Q: This is getting way ahead here but … As small as UConn is this year, couldn’t you make the case that they’ll actually be a big team next year? If an improved Nolan logs more minutes down low with Olander and Daniels, mix in a big guard in Samuel, and hopefully Facey, [that] would give them pretty good size. Thoughts?
A: Well, Todd, this reminds me of an old baseball story: The Yankees were very thin in the outfield in 1949, but several young, unknown players had breakout seasons. In spring training of 1950, Casey Stengel said, “Last year, I figure I ain’t got enough outfielders. This year, I figure I got too many. And they’re all the same fellers!”
… This is the phenomenon you’re talking about. Right now, UConn is woefully thin up front, can’t deny it, and the strength is in the backcourt. If Phil Nolan develops as this season goes in, if Enosch Wolf becomes a viable player with real playing time and Tyler Olander gets better, that in itself would make UConn appear “bigger” next year. Wolf and Nolan showed some promise in the Paradise Jam. If Kentan Facey signs, he adds another next year, though he is still considered something of a project. A guard combo of Terrence Samuel and Omar Calhoun would be a “big” backcourt.
But having said that, UConn needs to land another big man to really upgrade in this area. They put a lot of effort into Noah Vonleh and came up short. Karl Hobbs left the team in St. Thomas on Tuesday morning and hit the recruiting trail, perhaps to check out Amida Brimah, a 7-foot center in Miami who is considered really a raw talent, and/or Dakari Johnson, a 6-10 center from New York.
Bigs are hard to find, so this will not be easy, and a lot of UConn’s near-term improvement up from may have to come from the all-the-same-fellers theory: the guys they have getting better.