UConn basketball preview: After failing to defend their NCAA title last season—they didn't even make the tournament—the Huskies are hoping for another March run.
This article originally appeared in the the Nov. 9, 2015, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here.
In 2014–15 the Huskies became the ninth team to miss out on the NCAA tournament the year after winning a title. “We lost five games on the last possession. Five!” says coach Kevin Ollie, who knew UConn didn’t just need to get better this season—it also needed to get more savvy. He accomplished both goals by signing graduate transfers Sterling Gibbs, a 6'2" combo guard from Seton Hall, and Shonn Miller, a 6'7" power forward from Cornell.
These are plum additions for a team that was already retaining 66.7% of its scoring and 78.2% of its rebounding. Miller’s burly frame and midrange touch should complement the skills of 7-foot junior center Amida Brimah, who last season ranked second nationally in blocks (3.5 per game) despite habitual foul trouble. Gibbs, meanwhile, will try to enter the pantheon of under-sized guards who have won titles at UConn (Khalid El‑Amin, Ben Gordon, Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier).
Rodney Purvis, 6'4" junior guard
Purvis struggled on offense after transferring from N.C. state, but he did average 16.7 points over his final nine games, scoring a career-high 29 in a loss to SMU in the AAC tournament final.
“We’re so much deeper than we were last year. We have a lot more options offensively so we can move players around. Daniel Hamilton did a lot of things well for us, but we need him to take better shots. Rodney is talking and being more vocal. We want Sterling to be a scorer and a facilitator. That’s what we’ve always asked of our point guards. Amida Brimah has only been playing basketball for five years so he is still learning the nuances of the game, but he has improved his shooting drastically. We had a lot of young guys playing big minutes last year. When guys play a lot of minutes, there’s some growing pains. Now they know what to expect.” — Kevin Ollie
Projected depth chart