PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 19: Kevin Ollie head coach of the Connecticut Huskies yells against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Petersen Events Center on January 19, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The UConn men's season kicks off officially this Friday at 6:30 pm when they face Maryland at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. A year ago, the Huskies began in improbably successful journey in Germany with over Top-25 Michigan St.
Now free of NCAA sanctions, 19th-ranked UConn is looking to return to the postseason. First things first, however, and that means preparing for the next team on the schedule. That's what Maryland coach Mark Turgeon is doing, and in studying the Huskies he's come away impressed.
"I actually think they're undervalued," Turgeon told the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore Wednesday. "I guess they're [18th in AP, 19th in the coaches poll]. I think they're better than that. We played Kentucky in the first game last year and we came up short, but I think UConn is a lot better team than Kentucky was last year when they had a lot of young guys. UConn is a lot further along."
That's high praise, even if the 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats weren't their usual dominating selves.
"Obviously, UConn's got great guards," Turgeon continued. "Two guys who can get the ball anywhere they want to, any time they want to. A lot of teams have one, they have two. DeAndre Daniels is a special player, and it looks like he's even playing at a higher level right now than he was last year. But the thing I've noticed this year in scouting is that UConn has a lot more depth. Last year, I heard a lot about how thin they were. But now they've got a lot more pieces, whether it's the transfer from GW [Lasan Kromah], or the freshman guard [Terrence Samuel] or the young big man [Amida Brimah]."
As for how coach Kevin Ollie will utilize all this talent, he's not yet ready to say.
"We have one more practice left," he said, when asked about a possible starting lineup. "We'll figure it all out on the way to Brooklyn. … But you know, if you're a starter, you get your name called. But starters, those are the guys I like. The guys who stay in the game are the guys I trust."