2024-25 UConn Men's Hoops: Defending the Throne Again

RedOctober3829

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It should be a very interesting year again in Storrs. With the losses of Clingan/Castle/Newton/likely Karaban there's big shoes to fill. Solo Ball and Jaylin Stewart both showed a ton of promise this year(especially Stewart) so that bodes well for next year. Samson Johnson now steps into the starting lineup.

Incoming Class(so far)
--Ahmad Nowell 6'0" 180 lb 4-star PG(scored 25 points in the Jordan Classic) #31 overall prospect per 247
--Isaiah Abraham 6'7" 195 lb 4-star SF #82 overall prospect per 247
--Tarris Reed Jr. 6'10" 265 lb former starting center at Michigan

#16 overall prospect Liam McNeeley is currently finishing up his official visit to campus after being team MVP in the Jordan Classic on Sunday. McNeeley is a 6'7" 210 lb SF who is an elite shooter, passer, and driver of the basketball. He is a more skilled version of Alex Karaban IMO. If he can commit, that would be a huge hole filled. They are also interested in Dayton guard Koby Brea who is the best shooter available on the transfer market.

Non-Conference Schedule(so far)
--Mau Invitational(UNC, Iowa State, Michigan State, Auburn, Dayton, Colorado, Memphis also in it)
--vs. Gonzaga at MSG
--at Texas(per Jon Rothstein today...it's reportedly a home-and-home)
--vs. Baylor on 12/4(Big East/Big 12 Battle)
 
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Dan Murfman

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JOBU

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I wonder how much money that insurance company put on UConn in the championship game to hedge their loss. Not sure that would even be legal??

2.8 million seems like a hefty insurance premium for a 5.6 million payout. If it’s a multiyear policy I guess it will payoff (it already has) but if this is going to be a yearly thing it sounds like a money loser for the school. Unless of course the basketball teams keep winning.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The article says it was a one-year thing and they will go in and out of the market on a year to year basis. It looks to me as though about $500,000 to $800,000 of the policy was going to pay off without much doubt. Some of the incentives were very low hanging fruit, so I think the math on the risk reward was complicated. It looks like it was mostly a tool to hedge and have budgetary certainty. Basically just finding a way to take contingent liabilities and give them a present value and make them fixed.
 

BaseballJones

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Hurley approaches team building like Herb Brooks does in Miracle:

When Asst. Coach Patrick questions his choices for the final roster and says that some of the best players aren't on the list, Brooks replies, "I'm not looking for the best players, Craig. I'm looking for the right ones."

That's what Hurley does.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Six weeks of uncertainty about Karaban is a bit of a bummer. I hope that he doesn't scare off any recruits. The possibility that he might come back is worth the uncertainty I guess.

I think I always assumed Newton would come back. I think it was a little more obvious that he was going to be able to help himself and that he probably wouldn't get the feedback that he needed to stay in the draft. Karaban is a much more difficult case. I'm not sure that coming back makes sense for him. I guess I think in the end that's what he's going to conclude even if the best he thinks he's going to do is mid-second round. The likelihood that he's going to have a better resume next year than he does this year seems modest.
 

canderson

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UConn and Texas agreed to a home and home. In Austin next season, in Storrs in 25-26.

Soooo who can get me 2 tickets?
 
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JOBU

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What does that mean? Doesn’t seem great whatever it means.
 

RIrooter09

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Per Twitter, Kobe Brea visiting UConn this weekend and just cancelled his Duke visit for Tuesday. Nation's top three point shooter last year. 247 also has a crystal ball prediction of McNeeley to UConn.
 

BaseballJones

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McNeely is a heck of a player. Already slated to be a lottery pick in 2025. UConn as a program is now at the point where they don’t rebuild, they just reload. They’ll be right in the mix for another final four this coming season, though I predict they’ll get off to a little slower start than people around here would like. It’ll take a little time for this team to gel, I predict, but when they do, they’ll be very very good.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The Koby Brea saga is getting weird. After visiting UConn, he cancelled a trip to Duke and people seemed to think he would commit to Connecticut imminently. He even got one of those "crystal ball" things, but then over the weekend decided to take a visit to Kentucky and he's going there today. All sorts of rumblings on the twitters that he's all about the NIL, but I kind of chalk that up to UConn fans being disappointed he's doing another visit, though who really knows. All kinds of tea leaves you could read about the timing of Mahaney. I don't know either of the players that well, but Brea sure can make threes at a high rate. Seems really unlikely that a guy would visit UConn and then schedule another trip right after and to have UConn still be in the lead, but who can say.

