It's liable to be a strange college basketball season
in Storrs, Connecticut, this winter. The Huskies are ineligible for the postseason due to a poor past academic performance penalty issued by the NCAA; the decison is having a terrible snowball effect, as players leave early
for the NBA draft or transfer away. On top of that there's Coach Calhoun's
ongoing health situation. So uncertainty surrounds the Huskies at the moment.
Champs just two years ago
UConn, if we remember right, won the national
championship just two years ago. There are now three players left from that team,
although only one is a major contributor. Last year the Huskies struggled to an
8-10 record in the Big East, barely making the NCAA tournament as the defending
champs. And their stay was short; they got bounced out in the first round by
Iowa State to finish at 20-14 overall.
Since then, several things have happened. Foremost, the NCAA
put UConn on probation for this season. In the wake of that mess, Jeremy Lamb,
who led the Huskies in scoring last year as a sophomore at almost 18 points per
game, declared for the NBA draft as did redshirt freshman Andre Drummond, who
led the team in rebounding and blocked shots. Junior Alex Oriakhi transferred
to Missouri; 6-10 freshman Michael Bradly transferred to Western Kentucky; and
sophomore Roscoe Smith declared his intention to transfer.
Add it up and Connecticut has holes to fill up front this
What they do have
The Huskies should be set in the backcourt with the return
of guards Ryan Boatwright and Shabazz Napier and the additions of transfer RJ
Evans from Holy Cross and freshman Omar Calhoun. Boatwright and Shabazz
combined to average 23 points and 10 assists per game last year, and Evans,
who's choosing to play his senior season for a team that can't play in the
postseason, his home-state Huskies, averaged 11.5 points and five dishes last
year playing for the Crusaders of the Patriot League.
Calhoun is a scorer who may get time just because he can
throw it in the hole from almost anywhere.
But other than that, UConn will be depending on some unknown
quantities to play down low.
The two main additions through the recruiting process for
the Huskies are Calhoun and 6-10 F Phil Nolan, both of whom could play right
away. But, understandably, UConn has not been able to attract the talent, both in
quantity and quality, they have in the past.
How to bet UConn in
This is a tough one. With all that's going on with this
program this season, especially Coach Calhoun's health situation, it's almost
impossible to predict what might happen with the Huskies. Coach Calhoun could
come back full-speed and coach-up what he's got for a frontcourt and make a
dent in the Big East. The probation from the postseason could also create an
us-against-the-world atmosphere around this team, and help them make the
absolute most out of the regular season.
Coach Calhoun could also decide to step aside, and who would
blame him? He's already won three national titles, and he's had some serious
health issues. But it would probably leave the program in a lurch, at least for
a while. How a team might respond to something like that is difficult to
UConn basketball seems like a prime prospect for change. All
programs go through it, and this one hasn't had to in a long time.
Then again, there
could be opportunity here for college basketball bettors
. The Huskies may not
be very highly regarded among the college basketball odds
makers and the betting public, which can
be a good thing, especially if UConn then plays above expectations. The Huskies
might not be a bad team to back this season.