College

Marcus Smart; blue collar basketball player

By Jackson Daignault ’18

Boston, a city with 37 professional championships, is no stranger to success.

The Celtics, a franchise that holds the most NBA championships ever (17) and currently holds the record for most wins of all time, resides here.

The New England Patriots, who recently captured their fifth Super Bowl victory thanks to the never ending success of quarterback Tom Brady, primarily bases itself in Boston.

The Red Sox, who have nine World Series victories, three of which are in the last 15 years, play their games on Yawkey Way.

The moral of the story is that Boston is a successful city. The fans love watching their teams play, and the teams love being able to represent their Bostonian fans.

One recurring theme in Boston sports is the presence of an enforcer; a player who maintains the grit and grind that makes Boston fans go crazy.

The Celtics had Kevin Garnett; the Pats have Brady; the Red Sox had Jason Varitek. This current Celtics team has Marcus Smart, a third year guard from Oklahoma State University.

Smart may not be the best shooter; he may only be averaging 10 points per game. But there’s one thing that Smart does not lack: heart. Time after time, TD Garden is blessed with a Marcus Smart hustle play; or a ball saving move.

Smart has showcased the heart and desire that Boston fans thirst for. Smart puts on a show for Celtics fans, never letting them question his heart and desire to win games.

Smart has never allowed anyone to question his offense. Although he doesn’t fill the stat sheet night in and night out, Smart is a strong, downright crazy presence on the floor. The feats Smart will go to in order to win games are unparalleled.

Although many can make the argument that Jae Crowder could fit this bill, Smart has continued to be an energizer off the bench for them, and continues to fill his role: enforcer.

Smart is averaging nearly four rebounds a game, close to the top of the team leader boards, and the only guard, besides Avery Bradley, who is even in the top eight. Smart is willing to put his body on the line night after night in order to give his team the best chance to win.

Smart also makes a huge impact on the defensive side of the ball, where he has a +/- of +6.2  . Smart is considered to be one of the best on ball defenders in the league, and it shows with his career average of 1.5 steals per game.

Last season, the Celtics had a top 10 defense thanks in part to the never ending hustle of Marcus Smart. The Celtics made the playoffs, and although they were defeated in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks, they would not have been able to get there without the continuous heart of Smart, where he had 27 rebounds and 10 steals in six games. Smart made a big difference on the defensive ball for the Celtics, where he shadowed sharpshooter Kyle Korver. After a game four win against Atlanta, Isaiah Thomas praised Smart, saying “[Marcus Smart] is going to be a special player in this league.” Smart was also often asked to guard larger opponents, such as Paul Millsap, who he held to 1 for 5 shooting against him in game 4.

Although the Celtics ended up getting ousted in the first round, Smart was a hawk on defense and showed his heart to the city of Boston.

As much as can be said about Smart’s tremendous defense and ability to defend any position 1-4, Smart is still not an effective offensive player. Smart makes up for his lack of offense with stunning hustle and defense, but if he can pick it up on the offensive side of the ball, teams will start to respect him even more. Once Smart makes these offensive strides, Boston will embrace him even more.  

As Smart continues to mature on and off the court, his offensive game will eventually catch up to his ability to work hard. But for now, Smart has shown the Celtics, and the city of Boston, that he bleeds green.

A King’s Beef

By Ben Pearl ’18

There was a stereotype that used to follow professional athletes in which athletes were only scrutinized by the media on the court, but not off. The most well known example of this is Michael Jordan, who, while on the court was very flamboyant, he had very little to say off the hardwood. This trend was extinguished in the late nineties by players like Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal, all-stars with huge personalities both on and off the court.

Over the past decade, new names have graced the top of the NBA, none more polarizing than Lebron James. His success has brought along one of the most publicized lifestyles in sports. James is infamously remembered for “The Decision,” in which he had a press conference informing the nation where he would be signing in free agency.

More recently, James is coming off a remarkable championship season and while the Cavaliers seemed destined to repeat their performance in this year’s playoffs, a recent slump has raised numerous questions regarding their potential. After losing seven times in 11 games, James called his team “top-heavy as s—” and that he felt the team was becoming complacent. As a fan of what Lebron has been able to do for the city of Cleveland and the sport of basketball as a whole, it is frustrating to see the four-time Most Valuable Player say something so negative about his team. While it is undisputed that he is the best player on the team, he is supposed to be a constant leader and a figure for younger players across the league to look up to. This outburst has been one of the few blemishes on a pristine resume that includes three world championships, and his comments have not been taken lightly.

