Traffic Forecast: Congestion in the Husky Front Court



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Despite all the talk about not having enough bigs, I think Geno’s big problem (and a good problem) will be managing and rationing minutes in the team’s front court in 2019-20. Look at the roster as we now know it:

In the paint (4’s and 5’s): ONO, Adebayo, Camara, Irwin — 4 players for two positions.
On the wing (3’s): Walker, Makurat, Griffin (3 players for one position).

I wonder how many other teams can go that deep in the front court — probably very few.

I know that UConn will have only one “really tall” player: ONO. But all of the other players listed above are 6-0 or taller, and should have either strength advantages (Evelyn and Batouly) or leaping skills (Walker and Griffin) that will make them effective rebounders.

Would it be nice to have another “really tall” player to back up ONO? Of course. But is it necessary to win a National Championship? That is much more dubious.

Currently the Connecticut Sun are leading the WNBA and are very effective in rebounding, even against teams with more height. The Sun have only one “really tall” player (Jonquel Jones at 6-6). Her backup is Brionna Jones (between 6-2 and 6-3). The “4” is Alyssa Thomas (6-2), a really effective player and rebounder despite her unimpressive height. Their “3” is Shekinna Stricklen who, although she is 6-4, plays on the perimeter and does not contribute a lot of rebounds. The Sun guards Jasmine Thomas and Courtney Williams) are good leaders and get a lot of rebounds from the guard position. Morgan Tuck (6-2) is a very strong rebounder off the bench and contributes to the team’s rebounding strength.

The Sun’s front court is only a little bit taller than UConn’s. Relative the competition (pro vs. college), they have the same strengths and weaknesses, but they are getting the job done. I would expect that UConn will be able to do the same.
 
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Yes, but ...

None of Irwin, Camara or Adebayo have shown yet that they can carry major minutes against top-shelf competition. (Actually, ONO hasn't exactly proven this either, but most agree her potential is clearly there.)

Depth in numbers =/= depth in quality.
 
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vowelguy

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Oh Lordy.

Plebe is correct.
Numbers <> Quality

Irwin can hope to be a Morgan Valley-type player -- works hard, set screens, plays smart -- but she doesn't have the athleticism, and that's particularly problematic for a team where athleticism will be a key advantage and help offset size.
No idea what we're going to get from Camara or Adebayo.
 

oldude

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Yes, but ...

None of Irwin, Camara or Adebayo have shown yet that they can carry major minutes against top-shelf competition. (Actually, ONO hasn't exactly proven this either, but most agree her potential is clearly there.)

Depth in numbers =/= depth in quality.
Agree on Kyla & Touly, but Evelyn has already demonstrated that she is more than capable of holding her own against better teams with strong games at IL, at KY and her best effort in Knoxville vs the LV’s when she went off for 28.
 
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Despite all the talk about not having enough bigs, I think Geno’s big problem (and a good problem) will be managing and rationing minutes in the team’s front court in 2019-20. Look at the roster as we now know it:

In the paint (4’s and 5’s): ONO, Adebayo, Camara, Irwin — 4 players for two positions.
On the wing (3’s): Walker, Makurat, Griffin (3 players for one position).

I wonder how many other teams can go that deep in the front court — probably very few.

I know that UConn will have only one “really tall” player: ONO. But all of the other players listed above are 6-0 or taller, and should have either strength advantages (Evelyn and Batouly) or leaping skills (Walker and Griffin) that will make them effective rebounders.

Would it be nice to have another “really tall” player to back up ONO? Of course. But is it necessary to win a National Championship? That is much more dubious.

Currently the Connecticut Sun are leading the WNBA and are very effective in rebounding, even against teams with more height. The Sun have only one “really tall” player (Jonquel Jones at 6-6). Her backup is Brionna Jones (between 6-2 and 6-3). The “4” is Alyssa Thomas (6-2), a really effective player and rebounder despite her unimpressive height. Their “3” is Shekinna Stricklen who, although she is 6-4, plays on the perimeter and does not contribute a lot of rebounds. The Sun guards Jasmine Thomas and Courtney Williams) are good leaders and get a lot of rebounds from the guard position. Morgan Tuck (6-2) is a very strong rebounder off the bench and contributes to the team’s rebounding strength.

