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Tyler Polley: The Comeback Kid

Five games into his comeback from an ACL tear, Polley led the Huskies on an 18-point comeback over Marquette

NCAA Basketball: Tulane at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Polley could not miss Tuesday night as he helped lead an improbable UConn comeback against Marquette. He may have also started a new UConn Twitter tradition. The comeback had fans posting videos of themselves drinking hot sauce as retribution for questioning the Huskies after their uninspired first half against Marquette. And here I am thinking that I am a fanatic, writing this article on my phone at 1:43 AM because it is impossible to sleep after a big Huskies win. Either way, it is good to be back in the Big East.

Okay, back to Polley. Last year, Polley averaged 25 minutes a game and was the team’s best deep threat before going down with an ACL injury. On his career, Polley is shooting 40% from three, hitting just shy of 42% of his three-point shots in 15 games last season. Impressive numbers if you ask me, but Hurley, always coaching and always pushing his players, wanted more from Polley. More aggression. More toughness on defense. More rebounds. Polley answered the call and had arguably the best game of his college career, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 boards in a win over Tulane, before tearing his ACL in practice two days later. Everyone was left wondering if Polley had been injured just as he was hitting stride. Would he be able to build on this game in his senior year – UConn’s first year back in the Big East?

Recovering from an ACL is no walk in the park, throw in a global pandemic and that makes things even tougher. Fortunately, Polley was determined to make it back in time for the season opener. He was able to continue his rehab at home over the summer in Florida. His dedication and hard work had him ready to make his comeback ahead of schedule and he was ready to go in UConn’s first game. Teams can always use shooters, but Polley was going to need to show more if he wanted to keep his minutes.

Like Dan Hurley, UConn fans had high expectations for Polley coming into the season. Polley started off strong, albeit against Central Connecticut, but struggled with foul trouble in the next two games. In fact, Polley logged only four minutes, four fouls, and one turnover in the teams win over USC. However, Polley came alive in the second half against Marquette and seemed to find his groove and then some. Last night, scoring 23 points in the second half (by the way, Marquette only scored 23 points as a team in the half), Polley had yet another career game. Spotting up, in transition, pulling up from three off the dribble, taking it to the rack. It did not matter. Polley scored in a variety of ways, played tough defense, and pulled down 4 rebounds, showing he is far more than just a shooter. Credit Polley for keeping his confidence through a rough patch and coming through when the team needed him most, down 18 to Marquette and Bouknight with an injured elbow.

Like all Hurley teams, this team is built to win with defense, but their offense had the UConn fan base uneasy. After the last two games, I do not think UConn twitter will be questioning the Huskies anymore. Lesson learned, and hot sauce for anyone who needs more games to be reassured. In back-to-back games, different players have stepped up. Last night, it was Polley’s turn, leading the Huskies comeback in dramatic fashion. Can they carry this momentum? Can Polley continue this hot streak that he started the game prior to his injury? Hurley and the Huskies have me believing. You can see the team’s collective confidence growing. The Huskies are back, and the Big East better watch out, because “it’s coming”.