As basketball season begins, it’s always good to get some predictions out there before the season officially starts. Our basketball beat writers answered some questions on what they’re looking forward to this season.
Sports Editor Matt Zampini and staff writer Elan DeCarlo take a look at the men’s team, while Associate Sports Editor Dan Madigan and staff writer Spencer Mayfield will be covering the women’s team.
Which player will lead the men’s/women’s team in scoring?
Matt Zampini: The Huskies are extremely deep this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ollie used 10 or 11 guys a game. So I think it’s going to be hard for anyone to average over 15 points a game, but I’m going to say Rodney Purvis will lead the Huskies in scoring. He said after the last exhibition game that he was ready to lead this team and Ollie said he wants to run on offense this season.
Purvis is one of the best players in transition and I think he’ll get a lot of points from transition. Plus, his jump shot has improved from a year ago.
Elan-Paolo DeCarlo: This is a borderline impossible question to answer. It’s easy to imagine a different scoring leader from game to game. The safe bet is to go with Rodney Purvis, as he’s the returning leader, but I’m going with Daniel Hamilton. The sophomore forward is perhaps the most versatile player on the team and should figure to be a leader in minutes. I can easily see him knocking down more threes and getting to the foul line more to pump up his scoring volume.
Dan Madigan: Breanna Stewart will lead the team in scoring again this year. As deep and talented as this team, Stewart is the centerpiece that makes this team so dangerous. She can score in so many ways from all over the court, and there’s no reason she won’t do it again as she goes for another National Player of the Year award and her fourth-straight national championship.
Spencer Mayfield: I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Breanna Stewart will lead her team in scoring. She is the best player in the country and it is her senior season. Stewart’s offensive game has really developed over her career here at UConn. She is the most versatile player on the team as she has the ability to score in the post and on the perimeter. She can also put the ball on the floor and get to anywhere she wants on the court. She will once again be a nightmare for opponents to match up with.
Player that might surprise this season?
Matt Zampini: I’ve been on the record as not a huge fan of this guy, but I think Omar Calhoun might make a comeback this year after a lost junior season. In his freshman year, he started 29 games and averaged 11.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game game. In his next two season, he averaged 3.8 and 5.5 points per game. He has looked much more confident in the exhibition games and that is what it’s going to take for him.
All it is going to take is for him to knock some shots down early in the season to keep that confidence high. Calhoun won’t let his season go to waste.
Elan-Paolo DeCarlo: Steven Enoch will shock UConn fans with how ready he is as a freshman. If there’s a flaw with this team, it’s in the frontcourt. The returning players, Amida Brimah, Phil Nolan, and Kentan Facey, have all reached their ceiling. We know who they are. Enoch represents an unknown commodity and his potential is limitless. He’s massive, runs well, has good hands and has been described by teammates and Ollie as being a sponge.
A coachable 18 year old with his physical skills at the center position is something that cannot be overlooked. Expect him to be the first big man off the bench before 2016 begins.
Dan Madigan: Even though she will miss the first few games of this season with a thumb injury, I expect Natalie Butler to turn a lot of heads this season. The 6-foot-5-inch center sat out last season after transferring from Georgetown, where she won the Big East Freshman of the Year award and averaged 13.9 points per game and 13.4 rebounds per game.
If there is any weakness on this team, it’s the lack of a big post player, but Butler will fix that as soon as she returns to action with her incredible size and skill.
Spencer Mayfield: Gabby Williams will surprise a lot of people this year with her athletic ability. Williams was moved to the forward position for the first time in her career as a freshman and did a solid job making the adjustment.
Now in her sophomore season, I think Williams will look even more comfortable at the position. She was named the American Conference Sixth Player of the year last season for her contributions of 8.3 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. I expect Williams to be UConn’s best rebounder this season, especially if she makes it into the starting lineup.