As a somewhat raw prospect from New Jersey’s Patrick School, Adama Sanogo was viewed by most as a draft, someone who would take a year or two to become a cohesive, solid post player in a major program.
After his first two games in UConn’s uniform, it was very evident that Sanogo was way ahead of what most thought he would be in terms of development, scoring 16 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes. He showcased a range of post and nimble foot moves that haven’t been used by a great UConn since Alex Orihaki, maybe even before that. Sanogo ended his first season with a lot of promise, with 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in just 17 minutes per game.
Fast forward to the 2021-22 season. The Huskies had a blazing start to the season and Sanogo was one of the main reasons. With a record of 5-1 and 96.6 points per game, it seemed like the question marks surrounding the offense without Bouknight entering the season had already been resolved. Sanogo seemed to take the All-Great East The first and second teams go head to head, achieving dominant performances after dominant performances to the tune of 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. His early-season build-up was highlighted by a 30-point, six-rebound performance in a double overtime victory over No.19 Auburn, which put Sanogo on the national stage and in the conversation with a party. of the elite of college basketball.
However, not all good things last forever, as Sanogo suffered abdominal strain in an ugly victory over the Maryland Eastern Shore and UConn suffered a few more losses. It wasn’t just Sanogo that was bitten by the injury virus. Tyrese Martin injured his wrist and missed three games. Not having UConn’s top scorer and the best pure rebounder in the game obviously hurt them on both sides of the field. Here, we’ll explain how UConn fared with and without their First Zone leader.
Very crude numbers
|With Sanogo||Without Sanogo|
|With Sanogo||Without Sanogo|
|Points per game: 84.6||Points per game: 67|
|Points allocated per game: 63.8||Points allocated per game: 59|
|Average winning margin: 20.8||Average point differential: 8|
|FG%: 45.5||FG%: 38.7|
|Three-point average FG%: 38.9||Three-point average FG%: 27.1|
|Rebounds per game: 44||Rebounds per game: 40.8|
|Revenue per game: 13.5||Revenue per game: 11.8|
|Blocks per set: 7.4||Blocks per set: 6|
|Games (9): CCSU, Coppin State, LIU, Binghamton, No. 19 Auburn, Michigan State, VCU, UMES, Marquette (limited)||Games (4): Grambling State, West Virginia, St. Bonaventure, Providence|
Judging by the raw numbers, UConn is better in almost every statistic category when Sanogo is playing. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as he has been an anchor at both ends of the pitch this season and has appeared to serve as an attacking focal point for important stretches.
The sample size of matches with Sanogo is much larger than without, and the team also largely played a much lower competition on average while in roster. Starting to play four quad-four opponents will certainly inflate the stats to some extent, and while the level of competition was probably a bit higher in the games Sanogo missed, it’s still evident that he’s a staple of the game. Huskies success this season. Either way, UConn’s men were a very different team without their star big man.
The offense is completely focused on Sanogo when he’s on the pitch. That’s not to say he’s a field general a la Cameron Krutwig of Illinois Chicago last season who seeks to involve his teammates more than to score himself.
All season long it’s been evident that when Sanogo catches the ball within 10-15 feet of the hoop, it’s practically a guarantee that it will be put on the backboard. It’s not at all a blow to Sanogo’s ability, as that’s his greatest strength. Feeding him in any position has proven to be UConn’s most effective attack this season. He’s shooting 55% from the ground, at the top of the list, with just over 11 field goal attempts, which ranks him second.
His defensive impact cannot be overstated either, placing second on the team with 1.7 blocks per game, behind reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year Isiah Whaley. While not the same type of dynamic shot blocker as Whaley or Akok Akok, Sanogo has shown much improved footwork this season, allowing for better positioning and fewer fouling issues, which was his biggest problem as a rookie.
While Sanogo is healthy and starting the game, Hurley likes to get his big man hit early in almost any contest which has led to quick buckets most of the time. In the Central Connecticut game, the season opener, Sanogo was 4-4 with eight points in the first four minutes. Against Coppin State, he was 2-4 with four points in the opening three minutes of the game. In the game against Auburn, No.19, Sanogo got the better of former five-star center Walker Kessler, scoring UConn’s first 10 points on 5-6 shots.
Sanogo started 0-3 against Michigan State just four minutes later, but the plan has remained the same. Get the big man established early and often, and force the defense to double down on the team or pull out some extra assist that opens up opportunities for other players.
When Sanogo is on the pitch, UConn’s shot quality is much better than when he is away. Judging by the match shots, UConn takes a higher percentage of inside shots when Sanogo is on the pitch resulting in a higher conversion rate and more overall points scored. This is also evident by their field goal percentage of 45.5% when Sanogo is in the lineup versus 38.7% when he is away.
Again, UConn has largely played much better teams on average without Sanogo, with three games in quad one. With how efficient Sanogo is indoors and how much the shot board changes when he’s on the ground, that still matters. Sanogo has also proven that he can compete with the best of the best by leading UConn in scoring in back-to-back games against the Top 25 teams in Auburn and Michigan State. He’s the go-to guy on offense and the shot selection changes completely without him.
The quality of the shots argument is also supported by the fact that UConn has won 20 3-pointers in the four games Sanogo missed, which they only did three of the first seven to start the season. . Their in-depth conversion rate also declined without Sanogo, dropping over 10 whole percentage points. Sanogo has no direct impact on that drop (0-1 out of three this year), but it is the impact it has on floor space, acting like a magnet in the paint. Sanogo draws so much attention to himself in the paint, which makes UConn’s guards look better downtown, especially on offensive rebounds.
Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a glaring part of the game that UConn got better at without Sanogo. Turnovers have diminished slightly, which is probably due in part to Sanogo’s knack for giving the ball away at times – he spits the ball out at the team’s highest rate at 2.7 per night. It’s definitely an aspect of Sanogo’s game that needs a lot of improvement. Being stronger with the ball and knowing when to pass out of the post are skills learned, and one that Sanogo will hopefully pick up as he continues to mature this season and beyond.