When discussing UConn’s 95-52 win over Northern Arizona, there’s plenty of people who deserve credit for playing a role in the Huskies’ victory. From Samson Johnson’s 11 points and three blocks off the bench to Alex Karaban’s career high 22 points, the amount of storylines to talk about is vast. But, out of all of those performances, Cam Spencer was my personal favorite in Monday’s victory.
“For me, the best thing I saw tonight was how Cam approached it,” said Dan Hurley on Spencer’s contributions. “A guy with his type of credentials coming in. The scoring and all of the production in his career with his willingness to take three shots and just elevate the play of everyone around him. The impact he had on us offensively whether it was a hockey assist or the ball movement. To me, it was the story of the night.”
It’s hard to disagree with Connecticut’s head coach when running back the tape. Spencer was excellent in more ways than one and the impact he had on UConn’s offensive gameplan was tremendous. Going into this contest, you knew about the competitiveness and shooting that he brought to the table. You knew that he was going to have an immense impact on what the Huskies were going to look like this season. But, it was the little things that made his performance extra special.
You always love to see players that have the unselfish gene, a person that prioritizes the best shots over anything else. Monday night showcased that part of the transfer guard’s game with a team-leading five assists throughout the contest. Spencer worked heavily to get his frontcourt mates in Johnson and Donovan Clingan involved through the pick and roll, which worked like a charm and greatly benefited the team’s offensive flow. In total, Spencer contributed to 12 of Connecticut’s points through his five assists, which included a Karaban three-point shot from the corner that helped the UConn offense start cookin’.
The unselfish gene doesn’t just refer to his passing either. Many would’ve expected Spencer to take plenty of shots in his 27 minutes of action, but he instead chose to do the opposite. On Monday’s final stat sheet, many would be surprised to see that Spencer took just three shots the entire night, yet it was exactly what the team needed. The scoring was able to be spread out to various players like Clingan, Tristen Newton or even newcomer Stephon Castle. It’s the definition of what a team player is asked to do.
Yet, the Rutgers transfer contributed through more than just his passing. The action that Spencer showed on the defensive end through acts like diving for loose balls or pure defensive energy does go beyond the box score. He may have had just one steal to show for his defensive efforts on the stat sheet, but those who had the opportunity to watch the Huskies play know that the 6-foot-4-inch guard was extremely important to Monday’s win.
It’s pretty safe to say that Spencer is already looking like one of the most important transfers to this Huskies rotation. There is still plenty of basketball left and UConn’s toughest opponents haven’t been faced just yet. But, if he’s able to impact games at the level that he did on Monday beyond just his scoring, Connecticut fans are going to have a lot to cheer for throughout the season.