UConn to host New Hampshire

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie reacts during the second half of a 73-62 victory over Stony Brook in an NCAA college basketball game in Storrs, Conn., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

John F. Silver

 Niels Giffey brings a multitude of skills to the table.

He has good size at 6-foot-7 and is an excellent defender. He is a good rebound for his size and can handle the ball as well as pass. His offensive game is also impressive with good shooting ability as well as a dribble-drive game.

Giffey is in a lot of ways is the total package.

The only problem with all of this is Giffey hasn’t produced. Over the course of his career, with many starts, Giffey has logged a lot of empty minutes when the coaches go to the stat sheet the only number that sticks out is the minutes played. Giffey in two seasons has averaged 2.2 points per game and 2.8 points per game.

That made Sunday’s game against Stony Brook that much more impressive.

Giffey

Giffey (5-1) put his talents to good use against Stony Brook as the junior forward scored a career-high 15 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and also played solid defense on the Seawolves’ Tom Breton  in a 73-62 UConn win.

That’s the kind of performance the Huskies are going to need from Giffey going forward, especially the loss of senior R.J. Evans to a shoulder injury.

“Niels was that glue guy,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said Sunday. “And with R.J. out, that’s something we’re going to miss,” Ollie said. “He filled that void perfectly.”

UConn will play today against New Hampshire at the XL Center not only wanting Giffey to do more, but needing it.

The 5-1 Huskies are without glue guy R.J. Evans for several more weeks and maybe months and need to have a bench player to provide energy, defense and most of all a little production.

“Niels Giffey was my MVP and he’s been my MVP the whole year,” Ollie said. “Not just playing time but doing all the things that epitomizes UConn basketball. Coming in, doing his thing academically, coming in playing great basketball in practice.”

For the Huskies, any kind of player giving production is treated like gold right now. The roster is thin on the front-line and Giffey by virtue of necessity has to provide consistent production at both forward spots.

That’s what the team expect out of Giffey.

“Niels is always ready,” guard Shabazz Napier said. “ He prepares himself to be called. You don’t have to call his numbers to play. He is so unselfish you don’t know how good he is for this team. He showed (Sunday)how much he can shoot the ball and get rebound. He showed a lot of people he is a good basketball player.”

Against New Hampshire the Huskies are going to expect the good Giffey to show up all the time.  New Hampshire has some size and that immediately gives UConn trouble at any level with 6-foot-10 Chris Pelcher leading New Hampshire in scoring at 12.0 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game including a 17 and 11 performance against New Jersey Institute of Technology.  Energy guy Ferg Myrick  at 6-foot-6 is also a concern averaging 11.7 points and 7.2 rebounds off the bench. New Hampshire is 2-3 and has lost three straight.

For the Huskies, it will be about matching the intensity and physical play as they look forward to next week’s date in the Jimmy V Classic against N.C. State.

The Huskies can’t look past New Hampshire and need to produce. UConn looks for Giffey to be that blending type player.

Gameday links

Ollie banks on frontcourt breakout (Hartford Courant)

UConn-New Hampshire Capsules (CT Post)

Huskies turn attention to New Hampshire (New Haven Register)