Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Be Determined

It looked like UConn was going to run away with the game. They finally had a good start, the unreliable frontcourt was scoring easy points, and things were rolling, but UConn can’t seem to get out of their own way in crucial stretches. They continue to throw the ball away on multiple trips and give up easy buckets on the other end. It is one thing to take shots and miss them, but to not even give yourself an opportunity for a shot must be giving Calhoun ulcers. When the offense got out of their own way, they were effective and the frontcourt looked to turn the corner and make plays. UConn won this game in the open court and at the line. They were able to create fast break buckets in a variety of ways. A disconcerting thing was the defense. The guards couldn’t contain their man and created breakdowns in the lane, causing a majority of the offensive boards. The bigs were getting sealed off five feet from the basket for easy lay-ups around the rim. While Seton Hall is a good up and coming team, UConn should of had a comfortable ten point cushion for most of the game, but poor rebounding and turnovers had them stumbling over their own feet.

Dyson didn’t have his best offensive performance and was kept out of the lane for most of the night and still ended with nearly a triple-double. He was able to get into the open court and make plays, especially a wild reverse off-balanced lay-up. He had a few bad passes and kept stepping out of bounds, but never got frustrated and kept attacking, taking over the game in the final stretch. He was great defensively. He is showing more emotion on the court lately which is a great sign.

Walker started out the game strong and was taking the ball to the basket more, taking more jumpers and was more assertive on the offensive end, which is what UConn needs him to do. He was solid at the line, helping nail shut the door with two clutch free throws, but he still had some crucial stretches of sloppy play that let Seton Hall back into the game. He needs to be more careful with the ball. He tends to get to lackadaisical with his passes and dribbles the ball away. He also had problems on the defensive end, letting his defender have easy lanes to the basket. But overall it was a much better outing for Walker, making more positive plays then negative.

Robinson didn’t have his jumper working, but he was still active on the break and around the rim. It is such a luxury to have his leaping ability when in the open court. Dyson was able to find him on two spectacular dunks. He also played solid defense on Hazell, a tough match-up against anyone. His mid-ranged shots still need to soften up and he is looking to bank shots in too much.

Edwards came up huge during the closing minutes to seal the game on two transition lay-ups. He ran hard and was rewarded. It was good to see his elbow jumper sink. He needs the confidence to continue to take those. He was slow a few times on the defensive rotation and gave up some offensive boards, but other than that he was solid.

Oriakhi had his best game of his short career. He started out with a big block, had a beautiful reverse dunk, turnaround hook, strong rebounds, sank two clutch free throws, and had a hustle loose ball dunk. He needed a game like this in the worst way. This should be the confidence booster that hopefully will turn his season around. Majok was feeling the heat from Okwandu and gave UConn a jolt of energy early with two big blocks and a hook shot, but he disappeared after that. He is biting too much on pump fakes and needs to stay on the floor until his man commits. Coombs-McDaniel came in early and played solid defense but didn’t contribute much and Okwandu had some early minutes but Calhoun didn't stick with him long enough to produce.

It was a tough fought win and one they had to have. They can’t let home games against teams that they are supposed to win slip away. They need to clean up the sloppy turnovers and keep their opponents out of the lane which is causing the majority of offensive boards. It is a deadly combination that they can’t continue to exhibit. It was good to see the frontcourt make plays, especially when the backcourt is not having a good night. While it is not how they are playing in January but in late February and March, as long as they are improving and they look to be, but just how much is yet to be determined.

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