NCAA BK

Huskies looking at Dyson to lead in 2009-10

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Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. Check out his Yardbarker blog. MORE>>
 
   
 
Jerome Dyson still hasn't won an NCAA tournament game. Taking it one step further, the UConn senior guard hasn't even been on the court for a Big East tournament victory.

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The last two years haven't exactly gone according to plan for Dyson. Two years ago, he was suspended for being caught with alcohol and after missing nine games, was just wasn't the same. Last season, in the midst of a terrific junior campaign in which he was leading the Huskies in scoring through the first 20-plus games, Dyson suffered a fluke season-ending knee injury five minutes into a home victory against Syracuse on Feb. 11. He was forced to helplessly watch his teammates play in the Final Four from the bench. "There are definitely times I think about it," Dyson said. "I think the Michigan State game would have been a different outcome, and the championship game would definitely have been better than it was." I wasn't sold on the fact that UConn couldn't win the national title when Dyson suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee, but the Huskies weren't nearly the same team without him.
UConn had all the other pieces — a veteran point guard in A.J. Price, a talented forward in Stanley Robinson who finally started to match his potential with production in the postseason, and a frontline with Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien that was able to match up with anyone. And that included the mighty Tar Heels. But without Dyson, Jim Calhoun's team desperately missed that guy who could not only get to the basket, but also someone who would be able to defend guys like Durrell Summers and Korie Lucious — two Michigan State wings who combined to score 21 points in 32 minutes. They missed his talent and also his toughness. Thabeet, Adrien and Price are all gone, and that leaves Dyson as the veteran. He's never been much of a vocal leader, but now he realizes there's no choice. "Coach already told me that Gavin and I are going to be the captains," Dyson said. "I'm already starting to talk more." Dyson just got done tearing up the Hartford Pro-Am, where he averaged 42 points per game. OK, so he's not exactly going up against Jerel McNeal, Jonny Flynn or Terrence Williams. But then again, all those guys have bid adieu to the Big East — and that leaves the league watered down and completely wide open. Why can't a healthy Dyson, who will team with sophomore point guard Kemba Walker to form one of the nation's most athletic and potent backcourts, lead the Huskies to the Big East title? "People aren't really talking about us," Dyson said of his Huskies. "That's fine that people are forgetting about us." The core may be Dyson, Walker and Robinson. However, the keys could be the incoming freshmen, specifically talented big man Alex Oriakhi. Dyson vows to leave Storrs with both a Big East and NCAA tournament win on his belt. "The biggest concern for me is getting through the whole season," Dyson said. "My sophomore year I felt like I let the team down and it was my fault. Last year was a lot different because it was something I couldn't really control." Dyson admittedly was a game and practice player. He has been blessed with enough natural ability that he didn't feel as though he had to work on his game beyond games and practices. "That's changed," Dyson said. "It's because of the injury. I've put in so much time with my rehab and am working every day." "I can honestly say I'm feeling better than before the injury," he added. "I'm jumping higher and running faster." Now the key for Dyson is simple. "I just need to get through the whole season," he said.
Tagged: Marquette, Louisville, Michigan State, Hartford, Syracuse, Connecticut

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