Sunday, February 22, 2009
It was a long layoff for the Huskies and they showed some rust early on. They threw the ball down low on the first possession and the double team caused an easy turnover. After that UConn didn’t even try to throw the ball in for the next three possessions and resorted to jump shots, which were clanking. This team just can’t find the flow to their offense until five minutes have ticked off the clock. The zone, which they have played against in nearly every game, is still giving them problems. The defense carried the team while the offense sputtered and they even went into a zone themselves at times. They kept the streaky USF shooters to only 5 of 24 from beyond the arch, though there were plenty of open looks that the Bulls didn’t hit. UConn was superb on the out of bounds set plays, scoring on two and Adrien missed a bunny on another. With the regular season coming to a close, UConn needs to keep up their intensity in every game. At times they looked to be sleepwalking.
With the hype machine breaking up with Thabeet and caught making out with Blair this past week, Thabeet still came out with a solid performance. He played well with his back to the basket, scoring three times and getting fouled twice when getting a handle on the entry pass. He is beginning to use the elbow jumper more, three games in a row, ran the break like a guard, and had his hands in the passing lanes, snaring two passes. He ended with 21 points, 9 boards, 2 steals, 6 blocks, and a stout 7 for 10 from the line. Adrien had his issues on the offensive end, hitting 4 for 14 and 1 of 4 from the line, but he battled hard on the boards, ending the night with 15. He has a nice mixture to his game, being able to hit the elbow, dribble-drive, and post up for a baby hook.
Price played a controlled game. He didn’t hijack the offense with taking 16 or more shots and his three point attempts were in rhythm. He ended the game with 11 points, 2 boards, 4 assists to 1 turnover, and was a perfect 2 of 2 from the line. He is beginning to get more comfortable with his mid-ranged game. Austrie had a solid night, hitting 3 of 6 from the floor with 7 points, 1 board, and 4 assists to 1 turnover. There are rumblings that Walker should be starting, but Craig deserves the spot. He is a senior and he has put in the sacrifice to start. It doesn't effect the outcome of games that much, because Walker is getting the same minutes as Austrie.
Robinson was outstanding. He had three put back shots that fueled his game. He was flying around and sticking his nose into the paint and getting rewarded. He showed a nice pull-up jumper, and had a great dunk attempt that was thwarted on a non-call. He needs to keep this intensity and energy going.
Walker also had a great outing. He finished plays of around the rim and on the break, showing a nasty cross over. He also took a charge and must be leading the team in that this year. He was a little hesitant to take the three, even if he was open, ending the night with 4 points, 5 boards, 1 block, and 2 assists to 1 turnover. Gavin only played 4 minutes and had 2 boards and took 3 shots. Haralson made an early appearance and took the shot when he had it. It looked true but was a little long. He might be taking Beverly’s role off the bench.
This squad needs to keep up its solid play now that they are ending the regular season. It was at this time last year that they faded and made two early exits out of both tournaments. Other than an apocalyptic collapse, this team is going to get a number one seed. All the individual accolades need to be left in the locker room. It doesn’t matter at this point. What does matter is finishing out season strong and carrying momentum into the Big Dance. And if they come out flat, like they did today, against an elite team, they’ll dig themselves a hole too big to claw out of. Because in a one and done situation, that hole could be your grave.