? & the Mysterians
1.) Can the team overcome the loss in production and, perhaps just as importantly, in leadership from Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, A.J. Price and Craig Austrie?
A: They won't be able to completely replace Thabeet's shot-blocking prowess and defensive presence, Adrien's toughness and Price's all-around game. But they'll make up for those losses in other areas. It also says here that the leadership vacuum created by the loss of Price (vocal), Adrien (by example) and Thabeet can be filled. Jerome Dyson has vowed to be a more vocal leader, and he always leads by example with his hard-nosed play. And Kemba Walker, who at times deferred to the veterans last season (much to the coaching staff's chagrin) is a born leader who should embrace the reins as a sophomore point guard.
2.) Who will step up in the frontcourt?
A: With Walker, Dyson and a bevy of talented newcomers, the Huskies should be fine in the backcourt. (Maybe it's time for Donnell Beverly to contribute, too). It's the frontcourt where the most question marks surface.
Gavin Edwards has never started a game in his three seasons at UConn, but the starting power forward position is his to lose this year. He's supposedly bulked up to about 248 pounds, though he'll never replace Adrien's toughness and physicality. Still, I've always liked his offensive game -- he's a good passer, good around the rim and a terrific athlete. Most importantly, his teammates (guards) love it when he's on the floor.
Charles Okwandu, the inexperienced 7-foot junior, is said to have improved greatly over the past six months -- but we've heard that before. Still, with four potential double-digit scorers around him, all he'll be asked to do is provide intimidating defense in the middle (and stay out of foul trouble).
Alex Oriakhi is "built like a blacksmith," according to Jim Calhoun. Ater Majok, a long, athletic 6-10, won't be available until mid-December, but is very talented. Both, however, are freshmen. Jonathan Mandeldove is 7 feet tall.
It says here a few of these players will step up and Calhoun will find the right mix come January.
3.) Can Stanley Robinson put together a consistent season?
A: It hasn't happened yet. He showed flashes of potential as a freshmen and was great down the stretch as a sophomore. After sitting out the first semester last year, Robinson took a long time to find a groove. Once he did, he was one of the more explosive players in the country.
The Huskies will surely be looking for about 13-14 points and 6-7 rebounds a game this season from "Sticks." If he does that, he'll be a first-round NBA draft pick.
4.) Which freshmen will step up?
A: Oriakhi? Majok? Swingman Jamal Coombs-McDaniel? Guards Darius Smith and Jamaal Trice? This is a pretty talented lot. Without question, UConn will need significant contributions from at least a few of them. It says here they will get just that.
5.) Is there a shooter in the house?
A: Not in the zone-breaking, 3-point gunner sense. But then, UConn went to the Final Four last year without one. In fact, when's the last time the Huskies really had one?
Price was their best shooter last year, but he's gone. Dyson can get hot, Robinson, too. Walker can be a better shooter than you'd think and spent this summer working hard on his jumper. Smith and Trice are said to be able to fill it up, as well.
***The Huskies got an unofficial visit on Sunday from Cory Joseph, a 6-3 Class of 2010 combo guard out of Findlay Prep in Henderson, NV.
***What was ? & the Mysterians' only big hit?
***Jim Calhoun will also apparently be making home visits to Josh Selby (Sept. 10) and Tobias Harris (Sept. 12), according to Adam Zagoria's blog.