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Akok Akok Adding New Element to UConn Men’s Basketball Practice

The Huskies will also get Sid Wilson back from injury while Hurley isn’t ready to give up on his postseason aspirations.

UConn walk-on Akok Akok (11) puts up shots after practice on Friday afternoon.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After officially enrolling at UConn this week, Akok Akok has gone through two practices so far with the men’s basketball team and the early returns appear good.

“It was fun, we were able to get some skill work with him,” head coach Dan Hurley said. “He hit a three then he spooked a couple guys in front of the rim when they drove it so those are good things to see, a four man that can make a three and a four man that can change shots at the rim.”

While Akok can’t play this season, he can contribute immediately as a scout player to help the Huskies prepare for other bigs that can stretch the defense.

“He’s gotta be the best walk-on in the country. It’s not even close right?” Hurley said. “He gives guys a good look going into the Houston’s and some of the teams we’ve played, Central Florida has great length, gives us an extra body too to give guys a break during the course of practice just to keep fresh legs for late in the season.”

UConn's Jalen Adams (4) during the Monmouth Hawks vs UConn Huskies men's college basketball game at the XL Center in Hartford, CT on December 2, 2017.
UConn’s Jalen Adams (4) during the Monmouth Hawks vs UConn Huskies men’s college basketball game at the XL Center in Hartford, CT on December 2, 2017.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Go-Time For the Guards

While UConn has struggled at times, Hurley still thinks his team has the potential to make some noise in the final stretch of conference play and force their way into a tournament in March. But to do that, he needs his trio of guards to start playing at the next level.

“For us to win tomorrow and continue to move this thing forward, we gotta have outstanding guard play,” Hurley said. “For us to win tomorrow, put ourselves in a position to even start thinking about playing in a tournament in March, our guard play is going to have to be outstanding the rest of the way and get what we can from everyone else.”

For the most part, the Huskies’ guards have carried the team to where they are at this point in the season. Hurley noted that while they have been good, UConn needs more out of them.

“We’ve turned the ball over a lot, we haven’t always guarded, the scoring numbers have been good. But it’s also what point in the game are we scoring?” Hurley said. “I think we’ve gotten pretty good guard play, Jalen’s been on a great run, Christian is a much different player this year, Al’s had spots where he’s been outstanding. But if we want to feel really good about the season we had in March, we gotta take it to another level because that’s the strength of the team.”

But in order for the dream of playing in March to stay alive, UConn needs to earn a win tomorrow against Wichita State.

“If we get [the win], we find ourselves at 3-4 (in conference play) with the chance to get the next one, now we’re at .500 in the league feeling pretty good about ourselves,” he said. “If we get this one tomorrow, it gives us some hope.”

Sid Wilson Healthy, Mamadou Diarra “Available”

After missing the last game against Tulane due to knee and thumb injuries, Sid Wilson is healthy again and will play tomorrow against the Shockers. Mamadou Diarra, who has missed the entire season so far recovering from a torn meniscus, will be “available” but Hurley will decide if he’s ready to see game action.

“It just comes down to whether I feel like he’s a better option,” Hurley said.