Monday, November 9, 2009
Even though UConn’s half court offense worked about as well as the new Gampel scoreboards, they more then made up for it with a blazing transition game. The huskies also cleaned up the sloppy perimeter passing that plagued them in their last outing. A major factor in that turnaround had to do with Dyson playing in his first game. It helped solidify the perimeter and the backcourt attacked the basket with authority and nearly brought the rim down. There was still some growing pains from the freshmen and Calhoun will have plenty of ammunition in practice.
Dyson was simply amazing. He was shaking off the rust of a major knee injury, played with a injured toe, and a used a mystery inhaler. It all didn’t matter because Jerome had his whole arsenal on display today. He showed his stealing ability and athletic finishing skills. What was most impressive and a fantastic sign for UConn was his outside shooting. All of his threes were rhythm shot and could possibly solve the outside shot that Calhoun has been looking for. Dyson was also a monster on defense, fighting through screens and playing the passing lanes.
Kemba was a silent assassin and didn’t force his game except in transition. His seven assists to one turnover was outstanding and he ran the offense fluidly. While he didn’t shoot the jump shot, he attacked the basket and was looking for contact.
Robinson had a quiet game, which is a bit disconcerting, especially after his strong performance in the last game. He was more focused on rebounding, but only taking five shots with a game high thirty-five minutes is unacceptable. He needs to be near or over double-digits in shots. And on top of those five shots, many were off-balanced shots that he settled for.
Edwards had a much better game, though he started out sloppy. He was more active around the basket and was able to block a few shots and attack the boards more. He must be feeling the pressure from Oriakhi who is playing about as well as anyone could expect. The freshman showed some good footwork in the post and was a man on the boards, pulling down fourteen. He is still rushing his passes and turning the ball over on unforced errors.
Trice was more active in this game, but was marred by some freshmen lapses. He forced passes through double teams, drove into a charge, and missed a bunny in transition. He was much better on the weak side and kept getting his nose dirty in the paint. Smith also played much better. He displayed a mid-ranged game, was fantastic on defense, fighting through screens, and closing out on perimeter shooters. He also wasn’t shy about rebounding and finished off plays in transition.
Okwandu showed improvement, even though it was minimal. He displayed an elbow jumper, ran hard in transition, and was rewarded with a dunk. His footwork needs to get better and he found himself out of position a few times on the defensive end. It will be interesting to see how Calhoun uses his minutes when the games are competitive. Like Dyson, Beverly was playing in his first game of the year and didn’t force anything. He even gave up an easy bucket for a pass to Dyson. And Hornat got a rebound!
This game was a drastic improvement over the helter-skelter perimeter play they showed in the last game. While it was good to see Dyson emerge as a superstar, Robinson and Walker need to be more of a focus on the offense. The freshmen look to be defining their roles and settling the nerves. It is a shame that Coombs-McDaniels couldn’t get into the game. It is going to be tough for him to catch up with the other freshmen, especially with game speed. But fans should be happy with the questions UConn has answered in the first two games. They can hit the outside shot, are running with abandonment, and playing solid defense. Not bad at all.