Monday, December 21, 2009

Knight and Day

The energy level was nothing like that of the Kentucky game. It could have been the extended layoff or not motivated enough against what they assumed was an inferior opponent, but UConn was sloppy with the ball, getting bodied on the boards and not stopping dribble penetration. The communication on the both ends of the ball wasn’t there, especially when double-teamed. They were getting gashed with back screens that led to wide open lay-ups. The chemistry isn’t there yet and until Calhoun solidifies a rotation and someone steps up, they will struggle to find their way. Other then rebounding, the free throw shooting is a major issue for this team. The back court and wings are struggling there and need to step up. With all the negatives in this game, UConn was still able to find their tempo and take over the game when it mattered, but it was plain ugly.

It was good to see Dyson knock down the early jumper and it didn’t leave him. He drained three after three, hopefully leaving the well full for the next couple of games. He was aggressive with the ball and had to be, with no one stepping up and demanding the ball in the first ten minutes of the game. He had a few lazy passes that turned into turnovers and let his man into the lane a few times, but he was the halfcourt offense in this game.

Walker had a day to forget. He was non-existent offensively for the first ten minutes. He needs to take a few jumpers early to get himself into the game. His passes were way off, bouncing off feet or out of bounds. He double-dribbled, took off-balanced jumpers, was attacked for back door lay-ups, and was beat several times against the pick and roll. UConn needs him to dribble penetrate more, break down the defense and get the big men involved. They are not polished enough to create a shot on their own. He also needs to be more assertive in the offense. It can't be Jerome and Stanley only for the first half offense.

Robinson took some time to find his game, but when he did the points kept on coming. He was running hard on the break and sneaking to the rim for his athletic jams, but it was his three ball and shots off the glass that was more impressive. He is still front rimming a bunch of shots and needs the glass to soften his shot up. Against a more quality opponent, Robinson won’t be able to get to the rim like he can against these types of squads. He will need to be more effective with his jumper and show some type of post game, especially if he wants to be successful at the next level.

You know what you are going to get when Edwards is on the floor. He will battle for boards, block shots, hustle down court, make his free throws, play solid man-to-man, and do the dirty work. With his soft touch at the line, he needs to make the elbow jumpers that made Jeff Adrien effective.

Oriakhi had a couple of blocks and rebounded well, but he is struggling offensively and is hesitant with the ball. He is Boone-like at the line and is getting muscled on the boards. There needs to be more patience with him then Calhoun would like.

Majok made his much anticipated debut and while he didn’t light off fireworks, he didn’t force anything. There were some nerves, passing out of the post, having a lane violation, getting muscled for a free throw rebound, and he took a horrible jumper that had Calhoun slobbering mad. He showed a smooth stroke from the line but he didn’t show much of his athletic ability in this game. Okwandu looks to be the loser in the Majok addition, which is a shame. He showed some improvement and looked to be turning the corner on his game.

Beverly was first off the bench. He had some problems with the ball, having a turnover in transition, threw a pass away, and didn’t block out and caused an offensive board. He did make a wide open three pointer which is something this team really needs off the bench. Smith struggled, dribbling the ball off his foot in transition and missing his free throws. He did play much better defense and kept his opponent in front of him. Trice had a hard time against the pick and roll and let his man roam into the lane twice and Coombs-McDaniel didn’t block out and gave up an offensive board.

The much anticipated debut of Ater Majok didn’t set the world on fire, but it is hard for a player to come onto a team and find his role right away. It is going to take a couple of games for him to get comfortable with the flow of the game. Hopefully this team has shaken off the rust from the long layoff and is done giving up career highs. It is not something they want to keep doing. They need to limit their turnovers and offensive boards. Their defense is good enough to win games but their offense isn’t consistent enough and when they give their opponents extra shots, it digs them in holes they need to climb out of. And against quality opponents those holes can be your grave.

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