“Organizationally, there is absolutely no lack of clarity on what our goal set is. We are here to win championships,” David Griffin, the Cleveland Cavaliers general manager, said. If there is any player, coach or executive in the National Basketball League who does not go to work everyday with the mindset of winning a ring then they are in the wrong line of employment. Griffin has proven this time and time again, as he has conducted significant acquisitions and signings over the past season. He has traded for elite swingman Kyle Korver and signed Tristan Thompson to a near-max contract this past offseason, all to catalyze another championship run. For James to suggest that people within the organization are not striving to get better is completely disrespectful. Additionally, he singled out himself and fellow Cleveland superstar, Kyrie Irving, saying that they are the only two playmakers. This shows a complete disrespect for the other players on the team, which happens to include all-star Kevin Love and dominant big-man Thompson.

What is most disheartening is that James has not apologized for his comments. For most of his career, James has been a major role model for people of all kinds to follow. It would be most responsible for him to recall his comments and acknowledge that he he did was out of line. While he may be the most dominant basketball player in the world, there are still 14 other players on the roster, in addition to the countless coaches and executives who are equally as hard working. As much as he might be frustrated, going to the media is never the answer and you never throw your teammates and coaches under the bus. Moving forward, athletes should realize that the only proven measures of success are maintaining an individual selflessness and following a team goal. James will have to fall back on these keys this season if he wants to   defend his title.

Disadvantage of small market teams showcased in NBA All Star game

By Jackson Daignault ’18

The 2017 NBA All-Star game announced its reserves on January 26, finishing out the roster. The list is highlighted by familiar faces in Cleveland Cavaliers forward Lebron James and Houston Rockets guard James Harden, as well as newcomers in the Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Toronto Raptors guard Demar DeRozan.

The NBA All-Star game and its fan voting practices are inefficient in truly selecting the best players from the league. Although commissioner Adam Silver has attempted to reform the selection process, it is still not enough, as fan voting takes away from the truth and results in the All-Star game becoming a popularity contest. Silver changed the system for the first time in recent history, giving the fan vote 50% of value, along with 25% from each a player and media vote. In 2016, Forbes released its rankings of value for every NBA franchise. Those franchises under 17th in the rankings were put at a disadvantage compared to those at the top in regards to All-Star game voting.

An example of this is Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who harnessed 1,528,941 fan votes, finishing second in the frontcourt of the West, nearly clinching a bid to New Orleans. Pachulia is only averaging 5.8 points and 6 rebounds per game. Pachulia was in part able to gain votes by being the only active NBA player from the European country of Georgia. However, since Pachulia plays for the 6th highest value franchise in the NBA, he was able to capitalize on the popularity and success of his team. Pachulia finished ahead of starter Anthony Davis, who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans (ranked 30th by Forbes) and Sacramento Kings reserve Demarcus Cousins (18th).

From the opposite side of the spectrum, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook was snubbed of being an All-Star starter, despite averaging a triple double. As a result of fan voting that allows fans to account for 50% of the vote, Westbrook was disadvantaged because of his teams low market value. Westbrook was third in the backcourt of the West, being edged out by Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, and Harden. Curry, who previously won back to back MVP awards, has served as one of the most popular players in the NBA, on one of the most highly valued franchises. Curry has also taken a backseat to Durant, and his stats have taken a hit as he is only shooting 46.4% from the field, compared to his career average of 47.6%. Westbrook is currently chasing NBA legend Oscar Robertson as the only player to ever average a triple double. Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder were ranked 17th by Forbes, but as a result of Golden State’s high value and popularity, Curry was able to edge out Westbrook for starting point guard because of fan votes.  

Big market teams, like the Cleveland Cavaliers, are first in the Eastern Conference and constantly receive national media attention. They are ranked 12th by Forbes and are represented three times in the 2017 game, via Lebron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, two of whom are starters. They often are more popular and are able to have their players selected as a result of their increasing popularity and revenue of $191 million.

Kyrie Irving, who is averaging 24.4 points and 5.7 assists per game, is the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Not to take away from the player who hit the game winning shot in game 7 of the Finals, but as a result of his teams’ success and market value, he was able to win the starting nod over players of lesser valued franchises, like Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, averaging 23.1 points and 7 assists per game. Irving 100 percent deserved an All-Star nod, but the argument can be made that he did not deserve the nod over Lowry, who is having a career year. Although the Raptors are not a small market franchise, the Cavaliers are valued higher than Toronto by Forbes and have larger fan support, allowing their players to be selected more frequently.

