STORRS - Balance isnâ€™t a necessity in college basketball. Just about every coach and fan base in the country would simply like to have the best player in the land on their roster and take their chances each night with a supporting cast.
That being said, itâ€™s not a bad thing to have a few major contributors in your lineup capable of leading the way in a given game. The UConn menâ€™s basketball team certainly appears to have the latter this season.
With senior wing Tyrese Martinâ€™s 27-point effort against Butler Thursday, the Huskies have seen three different players - Martin, point guard R.J. Cole, and center Adama Sanogo - score at least 25 points in a game twice this season.
That kind of production has only happened three previous times in the last 30 years of UConn basketball. The 2009-10 team did it with Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, and Kemba Walker. The 2003-04 team did it with Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, and Rashad Anderson. And the 1993-94 team did it with Donyell Marshall, Ray Allen, and Brian Fair.
UConn coach Dan Hurley, whose team hosts Georgetown tonight in Storrs, has been extolling the teamâ€™s depth for some time.
â€śWeâ€™re a very hard team to beat because of the depth. That doesnâ€™t mean weâ€™re going to win every game. But weâ€™re either going to win or weâ€™re going to lose by a little,â€ť Hurley said. â€śWe have more chances that a couple guys can play well offensively and really give you double figures or 15-18.â€ť
Cole, Sango, and Martin are each averaging between 14.2 and 15.7 points per game.
â€śI donâ€™t think thereâ€™s another team in the country that has three guys getting 14-a-game or higher. Weâ€™re hard to prepare for,â€ť Hurley said.
UConn (13-4, 4-2 Big East), which moved up to No. 20 in the latest Associated Press rankings, has indeed been on a little roll lately. The Huskies are wary of getting complacent, however, even with the Big Eastâ€™s last-place team, Georgetown, coming to town.
Georgetown (6-10, 0-5) has lost six straight games, though it played well in Saturdayâ€™s 85-74 loss to league-leading Villanova Saturday.
â€śYou donâ€™t want to be a fat rat, as Kimani (Young) likes to say, and think that you can just show up,â€ť Hurley said, referring to his associate head coach. â€śThe point I made to the guys is Georgetown-UConn means something. It means a lot in college basketball.â€ť
The Huskies have won four of their last five games, the only setback in that stretch their overtime loss to Seton Hall.
â€śWe have a lot of confidence in who we are when weâ€™re healthy and weâ€™ve got close to our full team,â€ť Hurley said. â€śObviously weâ€™ve got great potential. The mentality right now for us is we have to be really glued to our identity or else weâ€™re not quite that team.â€ť
Part of the identity Hurley speaks of includes playing what he calls â€śelite-level defense.â€ť
â€śIf we get away from our identity, we become a very ordinary, very vulnerable team,â€ť Hurley said.
One are that Hurley fears his team is vulnerable to attack is in rebounding. Yes, the Huskies lead the Big East and are among the national leaders in offensive rebounds, but they havenâ€™t been up to par in the coachâ€™s mind on the defensive glass.
â€śItâ€™s really hurt us a lot, quietly. We do such a great job on the offensive glass, thatâ€™s kind of been our Achilles heel,â€ť Hurley said.
Still, UConnâ€™s balance and size give it such a presence on offense that itâ€™s the oppositionâ€™s defense usually scrambling for answers.
â€śWith Adama back, weâ€™ve got a really good mix of inside and out that makes it hard on the other team defensively,â€ť Hurley said.
The Huskies, idle since finishing off a sweep of Butler Thursday, are adding a few more ingredients to their mix, too.
Junior guard Jalen Gaffney has struggled at times this season but came up big in the second Butler game with six points, two assists, three rebounds, and a key steal in 17 minutes of action.
â€śThat was great for Jalen. He needed that. It was a real confidence-builder for him,â€ť Hurley said. â€śI thought he was a lot tougher.â€ť