If Brea were to come, it sure seems like Connecticut would have to enter the top 10 conversation again, and maybe even higher than that if Karaban were to come back.

Edit -- I also kind of think, though, that our most important "recruit" after McNeeley may well be Diarra. Maybe I'm guilty of overly valuing kids on championship teams, but I thought he was fantastic last year and I'd hate to see him go. I think he has a real chance to be a starter. It felt like in the biggest moments, he made contributions, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do as a starter. We know he works in the system. I really hope he stays.
 
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RedOctober3829

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The Koby Brea saga is getting weird. After visiting UConn, he cancelled a trip to Duke and people seemed to think he would commit to Connecticut imminently. He even got one of those "crystal ball" things, but then over the weekend decided to take a visit to Kentucky and he's going there today. All sorts of rumblings on the twitters that he's all about the NIL, but I kind of chalk that up to UConn fans being disappointed he's doing another visit, though who really knows. All kinds of tea leaves you could read about the timing of Mahaney. I don't know either of the players that well, but Brea sure can make threes at a high rate. Seems really unlikely that a guy would visit UConn and then schedule another trip right after and to have UConn still be in the lead, but who can say.

If Brea were to come, it sure seems like Connecticut would have to enter the top 10 conversation again, and maybe even higher than that if Karaban were to come back.

Edit -- I also kind of think, though, that our most important "recruit" after McNeeley may well be Diarra. Maybe I'm guilty of overly valuing kids on championship teams, but I thought he was fantastic last year and I'd hate to see him go. I think he has a real chance to be a starter. It felt like in the biggest moments, he made contributions, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do as a starter. We know he works in the system. I really hope he stays.
My thought is that it was either or with Mahaney and Brea. If they can get Brea too, Mahaney will have plenty of shooting around him and even more if AK returns(which he should IMO). Diarra would be huge if he comes back. Vet presence who played his best in the big games. This team is going to be a wagon again. We haven’t even talked about the improvements Stewart and Ball are going to make and the potential that Nowell and Abraham have.
 

JOBU

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Yea I think this may be more of UConn turning down a player than Brea turning down UConn? It seems the narrative shifted a bit once UConn knew that Mahabey was going to commit. Maybe they soured a bit on Brea?
 

Return of the Dewey

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I do wonder if the team soured a bit on Solomon Ball. He really lost all of his playing time during the season, and the addition of McNeeley and Mahaney won't help in getting him minutes.
 

RedOctober3829

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I do wonder if the team soured a bit on Solomon Ball. He really lost all of his playing time during the season, and the addition of McNeeley and Mahaney won't help in getting him minutes.
I don't necessarily think that's the case with Ball. He played a lot when Castle was out. The combination of Castle coming back and the emergence of Diarra playing really well negated him to some degree. McNeeley plays a different position too.
 

RedOctober3829

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The Koby Brea saga is getting weird. After visiting UConn, he cancelled a trip to Duke and people seemed to think he would commit to Connecticut imminently. He even got one of those "crystal ball" things, but then over the weekend decided to take a visit to Kentucky and he's going there today. All sorts of rumblings on the twitters that he's all about the NIL, but I kind of chalk that up to UConn fans being disappointed he's doing another visit, though who really knows. All kinds of tea leaves you could read about the timing of Mahaney. I don't know either of the players that well, but Brea sure can make threes at a high rate. Seems really unlikely that a guy would visit UConn and then schedule another trip right after and to have UConn still be in the lead, but who can say.

If Brea were to come, it sure seems like Connecticut would have to enter the top 10 conversation again, and maybe even higher than that if Karaban were to come back.