It is important to consider the fact that the NBA considers NBA League Pass a “Nationally Televised game.” Of the 37 “National Televised games” the Cavaliers will play a whopping 16 actual national televised games on major networks like ABC and ESPN, not on a paid platform.

However, a team like the Utah Jazz technically receives 34 “Nationally Televised games”, but only 4 of them will be on a major network. The Jazz bring in $146 million of revenue and are ranked 20th in Forbes rankings, but are disadvantaged in All Star game selection because they do not receive as much attention as the Cavaliers, or any other big market franchise.

Utah is only represented once despite being fifth in the Western Conference. Gordon Hayward is having a career year and was chosen for the game, but his fellow Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert also deserved a nod. Gobert is playing All-Star basketball, averaging 12.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, along with 2.6 blocks.

This is further proven in regards to the Golden State Warriors (6th). Although the Warriors are first in the Western conference, players like Draymond Green, although talented, did not deserve to make the All-Star game over a player like the Jazz’s Gobert. Green is averaging 10.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Although Green is very talented, the offseason signing of Kevin Durant has altered his stats, and his overall involvement in the game has dropped off. But since Green plays for a big market franchise, he is able to win votes as a result of name recognition and national attention.

A small market team like the Jazz are more unlikely to send players to New Orleans simply based on the fact that they do not bring in as much revenue and are unable to harness popularity. How much money a franchise makes should not take away from the recognition a player deserves in regards to an All-Star nod.

The Thunder and the Jazz, ranked 17th and 20th in value, according to Forbes, are just two franchises who are disadvantaged in the All-Star game. Although each team was represented at the All-Star game, they were both beaten out by the 6th ranked Warriors.

One of the biggest snubs of this years All-Star Game was Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. The 76ers are ranked 28th by Forbes. Embiid, after two injury plagued seasons in which he did not log a single NBA minute, is currently the favorite for Rookie of the Year. Embiid is averaging 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in limited minutes, along with the fact the team is reluctant to play him in back to back games. Embiid’s 76ers are currently 14th in the Eastern Conference, and as a result have a lack of publicity as they do not have a single National Televised game. Embiid and any other 76ers player would be disadvantaged in the voting process because of the lack of publicity and lack of a fan base as a result.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves Center is in a similar situation as Embiid. Coming off of his Rookie of the Year season, Towns has averaged 23 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. The Timberwolves are ranked 27th by Forbes, bringing in $146 million in revenue. The Timberwolves only will play four National Televised games this season, and as a result they do not get national attention and therefore are disadvantaged in the voting process. Once again, Towns could have pulled a spot away from Draymond Green of Golden State.

In the 2016 All-Star game, Los Angeles Lakers (2nd in Forbes ranking) shooting guard Kobe Bryant harnessed 1,891,614 votes, the most out of any player. Bryant only averaged 17.6 points per game, his lowest total since his sophomore season. Although Bryant is a sure fire Hall of Famer and one of the best players of all time, his play had seriously dropped off in his 20th and final NBA season. Of the top 25 players receiving votes in the Western conference, only two were not from big market franchises (Anthony Davis, who only played 44 games on the season, and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Enes Kanter.)

Bryant was one of the most popular players in the NBA, but was still able to capitalize on the the Lakers large revenue ($304 million), and fan base in Los Angeles.

The NBA All-Star games voting process puts small market franchises at a disadvantage because of a lack of National Television appearances and smaller fan bases. The NBA needs to continue to reform the voting processes further in order to adequately represent the best players in the NBA. Allowing fan votes results in the game becoming a popularity contest, which results in small market franchises being disadvantaged.

EPL’s halfway point excites Staples Students

By Thomas Nealon ’17

The 2016-2017 English Premier League is about to approach the halfway point of its season, and once again England’s most prestigious league has continued. After 21 weeks of action packed soccer, Chelsea currently sits at the top of the premier league table with 52 points, just seven points ahead of second place teams Tottenham and Liverpool.

After a slower start to the season, Chelsea has bounced back with a current nine game win streak, highlighted by a 3-0 win over Manchester City and a 5-0 win over Everton. First year manager Antonio Conte has the Lions looking sharp, as the attacking combination of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard has proven to be deadly once again, with a league best 24 goals between them.

