Though it was just one exhibition game against a Division II team, the newcomers on the No. 20 UConn men’s basketball team are already making strong impressions.
In Sunday’s matchup with Tampa, graduate transfer Shonn Miller led the Huskies in scoring with 18 points and six rebounds.
Jalen Adams, a freshman from Roxbury, Massachusetts, scored 14 points off the bench and sparked the team with his pace.
“He changed the whole tempo of the game when he started pushing the ball up the court,” head coach Kevin Ollie said. “That’s how fast we want to play. (He’s) that push-guard we want. Now it’s just him getting it under control. He had five turnovers – freshman turnovers – and a couple of charges. But I like the pace he’s playing at, and I’d rather have to put the reins on a player rather than try to wind him up.”
Sterling Gibbs, a graduate transfer from Seton Hall, started at point guard and added eight points and five assists.
The Huskies will round out its exhibition schedule on Saturday when the Division II New Haven Chargers visit the XL Center at 1 p.m. It will be the first meeting between the two basketball programs.
Last season, New Haven finished with a 15-12 record and 10-10 record in the Northeast-10 conference. The Chargers will lean on junior guard Jemal Mosley this season, the team’s leading returning scorer at 14.8 points per game, as well as senior forward Samir McDaniel, their top returning rebounder (4.5 per game).
Against Tampa, the Huskies played a multitude of different lineups, including 12 in the second half. Five players scored in double figures. In spite of the slow start, the Huskies were able to use their height and athleticism to pull away from Tampa.
UConn scored 52 points in the second half and they made nine 3-pointers in the game.
“I just wanted guys to play and learn,” Ollie said. “It was good to see who can perform with the lights on.”
Despite not having a go-to scorer right now, Ollie knows he will find one later down the line.
“You can have a lot of guys contribute,” he said, “but you have to have a guy that can be that alpha dog, too. That team we had (two years ago), we had options, but Shabazz (Napier) was that guy when everything got in disarray and tough, he was that guy to bring them together. That’s what I’m searching for right now, and I think I’m going to find it.”