Saturday, November 28, 2009

Litmus Test

It was plain ugly for the Huskies. There was no outside or mid-ranged shots, free throws clanked, easy buckets rolled off the rim for most of the game and at times it looked like they were playing with carnival rims. They played well enough on the defense end to stay in this game but with the offense sputtering, the referees calling an inconsistent game and the rebounding taking step back, UConn had no chance. The object of the season is to play your best by the end of the year and this team knows it’s flaws, outside shooting and rebounding. This was a good litmus test for UConn and if they can clean up some of these imperfections then they can play with the elites.

Dyson had a day to forget. There is no questioning his heart and toughness out there, but nothing was dropping for him. He showed more emotion when he missed one of his many free throws down the stretch then he has shown in his four years at Storrs. His outside shot wasn’t there and he started attacking the basket with no regard to his body. He was the only scoring threat out there and if he hit his free throws, then this game would’ve been a nail biter down the stretch, because Duke wasn’t exactly lights out on the offensive end.

Walker was a little up and down in this game. He was solid defensively and created havoc with steals, but he struggled controlling the dribble and made some poor decisions in traffic. He needs to be the reliable jump shooter for the starters, with Dyson and Robinson more driving oriented. The elbow jumper will be there every time for him with his speed.

Robinson had one of those frustrating performances. He disappeared from the game when he couldn’t get to the rim. When he isn’t getting boards or sticking his nose into the paint, then the whole team suffers. He is demanding the ball in the post but his dribble drive and jumpers aren’t falling. He needs to focus on attacking the glass on every shot. UConn needs all hands on deck in that department.

Edwards showed some range but then he took two poor jumpers right after that. He is more of a threat at the post and has shown a reliable turn around hook. His major issue is that he is bobbling the ball while rebounding. It is as if his hands are to small for the ball. He needs to secure the ball and not have teams swat it out of his hands.

UConn looked to Oriakhi early and he produced, but that was about it for the game. He is getting caught with the ball under the backboard and resorting to stretching around the rim for a shot. He is still getting knocked off the block for offensive boards. For his size, he should be able to hold his own. He is still a freshman and has tremendous upside.

It was good to see Okwandu with some real emotion on the put-back dunk and he showed some post moves. He is really showing some major improvement with his transition into the starting lineup. Beverly had a sloppy game and was caught ball watching and allowed an offensive board and took a bad jumper. Smith showed some of his speed but made some poor decisions in transition. Trice and Coombs-McDaniel were needed for some outside shooting and they didn’t show up.

While it was a tough game to watch, UConn will rarely have a shooting performance of this magnitude. What they need to figure out and fast is how to secure a miss, make free throws, and find someone to hit an outside shot. If they can’t find this then this team will be losing close games all year, because their defense will keep them in games. With several games under their belt, they only rebounded well in one and that has to be giving Calhoun fits.

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