The Sun’s front court is only a little bit taller than UConn’s. Relative the competition (pro vs. college), they have the same strengths and weaknesses, but they are getting the job done. I would expect that UConn will be able to do the same.
With the depth Geno will have this year, he’ll be able to press more and for longer periods of time. That should help keep the opposition’s scoring in check. This team is going to score a lot of points. I’m guessing somewhere in the 75-85 ppg range.

If they can hold most of their opponents to 60 or less, they should win all of their pre-tournament games going away. This year, I look for the Notre Dame and Baylor games to be the toughest teams they’ll play before March.

Even though Notre Dame lost all 5 starters from last year, I for one am not taking them lightly or for granted. Muffet will field a very competitive team this season.

Like last year, I expect to see them twice this coming year, only with a different outcome the second time.
 
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Agree on Kyla & Touly, but Evelyn has already demonstrated that she is more than capable of holding her own against better teams with strong games at IL, at KY and her best effort in Knoxville vs the LV’s when she went off for 28.
More than capable!! Don’t be surprised if Evelyn assumes Collier’s role of being the team’s Swiss Army knife. She's that versatile. ;)
 
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Wanna bet?
Deeper bench than this past season. Longer can mean for a full quarter, or in certain spots during the 2nd half during an opponent’s run.

Pressing takes a lot of energy if done correctly. Skilled reserves that can come off the bench can give the starters a blow for 60-90 seconds (as needed), even more if wrapped around a timeout. I made an observation, we’ll see if it comes to fruition.
 
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As did I.
Not really. Give your reasons why you disagree with my take. Wanna bet doesn’t explain why you think I’m wrong. At this point, we’re all speculating. We won’t know anything for sure until they begin play.
 
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vowelguy

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Not really. Give your reasons why you disagree with my take. Wanna bet doesn’t explain why you think I’m wrong. At this point, we’re all speculating. We won’t know anything for sure until they begin play.
(1) I think I've heard for 20 straight years that UConn is going to press more this year. Pardon me if I'm skeptical.
(2) What evidence is there that there is more depth, especially if EW doesnt get a waiver?
(3) If you asked Geno if 4 good players provided "more depth" than 2 great ones, I highly doubt would say yes. Nor would he say "we have fewer great players so let's just throw a lot of players out there." That's not how GA rolls.
 

meyers7

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Yes, but ...

None of Irwin, Camara or Adebayo have shown yet that they can carry major minutes against top-shelf competition. (Actually, ONO hasn't exactly proven this either, but most agree her potential is clearly there.)

Depth in numbers =/= depth in quality.
Well Adebayo did pretty well against TN last year.....oh wait, sorry, you said top shelf competition. Nevermind.
 

victor64

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(1) I think I've heard for 20 straight years that UConn is going to press more this year. Pardon me if I'm skeptical.
(2) What evidence is there that there is more depth, especially if EW doesnt get a waiver?
(3) If you asked Geno if 4 good players provided "more depth" than 2 great ones, I highly doubt would say yes. Nor would he say "we have fewer great players so let's just throw a lot of players out there." That's not how GA rolls.
In addition, if recent history is an indicator, freshmen Makurat and Griffin will struggle. Especially, if Griffin's knee injury that may limited her in the U19 trials slows her prep time (I thought I read somewhere that she was still experiencing some knee tenderness.).

Camara playing for her country in the FIBA event, to me indicates that her knees may be getting stronger.
Adebayo was not recruited for one year to sit. She will play-how much depends on how she adjusts to role that will be a lot different than Murray State.

