Gay Beginning To Show Signs Of Greatness
Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 16:01
With about a half hour remaining in last Thursday's practice, the final practice prior to men's basketball facing Texas Southern, sophomore forward Rudy Gay stood on the outside of a scrum of players fighting for a rebound in the paint during an intrasquad scrimmage. Associate head coach Tom Moore, standing on the baseline, yelled at Gay to stop watching the fight and get involved - go for a tip in. Moore kept yelling at Gay until the 6-foot-9 Gay grabbed the rebound, jumped straight up from a standing position on the block and slammed the ball through the hoop over three or four players. The gym, and Moore, went silent.
The next night, during the game, Gay drove baseline to beat one defender jumped perpendicularly to the backboard and slammed down a dunk using every inch of his 7-foot-5 wingspan.
"You guys see that Rudy dunk?" Rashad Anderson asked reporters following the game. "He's got Freddy Kreuger arms."
Rest assured if Gay is impressing his teammates he's also impressing opposing teams - and scouts. Gay, the Preseason Co-Big East Player of the Year, will likely be a very early pick if he declares for the NBA draft in 2006. NBAdraft.net has Gay going No. 1 overall in their current mock draft.
Gay has already led UConn in scoring in three of the team's six games. He leads the team in scoring with 16.3 points per game, including a season-high 28 points in the opener of the Maui Invitational against Arkansas, but he also leads the team in steals and blocks. Multiple times this season he has already blocked 3-point attempts in a fashion reminiscent of former Syracuse star Hakim Warrick in the 2003 National Championship game.
And yet, his game is nowhere near complete. Remember he's still just 19-years-old. Gay opened the game against Texas Southern by missing his first four shots - three of them 3-pointers.
"When he couldn't make the threes and I got him to the bench, I think I took him out after two or three minutes, whatever it was, and just talked to him. First thing, you want to shoot them out of rhythm. … It's much easier because that's how you practice everyday - off of passes," said head coach Jim Calhoun. "And I think that he then started taking the ball two or three steps in … he made terrific drives to the hole. That's what he's got to do, vary his game."
Last season Gay shot 46.7 percent (28-of-60) from 3-point range and despite shooting just 25 percent so far this season, Calhoun still believes that will come. Just one more thing to wow his teammates.
Senior forward Denham Brown eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in his UConn career during Friday's victory over Texas Southern. Brown, who scored 15 points against the Tigers, is averaging 13.3 points per game this season - second on the team. During the Maui Invitational Brown hit the championship-winning shot over Gonzaga's tournament MVP Adam Morrisson and was named Big East Player of the Week for his play during the tournament.
Brown acknowledged the crowd after Friday's game, thanking them for a standing ovation after the record was announced.
"If they weren't standing then I haven't done my job here at Connecticut," Brown said. "I appreciate how they could see a player like me and appreciate what I've done for them. And just as they appreciate me, I appreciate how they come through the snow and cheer for us."
His fellow senior, Anderson, broke the 1,000-point barrier earlier this season and was honored prior to playing Army Nov. 29.