Scouting report: Connecticut
Game info: 4:30 p.m. Saturday at XL Center in Hartford, Conn. (16, 294 capacity).
TV: ESPN2 (Bob Picozzi and Bill Raftery).
Radio: KJR 950 AM and 102.9 FM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Coach: Kevin Ollie is 9-2 in his first season with the Huskies. The former UConn standout spent the previous three years as an assistant on the team. He spent 13 years in the NBA, including a season with the Seattle Sonics.
Prediction: Picked to finish ninth in a preseason poll in the 15-team Big East by conference coaches.
Series: Connecticut leads 0-3, including wins over UW in the 1998 (75-74) and 2006 (98-92 OT) NCAA tournament Sweet 16. The teams also met in a non-conference matchup on Dec. 1 998 (69-48).
Previous game: Beat Fordham 88-73 on Dec. 21.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— Junior guard Shabazz Napier (right) is the lone prominent holdover from the 2011 national championship team. As a freshman, he was the backup behind Kemba Walker. The 6-1 point guard averaged 7.8 points as a freshman and 13 as a sophomore. This season, he’s averaging 16.8 points, 3.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 35.5 minutes per game. He’s dished out 41 helpers and committed just 13 turnovers.
Napier is UConn’s leader, but he struggled at times last season adjusting to expanded duties and a shifting role as playmaker and scorer. He’s a scoring guard who is constantly second guessed when he shoots too much or doesn’t get others involved.
He’s been much more consistent this season. He had 25 points in the opener to lead UConn to a 66-62 win over Michigan State. He also scored a career-high 29 points in a double overtime win over Quinnipiac. He’s a dynamic scorer. He’s quick enough to get to the rim. He shoots 39.3 percent on three-pointers. He also does a good job of drawing fouls and getting the line where he’s connected on 51 of 60 free throw attempts. Lately, Napier has improved as a rebounder. He has seven boards in two of the past three games.
— Sophomore guard Ryan Boatright had the best game of his college career in his last outing. He tallied a career-high 26 points and nine assists against Fordham. At 6-0 and 160 pounds, he was slated to be the point guard but he’s a natural scorer. He moved to the shooting-guard role five games ago and has scored 19, 18, 16, 21 and 26 points.
— Due to sub-standard scores on the Academic Progress Rate, Connecticut is banned from the 2013 postseason.
— Legendary coach Jim Calhoun retired in September with two years remaining on his contract.
— UConn suffered a mass exodus of players including Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb, who were taken in the NBA draft, and Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith who transferred to Missouri and UNLV, respectively.
— The loss of Drummond and Oriakhi pushed sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels into the starting lineup. At 6-8, he has good height. But at 195 pounds, he’s a bit undersized to bang in the post. His career high is 23 points and 10 rebounds.
— Freshman combo-guard Omar Calhoun is the top newcomer. He won a starting job and averages 10.9 points.
— UConn, which has been outrebounded in 10 of 11 games. The Huskies average 30.3 boards, which ranks 323rd among 345 teams nationally.
— When junior center Enosch Wolf he shoots, he usually scores. He’s shooting 63.3 percent from the field, but has only taken 30 shots.
— UConn’s other option at center is 6-9 junior Tyler Olander. He’s averaging 4.3 points and played more minutes (17) than Wolf (8) in the last game.
— Only four players remain from the 2011 national championship team: Napier, Wolf, Olander and reserve forward Niles Giffey.
— UConn has used two starting lineups. The only change has involved Olander, who started the first eight games and Wolf who started the last three.
C – Enosch Wolf, 7-1, 240, Jr., 3.5 ppg., 2.7 rpg., 63.3 FG%
F – DeAndre Daniels, 6-8, 195, So., 10.1, 4.3, 1.4 bpg.
G – Omar Calhoun, 6-5, 195, Fr., 10.9, 3.6, 31.0 mpg.
G – Shabazz Napier, 6-1, 171, Jr., 16.8, 3.7, 2.2 spg.
G – Ryan Boatright, 6-0, 160, So., 16.1, 2.9, 4.7 apg.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
— It’s vital for Washington to defend Connecticut’s guards without fouling. UW has the size advantage in the backcourt with 6-3 Abdul Gaddy, 6-5 C.J. Wilcox and 6-6 Scott Suggs. However, UConn has more quickness and it has won games this season at the free throw line. The teams are evenly matched size wise. Desmond Simmons will matchup against Daniels and 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye will pair against Wolf. Connecticut struggles to rebound and Washington could have the edge in that department.