Niels Giffey, JaQuon Parker, R.J. Evans

UConn’s Niels Giffey to represent Germany in 2013 EuroBasket

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In three seasons as a member of the UConn basketball program, 6-7 forward has held the same general role. Provide some versatility at the forward position, with his size allowing Giffey to handle responsibilities at both the three and the four for the Huskies.

But there’s always the hunger to do more, and such is likely the case for Giffey (4.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg in 2012-13) given the fact that he’s entering his senior season. The question: how much will Giffey’s summer experience with the German national team help him when he returns to Storrs?

Giffey’s averaged 7.5 points per game for Germany, which is playing scrimmages in preparation for the 2013 European Championships that begin on September 4. His best outing came against France’s national team, which included pros Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum, as he scored 13 points in the scrimmage. With five more games to play ahead of the actual tournament, Giffey will have plenty of opportunities to hone his skills in game action before returning to the UConn program.

But roles within teams tend to be different, as we saw earlier this summer with former Villanova guard Mislav Brzoja. With UConn returning guards Shabazz Napier (17.1 ppg, 4.6 apg, Ryan Boatright (15.4, 4.4) and Omar Calhoun (11.1, 3.9 rpg), as well as sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels (12.1, 5.5 rpg), how much room is there for Giffey to score during his senior campaign?

Each of those four players finished the season with possession percentages of 20% or higher, with Boatright (24.5%) and Napier (24%) leading the way as expected (stat courtesy of Giffey, by comparison, factored into just 13.7% of UConn’s possessions in 2012-13, which despite being an improvement when compared to his percentage as a sophomore (12.2) is still nearly two percentage points lower than the number he posted on UConn’s national title team (15.4).

Ultimately his summer experience with the German senior national team will benefit Giffey, but that won’t necessarily mean drastically higher numbers in the scoring department in his senior season at UConn due to the role he plays.

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.

No. 24 Cincinnati beats George Washington 61-56

Troy Caupain
AP Photo
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NEW YORK (AP) Troy Caupain scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 1:38 to play, and No. 24 Cincinnati beat George Washington 61-56 on Saturday in the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic.

The fact the game came down to a three-point play was ironic as both teams took 22 3-point attempts and there were times it seemed a 3-point shooting broke out.

Caupain’s traditional three-point play gave the Bearcats (7-0) a 55-54 lead. After a missed 3 by the Colonials (6-1) Octavius Ellis, who chosen the tournament MVP, scored on a tip-in. Patricio Garino scored on a drive for George Washington with 29 seconds left.

The Colonials let the Bearcats pass the ball around and they finally fouled when Ellis touched the ball with 14 seconds to play. Ellis, a 56 percent free throw shooter, clinched his MVP award by making both for a 59-56 lead. Two free throws by Caupain with 6.1 seconds left capped the scoring.

Farad Cobb and Kevin Johnson both had 11 points for the Bearcats while Ellis had nine points and seven rebounds.

Garino had 15 points for George Washington, Tyler Cavanaugh had 13 and Joe McDonald 11.

The Colonials finished 11 of 22 from 3-point range, not bad for a team that came in shooting 27.9 percent (29 of 104) from there. The 50 percent doesn’t look so good when you consider the Colonials made five of their first six 3-point attempts and were 8 of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half. They went 16:42 between 2-point field goals but led 30-27 at halftime.

The Bearcats were 7 of 22 from 3-point range but their advantage came at the free throw line where they were 10 of 12 compared to George Washington’s 3 of 4.


George Washington: The Colonials beat Tennessee in the opening round and they were 3 of 15 on 3s. … George Washington was off to its best start since it was8-0 in 2005-06. … The Colonials finished 10 for 34 from 2-point range.

Cincinnati: The win gives the Bearcats a 13-1 all-time record against George Washington and this was their sixth straight. The last win came on Jan. 31, 1976. … Cincinnati is 7-0 for the fourth time in the last six seasons. … The Bearcats are 51-8 in and have won 24 of 25 in November under coach Mick Cronin. They have won 49 straight games when scoring over 60 points. The 60th point against the Colonials came with 6.1 seconds to play.


George Washington hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday.

Cincinnati hosts Butler on Wednesday.