As season winds down, minutes become scarce for Brendan Adams, others on UConn men bench

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Dom Amore, Hartford Courant
·3 min read
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Brendan Adams was the first player to commit to UConn after Dan Hurley took over as coach.

Adams, who had originally signed to play for Hurley at Rhode Island, was known for his 3-point shooting. As a sophomore in 2019-20, Adams showed some flashes and scored in double figure 12 times. This season, while James Bouknight was injured, Adams broke into the starting lineup for six games in a row between Jan. 9 and Feb. 6. averaging 27.5 minutes, but only 5.5 points.

With the return of Andre Jackson on Feb. 6 and Bouknight on Feb. 16, Adams, 6-feet-4, has been squeezed out of the rotation, playing 13 minutes at Providence on Feb. 10, and not at all in the two games since.

“The last couple of games, just having Andre back and having James back, we’ve been playing a bigger lineup with Isaiah [Whaley] and Adama [Sanogo],” Hurley said before the Huskies played Georgetown late Tuesday night. “[Adams] has to stay ready, though. He may find himself with an opportunity like Josh [Carlton] found himself against Providence and you’ve got to be ready to contribute.”

The Huskies began the season with 13 scholarship players. One, freshman Javonte Brown, transferred out in January. Going into their 17th game, the rotation has been whittled down, which was to be expected.

Carlton, a senior who lost minutes to Whaley last season and Sanogo this season, started 80 games in his first three seasons at UConn, but has started only once this year. He has come off the bench to make important contributions in victories over Southern Cal, with nine points and 11 rebounds on Dec. 3, DePaul (11 and 10) on Dec. 30 and Providence (seven and seven) on Feb. 16. But he didn’t play at Villanova Saturday, and has played more than 10 minutes only once in February.

Richie Springs, a 6-9 redshirt freshman, is still in a developmental phase of his career. He’s played in only three games, the last on Jan. 9, and only a total of four minutes. The shortened season took away games against mid-major opponents on November and December that might have given him the chance for game experience.

Akok Akok raised hopes with his 10-minute, seven-point stint at Xavier on Feb. 13, but he was sore coming out of that game and it’s unlikely he will be making more than short appearances the rest of this season. Just over a year after rupturing his Achillies, Akok, 6-9, will need several more months to be back to 100 percent in speed, strength and agility, though the coaches want to get him on the floor when it’s viable. He has played a total of five minutes in the last two games.

That leaves a rotation of Bouknight, Jackson, Whaley, Sanogo, Tyrese Martin, R.J. Cole, Jalen Gaffney and Tyler Polley as the Huskies fight down the stretch to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes. Only those eight have played more than 10 minutes in either of the two games since Bouknight returned.

However, the experience at the end of the bench is something Hurley has in his pocket if he applies more pressure on defense and picks up the offensive pace and it leads to foul trouble.

“Now, with our depth being what it is,” he said, “even if it means we foul a little bit more, we’ve got to get after people at both ends of the court and attack a lot more. ... It’s hard to ask for absolute consistency, but you don’t want to be feast or famine with bench guys, where you get high production or no production. I think we’ll be settled in [at Georgetown]. ”

Dom Amore can be reached at damore@courant.com