The UConn Huskies are looking to repeat their success after a national championship win last season. UConn brings in some quality talent alongside key returning players to try and make that happen. Nevertheless, they are in a tough Big East Conference and have a lot of expectations. How will the Huskies fare this season?
Big East Rankings: #2 UConn Huskies
Projected Starting 5
PG- Tristen Newton
SG- Cam Spencer
SF- Stephon Castle
PF- Alex Karaban
Where Did the Huskies Find Success?
The Huskies were an excellent shooting team. They were first in the Big East in field goal and three-point percentage during conference play. They bring back shooters in Karaban and Newton and replace Jordan Hawkins with Spencer. With the potential dominant emergence of Clingan, their ability to space the court with shooting is a good move from Dan Hurley.
When it came to rebounding, UConn was excellent. They possessed the third-best rebounding rate in the entire country in 2022-23. Furthermore, they were dominant on the offensive glass because of their size. They were second in offensive rebounds per game in Big East play and eighth in the country in offensive rebounds per game for the season. Their ability to track down missed shots and get extra possessions helped their offense produce points when defenses got tough throughout the season. When adversity hits in the college basketball season, there needs to be a skill every team possesses to get through it. Connecticut’s ability to rebound is a team skill that helps them compete well in challenging games and is necessary for this year.
Why Are They Above Creighton?
Athleticism and Size
The Creighton Bluejays are a big team, but UConn has a seven-foot-two monster in the middle of the paint. Furthermore, Castle, Newton, and their pieces off the bench provide incredible speed and athleticism. Creighton is an athletic team, but Steven Ashworth is not as fast or athletic as Newton or Castle. This advantage gives UConn the nod over Creighton and the other teams listed so far in these rankings.
The Huskies dominantly won the national championship. Newton, Karaban, and Clingan were all key members and contributors to that title run. Creighton got to the Elite 8. While their run was impressive, the experience of winning it all made a big difference in building success for the following season.
Why Are They Not Number One?
The Question on Replacing Andre Jackson
Andre Jackson Jr. was the glue of this Connecticut team a year ago. His versatility, passing, and defense had an immeasurable impact on the success of the Huskies. Furthermore, his adaptability helped their offense run smoothly despite his lack of shooting. Castle is the most likely player to take on that role. From an offensive perspective, Castle will be fine, but passing and defense are the question marks. He defends well, but Jackson was one of the better wing defenders in the country and an incredible passer. This causes them not to be ranked as the top team in the conference. However, hopefully, Castle proves he can do all that Jackson did a year ago.