Kevin Ollie probably could not have scripted a better start to the season, as his Huskies (1-0) effortlessly took care of the Maine Black Bears (0-1) in a sold-out Gampel Pavilion, 100-56.
While this game was hardly ever close, and we need to caution ourselves against getting too excited about what just went down, one can't help but be elated by the way UConn played and the tangible skills which UConn's newcomers displayed.
Shonn Miller, who stood out in UConn's two exhibition games, turned in a remarkable performance. His size and athleticism are a problem for defenders down low and, as we hoped in the offseason, it's looking like he will capably fill a lot of the holes UConn had last year in the post. He finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting from the field.
He also had three blocks, and almost tore the roof down when he did this.
UConn's other graduate transfer, Sterling Gibbs, was UConn's leading scorer with 20 points, adding 4 assists and going a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. He helped UConn move the ball up the court quickly and was a solid facilitator for the offense.
Two other Husky starters scored double-digits, with Amida Brimah adding 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 10 points from Rodney Purvis. Brimah added seven rebounds and nine blocks, swatting a bunch of shots to start the game and setting the tone for an eventual blowout.
Daniel Hamilton had a really strong start to the game, finishing the first half with seven points, five rebounds, and five assists as the Huskies led by 12 at the break. He was relatively quiet in the second half, finishing with seven, nine and nine, but UConn didn't really need him to do much more. The game was well in hand after a 16-1 run to start the second half. At the midway point of the second half, Maine had only managed to add four points to its total.
With Phil Nolan out due to injury, Kentan Facey played like a man trying to earn playing time. He scored six points and grabbed six rebounds, including three offensive rebounds to tie for the team lead. He was dedicated to cleaning the glass and also showed a nice offensive touch.
By the end, the walk-ons were playing and the fans left in the arena were cheering loudly for Christian Foxen and Mike Noyes to get on the scoreboard.
While we don't want to get too excited about beating the crap out of a very weak Maine team, there are many positives about the way UConn played. Offensive execution looked really smooth with the starters and top rotation guys, and this team appears, as was believed to be the case, to have the flexibility to match up with any team. In the past, we have seen UConn play down to its competition and look cruddy doing it. Not tonight.
The Huskies will be back in action at Gampel on Tuesday night when they host New Hampshire at 7pm.