UConn men’s basketball will finally return to action Saturday as the Huskies travel down to New Jersey to take on No. 24 Seton Hall. The game against the Pirates will mark UConn’s first contest in almost three weeks, as the Huskies’ paused basketball activities shortly after their win over Marquette and the holidays due COVID-19 issues within the program.
With so many players impacted by COVID-19 and some by injury, head coach Dan Hurley told reporters on Thursday that it’s unlikely the Huskies will be at full strength for Saturday, but could be good for their Jan. 12 game against St. John’s. Here’s what we know about UConn’s roster as it stands prior the matchup with the Pirates.
RJ Cole and Tyrese Martin are a go
Cole and Martin joined Hurley at the Huskies’ media availability Thursday, so it’s fair to assume that they will be suiting up Saturday in Newark. One wrench into this is that Cole told reporters that he was one of the players that had COVID-19 and has recovered, so while he will play, it’s unclear how many minutes he’ll be able to log. Cole has become an increasingly important part of the Huskies’ offense and leads the team at 32.3 minutes per game, so UConn’s offense may take a hit if Cole plays less than usual.
Adama Sanogo may not be
While Sanogo returned for the Marquette game after missing time due to an abdominal injury, Hurley told reporters that the big man suffered a hamstring injury in that game and has been limited since. He did not practice with the team Wednesday and was limited on Thursday. UConn has won games without Sanogo already this season, but with a few scholarship players potentially unavailable on Saturday, his absence would be magnified.
Adama Sanogo dealing with hamstring issue. pic.twitter.com/qxebYrfWa5— David Borges (@DaveBorges) January 6, 2022
A potentially rusty roster and shorter bench
Other than Cole, Hurley and walk-on Andrew Hurley, no other players have announced that they had COVID-19, but the coach did mention last week that nine members of the team tested positive on a staggered basis.
This means that there likely will be a handful of players that are still not fully recovered and ramped up to play Saturday, giving the Huskies a depleted roster on top of potentially missing Sanogo. However, since the game is on, UConn does have at least seven healthy scholarship players, otherwise the game would be cancelled according to Big East rules.
Lastly, Hurley told reporters that the Huskies just got double digit players into practice on Thursday, probably including walk-ons, meaning that players were likely in small groups or individual drills until then. It will take some time for the team to get back up to game speed, and at worst, this matchup against the Pirates gives UConn a chance to get their feet back under them before hopefully returning to full strength and taking on St. John’s on Jan. 12.