Column: Terry Larrier needs to be better

UConn's Terry Larrier, left, guards Villanova's Mikal Bridges during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Terry Larrier is a talented basketball player.

He would not be here playing basketball at the Division I level for the University of Connecticut otherwise.

Larrier is a redshirt junior transfer from VCU and came to UConn as an athletic wing who can, and should be able to get to the rim with ease, given his skillset. After sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, Husky fans rejoiced at the chance to see him play with the likes of Jalen Adams and a host of young talents such as Alterique Gilbert.

Unfortunately, Larrier suffered a season-ending injury (left ACL tear and medial meniscus tear) early on in his first year of eligibility with the Huskies and was unable to play for real until this season.

Thus far in 2017-18, Larrier averages 14.8 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting from the field. The 6-foot-8 guard/forward shoots a modest 37.7 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers aren’t awful, but the eye test tells otherwise. Larrier is the second-leading scorer behind Adams, but should be significantly more efficient on the offensive end.

Larrier shoots a high number of deep 2-point shots, a high number of shots late in the shot clock and, worst of all, way too many contested fadeaways. These are all low percentage shots that drive down not only Larrier’s efficiency, but also the efficiency of the UConn offense, which already struggles to get the ball in the hoop game after game.

Given his length and athleticism, one would expect Larrier to be a good finisher at the rim. He occasionally shows flashes of that ability, which was on display in the season opener against Colgate. In that game, Larrier dropped 27 points on 11-18 shooting. Yet, every game since, it has felt like Larrier can’t handle himself (or the ball) when he drives into the paint.

In UConn’s last two home games against UCF and Villanova, respectively, I watched Larrier drive into the paint time and time again, only to lose a handle of the ball as he drove into a swarm of defenders. Or, if he doesn’t lose the ball, Larrier just forces up a misguided, contested shot that almost certainly misses. Larrier has seven turnovers in the last three games, each on one of these kinds of plays.

Larrier doesn’t make up for his offensive inefficiency on the defensive end, either. You might think that with his length and athleticism, he would be somewhat of a good defender.

You’d be quite wrong if you thought that.

Larrier is far too lanky for someone his height, and is slow to beat his man to a spot more often than not. He gets easily beaten by stronger and more muscular players, and is easily outrebounded on the glass. Larrier will snag some boards just due to his height, averaging 4.9 per game this year. But that’s not enough for someone 6-foot-8 and with long limbs like Larrier. And to top it all off, Larrier has just 13 steals and six blocks in 18 games played this season.

I’m not going to say that we have any better options on the current edition of the UConn men’s basketball team, but given how much hype followed Larrier from VCU to Storrs, you can’t help but think he should be a better player than he is.

The Bronx native is a talented player, no doubt, but Terry Larrier just needs to be better.
 


Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor  for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.