As you know, Kara Lawson, who plays for the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA, works in her off-season as a TV analyst, doing men’s and women’s basketball telecasts. She has worked a couple of UConn games this season, including the win over DePaul, and I asked her to give me some of her thoughts on the Huskies. Kara graciously sent along this analysis, focusing on the bigs, and I think you will find it interesting:
“I think I just might be DeAndre Daniels’ favorite announcer – he scored 23 (a career high at the time) vs. Harvard and then 26 (new career high) vs. DePaul. He’s been a different player in person than the one I’ve seen on tape, that’s for sure. I felt like [Daniels] had the most to gain with the graduation, NBA entry and transfers gone. They NEED him, which is different than it was last season. He is still a work in progress, but his efficiency is much improved and I believe the four-spot suits him much better on the offensive end than the three. He can utilize his quickness to exploit match-ups and there aren’t too many power 4’s left in the college game, anyway. He is not a great three-point shooter and you can tell he likes to shoot it from out there. Not a fan of his willingness to do it, and he hasn’t proven to be able to knock them down consistently. Shooting 57 percent from two this season – stay inside the arc, young fella. Thought his focus defensively vs [DePaul’s Cleveland] Melvin was solid. At 26 minutes a night, he should be giving you more than four boards, but that is a team wide issue as well. When he hits a couple of shots early, he is a more confident offensive player.
“… Tyler Olander is a confusing study, having watched Olander play solid the past two seasons. His inability to finish plays and corral loose rebounds hurts the team at times. He seems to be pressing, because he wants to contribute and play at a higher level. When he is decisive, it changes the tenor of the team. When he second-guesses his instincts, it suppresses the flow. He is better than what he has shown this season.
“… Enosch Wolf has been up and down, but seems to play better coming off the bench. Anticipates well, defensively, needs to bring great energy each night. His size gives the team a different look, and he is a willing screener and doesn’t require a ton of touches. Offensive boards, put backs, shot contests – those should be staples of his production.
“… On Phil Nolan, I made the comment to Kevin [Ollie] after shoot-around [Tuesday] that I didn’t even notice Phillip Nolan during the Harvard game shoot-around [Dec. 7], he did nothing that made him stand out. But I noticed him this time. He was active, attentive, forceful with his moves and purposeful with him movement. No question, he is still a work in progress, digesting the playbook, playing within the system. He will help them win a game at some point.
“…Overall, I like this team. [Shabazz] Napier and [Ryan] Boatright have freedom on both ends and are hard to keep in front – particularly Boatright. They are both tough, supremely confident and willing to make others better. Besides the Michigan State win (not to discount it in any way, but Michigan State is not as good as they were projected), I don’t feel there are any surprise wins on their resume. I feel this group is invested in developing and improving as the season goes along. Their talents complement one another and the uncertainty of a new coach, and the NCAA sanctions are no longer a part of the conversation.”