Denham Brown - Ready to Step It Up

Every UConn fan knows the story by now. Denham Brown once netted 111 points in a high school game in Canada. Brown arrived with international acclaim and the reputation as a scorer, but his career in Storrs has been somewhat inconsistent. At times his effort was derailed by injury, other times he was done in by a lack of confidence. Yet the 1000-point scorer might hold the key to how many banners this Connecticut team is able to hang this season.

Brown is one of two players Jim Calhoun believes will have a hand in deciding UConn's fate.  


"I believe that too. It really lies in the seniors. And me and Rashad have played the most minutes out of everybody on this team and I think just that fact and my leadership skills enable us to get through situations on the court," said Denham.


"Without question… (The team) relies on us because we're the most experienced guys. We've been through the wars," Anderson replied when asked if he and Denham were the keys to how long UConn's season will last.


Denham and Rashad are both seniors. Both have been through it all. Both are determined to leave their mark. Both have bounced back from tough times. But both are very different.


Anderson exudes confidence while Brown has struggled with his self-belief. Anderson has kept a fairly steady scoring output while Brown's looks more like an EKG meter – up and down. Unlike Anderson, Brown has not embraced a role coming off the bench during his UConn career. That's not to say the senior wing was ever disgruntled, but the numbers show he prefers to be a starter. This season the Toronto native has 15 starts under his belt and averages nearly 13 points in those games. Coming off the bench - much different story - he averages just 6.8 points. After being blanked with an "oh-fer" in the first Villanova game, Calhoun inserted Brown back in the starting lineup and he's averaged 14.8 points in the five games since.


Brown is now operating with a certain confidence that's been missing for much of his UConn career. You can see it eyes and hear it in his words.


"This is the time of the season that I felt I needed to step up. It's coming down to the wire and this is where big games start merging. I felt I needed to step up and I'm going to," said Brown with unprecedented conviction after the South Florida game.


Right now Brown is on the upswing and it might be coming at just the right time for the soon-to-be number one ranked Huskies. Brown looked like the accomplished player he can be after a career-high 23 points vs. Big East rival Villanova. With the Huskies struggling he provided a spark early and a lift late, against South Florida on Wednesday with 16 points. 


"I thought Denham Brown might've been the star of the game," said head coach Jim Calhoun after the South Florida game. "I thought he gave us down the stretch another guy to handle the ball, make some moves to the hole – the only guy who took the ball to the basket the way we'd like it to be done."


"I'm not sure we truly have a guy we'd run five plays in a row to. Three plays – three out of four plays. And that guy today would be Denham," said Calhoun in reference to the play of Brown against Nova and USF. "The last two games it's been Denham against very good defense."


One of the criticisms or fallacies about this Connecticut team is that it doesn't have a go-to guy. Denham Brown is doing his best to fill that role lately. Brown started the season with 54 points in his first three games - he's scored 56 in his last three. In his fourth game this season he managed only nine points but still provided the game-winner against Gonzaga. He's competed internationally, in Big East championships, and national championships. He's proven himself in big moments before.


On senior day against Louisville, his team again mired in a tight contest, Denham again was the answer for Calhoun and Co. He had an important steal in the closing moments vs. the Cardinals and his 17 points and season-high 11 rebounds were a big reason the Huskies were able to claim a 10th Big East regular season title.


"It was really fitting that Denham had such a good game. Eleven rebounds, and he was just a horse out there as far as handling the ball for us, giving us an extra handler, especially where Marcus had such a poor first half," said Calhoun.


"I kept telling him, keep shooting and that's what happened.  He took over the game," said Anderson about his fellow senior wing.


"I'm a basketball player.  I need to contribute to help my team win. I think the bigger thing was to win a championship," said Brown.


Championships are what the Huskies are striving for and they may win a couple more if Denham's strong play continues.


"If I win the championship, I am pleased.  If I don't win an NCAA championship I'm not pleased regardless of how well I am doing. (The goal is) to make history out here…2 in 4 years at a school of this caliber…it's the day and age that we are in right now, 2 in 4 years is really unheard of," said a determined Brown.


Maybe it is finally Denham's time.






UCONN Playbook Top Stories