2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Connecticut

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Connecticut Huskies (Last Year: 20-10, 10-8 in Big East)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Tyler Olander (Sr)/Enosch Wolf (Sr)/Amida Brimah (Fr)

F: DeAndre Daniels (Jr)/Phillip Nolan (Soph)/Kentan Facey (Fr)/Leon Tolksdorf (Soph)

SG: Omar Calhoun (Soph)/Niels Giffey (Sr)

G: Shabazz Napier (Sr)/Lasan Kromah (Sr)/Terrence Samuel (Fr)

PG: Ryan Boatright (Jr)

Gone: G/F-R.J. Evans

2013-14 Outlook:
The Connecticut Huskies return all five starters as the team takes its maiden voyage into the American Athletic Conference. Connecticut was ineligible for postseason play a year ago, but led by their talented guard play, should easily make the Huskies’ return to the NCAA Tournament.

Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are once again the engine of this Connecticut team. Each guy will log heavy minutes and is capable of running the point, creating offense and being a proven and dangerous all-around scorer. They are interchangeable at the one or two and form easily one of the most talented and experienced backcourts in the country.

The third member of Kevin Ollie’s three-guard look is Omar Calhoun. He put together a solid freshman campaign as a complementary scoring option but needs to improve as an outside shooter this season. There is quality depth on the wing with glue guy Niels Giffey and George Washington transfer Lasan Kromah. Both guys can play bigger and act as the power forward on the floor when Ollie chooses to utilize a four-guard look.

Another weapon for the Huskies is athletic combo forward DeAndre Daniels, who had a breakout sophomore year. He is an inside/outside threat who excels above the rim. Sophomore Phillip Nolan, top-100 recriut Kentan Facey, and seldom-used sophomore Leon Tolksdorf will all compete for minutes behind Daniels.

Starting center Tyler Olander was suspended during the offseason, but the drunken driving charges against him were dropped and he is back with the team. The lefty is nothing more than a role player who eats up some space in the middle and can kind of guard opposing big men. Ollie has options behind Olander in 7-1 Enosch Wolf or even being able to play Nolan at the five. 7-0 freshman Amida Brimah is another big, but will need a year or two before he is ready to become a role player.

Ollie also picked up a key transfer in N.C. State shooting guard Rodney Purvis. He is talented scorer who experienced his share of ups and downs during his freshman year with the Wolfpack. Purvis must sit out this season but will help the Connecticut replace Shabazz Napier in 2014-15.

With its top-seven scorers returning and the switch from the Big East to the less competitive AAC, Connecticut should rack up its share of wins this season. Expect the Huskies and Memphis to fight for second place in the conference with defending national champs Louisville being the favorites to win the first-ever league title.

Player to Watch: Rybazz Boatpier, PG
Having Boatpier and Napier on your roster is like having Peyton Manning as your quarterback; you are never out of a game until the clock reads zeros. Last season, Napier and Boatright combined to average 32.5 points, nine assists, seven-plus rebounds, and 3.5 steals per game. As they go, the Huskies will go.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/8 vs. Maryland (in Brooklyn)
  • 11/21 vs. Boston College (2K Sports Classic)
  • 11/22 vs. Indiana/Washington (2K Sports Classic)
  • 12/2 vs. Florida
  • 12/18 vs. Stanford
  • 12/22 vs. Washington (in Seattle)
  • 1/8 vs. Harvard

  • Predicted AAC Finish: 3rd

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