TheLiveBlog: UConn vs. Western Carolina

Were kicking off UConns season with a live blog (see below for more).

We're kicking off UConn's season with a live blog (see below).

Welcome to the first of (with any hope) many live blogs that we here at TheUConnBlog will be bringing you this season.

For all intents and purposes, lets call it "TheLiveBlog," again, with the stress on the like those screwy NFL players on Monday night football.

Anywho, those who aren’t familiar with the Cover it live blogs, just think of it as one big chatroom. Or for those pre-AIMers, you know, actual person-to-person conversations (pfff, who does that?). You can post comments and your thoughts from the game (subject to approval by myself), get live updates from the game and maybe ask me a few things about the team or how certain players/teams are looking.

Also, fellow TheUConnBlog bloggers will twittering messages from the stands to give another perspective (although they’re limited to just 12 comments).

Tonight’s live blog will be especially useful with the game only being broadcast on ESPN360, the college equivalent to the NFL Network in terms of frustration .

Blogging is set to kickoff around 7:15.

We already have a season outlook up on the site, For a pre-game outlook and few things to look for in the game, hit the jump.

To jump into the live blog, click the link below:

Click Here

The mighty Catamounts of Western Carolina ( a sub-.500 team from the SoCon last year) shouldn’t pose much of a threat. Then again

But unless some colossal meltdown happens, this one should be all about seeing how the Huskies perform.

Here are five things to watch:

1. A.J. PRICE

Price said his knee feels fine, and he has looked good in the two exhibition wins. Although he averaged 10.5 ppg in the two games, the fact that he looked comfortable cutting and doing some other things on that knee are more important. Besides, with Kemba Walker likely to take over the ball-handling duties and the wing options maturing and becoming more plentiful, Price’s stats might see a slight decline in favor of a few wins.

Despite his progress, all eyes will likely be on him until the excitement of the new season wears off (probably around the same time UConn plays more than two mid-majors consecutively).

2. CAN KEMBA WALKER KEEP IT UP?

The thing about Kemba is even when he doesn’t score a lot, it seems like he scored 50 points. He’s exciting to watch, he puts stats up in all areas (as evidenced by the 10 points, eight boards and four assists he had against AIC) and the team just plays faster with him in there.

It’s really hard to describe how things change with him in the game, but he’s so dynamic, the game becomes more enjoyable to watch. The Huskies were involved in nail-biters in almost every game the past season, but I can’t remember ever being too entertained.

But now that Kemba has set these lofty expectations, people –- and the coaching staff –- are going to want more. All the players love him, and Jim Calhoun gushes over him in practice. Now it’s time to show he can put up the same stats and the same dynamic performance in the regular season (if you can call this that).

3. HASHEEM THABEET VS. WCU'S DEFENSE

Thabeet’s offense seems to have caught up to his D. The 7-foot-3 center connected on 14 of the 15 shoots he took in the preseason, and although he probably won’t have as good a stretch all year, it’s a good sign of things to come.

The Catamounts will give an early preview of what’s going to come at the big fella in the first few games of the season and in the NCAAs. Western Carolina doesn’t have a player over 6-9, and it will seem like a swarm of gnats quickly buzzing all around him.

Although Thabeet had a team-high 21 points against AIC, he also allowed Aikeem Vanderhorst to score eight points (almost all of which came early and in the paint), something Calhoun said he’d talk to the big guy about afterward.

Brandon Giles may be the only thing standing between the Huskies and a blowout victory.

Brandon Giles may be the only thing standing between the Huskies and a blowout victory.

4. DEFENDING BRANDON GILES

UConn associate head coach George Blaney compared Giles to UCF’s Jermaine Taylor, who scored 30 as the Huskies escaped an upset in the dirty south the past season.

Giles scored in double figures in the last 18 games before missing the last four after suffering injuries in an auto crash, and he failed to score more than 10 in just five games the past season.

Jerome Dyson, whose defense Calhoun gushed about all the time the past season, will most likely be assigned to the 6-6 guard.

5. UCONN'S GAME SPEED/LINEUP COMBINATIONS

With Walker, Dyson, Price and Craig Austrie, the Huskies have a lot of speed and they will look to use it as much as possible; even at 7-foot-3, Thabeet runs the floor well.

Like every year, Calhoun has stressed the importance of getting out and running, but this season he actually wins it. The Huskies will probably look to push the tempo to get ready to prepare for Big East play.

One player to watch is Scottie Haralson. Like I’ve said before, he looks very stiff running the floor and with the ball in his hands.

Several different combinations will likely be on the floor tonight. With Ater Majok and Stanley Robinson still MIA, UConn will need to toy with some different lineups tonight and in the first few games to maximize their roster potential and limit fatigue.

Potential Starters:

WESTERN CAROLINA

#1 Brandon Giles, G, 6-6, Jr. -- 15.3 ppg.

#13 Brigham Waginger, G, 6-2, Jr. -- 4.7 ppg.

#22 Harouna Mutombo, G, 6-4, Fr. – Redshirted. And no, not related.

#42 Jake Robinson, F, 6-8, Jr. —10.6 ppg

#50 Richie Gordon, F, 6-8, So. — 3.7 ppg

UCONN

#12 A.J. Price, G, 6-2, Sr. -- 14.5 ppg

#11 Jerome Dyson, G, 6-3, Jr. — 12.5 ppg

#2 Craig Austrie, G, 6-3, Sr. —7.5 ppg

#4 Jeff Adrien, F, 6-7, Sr. — 14.8 ppg

#34 Hasheem Thabeet, C, 7-3, Jr. —10.5 ppg


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