Edit -- I also kind of think, though, that our most important "recruit" after McNeeley may well be Diarra. Maybe I'm guilty of overly valuing kids on championship teams, but I thought he was fantastic last year and I'd hate to see him go. I think he has a real chance to be a starter. It felt like in the biggest moments, he made contributions, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do as a starter. We know he works in the system. I really hope he stays.
Hurley told Zags that Diarra is in fact coming back.

“I think for us, we want to keep intact obviously as much as the roster as we can to obviously hold on to a championship culture with people that know what it’s all about,” Dan Hurley told ZAGSBLOG during a Zoom last week to promote his partnership with Bai WonderWater.

“I see us like we have in the past just being strategic, looking for one or two additions to fortify some positions. We’re excited about some of the young players that we’ve got coming back. We’re excited about Hassan and Samson Johnson, two key players from last year’s team, coming back.”

https://www.zagsblog.com/2024/04/29/uconn-adds-st-marys-standout-aidan-mahaney/
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Hurley told Zags that Diarra is in fact coming back.

“I think for us, we want to keep intact obviously as much as the roster as we can to obviously hold on to a championship culture with people that know what it’s all about,” Dan Hurley told ZAGSBLOG during a Zoom last week to promote his partnership with Bai WonderWater.

“I see us like we have in the past just being strategic, looking for one or two additions to fortify some positions. We’re excited about some of the young players that we’ve got coming back. We’re excited about Hassan and Samson Johnson, two key players from last year’s team, coming back.”

https://www.zagsblog.com/2024/04/29/uconn-adds-st-marys-standout-aidan-mahaney/
That's fantastic. I think that means only 1 or 2 scholarships left depending on what Karaban does in the next month. I think you're probably right that adding Mahaney probably means no Brea. I'd love to think that it was us saying no to him, and that Kentucky has now become a place for the guys we don't want any longer, but my guess is it was probably a bit more complicated than that as to why it was a mismatch. (If in fact he goes to Kentucky.)
 

BaseballJones

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UConn could really use another legit big guy, as they've won the past two seasons with two good bigs. Johnson does some things well but they need another.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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UConn could really use another legit big guy, as they've won the past two seasons with two good bigs. Johnson does some things well but they need another.
They got Reed, who is a 5. He's 6' 10". I'm not sure there really are any 7 footers out there. Apparently, Indiana backed up the NIL brinks truck for Ballo.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I really liked Brea on paper. The shooting is just off the charts. I think the only game I actually saw him play was in the tournament against Arizona. He played a good game. Long, makes his free throws, and is lights out behind the arc. Would have been a good get, but they may have like Mahaney better as an all around player. Or Kentucky is just paying him more. Mahaney has an extra year of eligibility so there's that.

Hopefully, there are still some decent 4s left available if Karaban decides to stay in the draft, but otherwise, they appear to be set.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I think what Hurley is doing on social media is funny -- because it's always funny when a coach is slightly self deprecating and kind of puts himself out there -- but I'm wondering what actually he's getting at.

What's so tedious about the portal? I could see where a lot of coaches would like it. I guess is his point that it's just very hard to be constantly evaluating all of the players that are entering?

If that's his point, it's actually kind of a humblebrag. Most coaches don't have any chance at 90 percent of the players in the portal and so maybe the idea is that since Hurley legitimately has a chance at least to make a realistic pitch to anyone that enters, it is especially exhausting. Or is the concern with the portal that you have to worry about your own players and so until it closes you can't relax?

I'm probably overthinking it, but just curious what he's trying to say.
 

JOBU

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Not just the constant evaluating but also potentially worry that one of your players may be leaving. Coaches tampering with your guys trying to get them to bail? I’m sure there’s a great sense of relief when the window closes and you at least know what you’re dealing with at that point.

Did I pick the right guys?
Will someone enter the portal that will be better than what’s already out there?
Do I go hard after X player or wait it out for someone maybe better?
Do I need to worry about losing any of my current guys?
How does X player fit into our system?

Im sure these are just a fraction of the questions that go through every coaches mind this time of year. It’s got to be stressful.
 

