Last season, perhaps the biggest surprise for the University of Connecticut was the play of Amida Brimah.
The 7 foot center from Ghana flourished on the defensive end of the court, averaging 2.3 blocks per game in just 16 minutes of action.
Brimah is next in a long line of shot blocking centers that have come through Storrs. Like Emeka Okafor and Hasheem Thabeet, Brimah is a force on the back line, patrolling the paint with equal parts grace and ferocity.
Brimah finished 21st overall in total blocks in Division 1, with 92 on the season. His contributions helped the Huskies hold opponents to just 63 points per game, good for 31st in the country.watch.0.html
The ability to protect the rim is a luxury few teams have. Just by being on the floor, challenging shots, Brimah makes a strong impact. Knowing there is a shot swatter behind them, Ryan Boatright, Terrence Samuel and the rest of the UConn guards will be able to fly around on the perimeter, wreaking havoc and trying to create turnovers.
During the NCAA Tournament, Brimah's biggest contribution came on the offensive end. His lay-up and the foul sequence at the end of the 1st round game against St.Joseph's saved UConn's season and propelled them forward towards a championship.
Coming into this year, questions lingered around Amida Brimah as he underwent surgery in the off-season to repair a tear in his shoulder.
Brimah has so far proved his critics wrong. Reports around the team say that he has dramatically improved on the offensive end, adding a reliable jump shot and having an increased ability to catching the basketball.
An improved offensive game from Brimah should be propel the Huskies to a deep tournament run. He showed flashes of soft touch around the basket last season and runs the floor with fluidity. If that turns into Brimah being able to score out of post up opportunities or be able to knock down pick and pop jumpers, the sky is the limit for UConn's offense. A big man with that sort of versatility is the best weapon a basketball team can possess.
Coach Kevin Ollie rewarded the hard work. Brimah was named one of the two captains of the team for the coming season. For a sophomore, who played so sparingly his freshmen season, to be given this honor speaks volumes of his character and desire to improve.
Much of the Huskies success in the coming season is riding on the back of Amida Brimah.
Consider that a good thing.