Sunday, February 1, 2009
This had trap game written all over it. UConn had the curse of the number one ranking over it’s head, they were playing a talented and confident Providence squad that had just knocked off a ranked opponent, and the huskies were set to play a tough Louisville team after this game. And it looked like it was going to be a physical and close game. Providence was relentless and undaunted with taking the ball to the rim and the big men were waiting for them, ending the game with 17 blocks. Unlike the previous games versus the Friars, UConn’s perimeter defense kept the three ball under control and were happy to let the ball get funneled inside. In the second half, they kept the defensive pressure up, giving up 27 points and their offense exploded for 56.
Thabeet put on a show and had his best game as a husky. He had a monster triple-double with 15 points, 11 boards, 10 blocks, 1 steal, and hit 3 of 5 from the line. He was playing with controlled emotion and was active without the ball. He has improved on leaving his man at the right moment to go up to block a shot and not leave the opposition an easy pass for a lay-up. Adrien had his usual workman like 14 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks, 3 assists, and 1 steal night. His free throw shooting is much better and he went a perfect 4 of 4 from the line.
It felt good to see Sticks have a game like this. He was active throughout all 27 minutes that he played. His 18 points, 7 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 4 of 6 from the line was by far his best game of the year. The thing now is to build on this game and not have another season like two years ago in which he dominated in an Indiana game and disappeared the rest of the year. He needs to know that he doesn’t have to make outside shots to make a huge impact in the game.
Price continues to shine. He scored a game high 19 points, 4 boards, 3 assists to 1 turnover, and hit 3 of 4 from behind the arch. While his assists to turnovers are down from last year, his ability to score has grown drastically and he has been the difference maker since entering league play. Dyson couldn’t find the basket and shot 2 for 11, but it never effects his overall game. He still ended the night with 8 points, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 4 assists to no turnovers, and 5 boards.
Austrie has had his playing time manipulated more than any other player on the team and it doesn’t effect him. He still comes in and plays solid perimeter defense, has 9 points, 1 dime, 1 assist, goes a perfect 4 of 4 from the line, and never turns the ball over. Kemba continues to have his freshman moments and isn’t surveying the court when pushing the ball up. He still works hard on the defensive end and pulled down 5 boards. If he slows himself down a bit, it will open up more possibilities. It isn’t all about going 100 m.p.h. down the court.
Gavin filled in nicely and has developed an athletic aspect to his game. He is attacking the rim more then ever and is a beast on the rebounding end, pulling down 9. He has developed nicely over the season. Beverly broke a sweat and played 3 minutes and had 2 fouls. Mandeldove had 2 minutes and had 1 foul. Haralson was able to get a shot up in his 2 minutes but missed.
This team doesn’t have a flashy offense nor a single superstar that will put the team on his shoulder and carry them to a victory but what it has is a solid consistent squad. All five starters shot the ball 11 or more times, every single starter had 4 or more boards, and they were all able to get to the line. Are they the best team in the country? Who knows. There is just too much parody at the top that just putting yourself in contention for that number one seed is the major priority and that means staying in the top 4 and they have done that. So far they have played the bottom and middle of the pack teams in the Big East. With a road trip to Louisville ahead, it should prove where this team is truly at.