Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Basketball Starts The Season As Football Resumes With Louisville On Saturday

The men and women's basketball teams are undefeated to start the year as the exhibition season bleeds into the regular season with over matched opponents and a combined 4-0 record. We'll start on the women's side of things and the Huskies do what a Geno team does best, getting out to an early lead and then maintaining a high degree of play until your opponent is beaten into a shameful daze and then score another twenty points. In their two games this season the UConn women have outscored their opponents 189-90. More than doubling the opposing teams points on both occasions while showcasing their offensive firepower and depth. While defensively these wins don't say much because of the nature of the opponent, this offensive production is a good sign that against better opponents they should still be able to put up some points. Luckily for fans the wait for a better opponent isn't very long as the Huskies take on the Stanford Cardinal next Monday the 21st in what will be a telling test for this team. Without the leadership and poise of Maya Moore it'll be very interesting to see just how well this team can do against the dreaded Cardinal, one of the few programs that consistently challenges and even knocks the Huskies off their pedestal from time to time. Last year it seemed these two teams were on a collision course to meet in the national title game until Notre Dame and Texas A&M knocked them both out in the final four respectively. According to Geno this Huskies team isn't good enough to win a national title this year and their next game should give fans a more realistic view of their future than the first two have but how can you not marvel at a team that doubles their opponents score, and then continues to score. I think UConn wins the game against Stanford and I think they will do a lot better than people assume based on Geno's comments, they are still ranked number four nationally and this team returns four starters from a final four squad and has some interesting new additions. For me the most important piece of this team is the return of Caroline Doty and if she can stay healthy as well as the development of freshmen and bench players. My prediction for Monday's showdown in Hartford, UConn 67 - Stanford 62.

The men's team has failed to impress in their first two outings. While Lamb and Napier are scoring up a storm there has been little production from the rest of the team and the big men haven't shown that they will be the fearsome defensive and rebounding force that they can be. Drummond spent most of the first game sitting because of foul trouble and left an opening for Olander to become the teams leading rebounder but he is not a consistent presence in the low post on either end. Drummond was supposed to solve the lack of depth in the front court but hasn't supplied any real spark to the team yet. It hasn't been a real problem yet because of the lack of talent on opposing schools roster but as the Huskies get closer to Big East play there will need to be significant improvement from the big men in order to compete. The other major problem facing this team is the lack of a substitute at point guard, when Napier left the game more often than not Lamb took the responsibility of handling the ball and the offense tended to stall. Without the ability to move without the ball Lamb's scoring also dropped, as the most efficient offensive talent Lamb needs a second option to handle the ball when Napier is on the bench. Luckily for the Huskies their first real challenge doesn't come until December when they play Arkansas in the Big East SEC challenge. There are large expectations for this team and if they can come together around the talent assembled they should be able to achieve great things.

The football team returns to action this Saturday against Louisville in a continued attempt to become bowl eligible and because of the parity in the Big East if they win out they can tie atop the conference. This game is not one for fans of offense as both teams have struggled to produce any consistent success and though both are sill alive in the Big East race the more important mark of six wins has been elusive for both and this game will be very telling in terms of which finishes the season bowl eligible. I expect UConn to play much better with Scott McCummings at the helm and to have fixed the fumble issues that plagued them in the Syracuse game. With a rushing quarterback the Huskies should be able to exploit Louisville and control the time of possession. I need to see a consistent team without the turnovers before I believe they have a real shot at getting bowl eligible but if the coaching staff finally makes the move to McCummings at quarterback I'll be more confident that it is a possibility. My prediction for this game is based on McCummings starting and UConn adapting the play calling to a strong running quarterback and I believe that with those changes the Huskies beat Louisville 27-17.

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