Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Measuring Up

It wasn’t pretty but this game was a classic Big East match-up, showcasing two defensive minded teams. UConn dominated the glass 51 to 28 but West Virginia’s swarming defenders created 18 turnovers. Clamping down on the perimeter, one of UConn’s problems all year, they held the streaky Mountaineers to just 6 for 26 from behind the arch, taking away their primary weapon and West Virginia clogged the paint with defenders daring UConn to shoot the three. With neither team able to pull away, it was UConn who made the stops down the stretch and knocked off their fourth ranked team of the year.

The big men were solid with Thabeet leading the way. He had the line of the night with 13 points, 13 boards, 3 of 4 from the line, and 3 blocks. While he got off to a great start, he faded towards the middle of the game, only to show up at the end to help stave off a great West Virginia team. This is back-to-back good games for the big man. Jeff Adrien put the Huskies on his shoulders during some crucial stretches, using his muscle and quick footwork to score around the basket, ending the game with a team best 17 points.

The guards struggled all game offensively but played superb perimeter defense. Dyson is officially in a slump with his third poor shooting performance in a row, but he kept at it. He had a difficult task in chasing Ruoff and Bryant around the perimeter and did a great job. He was aggressive and took the ball to the rim and was rewarded with 8 trips to the charity stripe. Walker had a solid game, hitting the team’s only three pointer and pulled down 8 boards, though he didn’t have an assist. He’s settling down in the half court offense and not turning the ball over as much.

Austrie played 21 minutes, had 2 points on 1 of 2 shooting, 1 board, 1 assist, and no turnovers. He hasn’t turned the ball over in the past three games but he needs to show more in rebounding and scoring to warrant the minutes. Price had his worst game of the year. He went 0 for 9 from the field, 1 rebound, 2 assists to 2 turnovers, and ended his day with 1 point. His ill-advised three near the end of the game had him riding the pine for the last three minutes.

Robinson played the entire game which shows how far he has come. While his shot is as ugly as those Snuggie commercials, he was tenacious on the boards, pulling down 15. He played solid defense and had 3 blocks and 1 steal. He has a knack for sticking his nose into the paint and scoring on put-backs . It isn’t a coincidence that ever since he has started, UConn has found it’s defensive swagger.

With no Huskies in major foul trouble, Gavin only had 8 minutes of action and managed to pull down 4 boards.

This game was the measuring stick that everyone was looking at to see where this team was at. They have proven that the Georgetown game was a fluke and that they can rise up and play solid basketball against an elite Big East opponent. With their defense coming together and their multitude of ways to score the basket, this team is dangerous. Stealing these games on the road early in the season takes the pressure off them later in conference play. This is a big win but they can’t be complacent. Not in this conference. Just ask Notre Dame.

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