Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Grades Are In ...


No, the accompanying photo wasn't some sort of "Dewey Defeats Truman" mistake by the Register. It was a dummy sheet that was to be passed out on Monday night if the Huskies had won the national title, as many other papers do.

Guess we won't be needing this page anymore.

Still, it was a terrific season for the Huskies. If basketball was an accredited college course at UConn (no jokes, please), this year's team would certainly get an 'A.'

They were never terribly deep, without a truly reliable 3-point shooting threat and, unlike many Husky teams of the past – even ones that fizzled early in the NCAA tournament – may not have had a player who'll ever be an NBA All-Star. Hasheem Thabeet? Maybe, but certainly not for a long while.

And, of course, the team was rocked by controversy nearly from Day One – or even before that. There was Nate Miles' expulsion, Stanley Robinson sitting out the first semester for personal reasons. There was Jim Calhoun's well-publicized shouting match with a "political activist" (Mr. Krayeske's criticisms seem a bit silly in light of John Calipari's recent contract, don't they? Calhoun couldn't help getting in a dig on Saturday night: "This is where coaches really – I shouldn't even say this – earn their money. Bad thing for me to say, I guess, although thank God for the John Caliparis of the world.")

There was Jerome Dyson's season-ending knee injury, Calhoun's recurring health issues and, of course, the allegations of recruiting improprieties that were broke on the eve of UConn's Sweet 16 matchup with Purdue two weeks ago.

Through it all, the Huskies kept winning: 15-3 in the Big East, 8-1 in Big East road games, 9-1 on the road overall, 17-3 in road or neutral-court games. Impressive. Very impressive.

Anyway, here's how we'd grade this year's Huskies:

Jeff Adrien: B+ :This was a solid 'A' up until the final month of the season. Save for a 25-point game against Notre Dame on Senior Day and a 23-point game in a second-round NCAA tourney game against Texas A&M, Adrien was hardly the guaranteed double-double threat over the season's final several weeks. Still, a terrific career for "The Warrior," and hopefully an NBA team finds a place for a kid who'll show up on time and work hard every day, even if he's undersized.

A.J. Price: A – : His season started off slow (understandably, as he had to get over the mental and physical hurdle of his torn ACL) and ended with a 5-for-20 clunker against Michigan State. In between, Price put the team on his back, raised his NBA stock considerably and closed out one of the more remarkable careers in UConn history in high style.

Craig Austrie: C+ : Other than a 17-point effort against Purdue in the Sweet 16, his shot was nowhere to be found for the last couple of months. Made up for it with some good defensive play. Hard to be too harsh a grader on a steady, if unspectacular, player.

Jerome Dyson: I : Played the best basketball of his life early in the season: unselfish, more mature and in-control. Still playing at a high level when he went down with a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 11.

Gavin Edwards: C+ : Skilled and talented offensively, but still needs to get tougher and stop committing silly fouls.

Jonathan Mandeldove: I: Saw 16 minutes of action this season. Some walk-ons saw nearly as much.

Stanley Robinson: A – : The last few weeks were an A+, but it took 'Sticks' a long time to get back in the groove after sitting out the first semester. As gifted an athlete as I've ever seen on the basketball court.

Hasheem Thabeet: A – :We all know the weaknesses, but the man is an All-American, the Big East Co-Player of the Year, and is going to be a top-five NBA draft pick..

Donnell Beverly: I: What little we've seen of him, we've liked. We just haven't seen enough. For whatever reason, doesn't seem to be Calhoun's type of player.

Scottie Haralson: I: Again, not enough PT to make a determination. Shot just 28.6 percent from 3-point land as a 3-point specialist, however.

Kemba Walker: B+ : At times a bit out of control, at times (like in the Elite Eight against Missouri) a younger version of Ty Lawson. This was likely the start of a great UConn career for Walker.

Jim Calhoun: A – : Despite all the distractions, kept his team focused and winning. What could he have done better? Maybe give certain players (Edwards, Beverly) a little more rope. Certainly could have handled the Krayeske situation better. Certainly should have handled losing the six-OT classic to Syracuse and the postgame handshake with Jim Boeheim better. (We'll stay away from the recruiting allegations because, for now, they're just that – allegations). Otherwise, an excellent job this year by Calhoun.

***Oh, and if I may, a rant against the NCAA. For one, the wireless Internet courtside at Ford Field Saturday night barely worked throughout the game. I and many other writers were unable to blog during the game, or send our game story in immediately after the final whistle. It wasn't until I moved my laptop to another room, with only about a half-hour until deadline, that I was able to get back online. What's worse is that the NCAA charges each writer $16 per day for wireless – then, when we need it the most, the wireless doesn't work.

Then there's this: we were told that, if we wanted to stay at the media hotel, we had to stay a minimum of four nights. OK, so with player availability starting Thursday afternoon, we figured we'd fly in Thursday morning and stay Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – and Monday, if necessary. This morning, we're told that the four-day minimum starts on Friday! That means, even if the team we cover loses on Saturday, we still have to pay for our hotels through Monday night. What it really means is that it's a five-day minimum, because, as previously mentioned, we had to be here Thursday for player availability.

Sorry if this sounds like a whining reporter. And yes, I know, our papers are paying for the hotel and wireless Internet, not us. Still, it's obscene to think the NCAA – of all entities – has to soak us like that. Does the NCAA really need the money that badly?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave,

Anymore on the recruits from the Tilton School(I think that's what is called) possibly attending another school b/c of the Yahoo investigation. Also enjoyed reading your blog this season and hoping you keep it going this summer if there are any worthy updates.

8:31 AM 
Blogger David Borges said...

I've been told by someone close to the Tilton program that the report that the two players are considering leaving is completely erroneous.

Thanks for reading the blog, will keep updating throughout the off-season.

4:03 PM 
Blogger David Borges said...

I've been told by someone close to the Tilton program that the report that the two players are considering leaving is completely erroneous.

Thanks for reading the blog, will keep updating throughout the off-season.

4:04 PM 
Blogger Mike said...

the NCAA obviously does need the $$ that badly. They will never play the final four in a basketball arena again because they can't sell as many tickets. Myles Brand is totally shameless in talking about more ways for the NCAA to make money. Pretty pathetic actually, since last time I checked, all the money they make would be impossible without student athletes.

11:28 AM 

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