Friday, December 26, 2008

Almost Unfair for Fairfield

This game could have been a let down. UConn was coming off a fantastic win, had horrible travel, a holiday break, and was set to play a sub-par team. They could have easily overlooked the Stags, and walked through this game. They stuttered out of the gates and gave Fairfield easy buckets, but once they settled down, they tore apart the bottom of the zone, and never looked back. With the floodgates open, it was dunking season. Thabeet, Adrien, and Robinson all had multiple spectacular and rim rattling slams and Dyson was a few inches away from his own highlight. The help defense was a little late on the occasions and Fairfield had their shots along the perimeter but couldn’t hit. The offense was firing on all cylinders by halftime and they didn’t let off the throttle. The guards pushed the ball up and rewarded anyone who ran with them and everyone finished plays off.

Thabeet continues to show drastic improvement. He unwrapped a shiny new hook shot from his left hand and he had a one-handed dunk that he’s never shown before, ending with 20 points. He battled hard on the boards with 11 rebounds and swatted 6 shots. He’s being more wise on when to block a shot and stayed in the game longer in the first half. If there is one knock on his performance, it would be his 0 for 4 at the line. Last year at this time, Hasheem had 10 points, on 2 for 2 shooting, 5 boards, and 5 blocks in the game against UCF. What a difference a year makes.

Adrien had the line of the night with 21 points, 14 boards, 2 blocks and made 5 of 6 from the line. He’s playing great ball now and he’s picked up his intensity. While this was against an inferior opponent, he plays the same way against everyone and it is that consistency and reliability that can easily be overlooked.

Dyson’s offense was off and he relied heavily on the three, shooting just 1 for 6 from behind the arch. The offense continued to flow through him and he played Santa, dishing out 6 dimes to only 1 turnover. He brings it every night defensively and isn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint, grabbing 6 boards. Price didn’t force anything. He ran the offense and he drove with speed. He could’ve easily came into the game with the Gonzaga win on his mind and hijack the offense, but he funneled the ball into the paint where the bigs were dominating.

Austrie ran the break well, dished out 3 dimes to no turnovers, and had a block. He wasn’t looking to score and did a great job protecting the perimeter. Kemba bounced back and had a solid performance. He flashed his speed, hit 3 of 4 from the field, went to the line, had 4 dishes and 3 boards. His minutes are dropping with Robinson coming in and he hasn’t settled into what his role is yet.

Robinson is playing above and beyond what anyone expected from a player who is jumping on a team at the halfway point. In his 16 minutes, he had 6 points on 3 of 5 shooting, 2 boards, 3 assists, and 1 block. His length and athleticism has added the missing element on the wing for UConn’s defense and he has found himself in the game during crucial stretches of ballgames.

Gavin has set some lofty expectations lately and his 0 points and 1 rebound performance is a little lackluster. The cries for him to replace Adrien should simmer down now. Okwandu found his way into the game when it was out of hand and he pulled down a board and had a blocked shot in his 3 minutes. You knew Haralson was going to fire a shot off even if he only had 2 minutes. He went 0 for 1 from the floor.

With Big East play around the corner, this team is on a great roll. They’ve won close games, beat teams with their bigs, and ran teams to death with their guards. They have swagger and confidence, a deadly combination. All they do now is head into the toughest conference in the nation with a giant bulls-eye on there backs. Make sure you have plenty of popcorn in the pantry because it’s going to be a long season.

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