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UCONN In Desperation Mode Entering Maui Invitational

It’s remarkable what two quick losses can do to a team.

After opening up the year as the 18th ranked team in the AP poll, and being one of the favorites to win the AAC, the UCONN Men’s Basketball team has falled on their face, struggling in two losses to lowly Wagner and Northeastern.

Even their one win this season, on the road against Loyola Marymount, was a 65-62 squeaker that did not inspire much confidence.

Now heading into the Maui Jim Maui Invitational opener against Oklahoma State (3-0), the Huskies (1-2) need to figure something out before their season is ruined before it starts.

The biggest way for UCONN to start breaking out would be for another solid scoring option to open up beside Terry Larrier. Freshman Alterique Gilbert had begun to open up and put together solid performances, but he is now doubtful for the tourney with a dislocated shoulder.

In a game that could lend itself to be a shootout, Oklahoma State is averaging 107 points per game this year, UCONN desperately needs another solid option to keep pace in order to take the pressure off of their defense. Senior Rodney Purvis, who averaged 18 points per game in the NCAA tournament last year, needs to step up and take owernship of this team. He can do so with a big offensive statement Monday night.

Another would be to lessen the load placed on Jalen Adams. The offense runs through him, as it should considering he is UCONN’s best player, but he has played 37 minutes each game, and the minutes could start to wear on the sophomore guard. Part of that falls on another offensive weapon establishing itself, but also rests on Kevin Ollie’s shoulders. Gilbert being out with an injury would pretty much eliminate all hopes of lessening Adams’ workload, but Ollie needs to find a way to split some minutes, perhaps by slotting in freshman guard Christian Vital more. If he doesn’t Adams could be more than burned out by conference tournament time, or even worse, injured.

A win will give them their first quality victory of the season, and will likely pair them up with North Carolina. If not, they could find themselves playing DII host Chaminade, which would put their quest for a worthwhile win even further away.

The key before the season started for this team was to start out strong, and establish themselves as a dominant basketball team that could compete with other big programs. The Huskies haven’t shown that side of them yet, shaping their game against OK State as a near must-win.

If they don’t, the 2016-2017 season could be over before we know it.



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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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