Might as Well Jump (Shoot)
***The Huskies will shoot the ball better this season. Or at least they have better shooters. Whether some of the freshmen will be able to get their shot off and make it when the lights are on is a different story, but they've got the ability.
Jeremy Lamb has a feather-soft touch, though he's apparently been struggling in practice lately. Niels Giffey knocked down a couple of impressive 3's from the top of the key today, too. Kemba Walker's jumper looked a bit erratic at times, but as practice progressed, he started knocking down shots. Tyler Olander boasts a pretty mid-range jumper, but he'll likely step back for some treys this year, too.
"I think we're much more of a jump-shooting team," said Jim Calhoun. "We took 10 3's per game last year, the lowest in at least 10 years, probably more. And, we shot 30 percent … I think we have good 3-point shooters. If we shoot 18 3-pointers a game, the guy who it will get to the most will be me."
(Actually, the Huskies averaged about 12 3-pointers per game last year and shot at a 31 percent rate overall and 29 percent in conference play. But then, numbers were never Calhoun's strong suit).
Clearly, Calhoun would prefer a more physical team that gets inside hoops, stickbacks and garbage buckets like in years past. But this year's personnel dictates a different style of play, and he will adjust -- albeit somewhat grudgingly.
Said Walker: "Being that we have so many good penetrators – me, 'Bazz and Donnell are going to be penetrating and getting guys open shots. I think there's going to be a lot more jump shots, a lot more 3's."
Said Olander: "We have a lot of guys on this team who can shoot. Everybody can hit a mid-range shot, and we've got a lot of guys who can step back and hit 3's, too. We're just a good offensive team all-around."
***The foul shooting was better. After the team failed to hit the required 7 of 10 freebies the first time around, they knocked down 18 in a row the next time before Roscoe Smith finally missed, ending practice.
***Donnell Beverly didn't practice today and hasn't for the past five days. Calhoun hopes to have him back out on the floor soon.
***The Huskies have been working on playing zone defense lately. Again, not one of Calhoun's favorite styles of play, but probably necessary for a team not as tall or as athletic as past UConn squads.
Here's some of what Calhoun had to day:
"We will not be the best team we can be in November, nor December. We're going to have be the best team we can be somewhere in January, February."
***(on Olander): "He's had a really good stretch. He's been, arguably, all-around our best offensive big guy. He sets great screens, he shoots the ball, he's done a terrific job."
***(on Niels Giffey) "He's like a 'glue' player ... He's a great guy to have at the end of the game, because you're not going to steal it from him, he'll make foul shots. We probably need him to be a little more offensive-minded. I told him he played like John Havlicek, in the sense that he runs on every single play, and he didn't know who John Havlicek was, which is a bit of a problem."
Said Giffey: "I think it's a very good thing. He's saying that I've got ability to keep the team together: passing the ball, doing everything that needs to be (done) to play team basketball. But that doesn't mean I can't score."
***Calhoun went out of his way to praise Jamal Coombs-McDaniel's recent play.
"He's a guy I've really ridden, probably from day eight or nine of last year. He's really, really improved and is trying to do the right things. Does he always do it? No. But he's trying to do the right things, and I think that's important."
***The Huskies are apparently recruiting another player in Germany. I can confirm this, as I called Andre LaFleur the other day and he had to call back, since he was on the Autobahn at the time.
***According to Calhoun, Jerome Dyson will be going to the 'D' League, having been encouraged to do so by Oklahoma City. He's not sure about what Stanley Robinson's plans are, though the coach says Sticks doesn't want to play in the 'D' League.
***Enosch Wolf has attended a few practices over the past couple of weeks.
"It's nice to know we'll have a nice, big addition to the program. If he's anywhere near as productive as Niels, it would be more than helpful."
***Calhoun was asked about UConn's Graduation Success Rate (GSR), which is 31 for players who entered school between 2000 and 2006.
"We've had more kids leave early than anybody over the past 10 years. That's a problem, and it's going to be a problem. Are you going to call Ray (Allen) in and say, 'if you had stayed here, you would have made a lot more money?'"
"I believe in the APR, I believe in the graduation rates. But I don't believe that the coach, who is not an advisor, not an admissions director, doesn't design the courses, I don't tutor … and yet, it's our responsibility to get the graduation rate (up)."
"I don't feel, in my heart and soul, that we've let that many kids down."
***While acknowledging that we are in a 'what have you done for me lately' sports world, Calhoun managed to give some props to UConn football coach Randy Edsall.
"I love coaching (these kids). I love their potential. But, I think potential is not the way we run our program. It's not the way sport is thought of. When I say, 'two years ago we were in the Final Four.' Quite frankly, nobody gives a (bleep) … One of our coaches has done a fabulous job in football, three or four bowl games in a row, etc., he's brought a lot of enthusiasm. But people want 'today.' But that's every sport, it's not just here."