Monday, December 28, 2009
UConn wanted to head into the looming Big East schedule with some momentum and they did so with their most consistent game of the year. From the tip, UConn was aggressive. The guards showed just enough outside touch to keep the defense honest, but the bread and butter of this team is in the dribble drive and athletic ability in transition which they displayed early and often. The defense is slowly coming together, though the rotations are a bit off, but the deflections and blocked shots fueled the offense with easy buckets at the other end. Iona kept themselves alive with the three ball, but it wasn’t enough to slow down Connecticut's red hot offense. The rebounding was much better, especially against an outside shooting team, and the free throw shooting improved. If they can bottle up this effort on both ends, then they'll contend for the Big East championship and much loftier banners.
One word describes Dyson. Aggressive. He was fouled eleven times driving to the rim, had a massive dunk, showed his range, had a beautiful transition pass, and was purely dominate. He played better defensively, not letting his man into the lane so easily. If there is a knock on Dyson’s game, it would be from the line. He is a little to streaky there. He’ll knock down five in a row, then go one and one from the line for the rest of the way. He has yet to put together an overall game yet, which is scary because he is a top five player in the Big East right now. If he can, then he will be top five in the country.
Walker put together a solid outing after two sub-par performances. The big difference with Kemba in this game was his care of the basketball and his shots around the rim were finally falling. He is still hesitant to take an early shot and UConn needs him early for an offensive spark in both halves. There were spurts in this game in which Kemba put his stamp on it, a crazy circus shot and a sweet left handed lay-up. UConn needs that from him in every game. He just doesn’t have the confidence in his jumper and relies on his main weapon, his speed, but he has the ability to be an outside threat. If he sticks with it, shakes off a couple of bricks, he could emerge as a superstar.
Robinson put a dent in the backboard with all the shots he banked in. He’s got it down to a science though and made bank shot out of bank shot, and then stepped back and swished in a deep ball. He was his usual rebounding hound and shot blocker, but in these past three games, he has forced the action and has been rewarded with some stout performances. He needs to carry this over into bigger games against bigger opponents.
What more can you say about Edwards? He doesn’t complain about coming off the bench. He just comes in and plays solid defense, denying entry passes into the post, shows a baby hook, hustles for put-backs, and is hitting the elbow jumper which he needs to take more of. He is slowly playing himself into the NBA.
Oriakhi was fed the ball early in the ballgame to try to get him on track offensively, but Alex’s offensive game has become elusive. He is still a man on the boards, but he is showing some freshman moments. He missed some rotations against the pick and roll and was pushed out of the way for an offensive board. It was good to see him right the ship on his free throws. He has a solid stroke and just needed some confidence.
Majok continues to improve. He has terrific length, blocking a three point attempt and altering another. He battled hard on the boards and had two offensive rebounds off of free throws. The hype and huge build-up to his arrival has set some unreasonable expectations. He has improved with each outing and that is all we should expect from him.
Calhoun was waiting for anyone on the bench, other then Edwards, to step up and Coombs-McDaniel just did. He had back-to-back solid games. He showed the ability to hit the outside shot and a dribble drive, which is the offense that UConn desperately needs from the bench. Beverly had trouble passing the ball and needs to take better care of the ball. Smith came in and gave up an inbound lay-up.
It was the solid forty minutes that Calhoun had been searching for the past two months. The big three all made significant plays on both ends of the court and the bench is beginning to find a rotation. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. Their first true road game is only a few days away and this team is going to find out where they stand in the Big East hierarchy. With this game building the confidence of so many players on this team, it was exactly the medicine this team direly needed.