We haven't had one of these threads in a while. I realize we haven't even hit the dog days of summer, but with so little good UConn news lately, I thought that maybe a little optimism couldn't hurt. Hum...though we might get more pessimistic viewpoints than optimistic. Here's my first take at this, which is subject to change as we learn more about the make-up of the 2012/13 team and begin to hear reports about their progress. I doubt that many would disagree that the strength of this team will be in its back court. I think Boatright's upside is huge and we often see a significant improvement between a player's freshman and sophomore seasons and often between their sophomore and junior seasons. Kemba was a great example of how much he improved between both, especially between his soph and junior years. I think RB is going to put up some big numbers on a more consistent basis, now that he'll have a full season to work with. Hopefully we get a full healthy season out of Shabazz. Playing him both on and off the ball will likely give him more scoring opportunities. If in fact some of the players who have moved on were the ones that were challenging his leadership, maybe his leadership, along with some maturity, will help this 2012/13 team come together like the 2010/11 team did. I think Omar is the real deal. The more I saw him play the more I fell in love with his game. His game reminds me of Paul Pierce. Before I get blasted, I'm not saying he's as good or will be as good as the Truth. I'm just saying that his game and skill set is similar. Omar has a nice quick trigger J and sets up his drive off the threat of his jumpshot. He's not an uber-athlete, but he has a plus handle for a wing-guard and did a nice job of getting to the basket at will. Now we all know it's a lot harder to get to the rim in college, but he has the skills to have some success even as a freshman. He's only going to get better as he gets older and stronger. He will be a solid contributor giving the team some scoring depth, which is often a problem for many teams. A lot of teams experience a huge scoring drop off, experiencing scoring droughts when some of their starters have to go to the bench for rest or are in foul trouble. Hopefully JC can rotate Bazz, Boat, Omar throughout the game. In addition to those 3, JC can rotate the experience transfer R.J. Evans and even use Giffey in the backcourt if needed. The wing position will be very interesting. Omar might earn some minutes there. Giffey and Daniels will be battling for minutes at the 3. All three have the ability to score. Both Giffey and Daniels needs to improve their ability to score off the bounce. It might be a year that JC dusts off his motion offense. I think all three of these players have the capability to curl, catch and shoot (or drive) similar to what we saw from Rip back-in-the-day. Niels and Deandre will need to show us a lot of improvement with their handle, and confidence with that handle, before I'm going to believe they'll be beating anyone off the dribble, generating consistent scoring opportunities for themselves. Giffey has a nice feel for the game. I think we're going to see him bump those assist #s this coming season if he begins to earn more significant minutes. Between seeing some 3-G sets and a rotation of these wings, I think we have much to hope for. The Bigs - Here's where it gets scary. The less the bigs are productive the more teams will be able to focus their D on our guards and wings. That could pose a problem. Tyler has shown the ability to knock down the midrange J. Sometimes he's safe with the ball, other times he scares me when he puts the ball on the floor in traffic. Hopefully he improves his handle and traffic awareness this coming season and be a more consistent player. He struggles with rebounding and defending against stronger and more athletic 4s. Being another year older and stronger, hopefully he'll improve in both areas. One thing is for sure, he's going to give a plus effort every time he gets on the floor. Hopefully they'll get some production out of the two new freshman bigs, Nolan and Tolksdorf. Nolan has been described as a poorman's Chris Bosh. If we can simply get some sound D, solid screens and rebounding out of him, I'd be happy. If he can add 4 to 6 points a game on put-backs and FTs, that would be a bonus. There's conflicting reports if Tolksdorf is a 3 or a 4. He's listed as tall as 6-8 and 200 lbs. That's not a lot of girth for that height, which some believe is suspect. The greater need is at the 4. Not sure how ready he is to play at this level at either position. The opportunity will certainly be there for him to earn some PT if he's good enough. Lastly, we have Wolf. Who'd a thunk it, that possibly the most important piece of the puzzle could end up being Wolf. With AD moving on to the league, Roscoe, Oriakhi and Bradley (I always forget about him) leaving for greener pastures, Wolf is our loan 5-man. I haven't looked closely at what types of front courts UConn will face this upcoming season. If we face any big experienced front courts, it's going to get ugly unless JC is able to get our guys to impose their will. With little depth and little experience on our side, our bigs are going to have to find a way to last a full 40 minutes collectively. No matter what combination of bigs I put together in my head, it never adds up well. Wolf & Olander? Olander & Nolan? Seems the the staff needs to find some ready to play big body between now and the start of the season. Maybe JC can steal someone from the football team who played some hoops in HS. Yeah, unlikely! I wish there was some Euro or international ready-to-play 4/5 combo who comes out of nowhere and fills this need. We've had some late additions in the past, but I'm inclined to think that we had known about them well before this late date. When I look at the make-up of this team, I wonder if they are one ready-to-contribute 4/5 combo away from being a dangerous team. Imagine if AD returned for his sophomore season. Granted he was wildly inconsistent and raw, but if he could have simply learned how to stay on the floor w/out fouling as frequently, committed himself to boxing out, and learned how to assert himself on the offensive end, this team could be looking like a very dangerous team. Now I assumed he was as good as gone before he ever put on a UConn uniform. My point is how one player could improve this team dramatically. Considering the talent at the 1 through 3, just having enough big bodies that can hold their own at the 4 & 5 could go a long way. I can't recall going into a season, not really knowing what to expect from a UConn team. The young ones I expect to struggle. The experienced ones I expect to do well. The dysfunctional ones I expect to implode at some point. This is a team that has both talent and holes and experience and youth. Just not sure the talent can masque the holes, or the holes will allow teams to negate our talent.