Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Scratching and Clawing

Put on any jersey on any of UConn’s opponents and each game looks the same. Be it Pittsburgh, Louisville, Marquette, Georgetown, Duke, Kentucky, and even Harvard, UConn has struggled containing the dribble penetration, giving up easy drive after easy drive, totally destroying the inside defense. They don’t have the offensive effectiveness to keep up with thirty-five point halves. If they want to win games, they need to keep the score around sixty to sixty-five points. They are also having a terrible time controlling the ball. Edwards, Oriakhi, and Robinson are having the ball bounce right through their hands and giving up easy entry passes or rebounds. It doesn’t help that every team that they have faced has had a great shooting night. Teams are shooting way above their average from outside against them and UConn can’t match that. It all adds up to having a seat with the Rutgers, Seton Hall, and DePaul’s of the conference.

Dyson had a rough time staying in the game and he sat on the bench for much of the first half. Without him UConn’s offensive ship was rudderless. When he emerged in the second half, it took him awhile to get going, but when he did, he nearly pulled this team out of the enormous hole they were in. He hit from deep and drove the ball with aggression but it wasn’t enough. His foul trouble kept him out of any flow and Louisville counteracted any run they had with one of their own.

Walker played a solid game. He stuck his nose into the paint for offensive boards, showed an elbow jumper, attacked the zone, hit from deep, and showed his great speed in transition. He had a few bad passes and poor decisions on the break but he played a complete game for the third time in a row and has limited stretches of sloppy play.

Robinson struggled throughout the game. He was not running hard, giving up several easy buckets, missed a one-and-one opportunity, didn’t box out on free throw rebound, traveled, and keeps letting his opponent drive past him and into the lane. It wasn’t all bad. He made his free throws, drove the ball well, and rebounded better, but he needs to step his game up, especially down the stretch.

Edwards also had a poor outing. He had trouble catching the ball on numerous occasions, got beat down court, not boxing out or playing physical down low, and he is playing horrible help defense, taking poor angles on defenders. He was making his free throws, but he needs to be more decisive with the ball. He fumbles with his footwork and is not strong with his moves.

Oriakhi showed a fifteen footer, showed an aggressive move and made his free throws, but he is having problems getting sealed deep into the paint and playing defense without fouling. Majok is UConn’s best big man at help defense, he just needs to remain on the floor. He is blocking shots and rebounding much better, but his four minute stretches are keeping him out of any flow.

Beverly had a hustle save, but also had a horrible no-look pass and was beat off the ball on numerous occasions. He seems to be playing a bit out of his comfort zone. Coombs-McDaniel wasn’t effective and missed his only outside attempt. He did help in the rebound department and played good defense, but was out of control in transition and traveled. Okwandu’s playing time was short lived with a horrible rebound attempt on a free throw and he was back to the bench.

Sitting at three and six in conference standings, it looks awfully bleak for this team. It doesn’t seem like this team can turn it around. They just don’t have answers to their troubles because if they did, they would’ve already solved them. Their style of play is conducive to turnovers. Their weakness in the front court isn’t maturing fast enough and their strength in the back court isn’t strong enough to carry the team. It leaves them scratching and clawing to stay afloat in games. And this ship is sinking fast.

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