It's a safe bet most UConn fans wish we were still talking about Amida Brimah's balls.
The prognosis on Brimah's testicular contusion had him back in time for the Texas game Dec. 29. With the broken finger he suffered Monday at practice, he will miss Texas, as well as Memphis and Tulsa twice, Georgetown, Cincinnati and every game for the next two months.
With Brimah out, UConn loses one of the best defensive players in the nation. Brimah is currently second in the nation with a block percentage of 16.7 percent, the best rate of his career. More importantly, his rebounding has improved drastically. His 16.8 defensive rebound percentage is well above the 11.1 percent rate of his freshman year. Against KenPom top 50 teams, that rate increases to 21.8 percent.
It's still early in the season, but the early returns suggested Brimah was improving offensively. Below are his per-40 stats throughout his career.
There will certainly be times when UConn misses Brimah's defensive prowess, but this is something the Huskies can—or at least should be able to—manage.
Obviously, UConn will need to continue getting defensive production out of Daniel Hamilton and Shonn Miller. The two have put up great numbers on the defensive end of the court. Miller is no Brimah, but he is boasting a 5.6 percent block percentage and a 16.2 defensive rebounding percentage. Hamilton, UConn's best rebounder, is at 25.3 percent on the defensive end.
But UConn will need its other big men to step up. It will be interesting to see how Kentan Facey steps up in Brimah's absence. Facey got hot at times last year, especially putting up great numbers in December. In his reduced role this season—Facey has featured in 34.8 percent of possible minutes compared to 47.3 last year—he has shown signs of promise. His rebound percentage is higher than 15 percent on both ends of the floor, and he is blocking 6.8 percent of shots when he is on the floor. He is getting to the rim and shooting well, having made 18 of 27 shots. His only problem when getting to the hoop is his struggle getting to the line. He has taken six foul shots this season while committing 23 personal fouls. That will need to change.
Expect a rise in minutes for Steve Enoch, as well. The big man from Norwalk will need to improve, though, especially with Brimah's injury. Enoch has only played 12 minutes the last three games and scored three points, all in Sunday's win over UMass Lowell. In that time he also only has one rebound and has not blocked a shot. Still, it appears Kevin Ollie prefers Enoch to Phil Nolan lately. That is understandable. Nolan may have started a national championship game two years ago, but he is not earning minutes right now. Over the last five games, Nolan has occupied the center position for 12 minutes.
Brimah's absence and a couple of unproven bigs means Ollie may also have to go small more often than he wants. Over the last five games, Enoch and Facey combined to play center as often as Brimah (39 percent), while Miller was the de facto No. 5 16 percent of the time. UConn will not be playing many massive teams that could overpower it inside with Brimah out, and with options like Jalen Adams and Omar Calhoun playing fairly well off the bench, the Huskies will probably look to combinations of lineups using those guys with Miller as the "center" more often.
That is not to say it is the best option to go small more often, but Facey and Enoch probably will not be able to take on an extra 40 percent of the workload at center.
UConn will not have to worry about Brimah's absence much against Central, which has only won one game this season and whose tallest player is 6-foot-9. It will be interesting to see how the lineups Ollie puts out there look, though.