The current face of Connecticut Huskies basketball may be Shabazz Napier, but the Huskies are shaping up to be a deep team this season with a number of players that should contribute to a strong year in the newly formed AAC. One such player that tends to get overlooked is senior guard Niels Giffey.
Giffey was first recruited to UConn from Berlin, Germany and was highly touted for his 3-point shooting ability. Giffey hasn’t exactly wowed anybody since then with a career mark of 34 percent and less than one attempt from beyond the arc per game. Instead, it has been with Giffey’s intangibles and basketball IQ that has made him an invaluable presence on the team.
Averaging 5.5 points, four rebounds and one steal per game in conference play during the 2012-2013 season in limited playing time, Giffey showed that his play can benefit the Huskies in multiple ways. His defensive presence goes beyond just the rebounds and steals as Giffey was able to play great man-to-man and help the defense throughout the season.
Giffey remained extremely active and attentive while on defense. His awareness and hustle helped UConn win close balls and shift momentum back in their favor by energizing his teammates.
Performances like last season from Giffey could make UConn a frightening team to contend with defensively. Ryan Boatright and Napier are both known to cause havoc for ball-handlers on the defensive end, averaging 1.5 and 1.9 steals per game respectively. Combine them with Giffey and it makes for a frightening defensive matchup for opponents’ backcourts.
Fans will be looking for Giffey’s effort to carry over into the upcoming season, but they will also be anticipating improvement from him offensively. While playing in EuroBasket 2013 for the German National Team this past week, Giffey averaged 13 points per game, hitting 15-19 from the floor in three games against some of the world’s best players, including Tony Parker.
If Giffey’s performance this summer is any indication of what’s to come this season, Huskies fans should start getting excited.