“We know who we are. We know what we can be this year,” said head coach Dan Hurley.
These words came after another blowout by the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team, this time against Coppin State. UConn took the win in this matchup 89-54 to elevate their record to a perfect 2-0. Other than the blowout, there were many other important moments to unpack with this game.
With new UConn commit Donovan Clingan courtside to watch, the Huskies were ready to put on a show. Back at the XL Center for the first time this year, and with a crowd of 9,690, fans were just as ready to watch some more UConn hoops action.
Adama Sanogo was phenomenal once again for the Huskies, scoring another 20 points along with nine rebounds and a ridiculous +36 plus-minus. Adama’s role in the offense has certainly been a significant part of the team’s success thus far.
“Honestly, most of our mentality is when in doubt, just give Adama the ball,” teammate Tyrese Martin jokingly said. “He keeps scoring at a high output, so we’re going to keep giving it to him.”
Martin himself had a fiery start to Saturday’s matchup. The senior guard was on point in the first half, tallying 15 points and missing just one three-point shot on four attempts. While Martin was somewhat ineffective after the first half, his scoring boost was just what the team needed to pull away from Coppin State and win the game.
However, the player of the game for the Huskies was fifth-year guard Jalen Gaffney. The point guard provided a quick spark off the bench and played great basketball on both sides of the court. Gaffney was everywhere, whether it was a steal on one end to get the Huskies an extra possession, or getting his teammates involved, such as his alley-oop to Akok Akok on one of his eight assists on the night.
“It’s kind of my role right now to bring energy off the bench and just be somebody that attacks,” said Gaffney. “There’s a lot of emphasis on that. I like that role.”
While the Huskies blew out Coppin State and had some great bright spots across the team, it was not all sunshine and rainbows. The Huskies allowed Coppin State to take a 10-6 lead early as their defense looked sloppy.
“[I’m] happy with some things. Obviously, [I’m] not happy with the start,” said Hurley after the game.
Along with the Huskies’ poor start, the team undoubtedly took questionable shots. Starting point guard R.J. Cole, who was perfect from the three-point line in the team’s 99-48 win over Central Connecticut, shot just two for seven from beyond the arch. Even fifth-year player Tyler Polley couldn’t get anything in the net, as he went scoreless in six attempts.
Despite a rough night from Polley, Hurley expressed faith in the forward. “He’s a big-time shooter,” said Hurley. “He’s going to make shots.”
UConn also experienced a scare with forward Isaiah Whaley, who fell down hard on his foot. However, Hurley confirmed to the press that the fifth-year big man would most likely be fine. “I think he’ll be fine. It didn’t seem like much. Maybe a moderate sprain. If he misses any time, it would probably be surprising.”
UConn is perfect on the year and the team is rolling with its first two games completed. The team will return to Gampel Pavillion on Wednesday for a 6:30 p.m. matchup with Long Island University.