Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Bailout

Make no mistake, UConn didn’t deserve to win this game. They were sloppy on both sides of the ball. Their half court offense had no fluidity with passes off the mark and quick jumpers off the dribble. Where is the catch and shoot? Most of the jumpers were in traffic or off balanced. This team isn’t bad from outside when they set their feet and have a clean look. With the half court struggling, UConn’s heavy diet of blocks was no where to be seen and the easy fast break buckets were at a minimum. The rebounding was much better and they all did a solid job of putting a body on a man. UConn’s defense wasn’t to blame for this loss even though there were some serious lapses that had them playing a few possessions of zone. Once Cincinnati scored against it, Calhoun pulled the plug. Connecticut did show some toughness in battling back from double-digits deficits, but they had problems consistently getting off clean looks and kept digging themselves back. But it wasn't one poor call down the stretch that caused them to lose this one.

Dyson was at times alone on an offensive island. He drove hard to the rim and showed a mid-ranged game, but his outside shot wasn’t there and he missed too many free throws. Even though it wasn’t his best performance, he still produced which superstars can do. He has just about every offensive capability there is in the game. His only issue, other than missing tons of free throws, is that he can't hit the three ball against elite opponents.

Robinson took awhile to get going, struggling in set plays. He didn’t have a bank shot in the post which he used so effectively in the last game. His offense thrives when he is fighting inside for put-backs and second chance opportunities and there were few to be had. What was impressive was his outside shooting. Back-to-back strong games from deep. When he sets his feet, he is deadly from there. He was active on defense and used his combination of speed and length to create steals and fast break opportunities. Hopefully he keeps this pace up.

Walker had another sub-par performance and he needs to create shots and assists more in the pick and roll sets. He is great on the break where he can use his superior speed, but when the defense is settled, he gets caught off-balance and among the trees. He did take more jumpers, which is what he needs to do, but they were contested. But when it counted, he came up clutch. UConn is going to need more from him to survive the Big East schedule.

Edwards had a bad game. He was missing free throws, which he rarely did and he had major issues on inbounds plays, giving up two easy buckets. You can’t blame him for the last call of the game, that was just how his day was going and every player has them. He needs to shake this one off and battle hard in the next one.

Oriakhi showed some serious improvements. While he is still getting pushed under the rim when driving to the rim, he showed a left hook, a tip in, and a double move in the post. He could be turning the corner. Majok took a few steps back. He elbowed someone in the face while posting up, had a couple of bad passes, and didn’t make difference offensively or block any shots.

Beverly did a good job with extended minutes because of Kemba's foul trouble. He took care of the ball and had a nifty no-look pass in transition. He needs to help with points off the bench. He has shown an offensive game before. Coombs-McDaniel didn’t have his outside shot, but he has the ability to score in a variety of ways. He hustles, having a great save and assist in transition. Other than a quick shot that sent Calhoun stomping on the court in his direction, he had a solid night.

It wasn’t a horrible call at the end of a tough nosed defensive game that cost the Huskies the game. Even though the game was not called the way a Big East game should be called. It was the inability to create consistent offense with multiple stops that did them in. Like last year where UConn lost its first Big East game against Georgetown, they needed a wake up call to remember what it takes to compete in the Big East, especially on the road. A couple of balls bouncing your way or runners that fall mean the difference between a win and a loss at this level. Don't blame a lousy call at the end of the game for this loss, that would short change both teams and the thirty-nine minutes and fifty-eight point three seconds of play. But it still was a terrible call.

No comments: