clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Andre Jackson’s injury creates opportunities for UConn’s transfers, freshmen

It’s not ideal, but the Huskies have the depth to make it through the start of the season.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

When the season kicks off in roughly three weeks against Stonehill, UConn men’s basketball will be without one of its best returning players in Andre Jackson. The junior fractured his right pinky in practice.

While Jackson is out, head coach Dan Hurley thinks the Huskies should be able to lean on their depth and get creative before a possible return against No. 21 Oregon in the Phil Knight Invitational.

Luckily, UConn’s backcourt has added enough players to maintain some depth, including transfers Joey Calcaterra, Nahiem Alleyne, Tristen Newton, and Hassan Diarra — the latter two of which were fighting for a starting spot before Jackson went down. Newton and Diarra are the frontrunners to step up and hold down the fort.

“We have a lot of depth. Even with Andre out, we have some depth,” Hurley said at First Night. “[Diarra] knows what UConn is all about. He’s from the northeast, he understands what these Big East games are going to feel like. Tristan brings that production.”

Aside from leaning on the transfers and their experience, Hurley is also looking to get creative to try and replace Jackson’s impressive court vision. True freshman Donovan Clingan has always been regarded as a strong passer and has worked his way into possibly getting minutes alongside Adama Sanogo due to his ability to get into shape and play well out of the high post.

“Donovan is such a skilled passer, whether it’s in zone or man,” Hurley said. “We are tinkering, especially with Andre’s injury, with more zone and trying to get them on the court together a little bit...We really want to play Donovan and Adama is one of the best returning big men in the country.”

Clingan will have to prove he can keep up defensively to make a regular spot in the rotation a reality, but his passing ability and vision in the high post can help space the floor in a different way than Alex Karaban or Samson Johnson, who rely more on their shooting and athletic abilities respectively to operate outside of the paint.

While UConn won’t have any formal exhibition games this season, a new normal under Hurley, the team will play a handful of closed scrimmages against local Division I teams. During this time, Hurley and the Huskies will get to feel out life without Jackson against quality competition and coach up players more mid-game than what would normally be allowed in an exhibition. Despite these advantages, Jackson’s presence on the floor will still be sorely missed.

“These close scrimmage opportunities are more adverse conditions that we’ll face where we could really understand our best course of action with the group. But yeah, I mean, this is what time to coach Samson, coach Alex, coach the transfers. We can get Jordan ready to carry the weight, get Adama ready to become a better passer out of the post, and to expand his game more. So yeah, definitely helps. But it sucks.”