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STORRS, Conn. – Basketball season is here and the UConn men’s basketball team, the defending American Athletic Conference champion, prepares for an exhibition game against New Haven on Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford. Tip-off is at 1 p.m. (ET).
The Huskies, coming off a 25-11 (11-7 American) season and an NCAA Tournament berth, host the Chargers to kick-off the 2016-17 campaign. The contest will not be televised, but can be followed on Game Tracker, Husky Vision or @UConnMBB on Twitter.
At the American’s Media Day on Monday in Philadelphia, UConn was picked to finish second in the preseason conference poll (94 points) – just one point behind Cincinnati (95).
Freshman guard Alterique Gilbert was named Preseason Rookie of the Year, while sophomore guard Jalen Adams earned a spot on the Preseason All-Conference Second Team. Gilbert is the third-straight Husky to earn Preseason Rookie of the Year recognition (Adams in 2015, Daniel Hamilton in 2014).
In the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Huskies are ranked No. 16 in the nation. Cincinnati comes in at No. 25 and SMU received one vote to be in the poll, joining UConn as AAC representatives.
Five freshmen join fifth-year head coach Kevin Ollie this season, the largest group of first-year players he has coached since taking the helm in Storrs. Gilbert leads the incoming class, which is made up of two guards, two forwards and a swingman.
Seniors Rodney Purvis and Amida Brimah are the big returners for the Huskies, as Purvis led the team in scoring (12.8 points/game) last season and Brimah ranks third all-time in blocks (280). The roster is young, with just five players listed as juniors and seniors.
Adams, coming off a strong freshman season that included his miraculous three-quarter court shot against Cincinnati in the American quarterfinals, looks to be a main contributor. He averaged 7.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 2015-16.
SCOUTING NEW HAVEN
New Haven is coming off an 8-18 (5-15 Northeast-10) season, finishing in the lower half of the Northeast-10. The Chargers are just two years removed from back-to-back trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
A young team will take the court on Sunday, as 11 of 14 players are either freshmen or sophomores for head coach Ted Hotaling. Sophomore guard Michael Bourke returns as the team’s leading scorer (13.4 points/game).
The Huskies played New Haven last season in an exhibition on Nov. 7 at the XL Center. UConn won, 83-43, as Purvis and sophomore forward Steven Enoch each scored a game-high 11 points.
Sunday’s game with New Haven is the first of two exhibition games that UConn will play, prior to the regular season opener against Wagner on Nov. 11. The Huskies host Southern Connecticut State on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Gampel Pavilion at 1 p.m. (ET).