Jeremy Lamb runs the handshake (pre)game

Jeremy Lamb’s hands have gotten some serious publicity of late… I just hope non-UConn fans realize this is not the most famous Lamb-shake (see below).

THE REAL LAMB SHAKE

Although my favorite pre-game handshake routine still belongs to Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith, seen here at the 3:25 mark of the 2011 Final Four intros…

UConn Basketball’s Week on Twitter Review

Here is a recap of UConn Basketball’s week on Twitter for Huskies past, present and future.

NBA

Kemba Walker may need surgery on meniscus (would miss 6 weeks)…

Jeremy Lamb to Brooklyn? Or maybe Charlotte?

LeBron James recruits Ray Allen to Cavs by staring until he agrees…

Shabazz Napier plays with Reggie Evans (peek-a-boo)…

Roscoe Smith records NBA D-League leading 20th double-double…

International

The German BBL begs the question of Khalid El-Amin for MVP (update to come) and other stuff I don’t understand…

Niels Giffey plays in the German BBL All-Star Game…

Jerome Dyson keeps it simple…

Marcus Williams shows play-making is not the only play he’s making…

UCONN

Ryan Boatright moves into 18th on the all-time scoring list…

…on a career-high 28 points.

Daniel Hamilton does a little bit of everything (turning the ball over included)…

…while Omar Calhoun does something (forgot he could dunk).

High School

UConn ESPN Top 25 commit Jalen Adams puts on at the Hoop Hall Classic…

…and future teammate Steve Enoch does the same.

2014 Las Vegas Summer League Recap

Summer League

The  Sacramento Kings won the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League earlier this week, featuring newly acquired Alex Oriahki at the center position (sneak peak into celebration below). Oriahki was just one of a slew of former Huskies participating in Vegas this summer. Others included Deandre Daniels (Toronto Raptors), Jerome Dyson (Charlotte Hornets), Niels Giffey (Utah Jazz), Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat) and Roscoe Smith (Los Angeles Lakers). Here are the complete statistics from Vegas:

Player

G

GS MPG FG% 3P% RPG APG SPG TO

PPG

Daniels

5 5 21.4 .36 .26 6.2 .2 .4 1.8

10

Dyson

4 0 16.8 .22 .22 1.3 1.3 0.0 2.8 3.8

Giffey

5 0 12.2 .25 .17 1.8 .6 .6 .6 3.4

Napier

4 4 27 .28 .250 1.3 2.8 2.5 3.5

10.3

Oriahki 4 4 12.5 .40 0.0 3.0 .5 0.0 1.5

2.8

Smith 5 0 12.8 .56 0.0 2.2 0.0 0.0 .4

5.0

 

Deandre Daniels

Getty Images

Getty Images

Out of all UCONN players in the two summer leagues, it is safe to say Deandre Daniels was the most consistent. Starting all five games at small forward for the Raptors, Daniels contributed UCONN-esque numbers of 10 points/6 rebounds per game. In a July 18th win versus the LA Clippers, Daniels registered a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Although roughly half of Daniels field goal attempts were from deep, he led the team in rebounding, proving he is not content to just hover on the perimeter but ready to mix it up in the middle. Already leading the team in rebounding, when he packs muscle onto his scrawny frame, Daniels will be a force. It has been rumored he will play this upcoming season overseas which will give him time to mature before returning to the Raptors next season.

Jerome Dyson

July 10th Jerome Dyson signed with Dinamo Sassari of the Italian Series A League, according to Sportando. The same release stated Dyson had an NBA out in his contract until July 23, allowing him to sign with a NBA team if his performance in the summer league won him a roster spot. Unfortunately for Dyson, he was stuck behind first-round pick PJ Hairston on the depth chart and averaged only 4 points in 17 minutes of play. Dyson will return to Italy next season teaming up with former Louisville guard Edgar Sosa and BC/Fairfield transfer Rakim Sanders. The club is a newcomer to the Euroleague (European NBA) and hopes to boost their championship aspirations with the addition of Dyson who averaged 17 points/4 rebounds with Enel Brindisi (Italian Series A) a season ago.

Niels Giffey

Following two summer leagues where he struggled to find playing time, Niels Giffey has signed in Germany.

