Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let 'Em Play

Is it to much to ask to let the players decide the outcome of a closely contested game? For the third time this year UConn lost on a questionable call in the waning seconds of a vital game. While UConn can’t place the finger on that one call as the reason for the loss, to see a game that they had played their hearts out end in the fashion that it did just isn’t right. Syracuse cruised to the finish line at the free throw line through the final six minutes and UConn didn’t do themselves any favors with needless fouls on screens and not getting back on defense. Why is it so hard for the big men to run down court, especially after a made basket. It has hurt them all year and they continue to jog back. UConn did a good job of attacking the zone, the jumpers started to fall and the bigs did a great job on the boards. Robinson and Dyson also worked hard on limiting second chance opportunities and Majok and Edwards did well on getting offensive boards for themselves. On defense, UConn did a good job in the half court sets and limited the dribble penetration, but the transition defense was horrible.

Dyson had a few turnovers but other then that he did a great job of getting into the lane and getting fouled six times driving to the rim. He had a two deep threes that evened up the game but he is clanking important free throws in clutch situations. It has been a season long struggle for him from the charity stripe and it has cost UConn a game or two, but without his offense in the second half, they would’ve never recovered from that double-digit deficit.

With the jumpers starting to fall and the sloppy turnovers a distant memory, Walker has turned into what everyone thought he would be, a star. He was the best player out there. He flashed his speed, hit the mid-ranged shots, was fouled three times driving, hit the 3-ball, blocked a shot, and stole the ball. He was everywhere and making key plays down the stretch. He needs to continue this kind of play, especially in the Big East tournament, because that is their only legitimate chance to get to the Big Dance now that they lost this game.

Robinson did a much better job rebounding and it solidified that fifteen feet and out area that has been giving them fits all year. He got his usual dunks on the break, but it was his deflections and steals that were really impressive. He needs to do a better job of running harder in transition and making his free throws, but overall he did a good job.

Edwards still had his issues with his hands, but he made up for it with a ton of positive plays. He had offensive boards, put-backs, dunks, blocks, an elbow jumper and a pretty drive and scoop. He is leaving his feet early and fouling, missing free throws, not blocking out, and having horrible passes, but he had much better energy out there.

Majok continues to get into foul trouble but when he has worked up a good game sweat, he makes plays. He had a put back, block, and plays with a lot of energy. He is still getting beat on inbounds plays and down court though. Oriakhi had a bad game, fouling more then making positive plays. Okwandu played hard. He rebounded, had a block, and a dunk, but also got out muscled, had a moving screen, and stepped out of bounds.

Coombs-McDaniel had a nice drive and score but struggled with his jumper. It has gotten so bad for him that he traveled because he was unsure of taking an open jumper. Just shoot it. Beverly did a good job at the point but didn’t feel comfortable in taking a shot.

This loss just about sinks any hopes of a miraculous comeback. They needed this game, and a few bad calls and some defensive lapses counteracted a great offensive performance. There is no denying the heart that this team has, but it still leaves them without a road win this year. Their hopes now lie in winning the Big East tournament. Not the easiest feat, but if this game shows anything, it is that they can play with the elites, just as long as the refs let ‘em play.

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