It took all of one half for the UConn men’s basketball team to go from a group that reeked of inexperience to a Final Four contender this season.
As it turns out, the following twenty minutes - when the Huskies shot just 17 percent from the field in a narrow opening game victory - was a far better precursor of the struggles that would haunt them once they stopped beating up on the Central Arkansas’ of the world.
From the very beginning, the 2006/07 Huskies were the most over-hyped team in the history of the program. And yes, that counts the 1999-00 team that began the year ranked No. 1 nationally despite losing Rip Hamilton to the NBA. At least that team had a proven point guard.
What went right?
Jeff Adrien became the player he needed to be for UConn to not completely flake out. He still doesn’t strike me as a star, but college players that average a double-double are pretty rare and he should do just that next year… Let’s not be so quick to anoint Jerome Dyson the next Ben Gordon, but I love that he’s not afraid to take over games. He was one of the best freshmen in the Big East and will almost definitely be the go-to-guy next year.
What went wrong?
Almost everything else. Even if you take in to account just how young this team was, Jim Calhoun still did a poor coaching job. He made A.J. Price out to be one of the best players in college basketball before he ever put on a uniform. He let Hasheem Thabeet go through the motions for a year before some team foolishly makes him a lottery pick. He recruited the exact same player in Curtis Kelly and Stanley Robinson. Ironically, neither of them worked out and they both might end up transferring. This team just didn’t get any better during the season. They turned the ball over and shot just as poorly late in the season as they did in that second half against Quinnipiac.
Thank god for…
New Jersey. UConn was 3-0 against Rutgers and Seton Hall.
What can still happen?
With the exception of Georgetown and Pittsburgh, they actually stack up well the rest of the Big East. There’s no reason why they can’t get hot and take out Syracuse and Notre Dame other than the fact that they haven’t exactly gone on a tear all year. That said, I think they’ll be one and done.