John F. SilverSTORRS, Conn. — Lasan Kromah’s position was secure at George Washington.
If he wanted playing time, and a lot of it, he didn’t have to leave the school. Playing time wasn’t the most important aspect in his decision to come to UConn as the much-sought after senior transfer. Kromah didn’t come to UConn for playing time — he averaged double digits in each of the three years at GW. What the graduate transfer wanted was to bigger and better things. He thought he saw a team in UConn that could do great things and wanted to be a part of it.
“I came here and didn’t know if I was going to get one minute of 40 minutes, just wanted to come in and work hard,” Kromah said Tuesday after practice. “See where it got me.”
On first glance at the UConn roster, Kromah is an excess, a luxury and in many ways redundant. The 6-foot-5 senior was a guard/forward in the mold of Omar Calhoun and Niels Giffey and would be hard pressed to find time replacing Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Add in Terrence Samuel, and Kromah was coming to a team that was already five deep at the guard and wing spots when he committed.
Things like depth and being blocked positionally have a way of working out for players who play hard, consistently deliver and are just flat out talented.
Amongst a crowded field, Kromah has emerged as a crucial player for the Huskies.
Kromah has picked up for Omar Calhoun, who is having a nightmarish sophomore season, and has stepped in for Giffey, who has cooled off considerably after a hot shooting start.
Kromah’s now the “starting 3” for the Huskies and is coming off his best game in a UConn uniform, 17 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes in a win over USF. Kromah has played over 20 minutes in every game since a loss to Stanford in December. Prior to that game, Kromah had only played over 20 minutes in the first eight games of the season.
The senior is averaging 7.8 points on 49.2 percent shooting and an improved 39.2 percent from 3-point range. He adds size, defense, ball-handling, athleticism, shooting and scoring ability and veteran poise. In other words — he does everything. That kind of player finds minutes everywhere.
“Your talents will always make room for you,” coach Kevin Ollie said. “No matter how many guards there are, if you are talented and work hard it makes room for you.”
Kromah is a soft-spoken person and a quiet player. He blends into the team rather than sticks out and does wonder for chemistry. He’s learned to be an efficient scorer who can hit the open three, but also drive to the basket. He’s best asset is his athleticism and motor. He plays hard and his energy level has been what keeps him on the floor.
“As the season has gone on i feel more comfortable and wanted to pick my spots with the offense,” Kromah said. “Sometimes when (defenses) are denying Boatright, Daniels and Napier it really opens up the floor. I just got to the basket.”
Kromah knew it would be crowded at UConn, but after playing three years at GW felt that he was more than up to the task from a talent perspective.
“I am comfortable with my game and know what I am capable of,” Kromah said. “I knew I could play anywhere and play basketball and compete. It’s just putting effort into it. ”
It couldn’t come at a better time for the Huskies. Kromah has gone from a luxury item to a necessity for the Huskies. He will make his 10th start on Wednesday against South Florida and the No. 24 Huskies are going to rely on him likely for the bulk of minutes at the three spot. Calhoun, who is suffering from a concussion and is questionable for Wednesday’s game, is struggling this season averaging only 5.1 points on 33.6 percent shooting and 27.5 percent from three. Giffey has cooled off after a hot start and is averaging 8.0 points and shooting 57.8 percent from 3. Kromah is now playing 23.6 minutes per game and is the most versatile of the three options as he has excellent ball-handling and passing skills.
The Huskies, 18-5 on the season, have started nine different players this season and have worked many players in and out of the rotation. It’s taken 2/3 of the season for Ollie to figure out who he has and where he wants players.
As far as Ollie is concerned about Kromah, that’s on the floor and in the starting lineup.
“I wanted some to start separating themselves and he took the initiative,” Ollie said.