Shabazz Napier

Player G GS MPG FG% 3P% RPG APG SPG TO PPG
Napier (LVSL) 4 4 27 .28 .250 1.3 2.8 2.5 3.5 10.3
Napier (OSL) 5 5 27.6 .273 .154 3.0 4.6 1.8 4.8 9.2

Here is a comparison of Napier’s statistics from the OSL to the LVSL. In Vegas, Napier shot the ball better (it couldn’t have gotten much worse) and his turnovers were down, but he averaged only 2.8 assists per game, third on the Heat. As I wrote earlier, I am not worried by Napier’s struggles. The learning curve is much sharper for a point guard and especially in a summer league setting with players hailing from all over the world and little time to practice offensive sets. Another point to consider: Napier finalized his contract at the end of the summer league. With this final distraction off his mind it will be all basketball from now until training camp.

Alex Oriahki

AO Kings Gear

AO’s Kings Gear

July 12th the Sacramento Kings acquired the draft rights to Oriahki in exchange for guard Isaiah Thomas. Oriahki was drafted by the Suns in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft but the Suns’ talented front court forced him to begin the season overseas. Oriahki started 4 games for the Kings in Vegas, averaging 3 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block per contest. This block against Cameron Bairstow and the Chicago Bulls made it to nba.com’s summer league highlights. This season, Oriahki faces another uphill battle to make a Kings roster featuring  veterans Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, Reggie Evans and Jason Thompson. If he is unable to make the Kings roster this year, Oriahki will return overseas or play another year with a D League affiliate.

Roscoe Smith

Undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, Smith earned an invite to play with the Lakers in Vegas. Scoe averaged 5 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes per game, playing with his typical high energy and intensity. Smith is a long shot to make a NBA roster this season and will most likely play overseas.

 

Sacramento Kings Championship Celebration via Snap Chat:

Kings Celebrate Championship

The Sacramento Kings celebrate their championship

Roscoe Smith: NBA Draft Update

Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America)

Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America)

Roscoe “Scoe” Smith made the decision back in April to forgo his senior season at UNLV and enter the 2014 NBA Draft. Smith comes off a season in which he led the Mountain West in rebounding, averaging 10.9 to go along with 11.1 points per game. Considered one of the best players not invited to the NBA draft combine by NBA insider Chad Ford, Smith enters the draft without a defined position which could hurt his stock. Undersized as a power forward and too streaky a shooter to play the wing (at least presently), Smith will need to impress in workouts. In an interview with the Utah Jazz, Smith alluded to himself as a “power 3” in the NBA, similar to Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (full interview below). However, according to Alex Oriakhi’s Snap Chat, Phoenix had Smith working in the post as a stretch 4. 

Scoe

Measurements

Here is Smith as he compares to rival wings Deandre Daniels, Glenn Robinson III and Andrew Wiggins as well as Kawhi Leonard’s numbers from the 2011 NBA combine.   

Player Height (shoes) Wingspan Standing Reach Max Vertical
Smith 6-8 1/2 7-1 1/2 8-10 1/2 36
Daniels 6-8 1/2 7-2 8-10 1/2 32
Robinson III 6-6 3/4 6-10 8-4 1/2 41.5
Wiggins 6-8 3/4 7-0 8-11 44
Leonard 6-7 7-3 8-10 32

 Workouts

Here is a list of Smith’s workouts, as well as other notable players invited. 

Utah Jazz, June 2nd: Roscoe Smith, James Bell (Villanova), LaQuinton Ross (Ohio State)

Chicago Bulls, June 3rd: Roscoe Smith

Phoenix Suns, June 5th: Roscoe Smith, Melvin Ejim (Iowa State), TJ Warren (NC State) 

Draft Projections

After a hot start to the season, Smith does not appear on any of the major mock draft boards. NBA Insider Chad Ford lists Smith as the 73rd best overall player in the draft and 18th best small forward. While Smith possesses the size and athleticism for an NBA small forward, his defense, shooting and ball handling are inconsistent at best after a 2013-14 season spent in the post. On the other hand, while Smith has the energy and length to rebound the basketball, his size and strength are questionable for a NBA power forward. Look for Smith to start next year in the NBA D-League or overseas.  