Again, if history is an indicator, Geno will try to play 7 in big games. I count the three returners, ONO and Westbrook ( if she gets her waiver) as five. My guess is Adebayo and Makurat as the other two.
 
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(1) I think I've heard for 20 straight years that UConn is going to press more this year. Pardon me if I'm skeptical.
(2) What evidence is there that there is more depth, especially if EW doesnt get a waiver?
(3) If you asked Geno if 4 good players provided "more depth" than 2 great ones, I highly doubt would say yes. Nor would he say "we have fewer great players so let's just throw a lot of players out there." That's not how GA rolls.
Ah, finally some arguments to engage with. Thank you!

Re #1: Having a significant rotation (more than 6 or 7 players who can contribute in competitive games) is directly correlated with a willingness to press more. Geno hasn’t had that in recent years, so we don’t really know what he would do if he had enough players to support more aggressive pressing defense. However, I do recall that when UConn lost to Stanford in the Final Four in 2008, he said that the way to beat Stanford would have been with a press, but he couldn’t do that after Kalana Greene (who had played in the first Stanford game that UConn won easily) went down with an injury.

Re #2: The thread and the original post was about the front court, so whether Evina does or doesn’t get a waiver is not relevant. I think it is nearly certain that there is more depth at the “3” position this year than in the past, based on the three players named in the initial message. We didn’t have anyone behind Megan last year, and she was really playing a “4” role most of the time. In the paint, I agree that if Batouly and Kyla are no better next year than they were last year, then we won’t have any real depth there. But if we assume that Batouly will be physically ready for a significantly bigger role, and Kyla makes some incremental improvement, then there will be room for Batouly to get maybe 18-20 minutes per game and Kyla to get 5-8, even in competitive games.

Re #3: I agree that if there is a big gap in skill between the starters and their backups, Geno probably won’t play the backups in competitive games. But if everybody is roughly equal (but perhaps offers different strengths and weaknesses), that is another story. And I think that may be the case in the coming year, especially at the wing position with Megan / Anna / Aubrey.
 
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From what I have seen of Adebayo based on clips, she has a confident offensive mindset and diverse skills (not to mention her board work). In contrast, Kyla and Molly generally want to get rid of the ball like a hot potato when they get it. No idea about defense but since we need to find points to make up for what we lost, I think she will be a major contributor.
 

vowelguy

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However, I do recall that when UConn lost to Stanford in the Final Four in 2008, he said that the way to beat Stanford would have been with a press,
Yes but that does not mean Geno didn't have enough bodies. It means Geno did not have enough *high quality* bodies. GA has incredibly high standards and the likelihood that this team is going to have any more high quality players than recent years lacks support. In fact it could be even harder for those other players to get time as they wont have Pheesa and KLS to cover up their mistakes.
 
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(1) I think I've heard for 20 straight years that UConn is going to press more this year. Pardon me if I'm skeptical.
(2) What evidence is there that there is more depth, especially if EW doesnt get a waiver?
(3) If you asked Geno if 4 good players provided "more depth" than 2 great ones, I highly doubt would say yes. Nor would he say "we have fewer great players so let's just throw a lot of players out there." That's not how GA rolls.
1 - I'm referring to the 2019-20 team only. Not teams over the last 20 years. In my original post, I said "Geno will be able to", Not that he will or should., just that he'll be able to based on my opinion that he will have several players that can come off the bench and provide adequate relief for the starters should they need a blow. That was not the case last year. ONO was the only player that came off the bench during the post season. That will not be the case THIS year.

2 - Evidence? There is no evidence. Everything that is written by posters right now during the summer months with respect to what we think will occur this season, is pure speculation. None of us can see into the future!! We're all hoping and guessing at this point. The roster is NOT finalized yet. We're hoping that past performance is an indicator of future performance, but we won't know until play begins.

