Column: Crucial tests loom ahead for Hurley’s Huskies


Isaiah Whaley slams home a dunk during UConn’s win over UMass-Lowell on Nov. 27, 2018. (Nicholas Hampton/ The Daily Campus)

It’s Nov. 28, 2018. Danny Hurley’s Huskies sit at 6-1 with a signature win already under their belts. They’re handling mid-majors with ease, what’s not to love?

Sure, this program is supposed to beat teams like Cornell, New Hampshire and UMass Lowell without breaking a sweat. But Wagner happened. Northeastern happened. Stony Brook ALMOST happened. It has seemed that this part of the schedule has been surprisingly grueling for the Huskies the past couple of years.

Even from this point last year compared to now, the difference is quite noticeable. Through seven games this season, the Huskies are 6-1 averaging 86.9 points per game while holding opponents to 74 points a contest.

Last year through seven games, UConn was also 6-1. The Huskies earned what would end up being their best win of the season against a talented, yet unranked, Oregon team. They would suffer a 20-point loss at the hands of No. 4 Michigan State a day later. Last year’s squad averaged 76.3 points per game while allowing 76.6 points through the first seven games.

It’s been refreshing to see the Huskies handle business these last few weeks. The win over then-No. 15 Syracuse will certainly be a resumé-builder come tournament time. The lone loss to now-No. 14 Iowa won’t exactly be looked down upon as the Hawkeyes continue to rise through the rankings.

Before conference-play opens up, the Huskies have several opportunities to add to their resumé. The goal needs to be making sure this year’s Syracuse win doesn’t become last year’s Oregon win. Opportunities against Arizona, No. 15 Florida State and No. 23 Villanova are crucial for the Huskies. The program is finally getting votes for the AP Top 25 for the first time in years, now it’s time to capitalize.

Sure, chances against talented teams will come in conference play. Fellow American Conference teams UCF and Houston have also garnered Top 25 votes and could prove to be great resumé-building opponents as the NCAA Tournament gets closer.

But before we get to conference play, the Huskies will get their shots against some of college basketball’s best.

Connor Donahue is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at He tweets at @conn_donahue.

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