Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fahrenheit 800

If you like insane outside shooting, little defense, and two teams that just couldn’t miss, then this game was right up your alley. Both teams hit 11 three-pointers each and scored at will in transition. Who knew that UConn would score 93 points with their frontcourt only going 4 for 8 from the field with 16 total points? This game was more of an anomaly for UConn then it was for a talented offensive minded Marquette team. Most of UConn’s victories have been slug it out defensive battles. Connecticut’s guards are starting to sink under the pick and roll, leaving wide open shooters, and teams are making them pay by draining shots. While the 3-ball was working in this game, ignoring the inside game played right into Marquette’s style, creating long rebounds and created transition opportunities. If it wasn’t for breakout games by Price, Robinson, and Haralson then Calhoun would’ve been stuck at win number 799.

Price was absolutely insane, hitting 8 of 13 from deep. He had his whole arsenal on display, getting into the lane, and showed a wicked crossover move and pull-up. UConn kept going to that well and Price always had more to give, making a dagger three in the closing minutes to seal Calhoun’s 800th win. He ended his night with 36 points, 6 assists to 3 turnovers, 6 boards, and a perfect 4 of 4 from the line. Austrie struggled offensively, going 0 for 2 from deep, 2 assists to 2 turnovers, 1 steal and 1 board. He is slowly losing his minutes to Walker, Robinson, and Haralson.

Robinson had a breakout game and his best of the year, far surpassing his Providence performance. He was skying for rebounds, was able to get to the rim off the dribble-drive, passed the ball well, hit the three ball, and was scrappy in the paint. He went 7 for 14, with 19 points, 10 boards, 2 assists to 3 turnovers, and went a perfect 4 for 4 from the line. This game was a big confidence booster for Sticks. Hitting that outside shot opened up everything for him. He needs to continue this stellar play into the next game.

The frontcourt were spectators on the offensive end until 11:43 to go in the second half. Thabeet was a monster on the boards all game, but had problems holding onto the ball in traffic. He ended the night with 14 points, 10 boards, 5 blocks, 1 dime to 1 turnover and hit 6 for 7 from the line. Adrien had his worst game of the year by far. He only had 2 points and had those from the line, 4 boards, 1 block, and 2 turnovers. He didn’t play with the energy and passion that UConn fans are used to seeing.

Walker was more assertive on the offensive end, getting into the lane and finishing around the basket and through contact. He ended with 9 points, 2 boards, 2 steals, and 3 assists to 1 turnover. His only knock came from the line only hitting 1 of 3. Edwards had a solid game with 5 points, 5 boards, and hit 1 of 2 from the line. How great was it to see Haralson knock down a three and then he came back and hit another. UConn missed having someone capable of hitting that corner three. He’s earned more minutes with his performance.

It wasn’t the way Calhoun drew up getting his 800th win but in the end UConn proved that they could stay toe-to-toe with one of the best backcourts in the nation. The past couple of games, where the offense stuttered through starts, left fans scratching their heads, but players like Robinson, Price, and even Haralson stepped up to the challenge. The question is if this was a breakout game for these players or was it a one time show. They’ll need to prove that they don’t have to lean heavily on the frontcourt to produce points. If Connecticut can squeeze out 70 percent of what they got from their backcourt then this team will be putting up another banner.

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