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Oriakhi Free To Play Immediately… Somewhere

Yesterday the NCAA nixed UConn’s appeal of a 2012-13 postseason ban and that opens the door for transferring forward/center Alex Oriakhi to play somewhere immediately.  If that somewhere is in the SEC, he’ll also have to get a waiver from the league because he has just one year of eligibility remaining… but that looks to be a forgone conclusion.

The folks in Missouri — one of Oriakhi’s final four choices — believe he “could flourish” playing alongside point guard Phil Pressey who was his teammate in AAU ball back in Massachusetts.

But Oriakhi told CBSSports.com that he’s already spoken to top high school prospect Nerlens Noel about teaming up at Kentucky, another of his final four choices (along with Duke and North Carolina).  It was reported that the big man was scheduled to meet with John Calipari yesterday.

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Oriakhi To Meet with UK’s Calipari Today

Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com tweeted earlier today that the first stop on the transfer tour of UConn big man Alex Oriakhi will be a date with the national champs:


“Kentucky’s John Calipari expected to meet with UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi today.  Oriakhi has one year left and can play immediately.”


As previously noted, he could play immediately if he enrolls in a major not offered by UConn and if the SEC grants him a waiver.  Both are likely to happen if Kentucky (or Missouri) is his final choice.

Oriakhi can play immediately because of NCAA sanctions against UConn.

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UConn Transfer Oriakhi To Visit UK, MU

Last week we told you that UConn senior-to-be Alex Oriakhi was looking at three SEC school as possible transfer options: Florida, Kentucky and Missouri.  This in spite of a rule the SEC made a big deal about launching last summer that would block one-and-doners — those on the back end of their careers — from entering the conference for a lone, hired gun type of season.

The SEC confirmed its policy to us which basically states that as long as the player signs up for a major not offered by his old school, the league could still grant a waiver allowing him to enter the SEC for just one season.  Meaning that not a whole heckuva lot changed when the SEC put the new “rule” into effect.

Now comes word from The Connecticut Times that Oriakhi has narrowed his list of candidates — sorry Florida — and will visit four schools: Kentucky, Missouri, Duke and North Carolina.

That seems to provide further proof that the SEC will okay an Oriakhi transfer into the league… regardless of the widely-publicized policy it put in place last year.

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UK, UF, MU Reportedly Chasing UConn Transfer Oriakhi

UConn forward Alex Oriakhi has been granted a release from his scholarship and will be allowed to transfer to another program.  In three seasons, Oriakhi has averaged between 5.0 and 9.6 points per game and between 4.8 and 8.7 rebounds per game. 

Stunning numbers?  No.  But a darn solid addition to any team’s interior?  You bet.

That’s why at least three SEC schools are reportedly pursuing the senior-to-be.  The Connecticut Post reports that Kentucky and Missouri — along with North Carolina and Duke — “are among the teams that have contacted Oriakhi.”  ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that Florida is also in the mix for his services.

If UConn remains ineligible for next year’s NCAA Tournament due to NCAA sanctions, Oriakhi can step right in and play immediately for his new school.  UConn should learn of its appeal to play in next season’s tourney within the next 10 days.

Ah, but the SEC has a rule on the books that states any player transferring into the league must have at least two years of eligibility remaining.  Last summer, an additional loophole was closed that had allowed graduate students to transfer into the league for a single season.  (Yes, one-and-dones are okay on the front-ends of their careers, but not on the back-ends.  Go figure.) 

Last summer, Mike Slive said, “The rule is designed for a student-athlete to stay at our school long enough to have the kind of academic experience that we expect our student-athletes to have.  It is not acceptable for a student-athlete to transfer in solely for an athletic experience.”

Apparently the folks at Florida, Kentucky and Missouri believe they can get around that rule with a waiver from the league office.  (Heck, Mizzou officials might not even know about the rule yet… newbies.)

According to The Post, the Tigers might actually have the inside track to landing the 6-9 big man.  Oriakhi played AAU basketball with current Missouri guard Phil Pressey.

How serious is the league’s about its “no one-year transfers” policy?  We’ll find out if Oriakhi tries to move to Gainesville, Lexington or Columbia.

