Hartford — It sure seems like the UConn men’s basketball team is ready for the regular season. The Huskies concluded their exhibition schedule with an 83-43 victory over instate foe Division II New Haven at the XL Center.
It was a dominating affair for UConn. Eleven different players got in on the scoring binge, with Rodney Purvis and Steven Enoch leading the way with 11 points each. Five others chipped in at least eight points.
“We had a really balanced attack,” head coach Kevin Ollie said. “I think before the first timeout, all five starters put the ball in the hole and scored. Just to see the balance we have, that’s what I want to see.”
Once again, UConn was able to show off their biggest strength: depth.
“They had some small lineups with (Daniel) Hamilton at the four where they were able to switch some ball screens,” New Haven coach Todd Hotaling said. “It makes them better offensively with Hamilton at the four. (Shonn) Miller was playing the five man. They’re very flexible. What you’re going to find right now, whether it’s the NBA or college, if you have a flexible roster and can play a multitude of different ways, you can really compete with most teams on your schedule. You can compete with size, you can compete with teams that play small ball.”
Hamilton, showed off his complete game, finishing with nine points, four rebounds and four assists. Freshman guard Jalen Adams had a dynamic first half, scoring nine points, but the key in his game was the poise he showed by taking care of the ball. He finished with three assists and zero turnovers in 19 minutes.
The Huskies were most dangerous in transition, scoring 24 of their 83 points on the fast break. One of UConn’s strongest elements is their ability to push the pace off turnovers and defensive rebounds.
“(Getting out in transition) makes us fast, makes us free flowing. Daniel is one of our best rebounders and I give him that leeway to push the basketball,” Ollie said. “I put Jalen (Adams) in, he’s a really good push guard. Rodney did a terrific job.”
The matchup was unbalanced from the beginning, but the Chargers hung around for much of the first half. A 3-pointer from Josh Guddemi cut UConn’s lead to three with 9:56 to play in the first half, but that was as close as they would get. From there, UConn rattled off a 20-5 run to close the half, putting the game out of reach.
“Any game where we can get out on the court together is a good opportunity for us. We’re building,” Purvis said. “We’re using these games as practice. We call these ‘us games’ so we get better, watch the film, go back and correct the things we did wrong.”
The Huskies finished their two-game exhibition season with a combined margin of victory of 56. This team, filled with veterans and underclassmen, obscene positional versatility and strong chemistry looks to be more than ready for their regular season opener on Nov. 13 against Maine.
Expectations within this team seem to be high. Currently ranked 20th in the nation, Purvis offered his take on the 2015-16 Huskies.
“There is no ceiling for this team,” he said.