Monday, December 15, 2008

Sticks and Stony

The bigs took over the game early, dominating the paint and the guards finished it off by having their best outside shooting performance of the year. While Stony Brook was outmanned, the UConn defense was active and challenged the smaller Seawolves, holding them to just 32.4 percent shooting. It was expected that the huskies would be a tad rusty with the week long layoff, and they didn’t bother with the outside shot until midway through the first half, but they didn’t need it. The big men roasted marshmallows as they set up camp in the paint.

Thabeet continues to dominate inside. He is playing with emotion that he didn’t show last year, pumping his fist in anger at giving up a turnover and hugging Austrie after a spectacular dish. After a rocky start from the line, he finished 8 for 10 from the stripe with 9 boards and 18 points. Every UConn fan held their breath when Thabeet fell to the court and grabbed his knee. It was good to see him come back in and show no effect. Adrien had his best game of the season with 18 points, on a perfect 8 for 8 shooting, and 10 boards. He finally sank an elbow jumper, which will help extend the defense.

Welcome back Sticks. Rust? What rust? In 16 minutes Stanley had 7 points, 5 boards, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and made 3 of 4 from the stripe. He also played solid defense, considering he wasn’t used to the pace of the game. He had a great put back from the wing, something they lacked in the previous games. He didn’t force anything and let the game come to him.

Dyson bounced back from his sub-par performance in Buffalo. He had the line of the night with 16 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, and 1 block. He just missed a super-highlight on a highflying dunk. When Dyson has a solid game, the team almost always follows suit. Price continues to shoot through his slump, going 5 for 12 from the floor. He is deadly when he is able to set up for the shot, but his runners are off the mark.

Austrie has put together four consecutive good shooting games, possibly shaking the mantra of being a streaky shooter. He was 4 of 6 from the floor and did a little of everything out there. He was perfect from deep, 3 of 3, made 2 of 3 from the line, pulled off a spectacular block and had a game high 7 dishes. Kemba has shot the ball only three times in the past two games. He continues to push the ball, but hasn’t been able to find a lane to the rim. He needs to pull up and drain a few jumpers when his man is retreating. He did have 4 boards, 5 dishes, 1 steal, and 1 block.

Edwards played 12 minutes but couldn’t get into the flow of the game, ending up with 2 points, 1 board, and 1 assist. Beverly had an assist in his 6 minutes and Haralson had only 1 board in his 7 minutes. Okwandu managed 1 rebound, 3 turnovers and 2 fouls in his 5 minutes. And there was a Mandeldove sighting! He had a turnover in his 1 minute. Johnnie Bird also got into the game for 1 minute.

This was just what the doctor ordered for UConn after the poor road performance at Buffalo and the long break. They were dominant in the paint, 43 boards, and they shot 8 for 13 from three. Stanley was able to make an immediate impact in his first game back and fit well into his role off the bench. They’ll have to take the confidence they displayed in this game and see if it can carry over into a hostile and highly talented Gonzaga squad. They’ll know where they stand after the battle in Seattle, which is hard to gauge against teams that can’t match the talent on the floor. Pack your bags because its time to man up.


Matt said...

Great to see AJ start to look like last year's AJ in the second half. Key was starting to look for the mid-range shot first.

David Gillett said...

Agreed. Price threaded some nice passes and they established the inside outside game early.