The Connecticut Huskies are off to a 2-0 start, but it was very evident that head coach Kevin Ollie was not pleased following the 80-62 victory over in-state Ivy League opponent Yale. He urged reporters after the game that he would be stressing rebounding in practice and that his team would get it together. In other words, 2-0 is great, but this team needs to get better on the boards if it wants to contend for an American Athletic Conference Championship or an NCAA Tournament run.
The Huskies have been out-rebounded 76-67 in their first two games. This statistic doesn’t seem so lopsided, that is until you look at the offensive rebounding category, in which opponents have topped Connecticut 33-13. Giving up 33 offensive rebounds through two games is atrocious, especially when 22 of them came against an Ivy League team. Sophomore Phillip Nolan, junior DeAndre Daniels, senior Niels Giffey and freshman Amida Brimah are the players that Huskies fans are praying for to make a difference. In order to shake things up, I expect the 7-foot Brimah to earn his first collegiate start on Thursday against Detroit at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.
Luckily, the Huskies do not need to ask their big men to make an impact scoring the basketball, with the exception of Daniels. Senior Shabazz Napier, sophomore Omar Calhoun and junior Ryan Boatright are all averaging double-figures in the point column and will all season. So, what’s the problem? Daniels is averaging 4.0 points per game, while putting up a goose egg against Yale. He has looked tentative and out of place in the first two contests, and has forced up shots, going just 4-for-14 from the field and 0-for-5 from three-point range.
If the Huskies want to reach to their full potential, Daniels needs to become more involved offensively and the team needs to rebound as a collective unit. Until then, I have a hard time believing this team can stack up against Louisville and other top nationally-ranked teams.