Now’s as good of a time as any to breakdown just how tough of a season the UConn Huskies just went through. It’s soon enough after their last game that the wounds are still fresh, but not soon enough after the season to realize that only one team comes out on top of the heap in the end.
So after a stinging ten point loss to Cincinnati in the semifinals of the AAC tournament, nothing close to the thriller at the end of last season where UConn emerged on top,
What exactly where the issues that made sure that the Huskies couldn’t live up to solid expectations to start the year?
To start, the schedule was an early season slap in the face. After a few ignorable wins, they entered a tournament with Oklahoma State and Oregon, two of the top teams in the country. The week after saw matchups with Syracuse and Ohio State. With such a young team, this sort of early rush was bound to fall through, even with a squad led by an experienced coach in Kevin Ollie. After stumbling quickly, the Huskies couldn’t get any footing to try and turn the season around.
Part of the reason for the lack of turnaround were mounting injuries. Several key Huskies were knocked out early in the year, severely hampering the amount of depth at Ollie’s disposal. In general, losing a lot of your players throughout the year make it difficult to gain any traction.
The injuries did more than just strip talent from the UConn bench, it also ensured that there was no continuity for the team. Jalen Adams was an excellent facilitator, to the surprise of no one, but it was nearly impossible for him to build a rapport with anyone besides Kentan Facey and Rodney Purvis.
The last major issue was the lack of a second major option beyond Adams. Adams should never be the top scoring on a team, despite his strong talent. His ability to find the open man is arguably unmatched in the country. However, he had little to no consistent help. Purvis and Facey would have their moments, as well as a late season emergence of Vance Jackson and Juwan Durham, but nothing stuck for the long term.
Looking forward to the future, eight of eleven UConn players can return, including Adams. If the esteemed point guard does decide to come back for another season, the future is bright for the Huskies. Obviously the development of another consistent scoring option will help, but in terms of natural progression, things should be much better.
Another strong recuriting class combined with a year of experience can help make the team competitive again in not only the AAC, but the 2018 NCAA tournament. It’s difficult to see now, with other teams celebrating in the Big Dance, but it’s possible that UConn will reenter the fray soon. However, it all hinges on the return of Jalen Adams.