UConn fans didn’t know what to expect from their Huskies in this game. Their team was sick with some type of rebounding N1H1 and this was the medicine that UConn needed. The passing was crisp, the defense was stout, the press caused havoc, and most importantly the rebounding was solid. With LSU a one-dimensional team with no outside shooters, UConn was able to stay in front of their man and play the drive. They cut down on the sloppy perimeter passes and found the right combination to group rebound and also be able to display their transition game. Another amazing aspect to this team is their ability to block shots at an incredible clip. This game was a major confidence builder for this squad and should pay dividends no matter the outcome of Friday's game.
Dyson was outstanding. He attacked the basket and was able to sink several and-ones. He demonstrated the ability to hit the open three, which will allow him the room for the dribble drive. He also was making a concerted effort to help out on rebounding, especially on the weak side. It is amazing to see his transformation into the leader on this team.
Walker did a great job of creating tempo. He turned on the jets in transition and was able to go anywhere he wanted. He was spectacular on defense, getting into the passing lanes and controlling the point guard off ball screens. His day was only marred by a few poor passes and a couple of bad decisions while in traffic, but overall he was solid. He is also settling into the two-guard position when Dyson comes off the court and is making plays there.
Robinson had his whole arsenal on display. He demonstrated his strong rebounding that UConn needs and which fuels his game. But what makes Robinson so tough to handle is when he is hitting the outside shot. It only gives him the confidence he needs to remain aggresive. It was great to see him demand the isolation play and create off the dribble. He is really taking his game into another stratosphere.
Calhoun lit a fire under Edwards by sending him to the bench and he got the message. He came out and displayed a hook shot, blocked shots, played solid defense, and most importantly rebounded. The only problem is that Calhoun might keep him on the bench due to his strong play there. One game does not make a season and Edwards needs to carry this effort over into the next one.
Okwandu started for the first time and showed major improvement. He had a beautiful transition block, rebounded well, and played good defense. Even though he fouled out, most of the fouls where either helping out other defenders or poor whistles. He looks better with each and every game. Calhoun has shown a great deal of patience with him and it is paying off.
Oriakhi had a tough evening and didn’t even touch the ball on offense until seven minutes had passed. He was pushed out of position on a free throw rebound and clanked them when he got there. He did stay active and had two massive put-back dunks, but he needs to be more demanding of the basketball in the post and more physical in the paint. For UConn to take the next step then they need Oriakhi to be an offensive threat.
Beverly is playing well as the first guard off the bench. He ran the break well, had a sensational off the glass dribble drive, and ran the point with Kemba in the game. He has solidified that backup position which was what Calhoun was searching for. He did have a few poor decisions with the ball in traffic, but he has been a pleasant surprise. Smith, Trice, and Coombs-McDaniels played a limited role. The first player to demonstrate solid defense and a jumper will eat up the minutes most of the bench minutes.
UConn had the transition game clicking and it was fed with hard defense and blocked shots. They need to carry this defensive performance into the next game. Even though two of their big men fouled out, they all did a great job of securing the ball off a miss and not letting players slip in for offensive boards. It doesn’t get any easier for the Huskies, but as long as they don’t give up second chance opportunities, then they have a talent to play against anyone. One thing they don’t need is another case of the rebounding flu.