Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Deceiving Victory

While the final score looked like a blowout, this game was anything but one-sided. There were shades of the past couple of seasons during stretches of this game. The zone frustrated the huskies and they could never establish the bigs inside. They better figure this out because that zone will be much harder to penetrate when they enter Big East play. On defense they were getting out hustled by a much slower opponent, and settled for the three ball without moving the defense or penetrating. They were bailed out with the tight officiating and got to the line 46 times to Hartford’s 17. The bigs need to do a better job in fighting for position and the guards need to remain patient, drive into the zone and look to dish the ball when the defense reacts.

Again Dyson had a solid performance and has emerged as UConn’s primary offensive threat. He shot 8 for 15 and 2 of 6 from three. He needs to keep this offensive mindset, and attack the defense. His 0 out 3 from the line hopefully is an anomaly. Kemba did a good job in his first start and looked more comfortable in taking the open look. He displayed his “one man fast break ability” that Calhoun has talked about, and has displayed range with his shot, hitting 2 of 6 from three. His aggressive style and lightning fast first step put him to the line 8 times and he sunk 7 of those. Craig Austrie had his best performance since the middle of league play last year. He wasn’t hesitant to take the shot and only 3 of his 11 field goals were three pointers, which shows his ability to take the ball inside. He lived at the charity stripe, hitting 10 out of 11. He also played exceptional defense on Joe Zeglinski.

Thabeet with his towering frame could only muster 4 shot attempts in his 22 minutes of play. There were signs of last year in some of his post moves and lack of intensity. He battled on the boards and pulled down 8, but his night was a big disappointment. He needs to demand the ball, fight hard for position and block out. Adrien also had a hard time with the zone and went most of the game without a bucket. He fought hard and pulled down 15 boards, but the lack of touches on the block and the way he passed the ball without making a move is disheartening. Where was that elbow jumper he had added to his game last year?

Beverly played great. He picked and chose his points and was effective. In 12 minutes he had 9 points, 4 boards, 2 offensive, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 three point shot. Now that’s getting it done. This bench is deep in the guard position. Haralson needs confidence in the biggest way. He went 0 for 3 again. He needs to keep shooting it, but sometimes finding an easy bucket will make that basket look a lot bigger. Gavin did his job and pulled down 6 boards, 4 of them were offensive, went 3 of 3 from the line, and even found an assist. Okwandu at times looked like a freshman, but surprised everyone with a smooth elbow jumper. He also had a block and a steal in his 9 minutes of action. Johnnie Bird made an appearance and found his way to the basket.

While the pups turned around a horrible start to the second half, there are still some disconcerting facts. They need to be able to use their strengths and not let teams dictate were the offense is going to come from. It is up to the guards to penetrate the zone. While the threes were dropping, they settled for the first open look. They didn’t pass the ball well, didn’t hustle, and let a smaller and slower team out work them. Though the better team took over at the end of the game, against a more comparable talented squad this outcome would’ve been much different.

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