Starting out a trip flat on your face isn’t the most productive way to make it to the end, but that’s exactly how the UConn Huskies started their return journey to the top of the American Athletic Conference.
After their recent overtime loss to Tulsa, UConn has shown that they are not recovering from their early season stumble. One game after another this year, they have shown that they are simply not built to compete this year, both in the conference and in the NCAA tournament.
While Tulsa isn’t a slouch of a team, a squad of UConn’s caliber should have no issue dispatching them. However, despite a full effort again by linchpin Jalen Adams, the Huskies fell short on a missed Adams three-pointer to finish the overtime period. Tulsa was able to hound Adams all game and fluster the star point guard all game due to a lack of secondary scoring options.
This lack of a secondary player has plagued UConn all season, rearing its ugly head most in an embarrassing 16 point loss to Houston when Adams was out with a concussion. Rodney Purvis has been too inconsistent, Juwan Durham has taken too long to recover from his injury, and the rest of the roster has either underperformed or been dogged by injuries. While the defense has been staunch, it hasn’t been enough to offset the offensive ineptitude.
There were several times where it seemed as if there would be turning points. An early victory struck against Loyola Marymount was supposed to stop the early bleeding. After more losses, a big win against Syracuse looked like a turning point. However, Syracuse faltered, including a disastrous 33 point loss to St. Johns, and UConn couldn’t gain any more traction. Now 0-2 in their foray into the AAC, the Huskies have finally established themselves as a losing team.
There aren’t any great reinforcements coming, and there isn’t a game changing scheme that Kevin Ollie can concoct to salvage the year. While they may be able to string together a solid run of games later in their conference schedule, or maybe even impress in a conference tourney run, but for the most part, the season is over.
The weight of a missed NCAA tournament bid can be measured further into the season, but for now, the sting of realizing that what is happening right now is as good as it’s going to get. Every program has a down year, and this is UConn’s. After entering the year with legitimate AAC title hopes and more than enough talent for a postseason run, the UConn Huskies season of being a contender is over, and it’s just about time to look forward to next season.