never realized how good until earlier this season.
Last March, just before the all-Big East team came out, I posted my own all-Big East team on this blog and had Adrien as a second-teamer. I got a lot of e-mail about that complaining that he should be on the first team, but I wasn't so sure. Yes, he was the Huskies' leading scorer and a double-double waiting to happen, but there was just something missing. I guess there were a few too many of those unspectacular, 11-point, 10-rebound double-doubles, where the thing you noticed most from Adrien were the missed putbacks and easy baskets and the ill-advised 16-footers.
But he wound up being selected first-team Big East, and he probably deserved it. Despite that, he was a preseason second team pick this season. There is absolutely no doubt that Adrien will be a first-teamer this time around.
While Jim Calhoun is waging a campaign for Hasheem Thabeet as the Big East's player of the year, and while A.J. Price has (at least until the last couple of games) reverted back to the second team All-America player he was a year ago, a strong argument can be made that Adrien has been the Huskies' best player this season.
Thabeet may be UConn's most valuable player (where would they be without his defensive presence?), but Adrien has probably been their best. He's their leading scorer (14.1 ppg), second leading rebounder (10.1, to Thabeet's 10.2) and most vocal leader. Despite being undersized (Calhoun has been selling him as "6-5 1/2" lately, though he's listed at 6-7), Adrien is an absolute horse on the boards. Even though there were just 3 seconds left in a game already decided, Adrien grabbed his 1,000th career rebound the other night with the same ferocity as if it was the final 3 seconds of overtime in a tie game.
And there is no argument that he's been the Huskies' most consistent player. I can't think of more than two or three games this season where Adrien hasn't played particularly well. Even those 16-footers are no longer ill-advised -- he's hitting them now with some regularity!
Anyway, here's a mini-feature on Adrien in today's Register that covers a lot of the previously mentioned topics.