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June 30, 2012

Mirror Mirror Game on the Schedule

Thursday the Big East Conference released men's basketball conference opponents and game sites for the 2012-2013 season.
Of the 30 home-and-home series only seven are the same as last season. Four teams, including UC, have four new repeat opponents. Last season the Bearcats repeat opponents were St. John's, Marquette and Villanova.

This feature will dive deeper into one particular clash, Cincinnati versus Connecticut. The Bearcats get Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and UConn twice each.

The two UC's played just once in 2012. With BearcatReport.com on the scene Sean Kilpatrick hit a last second game-winning three pointer. As invigorating as SK's bucket was it never should have been required. The Bearcats led by 8-12 point throughout the contest only to collapse defensively in the final minutes.

JaQuon Parker, Cashmere Wright, and Sean Kilpatrick all scored in double figures that January 18th evening.

Customarily Cash plays pretty poor against UConn. Despite boasting an impressive 3-2 mark against the squad Wright's shot only fell 33.3% of the time. Perhaps because UConn typically runs out very long, active defenders Cincinnati's number 1 averaged only 3.2 assists per UConn game.

Projected Starters:
PG Shabazz Napier
PG Ryan Boatright
SF Niels Giffey
PF Ty Olander
C Enosch Wolf

Key Substitutes:
SG Omar Calhoun
SF DeAndre Daniels
PG R.J. Evans (Holy Cross transfer)
C Phil Nolan

The UConn Huskies suffered through turnover that only St. John's can admire. Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb departed for NBA riches while Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith, and Michael Bradley all transferred.

Only a program like Kentucky or North Carolina could suffer the defection of three McDonald All-American underclassmen and still aspire to national relevance. The Huskies will try to reload quickly.

Only the backcourt returns for Jim Calhoun. It will be a stacked backcourt though when NY Class AA Player of the Year (Sportswriter's Award) Omar Calhoun suits up. The chucker from Christ the King scores in bunches and Cincinnati dutifully offered him last summer.

To fill out the roster UConn accepted a fourth year transfer from Holy Cross, R.J. Evans.

Finding a starting forward will certainly cause the UConn coaching staff some ulcers. They have grinder Niels Giffey to supply spirited defense and decent outside shooting or they could inject underachieving sophomore DeAndre Daniels.

Giffey constitutes one-third of the German contingent. Foes will also fear 7'1 Enosch Wolf and incoming freshman Leon Tolksdorf. The Tolker knocked down 34.3% from deep in the U19 German league.

Cincinnati presents a stable unit comprised of familiar faces. While the Bearcats have to assimilate Shaq Thomas and Titus Rubles the core returns from a Sweet 16 run. With UConn the tumultuous 2011-2012 season was one to forget. On NBA Draft Night Jeremy Lamb admitted he didn't lead the team as he should. The soft-spoken Georgian experienced unimaginable struggles despite entering the year with All-American expectations.

How UConn fell from National Champions to an 8-10 Big East record escapes comprehension. The best postulations include combative locker room personalities. Are those elements removed?

Can this team congeal?
Basketball teams are composed of personalities.

Intangibles actually matter in college basketball where young men are finally adopting adult personas. In this arena UConn players need the greatest development. Regarding skill sets the individuals already excel.

Both games against UConn should be tight in 2012-2013. Backcourt duels involving Cash, SK, Shabazz, and Boatright will sizzle.

Big personalities capable of seizing the big moments. Four great college guards.
And as we all know guards make the difference in college basketball.

Justin Jackson represents the most proven frontcourt commodity on either team and he prefers the face-up game.

Question marks like Mbodj, Kelvin, Wolf, Nolan, and Olander figure to have an impact in these games despite their limited college experience. It would be great if either Titus Rubles or Shaq Thomas scored big against the Huskies. Finally UC has active, agile wings who can score.

The length of the past UConn small forwards set them apart from fellow Big East teams. Remember guys like Stanley Robinson, Caron Butler, Charlie Villanueva, and Rudy Gay? These are all approximately 6'9" wings! Most of them are thriving in the NBA and competed for UConn in the last decade.

While this UConn team looks meek in the post the player to fear is DeAndre Daniels. A 6'8" shooter capable of running a sub-6 minute mile Daniels struggled to lock down a starting spot last winter.
The Angeleno amassed several 20+ minute games in November before seeing a precipitous decline. When Daniels did play twenty or more minutes he averaged 8.0 ppg.

Look for a virtuoso performance from him this winter.

2012-13 BIG EAST Conference Opponents
Home Games
Notre Dame*
St. John's

Away Games
Notre Dame*
Seton Hall

* - Home-and-home series.

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