Terry Larrier

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UConn’s eight newcomers already competing for playing time

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The competition to earn playing time is already in high gear at UConn, where eight newcomers have joined the Huskies.

So far, it’s been just pickup games, limited workouts with coaches and on Thursday, their first media session.

But 6-foot-9 freshman forward Josh Carlton says everyone knows they have a chance at playing time and everyone is looking to impress.

The roster includes just two players who saw significant action during last year’s 16-17 campaign — guards Jalen Adams and Christian Vital.

Two others, Terry Larrier and Alterique Gilbert are back after sitting out most of the season with injuries.

There are four freshmen — forwards Carlton, Tyler Polley, Sidney Wilson and Isaiah Whaley. They join junior college transfers Eric Cobb and Kwintin Williams and graduate transfers Antwoine Anderson and David Onuorah.

Wilson, who transferred from St. John’s after summer school, is seeking an NCAA waiver to play this season.

UConn’s Terry Larrier out for season with torn ACL

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Terry Larrier will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in UConn’s loss to Oklahoma State in the Maui Invitational opener on Monday night.

The school announced the news on Wednesday.

Larrier was averaging 16.7 points in the three games before he was injured. He was UConn’s best player in the early part of the season, which isn’t saying much considering that the Huskies have started the season 2-3 with a pair of wins over Loyola Marymount and Chaminade, neither of which were convincing.

UConn is still without McDonalds All-American point guard Alterique Gilbert, who suffered a shoulder injury last week.

UConn avoids 0-3 start with 65-62 win over Loyola Marymount

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To get an idea of just how much of a disaster the UConn basketball team is right now, think about this: The Huskies landed a huge win on Thursday night when they found a way to hang on to be Loyola Marymount, 65-62, because it meant that they didn’t drop to 0-3 on the season.

The Huskies have already lost to Wagner and to Northeastern at home this season. Dropping a game to LMU, even if it was on the road, would likely have more or less ensured that this team was headed for the NIT, assuming they find a way to finish over .500.

Because that’s not a guarantee yet, either.

That’s how bad things have gotten for a program that has won four national titles in the last 18 years and two since Barack Obama took office.

The issues are plentiful.

Let’s start with their perimeter shooting, or lack thereof. UConn entered Thursday night shooting 27.5 percent from beyond the arc on the season, having shot 20 threes per game, and left LMU’s gym with another 6-for-23 night. Defenses know exactly how to play them: pack everyone inside 18 feet and let Rodney Purvis and Terry Larrier try to prove that they’re actually shooters.

The other major issue is that UConn’s bigs are not all that good. Amida Brimah blocks a ton of shots, but he’s a 7-footer that weighs less your average sportswriter and is a non-threat offensively if he’s not dunking the ball. Kentan Facey and Steve Enoch, UConn’s other two big men, aren’t much better offensively, but they are quite a bit worse defensively. In other words, the only way UConn is getting any offense generated is if their guards create it.

And their guards aren’t really creators. Jalen Adams hasn’t taken the step forward that we expected. Purvis is a scorer that hunts shots for himself. Larrier is a slasher. Alterique Gilbert, the latest McDonald’s All-American guard on the Husky roster, left Thursday’s game with a dislocated left shoulder that was painful enough that he couldn’t stand up on his own. It doesn’t seem all that likely that he’ll play in Maui, which starts on Monday.

This is simply not a very good basketball team right now.

And the most worrying part is that the Huskies don’t exactly have pieces that would make you believe a turnaround is coming.

It is going to be very interesting to see how they fare on the islands.

Former VCU forward transferring to UConn

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Few teams have been as active in the recruiting of transfers this spring than UConn, with Kevin Ollie looking to return to the NCAA tournament in 2016 after missing out this past season. Having already landed two additions who can play immediately in guard Sterling Gibbs and forward Shonn Miller, UConn has added a third player who already has Division I playing experience.

6-foot-7 forward Terry Larrier will transfer to UConn, where he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2015-16 campaign. Larrier, who was also considering Maryland and received interest from other high-major programs, transferred from VCU in the aftermath of a head coaching change.

News of Larrier’s decision was first reported by Scout.com.

Larrier made six starts for VCU last season, averaging 6.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 18.5 minutes of action per game. Larrier, who considered UConn as a high school recruit before committing to Shaka Smart’s program at VCU, scored in double figures in 11 games last season including consecutive outings in the Atlantic 10 semifinals against Davidson (11 points) and title game against Dayton (ten points).

Larrier’s season high was 21 points, which he reached in a blowout win over Maryland-Eastern Shore in November. Larrier joins 2016 recruit Mamadou Diarra, who committed last week, as players who will make their UConn debut at the start of the 2016-17 season.

Terry Larrier to transfer out of the VCU program

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Terry Larrier is transferring out of the VCU program.

The former top 50 recruit averaged 6.6 points and 3.0 boards for the Rams as a freshman, showing flashes of the potential that got him recruited by the some of the biggest programs in the country. Larrier picked VCU over UConn, but earlier this spring, Shaka Smart left VCU and took over as the head coach at Texas.