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Kentucky Falls to UConn in Maui Finals

Kemba Walker scored 29 points and Connecticut beat a Top 10 team for the second straight day, knocking off No. 8 Kentucky with an 84-67 rout to win the Maui Tournament on Wednesday night. Connecticut (5-0), the 2005 Maui champions, wore down second-ranked Michigan State in the semifinals and steamrolled the Wildcats with a massive run to close the first half. Alex Oriakhi had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and the Huskies shot 57 percent against one of the nation’s best teams to leave paradise with a big trophy and bigger expectations.
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Kentucky vs. Connecticut: A Brief Look At The Game

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Who will guard Brandon Knight tonight?  He could foul Kemba Walker out.

Eugene Tanner – AP

Who will guard Brandon Knight tonight? He could foul Kemba Walker out.

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I’m getting ready to head to Las Vegas for Turkey Day, and as a result, I haven’t been able to spend any time on the blog today.  But we need a quick preview of this game, although it will not be the full-blown affair we normally do.

How UConn Got Here

In the first game of the Maui Classic, the Connecticut Huskies defeated the Wichita St. Shockers by four points.  The Shockers out-shot the Huskies 56%-47% (eFG), but they turned the ball over more and allowed UConn an amazing 81% Free Throw Rate%.  That means for every ten shots the Huskies put up, they shot eight free throws.  UConn shot 73% from the line, and that was really where they were able to win the game.  Kemba Walker put up 31 points and shot a ridiculous 93% from the line, making 14 of 15 attempts.

Last night, the Huskies took on the #2 ranked Michigan St. Spartans.  This game looks much more normal, with the Huskies slightly outshooting the Spartans.  Once again, FTR% was a factor at 39-35%, but UConn shot them relatively poorly.  In the end, it was the Spartans’ turnovers that doomed them.

UConn Personnel


Connecticut Huskies Basketball Roster

# Pos./Start? Comments W H College
Kyle Bailey 55 G Sat out last season 170 6-3 junior
Donnell Beverly 2 G Returning – minor reserve last year 190 6-4 senior
Michael Bradley 25 C New 235 6-10 freshman
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel 4 F Returning – reserve last year 210 6-7 sophomore
Niels Giffey 5 G/Y New 210 6-7 freshman
Jeremy Lamb 3 G/Y New 185 6-5 freshman
Shabazz Napier 13 G New 170 6-0 freshman
Charles Okwandu 35 C Returning – minor reserve last year 255 7-0 senior
Tyler Olander 10 F New 225 6-9 freshman
Alex Oriakhi 34 F/Y Returning major reserve 240 6-9 sophomore
Roscoe Smith 22 G New 205 6-8 freshman
Kemba Walker 15 G/Y Returning starter, prime-time player 172 6-1 junior

As you can see, UConn is playing a four-guard starting lineup this year, although Niles Giffey could accurately be described as a small forward rather than a guard.  UConn is very much like Kentucky in that they had to replace a large number of players from last year’s team, and start two freshmen.

Prime time performers:  Kemba Walker (scoring, assists), Alex Oriakhi (rebounds, blocks), Roscoe Smith (3-point shooting, rebounding).

Kentucky vs. UConn — The Four Factors

 

As you can see by looking at the graph above, UConn has been a better offensive rebounding team and Kentucky the better shooting team.  Both teams take good care of the ball, and both teams get to the line a lot.  Ultimately, this game looks close in the stats, and the line is UK -5.5.

Overall Analysis

Like the Washington game, this game is all about defense, and is going to be primarily a test of wills between Kemba Walker and DeAndre Liggins.  If Liggins can keep Walker under around 20 points and everyone else plays their normal game, UConn is in tough.  Walker represents 38% of UConn’s scoring, and only one other player is averaging double-digits.

UConn can also win this game by holding Kentucky to under 40% FG shooting, or if UK continues to struggle from the free throw line.  Execution is important for this young Wildcat team, and if they execute the offense and surround Walker or force him to get in foul trouble, Kentucky should be able to win.

UConn plays a lot of players, and likes to run up and down the floor like UK does.  I am a bit concerned about the Wildcats having played such a tough, fast, physical game last night, because they will largely need to duplicate that effort tonight.  But UConn also played a tough, physical game against Michigan St., so I suppose that is a wash.

The big question is, who will guard Brandon Knight?  Whoever it is will likely wind up in foul trouble, and Walker will likely be forced to guard Liggins — not exactly a bargain either, given the size difference.

Go, ‘Cats


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