UConn men look to build on a sea­son-open­ing win

The Day - - LOCAL SPORTS - By GAVIN KEEFE Day Sports Writer

The ju­bi­lant post-game scene posted on so­cial me­dia showed a su­per-charged Dan Hur­ley bounc­ing off his play­ers in the locker room while cel­e­brat­ing his first win as UConn bas­ket­ball coach on Thurs­day night.

The day af­ter a much calmer Hur­ley watched the game film of the More­head State win and eval­u­ated his team's per­for­mance be­fore turn­ing his at­ten­tion to UConn's next op­po­nent to­day.

Hur­ley gave his Huskies (1-0) mixed re­views.

"I wasn't happy with the pres­sure but was rel­a­tively happy with some of the de­fense we showed in the half­court," Hur­ley said on Fri­day. "We were get­ting to help a lot quicker than we have been. But I was not happy."

"We gave away too many free points dur­ing the game, in terms of the first half points off turnovers. The guards were over drib­bling too much and not get­ting off the ball quickly enough, which led to some turnovers and some run-outs. And then the sec­ond-chance points con­tinue to be an is­sue for us. Ob­vi­ously we have to get bet­ter that way.

The Huskies have to im­prove across the board with two up­com­ing dif­fi­cult games against qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion in No. 16 Syra­cuse Thurs­day and ei­ther Iowa or Ore­gon Fri­day in the 2K Em­pire Clas­sic at Madi­son Square Gar­den in New York.

First, they play an­other re­gional round 2K Em­pire Clas­sic game at 5 p.m. Sun­day against Mis­souri-Kansas City (0-2) at Gam­pel Pavil­ion. The Kan­ga­roos suf­fered road losses to Loy­ola-Chicago, a 2018 NCAA Fi­nal Four par­tic­i­pant, and Iowa by 31 and 13, re­spec­tively.

One game into the sea­son, Hur­ley's fo­cus is on con­tin­u­ing to im­ple­ment his sys­tem.

"Ob­vi­ously we try to fig­ure out their per­son­nel as best we can and where they can hurt us, but we're so locked in on the things we have to im­prove about our­selves," Hur­ley said. "They've played two bru­tal road games so ob­vi­ously they're pretty bat­tle-tested coming in here."

The Huskies could be with­out re­serve for­ward Isa­iah Wha­ley, who sprained his an­kle in the opener. He's con­sid­ered day-to-day, but it's not con­sid­ered to be a long-term is­sue.

Josh Carl­ton helped power the Huskies in the sea­son opener, scor­ing a ca­reer-high 17 points and adding eight re­bounds. The rest of his front­court team­mates com­bined for six points and five re­bounds.

UConn's back­court depth is al­ready prov­ing to be huge plus. Starters Jalen Adams, Chris­tian Vi­tal and Al­terique Gil­bert are a pro­duc­tive trio while Hur­ley can bring grad­u­ate trans­fer Tarin Smith and fresh­man Brendan Adams, who com­bined for 18 points on Thurs­day, off the bench.

The Huskies didn't skip a beat when Jalen Adams went to the bench due to foul trou­ble.

"It's rare in the first year of a re­build, re­build­ing a pro­gram, where you have the depth at such a crit­i­cal po­si­tion," Hur­ley said. g.keefe@the­day.com

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