STORRS - The first significant playing time of Sidney Wilsonâ€™s college basketball career came with some obvious positives.
The UConn redshirt freshman forward had five quick points, including his first 3-pointer, and absorbed a charge in his first few moments on the court Sunday against Arizona.
But the 6-foot-7 native of the Bronx, who sat out the entire 2017-18 season after transferring from St. Johnâ€™s and the first six games this season due to a suspension, gave as much as he took against the Wildcats.
â€śThe good thing about Sid was he got us five in that first half. But then when we go back and watch the film I think he gave up seven. So he ended up being minus-2 there,â€ť UConn coach Dan Hurley said with painful smile.
In what was the second game of his college career, Wilson finished with seven points and two rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
â€śAs soon as he came into the game he showcased what heâ€™s capable of,â€ť UConn guard Jalen Adams said of Wilson. â€śItâ€™s fun to have him out there with us. Heâ€™s going to keep on improving. (Sunday) was just the start of something.â€ť
An obviously skilled offensive player, Wilson appears capable of helping the Huskies in their quest for a return to prominence.
â€śEvery game I feel like I can make an impact in some way,â€ť Wilson said. â€śComing off the bench, I just try to bring energy to the game and I feel like I did that (Sunday).â€ť
But Wilson obviously has some work to do in order to improve his defense, something heâ€™s aware of.
â€śThe first couple shots I made, then I was just worried about the defensive end, really,â€ť Wilson said of Sundayâ€™s game, â€śjust trying to help my team get stops.â€ť
Missing a monthâ€™s worth of games clearly set Wilson back a bit in his bid to become a regular in Hurleyâ€™s rotation. The coach says heâ€™s only now getting the full treatment during practices.
â€śWe coached Sid every day when he was suspended. But thereâ€™s a different level of coaching you get when youâ€™re eligible to get on the court and actually be in the rotation,â€ť Hurley said. â€śWe just have to get Sid shored up.â€ť
Against Arizona, Hurley saw some defensive lapses from Wilson that limited his playing time.
â€śSome of those lane holds and those ball screen coverages in the first half when they laid it in or there was a shooter wide open, he was involved in a couple of those. He just didnâ€™t know where to be,â€ť Hurley said. â€śBut you can see the athletic talent. Against an athletic team, he belonged on the court.â€ť
Rotating to find those open shooters and knowing how the Huskies plan to defend the pick-and-roll each night will be key for Wilson. UConn has been playing a smaller lineup for much of the season, meaning Wilson will essentially be a power forward for some of his time on the court. And heâ€™ll have a variety of defensive assignments.
â€śHe wants us to be able to switch one through four. Iâ€™m the four-man so I have to help that way,â€ť Wilson said.