Connecticut Huskies Are Lost Without Shabazz Napier

After their loss against Yale, the Connecticut Huskies are in trouble. It seems like forever since the Huskies have lost to a team from inside the state of Connecticut. Although Yale has gotten off to a hot start in 2014, there is no excuse for an Ivy League team to go on the road and beat the Huskies at the Gampel Pavilion. After starting the season 3-0, the Huskies are losers of three straight. Things won’t get easier for UConn as they will have a neutral-site game with Duke in less than two weeks. Eight months removed from UConn’s dominance throughout the 2014 NCAA Tournament, it is clear that the Huskies have not been able to fill the void left by Shabazz Napier.

Whenever the Huskies needed to make a play or get bailed out, Napier’s clutch factor was always there and he put the Huskies on his back for dozens of games in his UConn tenure. Over the past few years, UConn fans have been spoiled by their point guards. In 2011, Kemba Walker was doing unbelievable things, while also winning a championship in the process. Just three years later, Napier did the same thing. In the 2014-2015 season, UConn fans thought Ryan Boatright would fill in that captain role of the team. Although he has been banged up with an ankle injury, Boatright has been effective. Boatright is averaging around 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists per game. However, he doesn’t shown the captain gene that Walker or Napier possessed. Perhaps it is the surrounding talent around him, but this UConn team needs to be better.

At 3-3, the Huskies have a ton of concerns, but freshman Daniel Hamilton is definitely not one of them. The shooting guard out of California is averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game. Once again in 2014, the Huskies are a guard-dominant team. Knowing that, Amida Brimah needs to step up in the paint. Last season, when he needed to come up big, DeAndre Daniels emerged for UConn. Brimah needs to be better on offense and he needs to do his part on the defensive end and be a shot-affecter.

In fairness, Rodney Purvis, Sam Cassell Jr., and Kentan Facey are all inexperienced players and they are getting a healthy dose of minutes. It’s still early. That’s the good news for the Huskies. With a great coach like Kevin Ollie at the helm, I have full faith that the Huskies will reappear in the Top 25 by the end of the year.

*Section Photo credit to Jamie Squire, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Brad Penner, USA Today Sports