HARTFORD, Conn. -- Terrence Samuel is going to have better games in his career at UConn.
The sophomore guard played 17 minutes on Saturday morning/afternoon against Cincinnati and had no points, no assists and one turnover.
A look at the box score and the first indication is he was a non-factor. How does he play so many minutes and do so little?
The game isn't played on the box score.
Only about the 15,000 plus at the XL Center and those watching on TV will know the truth. Samuel was stellar on Saturday against Cincinnati.
Samuel's role isn't to score and put up numbers, it's to provide ball-handling, defense and to get Ryan Boatright off the point. He is there to tempo the game and control things.
That's what he did in his 17 minutes of action. When he wasn't on the floor, Boatright was under siege as Cincinnati attacked with length and athleticism. Off the ball? Boatright had the pressure taken off.
UConn won its third straight game, a big American Athletic Conference win 62-56 over Cincinnati, and it was the role players like Samuel that got them there.
“It’s not about points. It’s about contributing in different ways," Ollie said. "He got great rebounds, he was able to break pressure and he was able to run the offense to get (Ryan) Boatright off the ball. I thought he did a wonderful job giving us some meaningful minutes.”
Omar Calhoun, in 19 effective minutes, was an efficient 5 of 7 for 12 points. Sam Cassell Jr.? He five minutes he managed to can a critical 3-pointer late in the first half. Then there's Rakim Lubin. The 6-foot-8 260-pound freshman from Georgia isn't ready for this level, but used all his heft and beef to make an impact in 10 minutes. He had two points, a key block, and was a defensive anchor subbing for Amida Brimah.
Three weeks ago, UConn was Boatright and then no one else.
Now, as the American Athletic Conference season heats up, the Huskies' anticipated depth at the beginning of the season has arrived. UConn had 19 points off the bench, led by Calhoun's 12 and Rodney Purvis also added 11 points.
"We made the statement that we’re a better team than we were earlier in the season," Boatright said. “Two weeks ago, we wouldn’t have won that game.”
The Huskies shot 46 percent from the floor and are now rounding into the team that Ollie thought he had in the preseason.
"All the guys came in and did their job," Ollie said. "I am a very happy coach. I like where our team is going."
Samuel's play was key. Cincinnati went with a full-court pressure to rattle the Huskies and with Calhoun, Purvis and Hamilton not necessarily strong ball-handlers, someone to take the pressure off Boatright.
Boatright finished with 18 points and eight assists for the Huskies in 35 minutes. It would not be possible if it weren't for Samuel coming in and taking over some of the point guard duties. That put Boatright off the ball, much like last season.
It's a long time coming for the Huskies. Boatright is the star of the team, that's known, and the rest of the roster has to plug into their roles. Calhoun has to be offense and defense off the bench. Purvis has to become a consistent second scorer while Daniel Hamilton and Kentan Facey need to stuff the stat sheet while Brimah needs to block shots and rebound.
Off the bench, Samuel's role is defense and ball-handling while Lubin's is simple -- be big. The Huskies played 10 players, eight more than 10 minutes, and have a lot of options and combinations.
I am a feel coach," Ollie said. "Their job is to make it hard driving home (thinking about combinations)."
The Huskies are 9-5 on the season and start to look like a more well-rounded team. Boatright is the player that makes the Huskies go, but there are emerging other options and important roles to played.
The Huskies are starting to put it all together at the right time.