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Notebook: UConn Men’s Basketball Completes Exhibition Schedule

Takeaways from the Huskies’ three preseason games.

Ian Bethune - The UConn Blog

It’s not often the UConn men’s basketball team one-ups the Huskies’ women’s basketball squad. But such was the case during an exhibition doubleheader at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday.

The women’s hoops team began its game with a 10-0 lead. The men? They went 28-0 out of the gate. Queens College didn’t score until the 9:50 mark and didn’t make a field goal until there was just 5:52 left in the first half. The Huskies dominated wire-to-wire and came away with a 100-43 victory.

Josh Carlton led the Huskies with 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting and flashed some impressive skills down low. UConn’s trifecta of guards had a good night as Christian Vital finished with 18 points and Adams dropped 16 while Alterique Gilbert chipped in 12 points of his own.

Josh Carlton Shines

The biggest question going into the season is UConn’s frontcourt. They lost all their production from last season due to graduation and transfer and brought in a bunch of unproven players. The only ones with college experience were Cornell grad transfer David Onuorah, who hasn’t played yet, and junior college transfer Eric Cobb, who spent time at South Carolina after high school. After that, it’s basically a bunch of freshmen.

While three exhibition games isn’t a great indicator — Division II teams tend to be smaller — head coach Kevin Ollie was very pleased with his young post players.

“Those young bigs are really good,” Ollie said. “They just have to continue to work.”

One player that stuck out in particular on Sunday was Josh Carlton. After the game, Ollie couldn’t say enough good things about his performance and overall makeup.

“He’s really good,” said the coach. “Josh keeps the ball high on the offensive end, got some real solid footwork down there and we want him to just keep getting stronger and stronger.

“He did a great job rebounding today and he’s got real quick feet on the defensive end. He can show out on pick and rolls, he can get back to his man, it’s now just him gaining some experience playing against some of these better teams.”

However, Ollie did try to temper expectations just a bit.

“He’s got some footwork down there,” he said. “I’m not comparing him to Tim Duncan yet, but he’s got some footwork.”

Droppin’ Dimes

Through three exhibition games, the Huskies are moving the ball well, as they showcased on Sunday with 25 assists on 42 baskets. Some of that has to do with playing lesser teams but it also helps when more than just the guards can dish it out.

“I think we have some great facilitators out there, more than we had last year,” Ollie said. “Antowaine [Anderson] is a fantastic passer and [Eric] Cobb is a great passer too.”

One of the big surprises on Sunday was Tyler Polley. The freshman got the start and led the team with six assists on the night. He was key to helping the Huskies break Queens’ press which led to the huge lead early on.

“He’s just another facilitator,” Ollie said of Polley. “I think he gave Josh a couple of great passes right in the middle of the court. He’s one of those guys that fills that versatile mold that we’re looking for in our recruits coming in.”

Versatility is something that can be seen throughout the roster, especially in players such as Polley, Cobb and Isaiah Whaley.

“That’s what I want: A whole team full of facilitators that can move the basketball, shoot, dribble, and pass,” Ollie said.

Player Updates

David Onuorah missed all three preseason games with a hip injury and is questionable for the season opener on Friday, according to Ollie.

“He’s definitely walking around better, we’re just going to test him out throughout practice and see if he can get on the practice court. That’s first and foremost,” he said. “I imagine he won’t practice on Tuesday. We’ll try and get him going before Thursday but if he doesn’t participate in practice he can’t play. But he’s getting better.”

Despite getting the start, Mamadou Diarra played just six minutes total against Queens. However, Ollie said that’s more of a reflection on their competition, not necessarily Diarra’s performance.

“We’re playing really small teams. They pretty much have five guards out there so it’s kind of tough to play Mamadou and have him out of position playing the three spot,” Ollie said. “So once we start playing bigger teams you’ll see his minutes go up.”