While the sports world may have different expectations for the UConn men's and women's basketball teams, they shared one similarity, at least for their first exhibition games: the freshmen for both squads were wholly impressive. For Geno Auriemma's squad, which has the country's best recruiting class in Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, is was more proof that the program will be its usual dominating self.
For first-year coach Kevin Ollie, however, the future is the great unknown. But freshman Omar Calhoun, a former New York State Gatorade Player of the Year, showed off those credentials Thursday night against American International college, scoring a game-high 24 points. But Calhoun, 18, is still young, even by college basketball standards. And as such, he has a lot to learn. Like, for instance, not showing up opponents in the midst of a blowout.
It's something Ollie acknowledged after the game.
"I told him to stay humble," the coach said according to the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore. "I don't like those little gestures after layups. …. No, that's not who we are. He's going to learn that."
Calhoun, who played high school basketball at Christ the King in Queens, knows it's something he needs to work on. But he also admits that that's the nature of the game he grew up playing.
"Especially coming from New York," he said, "being a Brooklyn kid, it was just something I grew up with. I'm always going to go hard and be confident on the court. …I still got a little high school stuff in me, making little 'three' signs, flexing my muscle after the 'and-one.' It has become my nature. I'm a confident player. When I finish on you, and I do those things, it's for me to make you know that I'm getting after it, that's how I keep my energy flowing. I have to make sure I keep it in control."
But these are good problems to have if you're Ollie and looking for someone -- anyone -- to step up to fill the points void left by the four players that left the program in the spring. (Michael Bradley also departed but he didn't play his first two years.) And if there's anything Calhoun can do it's shoot.
"I've been seeing this all along with Omar since he got here," guard Ryan Boatright said via Amore. "He's a scorer. He's a natural scorer. You're going to be seeing that all year. He's got a quick release, so when he gets a shot, it's hard to block it. If they key on me and Shabazz (Napier) and Tyler (Olander), and Omar gets his looks and he knocks 'em down, he's going to have a great, great season."
And from the perspective of early November, that's about all you could ask for.