Personnel Needs for Next Season

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With everyone now hyperventilating about Cliff Omuruyi, and now that we are halfway through the year, I thought it would be helpful to list the strengths and needs we will have for next year, and evaluate whether our current roster for next year as currently configured will meet those needs.

Roster for Next Year:

Starters

PG RJ Cole
SG James Bouknight
SF Andre Jackson
PF Akok Akok
C Josh Carlton

Bench
PG Jalen Gaffney
G Brendan Adams
F Sid Wilson
F Richie Springs
F Porkchop/Poppers
C Javonte Ferguson Brown

RedShirt(?)
F Tyler Polley

Roster Notes - We will have a lot more pure depth in numbers given that we currently have 12 full scholarship players on the roster and are recruiting another position. Polley's recover/return is a gray area. Based on the date he got hurt and a modern recovery timeline of 6-9 months for that type of injury, I bet he makes a decision near the start of next season whether to redshirt, so I'll leave him out of this projection for now. We know what he does anyway, he is a shooter.

Freshman Contributions -
I have no idea what JVB will bring. He's big, he's raw, he's young. Not usually a good combination for a freshman big, particularly in the Big East. I'm going to downplay his contribution level. If he can give us 5-10 minutes of defensive presence and some rebounding I'll be thrilled. Andre Jackson, as you can see my projection as a starter, I think is an entirely different animal. I think he is going to give us immediate impact in the dirty side of the game - rebounding, defense, intimidating opponents with splash plays... but also as a passer. That is something we really lack this year and I think he really can help to open up the offense by being a threat.

Perceived strengths/weaknesses

Strengths
1. Guard/Wing Starters Quality - Between RJ Cole, who will be an upgrade at PG, and the growth of Bouknight, we should have a national quality set of guards to start the game.
2. Guard/Wing Athleticism - We will have some intimidating raw size/speed/bounce enabling us to play fast and wear down our opponents with defense and pressure. Between Bouk, Jackson, Adams, Wilson, Akok we've got some pretty high-level athleticism for the first time in a decade at these spots.

Weaknesses

1. Frontcourt production and quality - Josh Carlton is... oh boy, he's Josh Carlton. I'll just leave it there and we can all nod knowingly. Good kid but who knows. Poppers is either Porkchop or Poppers but he's not going to give us a whole lot and expecting huge growth here is probably a mirage(but I still think he should play more). Richie Springs and Javonte Brown Ferguson are total question marks to me. It is unclear if either will be able to contribute meaningfully. I am mildly optimistic given his AAU stats that at least Springs should be able to give us some good rebounding help, but lets just leave them as a blank right now, which in itself is a weakness. We have very few known quantities here

2. Playmaking & Handle - We have struggled with this aspect of the game this year, but still project to have serious issues here. I think our starting unit of RJ Cole, Bouknight, and Jackson will be just fine. But the second unit - well that is scary. Poor Jalen Gaffney has been very underwhelming, sorry to say. Seems like an amazing kid so I'm hoping he can really use the offseason to really improve, because right now his handle is a real weakness, and he knows it. Between getting stripped, wasting 10 seconds trying to dribble around defensively 35 seconds from the basket, or literally dribbling off his foot as he did against Wichita, he cannot really function under pressure and can't really ever break down a defender. If in the course of the offense he can use screens to find a passing angle, the kid can dish it a bit, but if he cannot significantly upgrade his skills here over the offseason we will be in BIG trouble next year on the ball.

As we look to enjoy the end of this year, would be interested to hear everyone's thoughts on this. While I am very concerned about the frontcourt and would welcome(obviously) someone like an Omoruyi, for the success of our team NEXT YEAR, I'd almost toward leaning toward a grad transfer or impact PG for roster health.
 
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Where does everyone think Alterique is going?
I would welcome Alterique back with open arms. I think he would benefit immensely playing as the 2 again the way he did with Jalen Adams.

RJ Cole is a scorer at all 3 levels (rim, midrange, 3) like Jalen was and we saw Alterique play very well next to a guy like that. That's two guys that can get by their man and dish. He would feel less pressure to have to do too much like we've seen whether it's overdriving, deep step back 3 pointers, or dribbling into double teams.

