Kromah's boost off the bench helps lift UConn
HARTFORD – Lasan Kromah doesn’t have a lot of time, but he sure is patient.
With only one year to play at UConn, the senior transfer has adjusted to a new role coming off the bench after playing as a starter at George Washington.
His most valuable performance to date came Tuesday night as the Huskies were sluggishly trying to stave off Loyola of Maryland.
Kromah scored 12 points, a season-high, and played a big part in forcing the Greyhounds’ leading scorer Dylon Cormier to 13 misses in 22 shot attempts. UConn eventually held on, 76-66, to improve to 7-0 in front of a sparse holiday week gathering of 9,497 at the XL Center.
The Huskies jumped out to a 15-point cushion in the first half, but Loyola continued to chip away and eventually pulled within three in the second. Kromah came in at that point and scored eight points, including a steal and transition lay-up, to help push the lead back to 13 at 63-50. He received a loud ovation when taken out for a rest.
“I just want to help the team any way I can,” said Kromah, who matched his season-high of 21 minutes and made five of eight shots. “Coming off the bench, I can be the guy who comes in and brings the team a spark and energy. I like this role and I’m happy to do whatever coach wants me to do. I'm ready to contribute whenever needed.”
Kromah, who stands at 6-foot-6, played three years at George Washington, was a 1,000-point scorer and started 71 of his 92 games there. After graduating, he enrolled at UConn as a graduate student with one year of eligibility remaining and saw the chance of joining the Huskies as a great opportunity, although in a different role than he was used to.
“The atmosphere here is very family oriented and everyone here plays for each other,” Kromah said. “We have a deep team and whether you are called on for one minute or 20 minutes, you have to produce. This team is about winning and you have to be ready when your number is called.”
Even though time is not on his side as a Husky, Kromah has quickly fit in and will be an important part for this team, which is currently ranked 13th in the country.
“It’s definitely different,” Kromah said of joining a team for only one season. “I came in and tried to pick up everything as fast as I could and try to always keep a positive outlook.”
“He was all over the place tonight,” noted UConn head coach Kevin Ollie. “He is always getting his hands on (passes) and gives me versatility off the bench. That’s what I want my guards to be.”
Kromah’s effort on Tuesday perfectly complimented DeAndre Daniels’ efficient 21-point (on 8-of-12 shooting), eight-rebound performance. While Kromah had his best offensive game yet, it was his defense on Cormier that helped seal the win. Cormier entered the night averaging 29.8 points and finished with 23 points on 22 shots.
If not for the spark of Kromah, this Thanksgiving would’ve been one to forget for the Huskies.
“I told the team that I’m very proud we’re 7-0, especially playing seven games in 21 days. It’s been a hectic schedule,” Ollie said. “I’m very proud of the effort, but disappointed in the inconsistencies. When we get a 15-point lead, I want it to go to 25. No, I’m not jumping for joy about tonight, but I’m jumping for joy we’re 7-0.”
It was a predictable letdown for the Huskies, coming off wins over Boston College and Indiana in New York last week and with No. 15 Florida coming to Storrs on Monday.
One theme to this early season has been strong bench play, with Niels Giffey, Tyler Olander and Amida Brimah all contributing in big ways to wins. Kromah’s turn came on Tuesday and he did not disappoint.
He doesn’t have the time to waste.