The UConn Huskies are off to a solid start, defeating Maryland in their opener and then cruising past Yale to move to 2-0. Unsurprisingly, Shabazz Napier has been the star, averaging 16.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 8.5 APG through the first two games, including a triple double against Yale. What is more surprising, however, is the performance of sixth man Niels Giffey through the first two games.
Giffey scored 13 points against Maryland and 15 against Yale, tying him with Omar Calhoun for second on the team through two games. Giffey is shooting 83.3% from the field, including 8-9 on three pointers. Of course, this is a ridiculously small sample size, and Giffey’s percentages will drop down to much more normal levels in short order.
That being said, it will be very interesting to see if Giffey can continue to play such a significant offensive role for the Huskies. Coming into the season, it was well known that Giffey would be the team’s sixth man, but his contributions were expected to be almost entirely defensive, as he only averaged 4.9 PPG last season. In fact, Giffey only scored in double figures seven times in his first three seasons, and his 15 points against Maryland tied a career high.
However, Giffey has been a solid three point shooter throughout his career, and he is now getting more opportunities to let fly from deep. DeAndre Daniels is off to a slow start, which has increased Giffey’s minutes. Giffey does an excellent job finding space on the perimeter and effectively using screens, and he has been able to repeatedly get open looks.
Giffey will obviously not continue to make threes with such incredible efficiency, but this could be the start of a big season for the senior from Germany. Napier and Ryan Boatright love to drive to the basket, and having shooters surrounding them is ideal for UConn. Giffey should be able to continue to fill that role, and he should have no problem averaging double figures this season.
Having Giffey pose a legitimate threat on offense makes him a much more well rounded player and UConn a much better team. Every good team needs a reliable defense and threes type of player on the wing, and it looks like Giffey will be that player for UConn.