HARTFORD, Conn. – Sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels was a little surprised by numbers inside the box score after UConn defeated UMass Lowell before 5,538 fans at the XL Center Sunday afternoon.
Daniels had 15 points, third highest for the Huskies behind sophomore guard Ryan Boatright (22) and freshman swingman Omar Calhoun (20). Daniels hit 5 of 9 shots from the field, added four blocks, three assists and one steal. But the number everyone - from coach Kevin Ollie on down – wanted to talk about was 14. After Daniels pulled down 10 boards in the first half, he finished with 14 in 30 minutes of play.
"I didn't think I had that many rebounds," Daniels said. "Coach Ollie told me after the game, but I was surprised myself."
Without Alex Oriachi and Andre Drummond this season, UConn's size and rebounding ability are two of the team's biggest concerns. The Huskies looked small and played small in their first exhibition win over American International.
Daniels led an improved effort Sunday as UConn dominated the boards 52-34. R.J. Evans and Ryan Boatright each had five rebounds. But Daniels' effort may have been the headline for UConn on a day when a lot of things went well.
"They were very sharp, quick, athletic, long, fast, and they were good," Lowell coach Greg Herenda said. "When they make shots and get to the rim and get their transition going, they're good."
In a freshman season that was more frustrating than anything, Daniels appeared in 31 games and averaged three points and 2.1 rebounds. But he knows what is expected this season and it starts with rebounding.
"Coach Ollie and everybody tells me that's what I've got to do for this team and that's where my focus is," said Daniels, who is getting time at both forward positions.
"I worked so hard this offseason. I didn't take a day off the whole summer. I was working out to get in better condition with strength, and basketball-wise. I worked pretty hard."
Daniels also was 5-for-6 from the free throw line Sunday, one of the better performances for the Huskies, who were 29 o 45 overall.
In the video below, Ollie addresses the play of Daniels and talks about UConn's 64.4 free throw percentage.