Sebastian Wick ’17 is very excited by Chelsea’s hot streak. “I have always been a Chelsea fan since I was little,” Wick said, “So it’s nice to see the team back on top after the disastrous title defence we had last year.”

Although Chelsea has bounced back to its winning habits, it’s Liverpool’s attack that has captured people’s attention. Under Jurgen Klopp’s command, the Reds have netted a league high 49 goals. Even with critical injuries to key starters Philippe Coutinho and Joel Matip, Liverpool is still getting quality results, such as a 1-0 over Manchester City, and 1-1 tie with Manchester United.

“I was sad to see Coutinho get injured, he was playing so well” said Zak Ahmad ’17. “Hopefully now that we are healthy we can start to get back to our early season form.” Since Coutinho suffered a  right ankle injury, departure of Brendan Rodgers in 2015, Liverpool has won four games, lost two, and tied three.

Although Chelsea and Liverpool continue to impress, it’s the struggles from Manchester City that are more astonishing. After a very strong start from Pep Guardiola’s squad, Manchester City has fallen back to fifth place in the league. The Citizens have lost two out of their past four games, including a 4-0 whopping loss to Everton.

“It’s very unusual to see [Manchester City] hit a rough patch like this,” Jack Sharkey ’18 said, “Hopefully the other teams in the league can capitalize on it because I am pretty sure they will bounce back pretty soon.”

Defending league champion Leicester City has continued to struggle as well. It’s evident that the loss of star midfielder N’Golo Kante, as well as the injury to forward Jamie Vardy,  has been detrimental to the Foxes,  as the team has dropped to a 5-6-10 record, and currently sits in 15th in the premier league table.

The other teams struggling to get results are Hull City, Swansea and Sunderland, who as of now sit below the regulation line for the 10th week in a row.

“Overall I just can’t wait for the rest of the season,” Sharkey said. “The English Premier league is always exciting, and since there are so many teams in contention for the top spot, I think we are destined to see some excellent soccer, and an exciting finish to the season.”

 

College Basketball 2016-2017 Season Preview

By Jack Shapiro ’19

College basketball has officially tipped off with many teams looking for a strong and winning season. Many new players will add lots of talent to the veteran teams that look to compete in this year’s tournament.

Last year, Villanova ended the season as the NCAA National Champions with North Carolina as the runner up while Syracuse and Oklahoma made it to the final four.

The Duke Blue Devils are favorites in the ACC conference. Duke has many young athletes that are stepping onto the court this season including Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, who are in the top three of ESPN’s 100 rating. The Blue Devils also have junior guard Grayson Allen who is the projected conference and player of the year according to Sports Illustrated. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is leading the team with five NCAA Championships and 13 ACC Championships. The Blue Devils appear to be the team to beat in the ACC.

Along with Duke, the Kansas Jayhawks are also expected to have big success this year. As the projected Big 12 Champions, the Jayhawks have a strong backcourt with newcomer Josh Jackson, who is the number two ranked, recruit looking to have a breakout season. Senior guards Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham along with sophomore forward Carlton Bragg will be accounting for most of the Jayhawks scoring this year. Head coach Bill Self is looking to lead the Jayhawks to his thirteenth straight Big 12 regular season championships, as well as another number one seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

The Kentucky Wildcats and Coach Calipari are looking forward to an impressive season. According to ESPN’s 100 rating, the Wildcats signed  five of the nation’s top 25 high school players. Along with Kentucky’s commits, they will have four freshman and two sophomores on their roster. On Kentucky’s roster, the Wildcats have four freshman and two sophomore on this year’s roster. As stated by, Sports Illustrated, Kentucky’s guard Malik Monk is projected to be both the SEC’s player of the year and Newcomer of the Year. Last season, Kentucky defeated Texas A&M in the SEC Championship but lost to Indiana in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.

In the Pac-12, the Oregon Ducks and Arizona Wildcats look to be top of their conference this year. The Ducks are coming off an amazing and surprising season as the former Pac-12 Champions and runner ups of the west division in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Last year Arizona fell in the Pac-12 Championship semifinals to Utah. Arizona lost to Wichita State in the first round of last year’s March Madness.

This year the Ducks look to stay on top. With a veteran group of players and a new freshman point guard, Oregon looks as if they have a bright future. Dillon Brooks, the Ducks top players is coming off a summer of rest due to a foot injury.

