The University of Connecticut Huskies are undefeated.
Playing without star guard Jalen Adams, who was suspended for some mild criminal scooter activity, the Huskies defeated Colgate 70-58 to open the 2017-18 season.
After the game, Ollie said “Jalen’s suspension is still day-to-day. I’m still evaluating the situation.”
Forward David Onourah also missed the game. He’s yet to play a game in a UConn uniform after injuring his hip in the preseason. The thought is that he’ll be ready to go next week, but we’ve been hearing “next game” since the first exhibition so we’ll see.
On to the beloved bullet points.
THE GOOD THINGS FOR UNDEFEATED UCONN
- Don’t look now, gang, but Terry Larrier might be a star. He scored 27 points on 11-18 shooting and basically won the game single-handedly. Larrier destroyed Colgate from the mid-range and added three three-pointers just to throw salt in the wound. After the game, Ollie also praised Larrier’s defense. He looks all the way back from last season’s knee injury. In the grand scheme of things, Larrier having a chance early in the year to shine in an Adams-less lineup might be the best thing for the team. This team needs offensive firepower and on Friday, Larrier proved that he can provide that.
BOOM! HEADSHOT! pic.twitter.com/7mtQYdVSMf
— Tim Fontenault (@Tim_Fontenault) November 11, 2017
- Tyler Polley is fun and I like him. He led the NLBP with nine points in 30 minutes. He still needs to get stronger around the rim but he plays fast and made all four of his free throw attempts. He also buried what felt like a big three at the beginning of the second half. Polley is going to find himself high atop the power ranking come Monday.
- Antwoine Anderson got the start and played pretty well. He had half of UConn’s 12 assists and hit a couple big threes in the first half. Ollie clearly adores Anderson. Generally speaking, if Anderson’s playing 35 minutes like he did on Friday, something’s gone wrong in the backcourt. Something like Jalen Adams being suspended, for instance. In a smaller role though, Anderson has value. And on a team rife with young and inexperienced players, some veteran presents are a cool thing.
- Eric Cobb struggled pretty hard on offense but was a bully on the glass. He had six rebounds in only eight first half minutes and added two more after intermission to lead the team. Nearly as encouraging, he managed to avoid serious foul trouble.
- Isaiah Whaley is also fun and ignited the crowd with two put-back dunks in the second half. He scored eight points, had four rebounds, three blocks and a steal. His nickname is also Pork Chop, which I will mention until the day the government makes me stop.
- UConn only committed nine turnovers and made 18 of its 19 free throw attempts.
- Wins are good. After last season, it’s fair to fear that every instance of adversity is just the prelude to UConn getting smashed over the head with a mallet. There were several of those moments on Friday, where UConn wasn’t making shots and Colgate was, that triggered what medical professionals have dubbed Wagner Syndrome. But the Huskies managed to pull out of each tailspin and put up a nice double-digit win even without Adams.
UCONN IS UNDEFEATED BUT HERE’S BAD STUFF
- The defense was, at times, ghastly. The Huskies’ rotations were slow and sloppy. Fortunately Colgate is: bad, and UConn was able to give up a bunch of open three-point attempts without much consequence.
- Dovetailing on the point above, focus remained an issue generally. The players were sometimes lost on defense, out of sync on offense and occasionally inattentive to what was working and what wasn’t (every offensive possession should end with Larrier attempting a mid-range field goal). These could be natural early season issues for a team full of new players but it’s worth keeping an eye on because sloppiness against better teams will cost UConn some games.
- It’s a joy watching Alterique Gilbert play basketball. He’s so fast. Unfortunately, he’s still clearly shaking off the rust from last season’s shoulder injury. His shot wasn’t falling on Friday (2-13, 0-4 from three) and he seemed unsure of when he should drive (hint: always) and when to settle for outside shots. The more minutes he plays, the better Gilbert’s going to look. No need for concern.
- Similarly, Christian Vital had a bad night but who cares? Better to have your 0-4 night from three against Colgate than SMU.
Up next: UConn will take on Stony Brook on Tuesday evening in Hartford.