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Huskies put all the elements together
by Paul Kennedy, August 22nd, 2012 6:13AM



[ELITE EIGHT: #1 Connecticut] Connecticut has all the elements for making a national championship run, a deep and talented team loaded with experience. Another key is chemistry. The Huskies hope to build on a successful spring trip to Canada that Coach Ray Reid says is one of the best things he's ever organized.

"The chemistry of the group was just fantastic," said Reid. "I was saying to myself, 'Can we pull this off? Because we'll lose three weeks in May of getting ready for the fall.' But I thought the players deserved it, and it could be a home run. Turns out, it was one of the best things I've done."

The Huskies went 19-3-3 in 2011 and made their 14th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, where they fell in the quarterfinals.

RETURNEES. UConn returns one of the deepest teams in the nation with Jamaican sophomore Andre Blake in goal, senior Jossimar Sanchez on defense, seniors Carlos Alvarez and Stephane Diop in midfield and junior Mamadou Diouf (13 goals in 2011) up front. Blake finished with 15 shutouts, including a program record nine straight. The key player will be Diouf. The 6-foot-1 Senegalese scored 13 goals as a sophomore after enduring an injury-plagued freshman campaign. The Huskies will need to improve their output after averaging just 1.6 goals a game in 2011 when they were shut out five times in the regular season.

NEWCOMERS. Andrew Jean-Baptiste, the 2011 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, signed a Generation adidas contract with MLS's Portland Timbers, but UConn added reinforcements on the backline with Jamaican transfer Sergio Campbell (Central Arkansas) and Trinidadian freshman Dwight Ceballo.
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