Welcome to act two of the Essential-O-Meter in which we'll examine the enigmas of UConn's 2011-12 squad. Click here to check out act one: The Injured Guy and the Germans. Now for act two:
No. 8 -- Rosecoe Smith
Season highlight: A 15-point, four-rebound performance against Coppin St. that reminded everyone he was on the team and could still play just about as well as DeAndre Daniels.
Season lowlight: Anytime he's launched a 3. Smith's at his best when he's A) playing defense or B) using his athleticism to score close to the hoop. He's shooting 44 percent on the year and 15-26 within the arc, but he's just 1-10 from beyond it.
What to look for going forward: A tooth-and-nail fight with DeAndre Daniels for playing time. The introduction of Ryan Boatright is going to mean a lot of Napier-Boatright-Lamb lineups that take minutes away from the wings. We're probably going to see the most of Smith when UConn's facing an athletic wing they absolutely need to shut down.
No. 7 -- DeAndre Daniels
Season highlight: Back to back double-digit scoring games against Wagner and Maine that made it look like Daniels might take off, claim the small forward position for his own and never look back.
Season lowlight: After the hot start Daniels has regressed. He hasn't been bad, but his impact has been limited. He played 19 minutes yesterday, but had only a combined 11 against Arkansas and Harvard.
What to look for going forward: Ideally a return to the dominating form he showed at the start of the season. I have him ahead of Smith based on athleticism -- when he gets the chance he can do phenomenal things. However, that seems like a lot to ask for because of the pieces surrounding him. On a less talented team Daniels could be a centerpiece, and he'll probably be that for UConn in a year or two, but right now he'll just be a contributor.
No. 6 -- Tyler Olander
Season highlight: Everything.
Season lowlight: None. If you want to get picky you can point to the fact that he shot poorly against Florida St, but really he's been great.
What to look for going forward: If you designed the physical/stylistic opposite of a prototypical Calhoun player, you'd wind up with Tyler Olander. He's not fast, he's not athletic, and he has something resembling a jumpshot. It makes absolutely no sense that he'd be the third best player on a Jim Calhoun team, but so far he has been. He doesn't blow anyone off the court, but he's been incredibly consistent. He always gives the Huskies at least 20 minutes, 8-10 points and six or seven rebounds. More importantly, he's a good fit for what the Huskies try to do offensively, and he has an Adrien-like ability to hit a jumper from the elbow just when UConn needs it most.
No. 5 -- Alex Oriakhi
Season highlight: Scoring 15-points in 20 minutes against Holy Cross yesterday. For the first time all year Oriakhi looked like the player UConn needs him to be. He kept control of the ball and when he was near the rim he went up forcefully over and over again.
Season lowlight: The Florida St. game. Oriakhi picked up three fouls in 10 minutes without attempting a shot or grabbing a rebound. The entirety of the Battle 4 Atlantis was rough for Oriakhi but that was a huge low.
What to look for going forward: Oriakhi has struggled mightily to fit in with this year's squad. Part of that is because of what his new teammates bring to the table and part of it is that his style of play limits his effectiveness against the guard-heavy teams that pack UConn's early schedule, but the biggest problems seem like they're mental. There is room for Oriakhi on this team -- the Holy Cross game showed that -- but probably not in the role he seemed to envision (one equal half of a dominating front court duo). Hopefully he can accept that, because in both the Big East and the postseason this team is going to need someone who can put in 20 to 25 minutes of dirty work, own the boards, score inside with a high percentage and draw enough attention to let Andre Drummond do his thing down low. WIthout Oriakhi in that role UConn will still be a very good basketball team, but they're not going to be great without him.