Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Price

While the weather outside has been frigid, UConn’s game is beginning to heat up and it started with the defense. The guards had active hands all game and kept their men in front of them. The big men controlled the paint and never let Williams and Bishop feel comfortable. Calhoun even dusted off the zone for a prolonged period in the first half and it didn’t look pretty, giving the Bearcats open looks which they drained. The offense was clicking, with the outside shooting catching fire, hitting 8 for 15. They were able to get into the open court and attack the basket before the defense could settle and when they were in the half court, they remained patient and the guards found the open man, ending the game with 15 assists.

No one expected this. After the horrid game against West Virginia, Price comes out and explodes, displaying his entire arsenal. He had the line of the night, 22 points, with 5 of 8 from three, 5 assists to 2 turnovers, and 1 steal. He was in the zone all game, hitting the outside shot, driving the lanes, dishing to the bigs, and setting up in the half court and executing effective plays. He is a much different shooter when he gets his shot off a pass then if he creates his own shot off the dribble. Now that he has this game under his belt, he needs to carry this game over. He’s been hot and cold so far this season.

Dyson continues to struggle shooting the ball, though he hit a nice three-pointer. He still does all the intangibles that a team needs, ending his day with 12 points, 6 boards, 5 dimes, and 2 steals. His shots around the rim are beginning to fall. All he needs to do is find that mid-ranged game he has shown to possess. His defense was amazing, shadowing Deonta Vaughn and denying him the ball.

Austrie had his best game in awhile. He never hurts his team, having his fourth game in a row without a turnover. His outside shot was on, hitting 2 for 3, and he got to the line, hitting 3 of 4. Walker did a little of everything, flashing his speed on the break, hitting free throws, pulling down boards, and finding the open man. While his shot wasn’t there tonight, he was able to show more of his point guard skills tonight and his defensive energy is amazing.

Adrien had a powerful game, ending with another double-double, with 13 points and 12 boards. He showed his overall game, hitting the jumper from the free throw line, getting deep into the paint in transition, battling for second chance points, and finishing strong. Thabeet had a loud 8 points and 3 rebound performance. He missed his two attempts at the line and he had trouble setting up for position in the half court. He needs to be more aggressive in the rebounding department, 3 does not cut it.

Robinson came out of the gates on fire and set the momentum that UConn never let go of. He is active without the ball and was able to finish plays around the basket. It was surprising to see that he only had 1 rebound since he seemed to be playing around the paint all game. His shot still isn’t even close. He is either overshooting it by a mile or front rimming them.

Gavin had an off night, only playing 8 minutes, ending his day with only 2 points and no rebounds. It was great to see Mandeldove out there but it also shows Calhoun’s lack of trust with Okwandu. I thought that Charles would have had a larger role in the rotation at this point of the season.

With the defense finding its stride and the stuttering starts behind them, UConn looks to be playing great basketball at the beginning of conference play. And it starts with the defense. They are able to create a frantic pace to the game by pressuring the ball and forcing teams into their plays late and it helps to have anchors in the paint that can erase mistakes. They need to ride this momentum, like last year’s winning streak that catapulted the team into the Big Dance, and continue to play this controlled chaos style of play where their assists far outweigh their turnovers.

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