Arizona is looking to bounce back after an off-season. Although the Wildcats lost three of their starters, coach Sean Miller made up for that by signing two top 25 high school players Kobi Simmons a guard and Rawle Alkins at forward. Arizona’s future looks bright but they face tough competition with in-conference games against the UCLA Bruins and the aforementioned Ducks.

The Big Ten will have a battle for first place as the Wisconsin Badgers are highly ranked this year with the trio of Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ who are all veterans from last year’s team. Although the Badgers were upset early in the Big Ten Tournament, they still advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in last year’s March Madness. This season Wisconsin will have lots of competition between Purdue and Indiana.

The Purdue Boilermakers may give Wisconsin a run for their money. Although coach Matt Painter was unable to sign a top 50 recruit, the team has a large veteran class including juniors P.J. Thompson, Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards who will be recording most of Purdue’s minutes. Last season the Boilermakers were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Little Rock.

Indiana is also making a strong case to win this year’s Big Ten conference. After losing star point guard Yogi Ferrell, the Hoosiers will have to find a new point guard. Coach Tom Crean will be in good hands with a strong offensive squad including James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson at the guard position and Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby in the post. Indiana finished last year’s NCAA Tournament strong after upsetting Kentucky and going on to the Sweet Sixteen.

This year there are many strong teams that will competing against one another. Both Kentucky and Duke look as the leading teams in basketball with many others trailing behind them. Teams including Indiana and UCLA are sure to cause some emotion down the road.

Who will move on? The 2016 College Football Playoffs

By Jack Beck ’18

The final full weekend of the regular season has provided the college football word with a dramatic finish and an interesting situation for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. With only a few conference championship games left to be played this upcoming weekend, all eyes are pointed towards the Committee and which four teams will ultimately be selected to go to the third annual College Football Playoff.

The current playoff standings are as follows: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Colorado, Oklahoma and the top ten is finished off by Oklahoma State. Below I will go through my predictions for the final College Football Rankings and who will be moving on to the College Football Playoffs.

Alabama (12-0) has been ranked first in the playoff standings all year and nothing should change if they can beat 15th ranked Florida in the SEC championship. Lead by true freshman, Jalen Hurts, Alabama looks to continue their 19 game win streak that has occurred over the past two years. With a win, Alabama will be a lock for the first seed in the 2016 College Football Playoff.

Clemson (11-1) will play 23rd ranked Virginia Tech for the ACC Championship. With Quarterback and Heisman front-runner Deshaun Watson leading the tigers along with many other first round prospects, Clemson is ready to move onto bigger and better things. If Clemson can win this game, which they are heavily favored to do, they will be a lock for the playoffs in my mind should be ranked the second seed. However, there is a chance that with a win they will drop to third rank, but this just depends on the other games.

The final two seeds have sparked discussion and arguments among committee members, sports analysts and passionate fans. Some believe that winning a major conference championship should guarantee a spot in the playoffs, while others think that championship or no championship, if you have the best record against the best teams you should have a spot in the playoffs.

With my third seed, I am going with the Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2). Although they do have two losses this year, I believe that with a win this weekend versus Wisconsin and securing the Big Ten Championship, they deserve to be in this playoff. They are playing their best football right now and arguably the best football in the country. However, if they lose to Wisconsin, then there is a very slim chance they will be considered.

And with the fourth and final seed, I am going with another conference champion with the Washington Huskies (11-1). With a win this weekend against 8 ranked Colorado will have a 4-1 record against top 25 ranked teams, and their one loss came against one of the hottest teams in the country, USC. Washington Quarterback, Jake Browning, is looking to continue his dominance of the College Football world, and further his argument for the Heisman. Similar to Penn State, if Washington loses to Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship, then they will most likely not make the playoffs.

There are other teams who some people say might deserve the playoffs more than any of these four teams. Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, the other members of the Top Ten are all being considered for the playoffs.

Ohio State not being in the playoff will cause a big discussion and argument in the sports world. After a win versus Michigan, many people think Ohio State has the resumé to be the playoffs, but don’t forget that they did lose to Penn State 6 weeks ago and was not able to play in the Big Ten Championship.

Although having a great second season with Harbaugh, Michigan just didn’t get enough wins to make the playoffs. They needed to either beat Ohio State this past week, or have beaten Iowa, who they lost to 3 weeks ago.

Colorado (10-2) has a good record and has lost to two ranked teams, which makes them look good to the committee. However, they just haven’t had enough good wins to prove themselves to be a playoff team.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are very similar in talent and record, however the Big 12 does not have championship game which has proven to hurt the top teams in their conference.