BaseballJones

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There's lots of reasons why many all-time great coaches have gotten out of the game recently. The transfer portal and NIL (not related, and yet they pretty much are) are at the top of the list.
 

wonderland

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Outside of Jay Wright, who else? Coach K was
75. Roy Williams was 70. Not exactly spring chickens. Boeheim and Huggins were playing the portal game but were forced out. John Bielein took the big payday in the pros. I suppose he could’ve jumped back in the ncaa game and considered replacing Huggins.
 

RIrooter09

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Outside of Jay Wright, who else? Coach K was
75. Roy Williams was 70. Not exactly spring chickens. Boeheim and Huggins were playing the portal game but were forced out. John Bielein took the big payday in the pros. I suppose he could’ve jumped back in the ncaa game and considered replacing Huggins.
Saban
 

BaseballJones

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Those guys were older but still big time and they all cited the current state of the game as why they left.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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They were right to be concerned. College basketball is fucked.

The game is dramatically different from the NBA. The level of talent has never been what's in the NBA, and so the things that have made it great were the unique features of college athletics, watching players stay for a few years, watching new players merge with the old guys, and having some sense of 4 year continuity. You had to enjoy it as a different sport, with its own rhythms.

All that goes away when you essentially turn it into free agency. It just becomes a minor league that does not play nearly as well and has imperfections that don't get cancelled out by the positives. Nobody wants to watch minor league basketball, just because some free agents who change schools every year have a school name on their jersey. At least, I don't think people will want to watch that. I've been wrong before, but that really is my sense. Add in that they seem hell bent on fucking up the tournament and I think college basketball is really fucked in the next few years. Maybe 5 years before it becomes a non-compelling mess of a junior varsity basketball league. Some already think it's there -- which is why I think there's a flight to the women's game.

It's brutal. I'm glad my team won a bunch of championships before it got too bad and when it was still compelling. But the handwriting is on the wall. Hope I'm wrong, but there's a sense of inevitability of this train rumbling down the track to mediocre non-compelling crap.
 

Dan Murfman

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They were right to be concerned. College basketball is fucked.

The game is dramatically different from the NBA. The level of talent has never been what's in the NBA, and so the things that have made it great were the unique features of college athletics, watching players stay for a few years, watching new players merge with the old guys, and having some sense of 4 year continuity. You had to enjoy it as a different sport, with its own rhythms.

All that goes away when you essentially turn it into free agency. It just becomes a minor league that does not play nearly as well and has imperfections that don't get cancelled out by the positives. Nobody wants to watch minor league basketball, just because some free agents who change schools every year have a school name on their jersey. At least, I don't think people will want to watch that. I've been wrong before, but that really is my sense. Add in that they seem hell bent on fucking up the tournament and I think college basketball is really fucked in the next few years. Maybe 5 years before it becomes a non-compelling mess of a junior varsity basketball league. Some already think it's there -- which is why I think there's a flight to the women's game.

It's brutal. I'm glad my team won a bunch of championships before it got too bad and when it was still compelling. But the handwriting is on the wall. Hope I'm wrong, but there's a sense of inevitability of this train rumbling down the track to mediocre non-compelling crap.
I realize we're in a UConn thread so it doesn't mean as much but everything you wrote basically applies to college football too.
 

RedOctober3829

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Hurley is certainly not alone when it comes to these feelings. The transfer portal and the ruling that players have unlimited transfer opportunities have completely changed things in all sports. I've been hearing how things are expected to fall in college athletics and everything is about to change. I am of the belief that UConn is not long for the Big East and will be either in the ACC or Big 12 in the next couple of years. The revenue in those leagues is essential to the future of the athletic department. The power leagues are expected to break off and have their own championships/revenue sharing with the players/etc. Mid-major leagues are going to be like FCS football with their separate championships because they are not going to have the money to be with the power leagues because they can't afford to pay all of their athletes.

As far as the issues with the portal, I know that there is blatant tampering going on and coaches are getting into verbal confrontations on league conference calls over poaching players. I was told that if a certain league's coaches meeting was in-person "the police would have been called".