Monday, January 18, 2010
It’s been the same story for UConn all season. They are losing the battle on the boards ten feet and out, clanking free throw after free throw in clutch situations, the outside shot is a non-entity, Dyson is sitting on the bench in huge chunks of the first half, Walker is having problems dribbling the ball, Robinson is finding a hard time in half court sets, and the bench is not helping out. These self-inflicted wounds are slowly killing them and with each loss, they create a deeper hole to climb out of. It didn’t help that Michigan shot lights out from deep and the referees were inconsistent with their calls. It seems like that’s how the season has been for the Huskies. They seem to bring out the opponents A-game. Their name is showing up on other people's resumes and they don’t have a single one on their own. They’ll have their shot, but if they continue to play this way, a win against an elite team or two might not help their cause.
Dyson has been having a hard time of staying out of foul trouble in the past few games and it has hurt UConn in the first half of those games. The energy level drops significantly when he isn’t out there and teams are going on substantial runs. He is amazing when the ball is in his hands and he is going to make a lot of money in the NBA. He did show the outside shot but his inability to hit from the free throw line cost UConn this game.
Walker again started the ballgame out slowly and when Dyson went out of the game in foul trouble, Kemba waited fifteen minutes to take a shot. He needs to be aggressive early on. While he had trouble with his dribble, he was solid from the line and has taken the mantel from Edwards as UConn’s best free throw shooter. He is using his jumper more and was fouled twice shooting, which is a good sign, but he needs to take better care of the ball in the closing minutes, his turnovers in crucial spots are comeback killers.
Robinson did show a nice jumper off glass in the post and had hustle plays around the rim, but he needs to help out on the glass in that ten feet and out area. Teams are killing them there. He is also rushing his shots when he doesn’t need to. He didn’t have the impact on this game that the team needed him to have, especially since Dyson was on the bench for nearly the whole first half.
Edwards was solid from everywhere except the free throw line, which he has been shaky from lately. He has shown some good post moves and a soft touch, attacked the boards hard, and made hustle plays to continue possessions. Oriakhi rebounded well, but had trouble with the ball in the post. There are times where he is the best rebounder on the floor and then there are times when he gives up position on a free throw for an offensive board.
Okwandu started the ballgame but had a quick foul and exit for Majok. Ater did well, showed his length that bothered a few shots, rebounded better, and showed some of his athleticism around the rim. He just hasn't shown the ability to make positive plays on a consistent basis to warrant extended minutes.
Coombs-McDaniel did well. He took his shots when they were there, though they didn’t drop, and he was aggressive and attacked the rim. He didn’t get the calls when there was contact, but that will come with time. As long as he is aggressive and not settling then he is going to get minutes. Beverly did a good job of running the point to free up Kemba offensively, though Walker didn’t make use of it. Donnell did get on Calhoun’s bad side when he let his man get to the rim for an easy put back, but he didn’t make sloppy passes in the half court and didn’t take ill-advised shots.
Each self-inflicted wound is slowly bleeding the life out of UConn’s season. It is tough enough at this level to win against good teams, but to also fight yourself is a battle this team can’t overcome. They have a lot of work to do to patch up these gaping wounds in their game. The season isn’t shot yet. They still have a chance to beat Texas and plenty of ranked teams in their conference, but time is running out. If they don’t stop shooting themselves in the foot, then this season will soon go spiraling out of their control.