UConn will have a deeper bench whether Westbrook is eligible or not. Of course if she is, it will be even deeper. Time will tell. No one knows at this point. I'd like to think (I may be wrong) that Irwin, Bent and Camara will be able to give something off the bench, even if it's only 2-3 minutes at a time. But like other posters have mentioned, I'm not counting on it. They are seniors that have not panned out as hoped or expected. It's now or never for them. They have 3 years of experience, something they didn't have last year. They've been cheerleaders for 3 years, NOW would be a great time to step up.

3 - I'm not asking Geno, I'm asking YOU. Geno didn't respond to my comment, you did. Leave him out of it. If Geno has issues with my comment, let him respond. I'm not interested in what he would say, what do YOU say? I made a very general (vanilla) comment regarding my perception of Geno's increased ability and potential to press for longer periods of time due to the reserves he will have on his bench this coming season.

Hundreds of people read it, yet YOU are the only one that took exception to it. That comment was really not that controversial. It's speculative at best. It appears to me that you're arguing for the sake of arguing. You haven't given me any hard "NON SPECULATIVE" reasons why my comment was off line or out of bounds. I could ask you for "facts" to back up your comments, but I don't think you can produce any.
 
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oldude

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Yes but that does not mean Geno didn't have enough bodies. It means Geno did not have enough *high quality* bodies. GA has incredibly high standards and the likelihood that this team is going to have any more high quality players than recent years lacks support. In fact it could be even harder for those other players to get time as they wont have Pheesa and KLS to cover up their mistakes.
I think we too often confuse pressing with pressure defense. In a handful of games this past season UConn attempted to speed up opposing teams by opening up with a zone press, which was usually removed after the first quarter. But UConn seldom pressured the ball, as they had in previous seasons, which forced TO’s often leading to fast break points at the other end.

There were 3 basic reasons why UConn did not pressure the ball on defense this past season:
  1. Lack of depth/risk of fouls
  2. No true rim protector to clean up defensive breakdowns (Think Stewie or Kiah)
  3. Graduation of 2 lock-down NDPOY’s
Let’s assume Sedona opts to become a Husky, everyone is healthy, secures waivers to play and that our two freshmen develop well enough to earn Geno’s trust. That would potentially give UConn 9 capable players including 2 rim protectors and up to 4 athletic “on ball” defenders (Crystal, Christyn, Evina & Aubrey).

Under those circumstances, if Geno does not implement various pressure and or pressing defenses to speed opponents up and force TO’s he would be committing coaching malpractice imo. As we all know, Geno is the best coach in WBB. If he has the talent, he will most certainly use it.
 

RockyMTblue2

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I agree in concept, but I can see where UConn plays 4 guards and Ono. There may be merit to this in speeding up the game and using it to the advantage of driving to the basket and running the fast break.
Yeah, but to run the fast break you need a defensive rebound. :oops: Sorry, just feeling good today.
 
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@oldude
I think we too often confuse pressing with pressure defense. In a handful of games this past season UConn attempted to speed up opposing teams by opening up with a zone press, which was usually removed after the first quarter. But UConn seldom pressured the ball, as they had in previous seasons, which forced TO’s often leading to fast break points at the other end.

There were 3 basic reasons why UConn did not pressure the ball on defense this past season:
  1. Lack of depth/risk of fouls
  2. No true rim protector to clean up defensive breakdowns (Think Stewie or Kiah)
  3. Graduation of 2 lock-down NDPOY’s
Let’s assume Sedona opts to become a Husky, everyone is healthy, secures waivers to play and that our two freshmen develop well enough to earn Geno’s trust. That would potentially give UConn 9 capable players including 2 rim protectors and up to 4 athletic “on ball” defenders (Crystal, Christyn, Evina & Aubrey).

