Their careers have featured a Paradise Jam preseason tournament championship, marquee regular season victories and a handful of weeks as the top ranked team in America. But if Jeff Adrien, Craig Austrie, A.J. Price and Hasheem Thabeet (assuming he goes pro) play their final game for Connecticut this weekend, they’ll be remembered more for what they couldn’t accomplish than for anything they did.
They’ll be viewed as the group that could dominate in January, but failed to deliver when it mattered most - in March. The poodles of the postseason. Losers in a program too used to winning.
And as harsh as those labels might be, they’re anything but incorrect.
Adrien, Austrie, Price, Thabeet and Stanley Robinson have accomplished less than any group of Connecticut upperclassmen in nearly 20 years. UConn and Wake Forest are the only two tournament teams that have not won a game in the past two postseasons. The Huskies’ streak dates all the way back to the 2005/06 season, when the team lost to George Mason in a regional final.
Five straight losses in elimination games and one season in which the team wasn’t good enough to reach the NIT. This is a group that has only seen Friday at the Big East Tournament once; and that was only because it took Syracuse until after midnight to knock them out.
Failure is ALL that stands out on their resume.
Today, Adrien, Austrie, Price and Thabeet begin their last chance to prove themselves when top seeded UConn opens up with Chattanooga. But even with favorable matchups awaiting them all the way until the regional final, there are still so many questions. Will Price control himself and take quality shots down the stretch? Can Thabeet dominate a good team? Which Adrien will show up?
Or will a lack of depth and the fact that the team’s best overall player (Jerome Dyson) is out send the Huskies packing early?
This much is clear: The upperclassmen will cement their legacy over the next three weeks.
One way or the other.