State of the Roster: Swing Men

USA TODAY Sports

Swang.

We continue our positional preview with the swing men-- Kevin Ollie’s glue guys who can be used anywhere from the 2-5 collectively. These versatile athletes allow UConn to take advantage of favorable match-ups and effectively exploit other team’s weaknesses. There are two solid bench guys and one potential stud among them, and all three are probably gone after this year.

Neils Giffey

I love Giffey. He hustles, he can pass, rebound, play lockdown defense, and on top of it all he’s rocking a sweet beard this year. ADimeBack's Tyler Wilkinson wrote a pretty good preview specifically about Giffey where he mentions that Niels was one of two players along with DeAndre Daniels to log 10 rebounds last year. While that is a pretty disappointing fact for the rest of our roster it speaks volumes to the variety of things Niels can do on the court.

Giffey is exactly the kind of role player any successful basketball team needs. Last year he shot 41% in 21mpg, and although he’s didn't really fill up the stat sheet, his heady play and aggressive defense made him an invaluable part of the team and a fast fan favorite.

I imagine Giffey will be coming off the bench as a 3 to rest Calhoun in traditional lineups and as a 4 in small lineups with Napier, Boatright, Calhoun and Daniels/Tall Guy. That grouping is capable of inflicting serious damage on the rough AAC courts this year.

Lasan Kromah

The graduate transfer adds another experienced, versatile veteran to the rotation. Last year at GW he averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds in 24mpg. I haven’t seen the guy play, but I expect his role to be similar to Giffey’s. He can play the 2 or the 3 and given his age we can probably depend on him to provide a calming veteran presence the way RJ Evans did last year (see, I told you there were similarities!).

It remains to be seen how many minutes he earns in the rotation, but since we aren't playing the Big East schedule I would imagine he gets plenty of opportunities to play in the interest of keeping our stars fresh.

DeAndre Daniels

AKA The X-Factor. DeAndre Daniels is the super talented junior who many believe can make the leap this year. After a quiet freshman year and a decent yet inconsistent start to his sophomore year, 2011’s 10th ranked recruit ended the season by stringing together a series of impressive performances—most notably his head to head match-up with Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. Most people who saw that game believe that Daniels outplayed the future 3rd overall pick.

This off-season, DeAndre has been hitting the gym hard in hopes of hearing his own name called in NBA Lottery next year. So far in the preseason he has looked the part, with 21 and 10 against SCSU and an efficient 11 and 5 in 11 minutes against Concordia. After being left off of the preseason All-AAC teams, Daniels will be playing with a chip on his shoulder as he begins a 2013-14 campaign that could end with him on the AAC First Team. He can play the 5 in small ball lineups and as a 3-4 presents a match-up nightmare for slower power forwards or weaker small forwards. Especially if we’re losing the rebounding battle, I could see Ollie playing him at the 3 and adding two Tall Guys on the floor so we can have three legit rebounders in the game.

Daniels will be the man this year to key our deep tournament run. If he can become a bona fide star, we go from being the solid 18th ranked team that the public thinks we are, to a dangerous team capable of going all the way (There! I said it). It's all there, the talent, work-ethic and desire to achieve from the youngster out of LA, let's hope he can put it all together in what is likely his last year in Storrs.

Outlook

Daniels is a little bit of an outlier on this list and could be lumped in with the tall guys, but I wanted to highlight his versatility by including him in this group.

These guys allow the Huskies attack to have multiple identities without any drop in quality of play. We can play small, large and everything in between thanks to these human Swiss Army knives. I’m in love with the idea of mixing and matching different lineups, and so very thankful that Daniels, Kromah and Giffey allow us to do just that. Also, with so many games that amount to schedule fodder (Houston, UCF, etc.) the bench guys should still get plenty of run.

Before you go pray to the basketball gods for a Huskies win tonight, remember to thank them for our swing men and the versatility they afford Saint Kevin. Amen.

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