A 6-foot-8 wing with long arms, Larrier has the kind of potential that will make him one of the most highly-regarded players on the transfer market. He had a bit of an inconsistent first year on campus, but a lot of that was the result of having to fit into VCU’s ‘Havoc’ system while playing behind Treveon Graham, one of the best players in the history of the program.

Larrier will have to sit out the 2015-16 season but he will have three years of eligibility remaining.

CBSSports.com was the first to report the news.

Top 25 Countdown: No. 13 VCU Rams

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package. We continue our countdown today with No. 13 VCU.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | NBCSports Preseason Top 25 | Preview Schedule

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AP

Head Coach: Shaka Smart

Last Season: 26-9, 12-4 Atlantic 10 (t-2nd), lost in the opening round to No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin

Key Losses: Juvonte Reddic, Rob Brandenberg, Terrence Shannon

Newcomers: Terry Larrier, Michael Gilmore, Justin Tillman, Jonathan Williams

Projected Lineup

G: Briante Weber, Sr.
G: Melvin Johnson, Jr.
F: Treveon Graham, Sr.
F: Jordan Burgess, So.
F: Mo-Alie Cox, So.
Bench: JeQuan Lewis, So.; Terry Larrier, Fr.; Jarred Guest, Sr.; Antravious Simmons, Fr.; Justin Tillman, Fr.; Jonathan Williams, Fr.; Michael Gilmore, Fr.

They’ll be good because … : Shaka Smart will once again have himself a roster perfectly suited to VCU’s ‘Havoc’ style of play. Briante Weber is an absolute nightmare to try and handle the ball against, having led the country in steal percentage in each of his first three seasons in college, and he’s the guy that plays the point in VCU’s full-court press. He’s the engine that makes that defense go, and when the Rams get on a roll defensively, they can simply overwhelm opponents.

Weber will be joined on the perimeter by senior Treveon Graham, who is arguably the best player in the Atlantic 10. Graham is a known-quantity at this point in his career. He’s a physical, 6-foot-6 wing that scores a lot of points, draws a lot of fouls and just generally causes headaches for opposing power forwards that have to guard him. There are some question marks at some other spots on the floor, but with those two seniors anchoring the lineup, VCU is always going to be good.

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Treveon Graham (AP Photo)

But they might disappoint because … : There are, more or less, three real concerns for this VCU team:

  • The Rams don’t have all that much in the way of consistent perimeter shooting. Melvin Johnson can get hot in a hurry and hit four or five in a game, but he’s streaky. Graham is a respectable shooter, while Weber is barely a threat. Jordan Burgess shot 30.7% from the field as a freshman. This limits what VCU can do offensively, and when the Rams struggle to score, they struggle to get into their press.
  • Mo-Alie Cox is one of my favorite players in the country for a couple of reasons: His name is terrific, and he’s a 6-foot-5 brick wall of a big man that looks like he should be playing football, not basketball. He’s physical, he can rebound, he can score around the rim, but he’s also VCU’s best front court option and he’s all of 6-foot-5. Antravious Simmons has lost a ton of weight and VCU landed a pair of forwards that are long, lanky and athletic in Michael Gilmore and Justin Tillman, but none of them are guaranteed to be impact guys this season. The front court could be a constant question mark.
  • Sticking with that same theme, I’m not sure if VCU has enough depth this year. Freshman Terry Larrier, an athletic, 6-foot-8 wing that was a top 50 recruit nationally, should be an impact guy right away for Smart. JeQuan Lewis will provide some experience in the back court as well. Beyond that, there’s a lot of youth. Having quality depth is a bit overrated in college basketball, but not when you run the system VCU runs.

Outlook: Here’s a stat for you: Shaka Smart has never won a conference regular season title. Not in the CAA, and not in the Atlantic 10, and that is a point worth discussing. Ever since he led VCU to the 2011 Final Four out of the play-in game, Smart has been one of the hottest names in college coaching. He’s taken VCU from being a contender in a mid-major conference to being a perennial top 25 program and the overwhelming favorite to win one of the top nine conferences in the country.

Smart has done a terrific job building — and branding — this VCU team, but there are skeptics out there. Is VCU nothing more than ‘Havoc’? And can a team that relies on being more athletic, more aggressive and in better shape to win games really going to be able to beat elite teams, teams with players that can match up with VCU athletically who won’t be bothered by a full court press? It’s worth noting here that the team Smart had the most success with, that 2011 team, was the least ‘Havocy’ of any team he’s had in Richmond. They played the slowest pace, forced the fewest turnovers and won because they had shooters that caught fire from deep at the right time.

I say all that to say this: VCU is the best team in the Atlantic 10, which is the first time the Rams been the clear favorite since joining the conference. They should win the regular season title, and at least a game or two in the NCAA tournament. If they don’t win the league, however, than we’re going to have to have a real conversation about whether or not VCU can be elite using ‘Havoc’.