Under those circumstances, if Geno does not implement various pressure and or pressing defenses to speed opponents up and force TO’s he would be committing coaching malpractice imo. As we all know, Geno is the best coach in WBB. If he has the talent, he will most certainly use it.
@oldude to apply PRESSURE defense a team needs not only NUMBERs but personnel that can effectively PRESSURE. Gabby, Moriah, Hartley, even Charde back a decade or so were great one on one pressure. I have seen some of that coming from CW. With depth she may be turned loose.
Then too, we have not seen any of the new guys playing the GENO way, there may be a lot more than we realize.
But, I'll settle for a good offense with excellent Board defense. I don't want us gloating too early or even late. Cheer and take down the nets only when the NC has been achieved (all teams should follow this, otherwise it could embarrassing) OOps forgot Kia --will she take my Maple leaf flag away? Rebounding I think KIAH first, Steff second, Stew 3

fO
 
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1 - I'm referring to the 2019-20 team only. Not teams over the last 20 years. In my original post, I said "Geno will be able to", Not that he will or should., just that he'll be able to based on my opinion that he will have several players that can come off the bench and provide adequate relief for the starters should they need a blow. That was not the case last year. ONO was the only player that came off the bench during the post season. That will not be the case THIS year.

2 - Evidence? There is no evidence. Everything that is written by posters right now during the summer months with respect to what we think will occur this season, is pure speculation. None of us can see into the future!! We're all hoping and guessing at this point. The roster is NOT finalized yet. We're hoping that past performance is an indicator of future performance, but we won't know until play begins.

UConn will have a deeper bench whether Westbrook is eligible or not. Of course if she is, it will be even deeper. Time will tell. No one knows at this point. I'd like to think (I may be wrong) that Irwin, Bent and Camara will be able to give something off the bench, even if it's only 2-3 minutes at a time. But like other posters have mentioned, I'm not counting on it. They are seniors that have not panned out as hoped or expected. It's now or never for them. They have 3 years of experience, something they didn't have last year. They've been cheerleaders for 3 years, NOW would be a great time to step up.

3 - I'm not asking Geno, I'm asking YOU. Geno didn't respond to my comment, you did. Leave him out of it. If Geno has issues with my comment, let him respond. I'm not interested in what he would say, what do YOU say? I made a very general (vanilla) comment regarding my perception of Geno's increased ability and potential to press for longer periods of time due to the reserves he will have on his bench this coming season.

Hundreds of people read it, yet YOU are the only one that took exception to it. That comment was really not that controversial. It's speculative at best. It appears to me that you're arguing for the sake of arguing. You haven't given me any hard "NON SPECULATIVE" reasons why my comment was off line or out of bounds. I could ask you for "facts" to back up your comments, but I don't think you can produce any.
I agree with most of the above. Uconn will have , or may have, great players all around. 2 of the 3 seniors will enjoy the view from the bench. That too may happen to any of the new guys, who knows???
What I dont agree with is the use of highlighting phrases for effect (yes I have used it but not so freely). I felt I was in the middle of an argument rather than posters discussing the current team.
ONO WAS the only one coming off the bench because she earned that by hard work and effort. The kid learned quickly, she impresses me.
Speculation this time of the season and in Novermber runs rampant and I like many tend to speculate. It is the grease that makes the Boneyard gears run around in your head.
No your tone was not nasty but the over use of highlights made me feel that way. You are right I am not a mod or Admin, do as you please.
After watching Geno from many decades (you have too) I tend to put what I have seen Geno do as something Geno WILL do, i.e speak for him.
It would be a day of HONOR should Geno comment on your posting or any from anyone. I believe that very warm place below will freeze over before he replies to your posting or mine. (Way back when, he replied to my emails)
 

diggerfoot

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Hmmm. Yes, well, Auriemma's standards for athleticism are so high that, on a team with a 6'3" center as their tallest player, he chose to use a 5'11" former guard as the PF, rather than an available, athletic 6'2" post, and use Conlon as the starting guard, rather than play that 5'11" "PF" at guard and the athletic 6'2" player as the starting post. Oh, and that starting line-up won two championships. Of course, they also had Taurasi, whose athleticism was sometimes called into question (though I think somewhat unjustly).
 
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