A starting lineup of Cole, Gilbert, Bouknight, Akok, and Carlton is good defensively and has guys that can create their own shot.

Then you have Gaffney, Adams, Polley, and Sid all with experience for depth plus Javonte Brown Ferguson, Springs, and Whaley. That's a deep team. No idea how the minutes would work out exactly or if everyone would be on board with that many mouths to feed but looks nice on paper.
 

nelsonmuntz

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It is too early to pick starters and backups. We have no idea how much anyone will improve over the summer.
 
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If Gilbert is gone, we can't go into yet another season with only 4 guards. That means 1 goes down and you can't play with 3 guards ever, and you're subject to someone getting into foul trouble or having the most minor of injuries. So Gilbert leaving means you need a grad transfer or JUCO guard. Any of a 1, 2 or combo is fine.

Thus, if Cliff comes, a current big is likely to be disappeared.
 
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We need a shooter desperately. We have no guys on this roster and next years class that can make shots - unless someone improves their shot immensely over the summer. Without a shooter, we're going to go through 4-5 minute droughts when they start packing everything inside.
 

HuskyHawk

Hoping to see something that looks like basketball
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If Gilbert is gone, we can't go into yet another season with only 4 guards. That means 1 goes down and you can't play with 3 guards ever, and you're subject to someone getting into foul trouble or having the most minor of injuries. So Gilbert leaving means you need a grad transfer or JUCO guard. Any of a 1, 2 or combo is fine.

Thus, if Cliff comes, a current big is likely to be disappeared.
Many of UConn's best teams had four scholarship guards.
2013-14 had 4 (5 if you think Kromah was a guard)
2010-11 had 4
2008-09 had 5
2005-06 had 4 and that 4th was Rob Garrison who didn't play much
2004-05 had 3
2003-04 had 5 i( count Shamon Tooles)

What they often had was forwards who can handle the ball. Jackson is in that mold. He's a point forward with a solid handle. So is Seth Towns if we can land him. The 1999 NC team was certainly guard heavy.

My wish list starts with a small forward who can shoot the ball.
 
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I think 1. 2. and 3. constitutes an order
It constitutes that we have 3 needs. I stated "in no particular order" because I knew if I didn't, some knucklehead would argue which is more important. I guess it didn't work cuz some people like to nitpick and argue anything and everything.
 
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I would welcome Alterique back with open arms. I think he would benefit immensely playing as the 2 again the way he did with Jalen Adams.

RJ Cole is a scorer at all 3 levels (rim, midrange, 3) like Jalen was and we saw Alterique play very well next to a guy like that. That's two guys that can get by their man and dish. He would feel less pressure to have to do too much like we've seen whether it's overdriving, deep step back 3 pointers, or dribbling into double teams.

A starting lineup of Cole, Gilbert, Bouknight, Akok, and Carlton is good defensively and has guys that can create their own shot.

Then you have Gaffney, Adams, Polley, and Sid all with experience for depth plus Javonte Brown Ferguson, Springs, and Whaley. That's a deep team. No idea how the minutes would work out exactly or if everyone would be on board with that many mouths to feed but looks nice on paper.
I’m not so sure the starting 5 you named would be good defensively. Defense is Cole and Bouknight’s biggest weakness. I’d also consider Carlton an okay defender at best. I can’t picture a scenario where Andre Jackson doesn’t start. He’s everything Hurley wants. He’s a long wing who defends, runs the floor, and finishes at the rim.
 
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Anything that continues to feed the Hurley formula is a personnel need. Hurley very much follows the Calhoun mindset that your best offense is your ability to apply pressure, generate steals and blocks and get easy buckets on the break on the other end. We need to continue to add guys who are a difficult to keep in front in transition, and disrupt their man on the defensive end.

That being said, when we do get stuck in the half court, we need a guy who we can run the offense through. Let’s hope that Bouk or Cole become that guy, it’s often difficult for a true freshman or first year program guy to have that type of impact.

This team doesn’t make a big jump by adding someone in the offseason, they make a jump based on their current guys progression to the next level
 

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