1. Shonn Miller is for real
Ben Zachs: Shonn Miller is exactly what this team needs. His usage rate will not be high and he will not demand the ball, but he adds an incredibly dynamic frontcourt presence to this year's Huskies. On Maine's second possession, he picked off a pass at the top of the key and raced down the court for a dunk. Not a lot of big men can do that.
When Brimah was on the bench, Miller sometimes saw himself at the center position. A few times in the game, Miller switched defensively with Hamilton and others onto perimeter players. This versatility is incredibly valuable. Miller allows UConn to play against any type of team it will encounter.
Aman Kidwai: Miller's play was impressive over the two exhibitions, which have been red herrings in the past (who remembers Sam Cassell's big exhibition game last year?). In the season opener, albeit against a very bad opponent, Miller showed what kind of element he brings to this team. He is big, strong, athletic, and can do a lot of things UConn's frontcourt simply couldn't do last year. That putback dunk? Absurd.
2. Daniel Hamilton will do it all
Tim Fontenault: Daniel Hamilton is so good at basketball, he can be his team's sixth-leading scorer and still arguably be the best player on the court. Hamilton only had seven points, but his nine rebounds and nine assists gave everyone else a chance to look good, too. UConn doesn't need Hamilton to be its leading scorer, though many of us predicted that to be the case. This team is better when he's doing the little things better than anyone else in the game.
Aman: Hamilton is somehow one of those "glue guys" and also a superstar at the same time. With UConn's point guard situation as it is--both Sterling Gibbs and Jalen Adams are scoring lead guards--to have a creator at the forward position will do wonders for the offense. Hamilton stuffed the stat sheet in the first half but didn't need to keep going in the second otherwise he would have definitely finished with a triple-double. He'll be a threat to do so in just about every game.
Ben: Hamilton, looks more agile, quicker, and better with the basketball. Last season, he dribbled high and loose, which led to turnovers. Last night, Hamilton looked much more comfortable dribbling, as well as driving to the lane and past defenders. He is the team's catalyst and the offense will run through him.
3. It was nice to see UConn comfortably put away an inferior opponent
Tim: Talking to players after games the last two seasons, I've heard this phrase a ton. When UConn gets up, they need to step on a team's neck and finish them off. Normally, they would use this phrase because they struggled to do it. When Maine got back within 12 Friday night, UConn started applying relentless pressure to the neck. This is a game UConn probably would have won by 10 or 15 points over the last few years, but there's something different about this team.
Ben: From the first minute, UConn had its foot on the gas and the Huskies did not let up. In the last few years, UConn has seen slow starts and poor lapses against mediocre teams. This was not the case against Maine. Let's be honest, though, Maine won three games last season and did not represent a high level of competition. Still, what we saw last night was incredibly encouraging.
BONUS - Encouragement for Omar Calhoun
Tim: Keep shooting Omar.
Calhoun finished with eight points, the fifth-most on the team. Five of those came at the line to go along with one 3-pointer. Calhoun shot 1-for-4 from the field with three 3-point attempts. When he was in, he got comfortable establishing himself in the corner. When he got the ball, he had the space, and his shots had the line. If I'm Kevin Ollie, I'm telling Calhoun to take that shot every chance he gets. If he's open, let him have it. He needs to keep shooting if he's ever going to get that fire he had three years ago back.