The biggest takeaways from Monday’s open Men’s Basketball practice  

The UConn basketball teams introduce themselves to the student body through friendly competition in Gampel Pavillion on Oct. 15, 2021. While there normally is a concert prior to the players entering the court, this years event did not have one. Furthermore, many students left after one of the baskets could not be set up after player introductions. Photo by Kevin Lindstrom.

STORRS, CONN. – The University of Connecticut’s men’s basketball team held an open basketball practice in front of UConn students and season ticket holders on Monday, Nov. 1. What could be noticed from the team’s intense practice at Gampel Pavilion? I’m here to talk about the biggest takeaways from Monday’s night of basketball.  

Can we talk about Andre Jackson for a moment? 

Jackson, a sophomore guard from Amsterdam, N.Y., had high expectations his freshman year with the Huskies as he flashed high levels of athleticism and potential, but posted disappointing numbers. However, Jackson sent out a message to fans and the media that he is out for revenge as the sophomore put on a show in front of the small Gampel Pavilion crowd. This performance was highlighted by a monster windmill dunk and a team-leading 16 points. While Jackson’s shot looked a bit shaky during warmups for the scrimmage, he put these issues to rest, played his heart out and was by far the best player on the court in Monday’s scrimmage.  

Sanogo’s struggles. 

While center Adama Sanogo put up a solid 12 points in the matchup, the center showed inconsistent play in the paint that fans are not used to seeing from the big man. Head coach Dan Hurley showed a bit of frustration with Sanogo during a variety of drills and the scrimmage. Despite his disappointing performances during the scrimmage, fans should have no reason to worry, especially with how the second-year big man has played in previous team scrimmages to prepare for the upcoming season.  

Martin with the slow start and tough finish. 

Senior Tyrese Martin started off slow on Monday, but finished the scrimmage with a strong 14 point performance. While Martin showed inconsistency throughout the night, consistent play is expected from him as he is relied upon to perform for the Huskies throughout the year. “Up until that late-season swoon and shooting struggles, Tyrese was having a great year for us — at least from a statistical standpoint,” Hurley said in an interview with CT Insider. “We need that consistency from Tyrese all the way through the year.” 

Johnson has promise and a lot of it! 

Freshman Samson Johnson showed great potential on Monday with emphatic blocks, shots from deep and tough finishes in the paint. A quote from coach Hurley perfectly summarized Johnson’s solid performance: “He looked like a pterodactyl.”  

It’s great to see Akok back in action! 

It’s always great to see UConn players excel upon their return back to the court and big man Akok Akok did just that, as the forward could be seen with an improved three-point shot and impressive defense on Sanogo during the game. This type of production and improvement is great to see from Akok, as he’ll be relied upon to help bolster a stellar Huskies defense. 

A quiet night for Cole. 

R.J. Cole, the second-leading scorer for the Huskies in 2020, had a rather quiet offensive night that tallied five points. While the guard had an off night in the scrimmage, it’s certainly nothing to worry about before the Huskies begin their season. 

Polley came to play! 

Other than the shooting that Husky fans are used to watching from Polley, the forward looked determined on the defensive end as he stole the ball and made plays to get his team the ball. Could Polley be in the conversation for more minutes and a bigger role in the Husky lineup? That remains to be seen for the fifth-year player.  

Rahsool with the shot! 

While Diggins had just six points in the scrimmage, fans and media were able to see the freshman in the most time the young guard has seen yet. What stuck out was how great Diggins’ shot looked as he made shots from the UConn logo. It’s certainly exciting for Husky fans to have another player on the team who can potentially be counted on to hit some deep shots.  

Coaching is ready to let nothing fly! 

The intensity of the UConn coaching staff could be felt right at the start of practice. Hurley alone could be seen yelling insults and the crowd could certainly appreciate an uncensored look into the minds of Hurley and the inner workings of the team. The team will undoubtedly look to carry this energy into another exciting season of basketball for the team.  

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