UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley provided a few program and injury updates ahead of the Huskies’ home matchup against Providence Tuesday.
James Bouknight has a call with his surgeon to discuss his status going forward, Hurley said. He has been cleared for practice but not games at this time.
Redshirt sophomore Akok Akok came out of Saturday’s win over Xavier with a little soreness, but Hurley said he feels good. He played 10 minutes Saturday and Hurley said he likely would have capped out at around 15 minutes, but he went for the hot hands in the second half instead.
Both Isaiah Whaley and Tyrese Martin were nursing ankle issues heading into the Xavier game, but each played 29 or more minutes. They have been receiving treatment on their injuries but are a “full go” for Tuesday’s game, according to Hurley.
UConn has been one of the programs most affected by COVID-19, in terms of pauses. They have postponed or canceled 10 games this season and played just 14 overall. They currently have just six games remaining on the schedule.
The Huskies will not be adding more games to the schedule as it currently stands, according to the third-year head coach.
“We were willing to do one, there was a game that we were in for that just didn’t happen, so we’ll play the games that we’ve got on the schedule,” Hurley said.
Someone needs to step up
Hurley said losing Bouknight “could have been a knockout punch” for a UConn program that’s in year three of a rebuild.
“The way we’ve gone about achieving our goal is a great measure of where we’re going,” Hurley said.
After starting the season 4-1, losing Bouknight nearly was a knockout punch for UConn. The Huskies are 5-4 with Bouk out; Akok has also been out of the lineup for most of that time as well.
UConn has needed a player to step up and be the dominant scorer in order for them to win this season, especially since Bouknight went down.
Since Bouknight’s injury in the first half of UConn’s game against Marquette, senior Tyler Polley’s flamethrower 3-point shooting keyed the Huskies to a couple of wins. Polley fell off, though, and the offense stalled out for a few games which saw UConn take its worst losses of the season.
RJ Cole took over against Xavier, finishing with 24 points on 7-14 shooting and 5-7 from the 3-pointe range. UConn’s next closest scorer came from Martin, who got 15 points, but it was really Cole’s game. Hurley said it was probably the most impressive point guard performance of the year in the Big East.
So far, it’s been Martin, Cole, and Polley who have been most apt to be the guy UConn turns to. Against Providence last time, no one rose above the crowd. The Huskies have just six games remaining and if they are going to be successful, it seems they need to ride the hot hand.
- Hurley will join an NABC initiative to pay tribute to the late-great John Thompson, by wearing a commemorative towel over his shoulder this week during games, the program announced Monday.