Why UConn men’s basketball team may look different this season

Why UConn men’s basketball team may look different this season


Dan Hurley had a lot to say about his team at a media availability last week, giving reports on just about every player on next season’s roster except recent grad transfer commit Joey Calcaterra (who hadn’t signed his aid papers at the time, thus preventing Hurley from talking about him).

Here are a few the things Hurley said that particularly stood out, revealing what type of team he plans to run out there in his fifth season at the helm.

“DRE WILL BE ON THE BALL… A LOT”

Conventional wisdom dictates that Tristen Newton, the high-scoring senior who transferred from East Carolina in April, will be the Huskies’ starting point guard. Maybe so, but Newton may be more valuable as an elite scorer who can take the ball to the hole and/or knock down 3’s. Hassan Diarra, the gritty New Yorker with the clutch gene, would figure to be Newton’s back-up at point. But again, that’s narrowing down Diarra’s abilities a bit too much.

“The beauty of guys like Tristen and Hass,” said Hurley, “is they can play on the ball and get you into stuff, create for others, but they’re comfortable playing off the ball, letting Dre take it and create in transition , or create in the ball-screen game, where Dre is a really outstanding passer and creator.”

Ah yes, Dr. That’s Andre Jackson, the versatile, 6-foot-6 wing who can also man the point. He may not match Pistol Pete Maravich, one of his idols, as a ballhandler, but Jackson proved last season that he can facilitate on the fast break, find his big man on the low post and get his team into its offence.

“Dre will be on the ball a lot,” Hurley promised. “He’ll be facilitating around an outstanding 5-man (Adama Sanogo) and three other guys who can shoot and score. It’s going to create driving lanes for him, and passing options.”

The Huskies want to play a four-out style where Jackson is the worst perimeter shooter of the four. With guys like Newton, fellow transfer Nahiem Alleyne, a theoretically much-improved Jordan Hawkins and freshman sharpshooter Alex Karaban in the fold (not to mention possible long-range help from Calcaterra and Samson Johnson), the Huskies may have the right combination to do that. And that’s impressive, since despite an unorthodox shooting style, Jackson was actually third on the team in 3-pointer percentage last season at 36.1 percent.

AL HORFORD, Pt. 2?

Adama Sanogo wants to play in the NBA as badly as any Husky since Ryan Boatright. The latter never got his chance, but Sanogo still feels he will, if he contours his body and his game to the NBA style.

The 6-foot-9 center wants to get his weight down to about 235 pounds and play away from the basket a bit more. He’s working on improving his handle, his passing, his ability to face up, take bigger guys away from the basket and drive them.

Oh, and also to knock down a few 3-pointers. He’s only attempted one in his first two seasons in Storrs, but expect more attempts this season. And by several accounts, he can make them.

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