Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 3:37 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Everyone can talk all they want about Jeremy Lamb, how he's primed for a mammoth season in which some even have pegged him as a Preseason First Team All-American.
They can talk about the new guy, talented freshman Andre Drummond - who could well become a lottery pick after this season.
They can talk about veteran big man Alex Oriakhi and how if he becomes consistent, this UConn team could go back-to-back.
But none hold more to the Huskies success this season than Shabazz Napier.
And it's got nothing to do with the fact that backup point guard Ryan Boatright is still dealing with NCAA eligibility issues, either.
With or without Boatright in the fold, Napier is the most important man in Storrs, Conn., this season - and one of the most important in all of college hoops.
"Shabazz is the key to UConn," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun admitted to CBSSports.com.
Napier was the guy who played alongside Kemba Walker a year ago. He was a relentless defender who brought toughness to the table. Now he'll be asked to run the show.
Thus far, in two exhibition games, Napier has dished out 28 assists and committed just four turnovers.
"He was better running the team in the games than he's been in practice," Calhoun said.
Some question Napier's ability to shoot the ball - after he shot just 37 percent overall and 33 percent from long distance as a freshman.
"I'm not worried about that at all," Calhoun said.
Two things that Napier can do: Guard and shoot the ball.
Running the team will be the key for the Huskies, though.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 11:37 am
By Jeff Goodman
The bombshell that Andre Drummond dropped exactly one week ago caught everyone by surprise.
Even his new frontcourt mate, Alex Oriakhi.
"I was shocked," Oriakhi admitted. "I didn't think he was coming."
But Oriakhi received a call on Friday evening from Drummond in search of UConn coach Jim Calhoun's number, saying he wanted to commit for this year.
"It was crazy," Oriakhi said.
Now the speculation will begin with how Oriaki and Drummond can co-exist. However, what people fail to realize is Oriakhi is about as team-oriented a kid as you will find.
"It doesn't bother me at all that he's coming," Oriakhi said. "I want to win another championship. That's what's important to me."
"I know I'm going to get the ball in the post," he added. "The addition of Andre isn't going to hurt me; it'll help me."
Oriakhi expects that both he and Drummond will get the opportunity to step out and expand their game on the perimeter. But that'll be the interesting scenario to watch - whether teams respect either or just pack it in, dare them to make shots and congest the middle.
- Oriakhi said he's been impressed with freshman DeAndre Daniels' ability to shoot the ball. "He's athletic and can defend," Oriakhi said. He said that Daniels and sophomore forward Roscoe Smith are similar players - with the primary difference being versatility and that Smith is stronger and also be play some power forward.
- Oriakhi also admitted that the key to this year's team is Shabazz Napier, who will likely become the full-time point guard with the departure of Kemba Walker. "He's our general," Oriakhi said. "As he goes, we go. He's ready - especially after a year of learning and talking to Kemba." Oriakhi also laughs when people question Napier's shooting ability. "That's crazy," he said.
Posted on: March 26, 2011 6:56 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
Two members of the UConn band (face-painters, no less!) predict how many points Kemba Walker will score, who else will step up at crucial junctures, and what song they play when they really need to get the team fired up.
Posted on: January 19, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2011 4:11 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
We're in movie awards season right now, but because of my obsession with college hoops, I haven't seen any of the nominated films. I hate to let this gorgeous Vera Wang dress go to waste, though, so, rather than the Golden Globes, I'd like to present the Orange Globes nominations for Best Supporting Actor. These are the guys who back up superstar players to the tune of big wins. College basketball is littered with scoring machines on losing teams, but these guys form crucial roles on functioning teams that happen to be blessed with one mega-talented go to guy.
The nominations for Best Supporting Actor on a Winning Team are:
Alex Oriakhi (right) for Walker: UConn Ranger. Kemba Walker is a dynamic scorer, and he absolutely can make things happen on his own, but over 40 minutes, he and his Husky teammates would be lost without Oriakhi. Consider his nuanced portrayal of a hardcore rebounding machine in close wins against Villanova (12 boards), Michigan State (17), Kentucky (11) and his masterwork, a 21-rebound tour de force in a true road game at Texas. His average of 2.2 blocks per game is icing on the cake.
Jackson Emery, for his role in The Jimmer Show. It's not easy being the veteran character actor next to a transcendent talent like Jimmer Fredette, unless, of course, you really enjoy winning a lot of games. Emery plays a vital role as the defensive yin to Fredette's offensive yang, and has notched several multi-steal games this season. Of course, being Jimmer's sidekick means plenty of scoring opportunities as well, and Emery has taken advantage of opposing defenses to put up 13 double-figure scoring nights of his own. A 40 percent three-point shooter as well, Jackson would probably be the star on any other team in his conference.
Quincy Acy in LaceDarius the Bear. LaceDarius Dunn is the senior star overshadowed by other returnees. Quincy Acy is the hard-charging, glass-cleaning sidekick who plays second banana to other second bananas. This fan favorite garnered a lot of indie buzz from fans, but came out too early in the season, so it might be overlooked when it counts.
William Buford, David Lighty and Jon Diebler for Buckeye Day Care. Veteran actors in their own right, these upperclassmen are unselfishly providing the framework for success that fresh talent Jared Sullinger needs. Their steady, workmanlike efforts in this ensemble drama will likely split the vote so much that none of them will take home the individual award, but the box office success of the whole is virtually guaranteed.
Nolan Smith in Duke II: The Sequel. The second stanza of last year's smash hit was considered to be a lock for Best Picture this season, with translucent transcendent leading man Kyle Singler back to lead a strong supporting cast. The production hit a snag when newcomer Kyrie Irving took ill and was forced to withdraw from filming, but veteran understudy Smith has kept the franchise on track, scoring 18+ points over the past eight games. Fans have been thrilled with the 3D effects this franchise has become known for, and Smith's presence adds crucial dramatic weight to the story.
Opening our envelope, I see that the winner is... Alex Oriakhi! Displaying steadfast support and a powerful will to score in his own right, the 6-foot-9 sophomore takes home the Orange Globe! Congratulations to all of our nominees!
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: January 17, 2011 6:58 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
As promised to you when the blog started up last month, we want to give you some genuine video and one-on-one interviews with coaches and players whenever we can get to the games. I wrangled UConn forward Alex Oriakhi, who's continued to play well (another double-double tonight in the 61-59 UConn win over No. 7 Villanova) but will likely forever be overshadowed so long as some other guy named Kemba keeps wearing a Connecticut uni.
Here's my quick chat with Kemba; the Oriakhi video is underneath.