Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Clash of the Titans
This was a clash of the Titans in the Big East and a physical game, as two of college’s best frontcourts went at each other. Thabeet nearly had his arm broken and Blair took an elbow to the grill, as they battled down low. But in the end UConn didn’t have an answer for Young and Blair. Young was simply fantastic, hitting 4 of 6 from deep, 8 of 13 from the field, and 4 of 6 from the line. They couldn’t contain him. Blair had his way inside, using his body to create space and he has the strongest hands in the conference. If he gets two hands on the rock, it is his. The referees were inconsistent all night with their calls, letting major bumping go on in the paint and then call simple touch fouls. They never solidified a flow to the game. But the major undoing for UConn was their defense. They couldn’t stop set plays, the guards sank under screens, the big men couldn’t hold their ground, and they lost the rebound battle by 13.
Price shouldered most of the offensive for UConn, shooting 6 of 16 and 4 of 9 from deep. He had his best point guard day with 8 dimes to 1 turnover. But this team missed Dyson, who had the knack for getting inside and getting to the rim. The guards just couldn’t find their way to the basket and became jump shooters, which isn’t their strength. Austrie didn’t have a good game. He ended his night with 5 points, 1 board, 1 assist to 1 turnover, and didn’t get to the line. He has to realize that he is deadly from the line and needs to attack the rim and get to the charity stripe for his points.
Adrien had trouble all night covering Young. But in the end, he nearly had a double-double with 13 points, 9 boards, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 1 steal, and 1 block. He has a hard time playing against opponents that can hit the perimeter shot and move well around screens. Thabeet had a horrible game with most of it not of his doing. The referees made some terrible calls and had the big man on the bench for half the game. Blair was able to lower his shoulder and drive Thabeet backwards. Hasheem ended the game with 5 points, 4 boards, 3 turnovers, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Robinson played aggressive and had his best game since Providence. He had 8 points, 10 boards, 1 dime, 1 steal, 1 turnover, and 3 blocks. He still is having problems with his jump shot, but he is beginning to roam the paint more and help out on the rebounding end. He did miss some clutch free throws in the waning minutes of the ballgame.
Kemba was the only guard to be able to find his way to the rim and finish. He had 13 points, on 5 of 10 shooting, 3 of 4 from the line, 1 board, 1 dime, and 2 steals. He is coming out of his freshman shell and helping more on the offensive end now that Dyson is out. He also played the best defense on the team. Gavin had plenty of minutes with Thabeet in foul trouble and had 6 points, 3 boards, 1 dime, and 2 blocks. He was outmatched guarding Blair and struggled containing him. Beverly came in for a minute of play but didn’t put up a stat.
Pittsburgh deserved this game. They were in control throughout with Blair and Young dominating with an inside-out game. Connecticut showed heart and battled back, taking control of the game late in the second half, but the Panthers were relentless and found easy baskets to tie it up, then Levance Fields made two huge threes that pulled them away for good. It was the first time in forever that a team has shot more free throws then the Huskies, 20 to 17, though UConn was fouling towards the end of the game. This does little to hurt UConn in the long run. They still hold on to that number one seed, though they will lose the number one mantel. They will get another shot to knock off this team and they’ll be ready for revenge.