PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Writer
Kemba Walker is not around to dig the Huskies out of this one. Last season, Connecticut had one of the best underdog seasons you will ever see led by their star point guard. Walker led the Huskies through the regular season and the Big East tournament with an incredible five wins in five days at MSG and then to the national championship. This time around, the Huskies (20-13, 8-10 Big East) will be postseason-bound and into the NCAA Tournament with many distractions around them throughout the season. Their identity is still a big question. Who is willing to step up and take over this team, especially now in March? There is no doubt they have two underclassmen that are NBA-bound in sophomore Jeremy Lamb and freshman Andre Drummond. These are the two guys it must start with. Playing together consistently as a unit on the floor will be their biggest challenge. The majority of the team was still intact with some new additions. Lamb (17.7 ppg) is UConn’s leading scorer and showed himself as a reliable shooter after a great freshman season. The freshmen, led by Drummond and Ryan Boatright, have been good additions. For Drummond (10.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg), he has not had the numbers many had expected consistently this season. He was highly recruited out of high school. Boatright (10.5 ppg) has been a good player whenever he actually had time on the court after missing nine games due to NCAA investigations for possible recruitment violations. To many, being a young team is catching up to them without someone like Walker leading the way, and there is still no real leader on the floor. However, the majority of this team knows how to win after last year and that could play a factor with whomever they play against. This just might be the last chance for head coach Jim Calhoun, who has just returned, to show what they can do if players leave early and possible violations on the program follow. It looks like they have showed some life at the end of the regular season and into the conference tournament. Hopefully, they can take it forward. UConn has chosen the right time to show some signs of dominance and the dramatics they had from last season. Someone now needs to show why the Huskies should not be overlooked like they were at some points this season. After a lot of distractions throughout this season, the Huskies have fought as best that they can. Now they can focus on basketball and their unit that on paper is one of the best in the country if they work together and share the ball. I hope to see Calhoun pull another one out of his sleeve and help salvage the season, maybe with another championship.