Thursday, January 21, 2010
One for the Gipper
It was the perfect time for UConn to put together their most complete game of the season. Their backs were against the wall, dropping the last four out of five games, and having their leader in Calhoun leave the team suddenly. This was a moment in a season that brings a team together and they responded. The outside shot was dropping finally, they held their own on the glass, and they were able to sink their free throws. It all added up to huge win and hopefully a confidence booster in time for the all important Texas game. What an asset it is to have such a competent coach in Blaney on the bench. He is a steady and reliable person that has a settling effect on the whole team. They trust in him and play hard for him. The only disconcerting aspect of the game was the guard's inability to stop the dribble penetration. It has cost them several games and needs to be fixed for them to completely turn the ship around.
Dyson wasn’t as aggressive early on, so not to draw fouls, which he had in his previous games. It is important for him to remain on the court in the first half so that the offense doesn’t go on long droughts. He was also getting fouled more when driving to the rim, which he hadn’t during the losing streak. His whole game was on display, showing the pick and roll jumper, the three ball, floater, offensive boards, and block shots. The only negative would be some sloppy passes late in the ball game.
Walker had a slow start, hitting a jumper as the shot clock buzzer sounded fifteen minutes into the ballgame, but after that his game exploded. He finished around the rim, hit from deep, had several steals and layups, and had a pretty baseline move and score. His defense was alright with deflections, charges, and steals that fueled easy buckets on the other end but he continues to let his man get a first step on him. The major issue for Kemba would be his slow starts. During the second half it only took him two minutes to take a shot, but during the first half of games, he is taking more then ten minutes to get involved in the offense.
Robinson had a solid night also. He was active with offensive boards and blocked shots. He was effective with the bank shots, transition dunks and deep threes. He had a few bad passes late in the game but he was much better in the second half. It is important for him to be around the rim to help out rebounding and he did. During the losing streak, he was running down court when a shot was in the air.
Edwards struggled mightily. Rushing his first couple of shots, he never looked settled. He didn’t play with a lot of energy, having a lazy attempt at a rebound to only have his man out hustle him to the board. He did show up late in the game with some tough rebounding and an elbow jumper but he needs to play better ball. Oriakhi rebounded well, had a steal, and blocked a shot, but he wasn’t much of a factor on offense.
Majok missed an early jumper and a horrible pass, but also had an offensive board and ran hard and was rewarded with a dunk. He is slowly making strides but Okwandu has gobbled up most of his minutes. The big man was active on the floor, blocking shots, had a dunk, and showed some good footwork and finish.
Coombs-McDaniel had a good game. He had a great pump fake and jumper and was aggressive, taking the ball to the rim. He is still inconsistent from the line and needs to sink them. Beverly did a great job too. He ran the point, had a fantastic steal and thunderous dunk, and made his free throws. Who knew he had that type of explosive leaping ability?
UConn couldn’t have had a better game at the right time. While it doesn’t dig themselves out of the hole they sit in, it does stem the bleeding and give them the confidence in some areas that they were severely lacking. The outside shot was dropping, the rebounding was stout, and the defense was solid in stretches. It is a vast improvement over the past five games and a perfect lead in to an all important Texas game at home. It is one of their best opportunities to right the season and get that all important resume building win. If they play with the heart and efficiency that they displayed in this game then they’ll have a great shot. But the only thing consistent about this team though is their inconsistency.