#18 Connecticut Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Connecticut Huskies
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #1 American
Connecticut has some reloading to do, but Coach Kevin Ollie has plenty of talent to work with once again. Senior guard Rodney Purvis is back after leading the Huskies with 12.8 points per game. Purvis briefly flirted with entering the NBA, but was smart to return to college. He is a solid shooter, all-around scorer and a very good leader. With Purvis leading the way, the Huskies should be looking towards an American Athletic Conference title and a win or two in the NCAA Tournament.
2015-16 Record: 25-11, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kevin Ollie
Coach Record: 97-44 at Connecticut, 97-44 overall
Who’s Out:
Daniel Hamilton left for the NBA after his sophomore season. He was drafted 56th overall and would have been better served to return to school. The 6-7 wing will certainly be missed by the Huskies though after averaging 12.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He could do it all. Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller were regular starters too. Gibbs averaged 12.3 points per game and connected on a team high 79 three-pointers. Miller, a 6-7 forward, averaged 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds. Omar Calhoun provided a nice spark of offense off the bench and Phillip Nolan started 13 games and averaged 1.7 points and 1.5 rebounds.
Who’s In:
Coach Kevin Ollie has a talented group of freshmen joining VCU transfer Terry Larrier. Larrier is a big 6-8 wing who averaged 6.6 points and 3.0 rebounds during his lone season with the Rams. He still needs to add some weight, but he is a versatile player who can play a variety of positions for the Huskies. The five freshmen are highlighted by Alterique Gilbert. The point guard is expected to be the next in line of great Connecticut floor leaders and that should begin right away. Christian Vital is a tough player who should earn some minutes on the perimeter. Vance Jackson, Juwan Durham and Mamadou Diarra will add options up front. Jackson is a lanky 6-8 forward who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting. Durham is coming off knee injury and will likely need some time to get back into game shape. Diarra should see some quality minutes due to his defense and rebounding abilities.
Who to Watch:
By the end of the 2015-2016 campaign, Jalen Adams was starting to show why he was the AAC’s preseason Freshman of the Year. On the season he averaged 7.3 points and 2.4 assists, but that does not tell the entire story. Once he got going, Adams was very effective and now he is ready to compete with Gilbert for playing time running the show. Amida Brimah will be back in the starting lineup too. He flirted with the NBA after averaging 6.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. Brimah is a great defender, but he still has work to do on the glass and in the scoring department. Expect him to put up bigger numbers as a senior.
Final Projection:
Purvis, Adams and Brimah will form the experienced core of players for Connecticut, but there are other returning players who could step up this year. Kentan Facey is a 6-10 senior with plenty of experience. He has had some good outings, yet has not been consistent. Steven Enoch is another 6-10 forward with potential. His playing time was very limited due to poor defense and the hope is that a year of experience will help in that regard. Either way, Connecticut has depth across the board. This is a young team, but there is a lot of talent. If it comes together, by March this will be a very tough team to beat.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jalen Adams, Sophomore, Guard, 7.3 points per game
Rodney Purvis, Senior, Guard, 12.8 points per game
Terry Larrier, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Kentan Facey, Senior, Forward, 3.1 points per game
Amida Brimah, Senior, Center, 6.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.1 (174th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.5 (14, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.4 (98, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.6 (6, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (165, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.5 (81, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 79.3 (1, 1)
Rebound Margin: 1.7 (131, 7)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (144, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.9 (33, 4)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#32 Alterique Gilbert
#43 Juwan Durham
#89 Vance Jackson
#125 Mamadou Diarra
#155 Christian Vital