 

A Look Back at Buffalo

photo

UCONN-St Joe’s

 

I drove up to Buffalo for the NCAA Tournament games at the First Niagara Center, home of the Sabres. Here is what I took away from the 1st and 2nd rounds:

ROLE PLAYERS EMERGENCE

 We made up a 10 point first half deficit with Shabazz on the bench in foul trouble. Down 19-9 , it would have been easy to fall apart with the undeniable leader sidelined but instead, we came together. Terrence and Niels combined for 15 points/12 rebounds Saturday and Brimah provided a game-saving AND-1 Thursday. In 2011 it was a Jeremy Lamb steal and dunk vs San Diego State, Shabazz free throws vs Kentucky and Scoe’s 4 blocks in the championship game. This is what has to happen to win championships. Role players need to make big plays. Shabazz is undoubtedly our Kemba but Kemba would be the first to say he needed a team making plays behind him. A knock on UCONN I’ve heard is we lack players outside Shabazz to make winning plays, not necessarily game winning shots but the small plays you need to make to win in March- get a big stop, snag a big rebound or finish a tough put-back in traffic- if Buffalo is any indication, our bench responded to the critics.

UCONN DEFENSE IS BACK

Nova shot only 35% for the game, 11-51 from the field and 11-31 from beyond the arc. Our guards had 10 steals led by Kromah’s 4 contributing to 16 Nova turnovers. Not only did we create turnovers but we capitalized as well outscoring Nova 20-4 in points off turnovers. Nova went 11:24 in the first half without a field goal. On Thursday, during the last St Joe’s possession of the first half active defense caused a shot clock violation giving us the last shot. The Huskies responded to a subpar beginning holding the Hawks to 25% on shots outside the paint after the first half.

ABILITY TO CLOSE OUT GAMES

The debacle that was inbounding the ball in the final minutes of the AAC tournament game against Cincinnati did not say much to our ability to close a game. Buffalo was different. Brimah came up with a huge AND-1 in the final minute against St Joe’s, the defense forced a shot clock violation and Shabazz/Niels executed a full court inbound play to near perfection before Shabazz took over in OT. Deandre put us ahead 37-36 with 14 minutes remaining against Nova and we controlled the remainder of the game never allowing the Wildcats to get closer than 5 points.

FREE THROWS

To complement my last bullet is the kryptonite to Calhoun Era teams: Free Throws.  UCONN shot 90% (18-20) vs St Joe’s and 79% (22-28) vs Nova. I hope this becomes a staple of the Ollie Era as it is certainly conducive to tournament wins. In the last 5 minutes of each game UCONN shot 90% , 15-16 in OT first round and 20-23 Saturday. Impressive given the added tournament pressure and location at a neutral site.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

  • Not a great UCONN turnout- Buffalo is evidently not a popular spring break destination
  • Syracuse fans miss us, Requiem For The Big East must have struck a chord
  • It’s not spring in Buffalo either
  • Bars close at 2 in Boston/DC/SF but 4 in Buffalo, that will never make sense to me and it shouldn’t to you

 

CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR A LOOK FORWARD TO THE SWEET 16 AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

Where Are They Now: UCONN Edition

Image

Marcus Williams joined Russian club Lokomotiv-Kuban to replace point guard Nick Calathes whose performance last season earned him an invite to the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. Lokomotiv participates in both the VTB United League and the EuroLeague. Through 12 VTB games for the 7-5 defending EuroCup champs, Williams is averaging 8.7 points and 4.2 assists running the point. In 13 Euroleague games, Williams contributes 9.2 points and 4.6 assists for the 7-6 club. Williams’ best game of the season saw him rack up 23 points/7 rebounds in Lokomotiv’s first ever Euroleague win against Crvena Zvezda of Serbia- featuring American guards DeMarcus Nelson (Duke) and Charles Jenkins (Hofstra) .

Although it’s not Rudy Gay or Josh Boone on the receiving end, catch Williams thread the needle below…

VTB Top 5, Week 12: Play #5

VTB Top 5, Week 3: Play #2

Roscoe+Smith+Illinois+v+UNLV+vH1BylIyZ6Bl

As a freshman at UCONN Smith was a major contributor to the 2011 National Championship team averaging 5.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks including 4 in the NCAA Final against Butler. Following a transfer to UNLV, Smith was forced to redshirt the 2012-13 season where he competed on the scout team against eventual #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett. The competition evidently paid huge dividends for Smith who is averaging a double-double (12.1 points/12.5 rebounds) for 13-7 Runnin’ Rebels. In fact, Smith’s 12.5 mark leads all NCAA Division 1 players in rebounds per game. Smith has 12 double-doubles on the season including an 18 point/ 21 rebound effort against Arizona State back in November. UNLV currently sits in 6th place (4-3) in the Mountain West with 11 games remaining until the conference tournament. It is worth mentioning nbadraft.net slots Smith as the 29th pick in the 1st round to the OKC Thunder, a pick behind former teammate Shabazz Napier.