10/31/13- New England sports fans will long remember the night of October 30, 2013. It was a memorable evening to be sure…What, you think I am talking about the Red Sox?… Lol..No, I am referring to the debut of the next great shot blocker in UConn basketball history. It was the first chance for the public to get a look at long, lanky Amida Brimah who blocked 5 shots in 17 minutes in the Huskies 93-65 exhibition win over Southern Connecticut State.
By comparison, Emeka Okafor blocked just one shot in his inagural game back in 2001 and Hasheem Thabeet rejected seven in his first game in the National Flag Blue and White back in 2006. Brimah is raw, make no mistake about it, and he and Kenton Facey will probably be foul prone in the early segments of the season. But Brimah seems like he has a knack for the defensive end of the floor and as he gains experience, the freshman from Ghana could (and will) become a fan favorite.
What else did we learn about the Huskies last night? DeAndre Daniels looks intent on proving that his play at the end of last season was no fluke. He looks confident on the offensive end, whether near the hoop or on the perimeter. Niels Giffey will make a case for plenty of playing time. He still does all the intangible things but his summer playing with the German National Team seems to have helped his long distance touch. I really liked the grad student from George Washington, Lasan Kromah. He plays with a quiet confidence and should be a solid contributor.
In some ways, it was the perfect exhibition game for head coach Kevin Ollie. The Huskies did plenty of things well but there were things not to like. Obviously being outrebounded by the D-2 team isn’t good. The Huskies grabbed only 5 offensive rebounds out of a potential 35 opportunities. That won’t work against the better teams. And giving up 27 fast break points is not in the Huskies defensive DNA. That will also be addressed when UConn gets back to work on Friday.
But all in all,it was a good opening night with the promise that this team, barring a rash of injuries, has plenty of moveable parts that will make them a success this season… The next test is against Concordia of Illinois on Monday night at the XL Center.
The UConn women begin defense of their national title on Friday night on campus against Gannon. Bob and Debbie have it on the network at 6:30.