William & Mary at Connecticut 11-13-09

November 13, 2009

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Connecticut has led the nation in blocks for eight straight seasons. It may use a different method to win games in 2009-10. The 12th-ranked Huskies expect to showcase a more speed-oriented team in their season opener Friday night against William & Mary at Gampel Pavilion. Connecticut has relied on Emeka Okafor, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone and most recently, 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet to become the nation’s dominant shot-blocking team. Thabeet, who left after his junior season for the NBA, helped the Huskies average 7.8 blocks last season.

UConn’s biggest strength this season should be guards Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker, who combined to average 22.1 points last season as the Huskies went 31-5 and reached their third Final Four. Dyson missed the NCAA tournament run with a knee injury but looked healthy in a 32-point performance during an 88-50 exhibition victory over UMass-Lowell on Sunday. Walker joins him in the starting lineup after backing up Craig Austrie last season.

Most of the preseason was spent making sure that Dyson was healthy, Walker could handle being the starter at point guard and Oriakhi, Smith and freshman Jamaal Trice got acclimated to the team. The Huskies, picked to finish third in the Big East, feel they reached all of those goals.

The Huskies have won all 20 home openers at Gampel Pavilion. Dyson has averaged 19.7 points in three season openers.

William & Mary finished in a tie for 10th place in the Colonial Athletic Association last season, and will again be led by David Schneider. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard averaged a team-high 14.1 points in 2008-09 to rank seventh in the league and was a third-team all-conference selection. Schneider needs 21 points to reach 1,000. His 179 3-pointers rank third on the school’s all-time list. UConn won 51-49 in the last meeting Dec. 28, 1967.

UConn’s home opener wont even be close. Take them given the big spread.

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By Lawrence Tate Associate Freepick1.com Editor


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