The Match up: #10 UConn Huskies vs. Washington Huskies
Game Info: 12:30 pm tip off at Alaska Airlines Arena
TV Info: ESPNU Radio: Sports Radio KJR 950
Record: 2013-14: 9-1 2012-2013: 20-10
Coach: UConn is lead by 2nd year head coach Kevin Ollie. A UConn alum, Ollie played from 1991-95 under coach Jim Calhoun before playing 12 years in the NBA. Ollie was quite the journey man in the NBA, playing for 13 different teams during his 12 year career, including a year with the Seattle Supersonics in 2003, where he averaged a career high 8 PPG. After beating Michigan State in last year’s Armed Forces Classic season opener, Ollie signed a five year deal with the Huskies.
Series: UConn leads the all time series over Washington 4-0. In their last meeting a year ago, UConn defeated Washington 61-53 behind a 14 point performance by freshman Omar Calhoun. UConn held C.J. Wilcox to just five points on 2-12 shooting. Scott Suggs led all Washington scorers with 15.
Scouting Report: UConn
UConn came into the season with high expectations, returning all five starters from a team that finished 20-10 a year ago and 10-8 in a strong Big East conference. UConn is once again eligible for postseason play after serving a one year ban for low Academic Progress Rate scores. UConn suffered their first loss of the season on Wednesday against Stanford. Shabazz Napier, the Huskies leading scorer, shot just 4-13 for 12 points in the 53-51 loss. In non-conference play, UConn already holds wins against Florida, Indiana, Maryland, and Boston College.
Sunday’s matchup at Washington is UConn’s first trip away from the East Coast this season, so it will be interesting to see if the long trip affects their play. In Wednesday’s loss to Stanford, UConn shot just 5-31; can they bounce back and recover after suffering their first L?
Players to Watch
Shabazz Napier- The 6’1 senior guard is the do it all player for UConn, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, and minutes played. Napier is the team’s leading scorer at 15 PPG, and is shooting an impressive 47% from the field and 51% from three. One of three remaining players from UConn’s 2011 title run, Napier was a huge factor off the bench during the run, has emerged into the teams leader throughout his career, and is a frontrunner to be named All-American come seasons end.
DeAndre Daniels- A onetime UW recruit, Daniels is a wiry 6’9 combo forward. The junior forward is the team’s 2nd leading scorer at 13.9 PPG, shooting 52% from the field and 43% from three. A long athletic forward who can guard multiple positions, Daniels may find himself matched up on C.J. Wilcox, who shot just 2-12 against UConn a year ago.
Ryan Boatright- A junior guard, Boatright teams up with Napier to make arguably the best back court in the nation. Boatright comes into the contest averaging 13.9 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 3.9 APG. Boatright is a lightning quick guard who isn’t afraid to go for the big play, whether it be taking the big shot or going for the monster slam. Standing at 6’0 168 pounds, Boatright will have a size disadvantage against all of UW’s guards.
UW Wins If…
They are able to take advantage of UConn’s struggles in the paint. UConn hasn’t gotten much production out of any of their big men this year, so UW should have plenty of opportunities to attack the glass and convert in the paint. Napier is the team’s leading rebounder at the point guard position, so for the Huskies to have a chance, Perris Blackwell will need to put together a Jon Brockman like performance for UW. UW also needs C.J. Wilcox to rebound from last year’s performance against UConn, where he scored just five points on 2-10 shooting. If Wilcox shoots like he did against UConn last year, it could be a long game for Husky fans.
UW Loses If…
They allow UConn’s plethora of guards to control the game. UConn has one of the best backcourts in the nation, and if Napier and Boatright are having their way, UW has no chance. Besides Napier and Boatright, Omar Calhoun and Niles Giffey are key contributors and can’t be left alone. Calhoun was the team’s leading scorer a year ago against Washington, scoring 14 points on 6-10 shooting.
A win against a top 10 opponent at home could be what the Huskies need to build up some excitement around the program and build some momentum going into conference play. The Huskies are definitely playing better than they were to start the season, but I don’t think they will be able to stop the two headed monster of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Before the Seahawks start at 1:30 tomorrow, make sure you tune into the Huskies to see if they can pull off the upset. Go Dawgs!
Leave your score prediction and thoughts about Sundays match up in the comments section below.
Reach Erik Erickson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Erik_Erickson.