Connecticut roster 2013-2014: Guard-heavy Huskies set to make their mark in new AAC

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After sitting out a year, the Huskies are eligible for the NCAA Tournament, but their sights are set much higher than just the Field of 68.

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie received plenty of praise for leading the Huskies to a 20-10 record last year, a season tarnished by a postseason ban and played with a roster decimated by transfers and early exits.

Now, with almost the entire team returning, UConn fans are looking for more.

The Huskies were picked to finish second in the American Athletic Conference and are ranked No. 18 in the opening AP Top 25 poll.

Their backcourt is the main reason why. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright both decided to return to school after briefly considering the NBA, while Omar Calhoun averaged double figures as a freshman and posted several 20-plus point performances.

Guards

Shabazz Napier: The senior from Roxbury, Mass. opens his senior campaign on the All-AAC first team. The 17 points, five assists and four rebounds he averaged last year don't adequately summarize what he meant to the Huskies. Napier had a flare for the dramatic, taking over games late in the second half and becoming a dominant force in overtime. If UConn makes a deep NCAA Tournament run, expect No. 13 to be a big reason why.

Ryan Boatright: Boatright came to UConn two years ago as a flashy guard who showed spurts of brilliance. His numbers are excellent, especially in the scoring column, but he has been known to move a little too fast. The Huskies need him to play within himself and not turn the ball over while trying to make the big play.

Omar Calhoun: The second-most famous Calhoun to make his way to Storrs enjoyed a successful freshman season in which he played 32 minutes per game, averaging 11 points. Calhoun has worked his way back from offseason hip surgery and he appears to be back at full strength. He knocked down four of his seven attempts from three in the Huskies' exhibition win over Concordia.

Niels Giffey: Giffey has been a role player over his first three seasons at UConn and has been a valuable and consistent presence in the lineup. He played with Germany in EuroBasket 2013, averaging 9.2 points over five games. He scored in double figures in each of the Huskies' two exhibition games on 9-14 shooting.

Lasan Kromah: For the second straight year, UConn will get a fifth year senior as a transfer from a mid-major. Unlike R.J. Evans, a guard from Holy Cross who helped the Huskies last season, Kromah is expected to be more of a scorer. He averaged double figures at George Washington last year and showed off his shooting against Concordia, draining three consecutive threes early on.

Terrence Samuel: Samuel is a New York City guard who didn't come in with many national accolades, but he opened eyes with a double-double against Concordia (10 points, 12 assists). His minutes will be limited while Napier and Boatright dominate most of the time at the 1 and 2, but if he can take care of the ball, he will allow Ollie to give his stars the occasional breather without having to worry much.

Forwards

DeAndre Daniels: Many Husky fans felt the junior was snubbed after being left off both preseason All-AAC teams. After a quiet first year-and-a-half at UConn, he made a statement to finish his sophomore season, posting 21 points and nine rebounds per game in the Huskies' last four contests. If he has a strong 2013-14, this might be his last season in Storrs.

Tyler Olander: Over three seasons, Olander has yet to find consistency with the Huskies. He averaged just four points and three rebounds per game last year despite starting 26 times. Olander was suspended over the summer following a DUI and might be best known among fans as the artist behind a now infamous rap video that has since disappeared from the depths of the Internet.

Kentan Facey: Facey was a Top 100 recruit and is expected to help Daniels and Olander on the glass. UConn's achilles heel last season was rebounding and that will likely be a weakness again. Facey can earn serious minutes right away by showing an ability to crash the boards.

Phillip Nolan: Nolan unexpectedly emerged late last year as another post option. His three best rebounding performances were in the final three games of the season and now he could be in the starting lineup alongside Daniels when the Huskies tip off against Maryland on Friday.

Centers

Amidah Brimah: The scouting report on Brimah was that he was too raw to contribute right away. Then over two exhibition games, he quickly became a fan favorite, blocking seven shots and altering a few more. UConn is known to produce great shot blockers, and while it'd be presumptuous to throw Brimah in with guys like Emeka Okafor, Hilton Armstrong and Hasheem Thabeet, he certainly has been a pleasant surprise so far.

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