This year is different than the past few years of the College Football Playoff. There truly are eight teams that are championship caliber teams, which makes this decision even harder for the committee. I, along with all of the other college football fans, hope to see the four best teams rightly chosen for the 2016-2017 College Football Playoffs.

Why It’s Time to Believe, Not Give Up, on the UConn Huskies

By Jackson Daignault ’18

University of Connecticut men’s basketball fans expect nothing but greatness.

From a team coming off an improbable 2014 March Madness run, and then an improbable American Athletic Conference championship, this team and their fans have nothing but high expectations.

Coming into this season, Huskie fans had championship hopes for their team, being ranked 18th in the country, but devastating injuries to VCU transfer Terry Larrier and four star recruits Alterique Gilbert and Mamadou Diarra have dampened these expectations.

Their opening record of 2-4 was the worst 6 game record for the Huskies since 1971, according to ESPN. The Huskies opened up with rough losses to unranked Wagner and Northeastern, as well as a scare against Division II Chaminade.

Since these close games, the Huskies have also escaped a close one against Boston University, putting their record at 3-4.

The Huskies had one of their better recruiting classes ever, with four players being ranked in ESPN’s top 100, and afterwards naming themselves “Top 5.”

Although the team was young, the Huskies still believed they had a shot to win with senior leaders Amida Brimah and Rodney Purvis.

Despite this Huskies poor initial start to the season, it is far too early to give up on them.

Kevin Ollie is only in his fourth year of coaching at UConn, with one national championship under his belt. Ollie has yet to finish out a recruiting class, which is very important to the success of UConn. Although the Huskies have struggled out the gates this year, it is important for UConn fans to realize the brilliance of their current head coach. Ollie has coached UConn legends Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, among others. Ollie has consistently gotten the most out of his players, which is evident in his use of Deandre Daniels during the Huskies 2014 Tournament run, where Daniels averaged only 13.2 points per game during the regular season, but excelled in the NCAA tournament where he averaged 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.

If Ollie is able to replicate his success with Daniels with the rest of the 2016 Huskies squad, it will be a strong point of optimism for their season hopes.

On top of Kevin Ollie’s brilliance, this current Huskie team has plenty of other reasons for optimism. One of these is the strong recruiting class, which has been deemed as one of the best in UConn history.

Although the injury of Gilbert hurts the potential success of “Top 5” there are plenty of other strong candidates in this 2016 recruiting class. One of those players is Vance Jackson, who has played great to open his college basketball career.

Jackson has averaged 7.7 points per game in only 19.5 minutes a game. Although these numbers seem unimpressive for the four star recruit, he has thrived in games against Loyola Marymount, where he led the team with 14 points on 50% shooting, and against Chaminade, with 16 points on 55% shooting.

Jackson was not originally expected to contribute this year, but injuries to Gilbert and Larrier opened up time for him to succeed.

This window for Jackson is crucial to the Huskies success. Jackson is only a freshman and has had success in his limited playtime. It is very important for Kevin Ollie and the Huskies coaching staff to continue to develop him into an elite scorer and perimeter defender. If they can continue to coach him to his full potential, the Huskies could seriously turn around their season.

The most important factor in the Huskies season is the potential stardom of Jalen Adams. Many fans may know Adams from his full court shot against Cincinnati in the AAC tournament to send it to a fourth overtime in 2015.

Adams, only a sophomore, has absolutely torn it up this season, averaging 19.8 points per game, including a 34 point performance in a loss to Oklahoma State in the Maui Invitational. Adams was named to the All-Tournament team at the Maui Invitational, leading all players in points and assists.

It is very important for Adams to keep up his dominant play for the Huskies to turn their season around. Captain Rodney Purvis has shot 38% from the field, a disappointment for a UConn team who is relying heavily on its senior leader.

Adams has taken over that leadership role from Purvis, and will continue to do so in order to turn the Huskies season around.

If Adams can continue to shoot 54% from the field and keep his turnovers down, there is no reason the Huskies cannot  be competitive this season, and ultimately turn their otherwise woeful season around.

Although there are definitely causes for concern with this young Huskie team, all hope is not lost. This season was supposed to be a building year for Kevin Ollie’s program, developing his young players and integrating them into his system. Although so far this season has been a disappointment, there is also plenty of reason for optimism, and ultimately the Huskies should be able to turn it around.

No matter the circumstances, never count the Huskies out. If they haven’t taught you so already.