NEW YORK -- When basketball season tips off in a few weeks, there will be a lot of new faces on the UConn sideline. The Huskies are heading into the season with six freshman on the roster, and will add a seventh in December when Enosch Wolf joins the team.
UConn will look to Kemba Walker and Alex Oriakhi to guide the team, but the reality is that the freshman all have a chance to see some serious time on the court. At Big East media day last week, head coach Jim Calhoun said he was happy with the six freshman so far, but focused on three of them in particular.
The two Calhoun seemed to be highest on were guards Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier.
Calhoun said that Lamb, a 6'5" guard/forward, reminded him of Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton when they first came to UConn.
"[Lamb] could lead us in scoring," Calhoun said. "It depends on what happens with a kid named Shabazz Napier and how much I use two guards together. He's very good."
Calhoun said several pro scouts have checked out Lamb, who has a 7'4" wingspan and is a talented shooter, and they have inquired about Napier as well.
Based on the first few practices, Lamb is a presumptive starter, but Calhoun said Napier was in the running as well.
One name I was a bit surprised to hear Calhoun mention repeatedly was Tyler Olander.
"Tyler Olander has made a real big splash with us," Calhoun said. Adding that the 6'9" forward from Mansfield was the team's best 3-point shooter and second best rebounder in the first few days of practice.
Calhoun seemed generally high on the team with the exception of center Michael Bradley. He said that he expects Bradley will take extra time to develop, especially since he is pursuing a pharmacy degree and has a very heavy course load.
Still, preseason reports are just that and a whole lot will change when these guys actually get on the court. UConn has had years with massive freshman classes before, and it didn't exactly work out well at first, even if everything wound up okay in the long run.
"We will have seven freshmen," Calhoun said. "Last time we tried this we ended up getting better, but not good enough. Two years from that we were 32 wins and a final four."
Note: Our coverage of Big East media day was made possible by a sponsorship from Volvo.