It’s official: We’re not alone. The Sporting News may be the only publication predicting someone other than Connecticut to win the 2004 NCAA championship.
But when USA Today and ESPN conducted their preseason poll, six of the 31 coaches on the panel chose someone other than the Huskies. Those men surely had their reasons for going against the popular choice — and a potentially excellent team led by the nation’s best big man (center Emeka Okafor) and one of its premier coaches (Jim Calhoun).
These are some of ours:
Point guard. Senior Taliek Brown often has been caught focusing too much on his own development and what he needs to do to become an NBA player. Brown had enough trouble as a junior that UConn tinkered with star shooting guard Ben Gordon at the point. Brown is an excellent passer and defender, but he must be more reliable.
Foul trouble. Okafor had at least four fouls in seven of the Huskies’ 10 losses last season. His minutes dropped in only two of those, but he had to adjust the way he played. Even with greater inside depth, UConn won’t win it all unless Okafor can play aggressively.
Role playing. Though the only established backup point guard is Gordon, there may be an overabundance of candidates to consume time on the wing and at power forward. Neither Denham Brown nor Rashad Anderson truly commanded the small forward position last season. The spot beside Okafor, which ultimately was ceded to Marcus White, again might be in play with the arrival of freshman Charlie Villanueva. Last year’s Huskies included 10 players who averaged at least 10 minutes. Few champions keep so many players busy.
CBT: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official that he'll be coaching Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and he'll also be with Duke at least that long, too.
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