Tuesday, February 16, 2010
What a way to get your first road victory of the season, even though it was a bit late in the season. No one expected this team to come out like they did especially after the performance against Cincinnati. The energy level was a stark contrast right from the tip. Everyone was flying to the ball, diving on the ground, and aggressive on both ends of the court. The main difference though, the jumpers. They sank ten in this game and their confidence grew with each one. The defense was good, though the bigs struggled in keeping Villanova’s guards from penetrating off the pick and roll. It put undo pressure on the frontcourt and put them in foul trouble early. But they kept the 3-ball from hurting them, which against a team like Villanova, it can kill you. Everyone stepped up, played with pride, and came out with their best performance of the year.
Dyson struggled with his offense. His jumpers weren’t sinking, but he remained aggressive and was fouled six times driving to the rim. He was solid on the defense end, creating a charge and several steals. His major issue was at the line down the stretch where he was only making one out of two. He needs to drain those and put these games away. He did a much better job of pulling the ball out and not having those costly turnovers.
What more can you say about Walker? If he is hitting his jumpers, he is hands down the best player on the court. He was hustling all over the place, getting steals and diving to the ground. He sank three 3-balls that put UConn ahead for good, but he was aggressive all game and stepped up when Dyson was struggling. He was fouled seven times driving to the basket, and was perfect down the stretch from the line. It’s great to see him emerge like he has, it is just too bad that it happened this late in the season.
Robinson was a turnover machine. He had four horrible passes, a backcourt violation, and lost control of his dribble. He needs to do a much better job at controlling the rock. He did better rebounding and had his usual dunks, but he wasn’t effective with the ball in his hands and he rushed his shots. It was nice to see him hit the elbow jumper and dive to the ground for a loose ball, but he could've had a much better performance.
Edwards did a better job with controling of the ball. He had a pretty hook shot in the post and had a key rebound to seal the game. He did have a few sloppy passes and some rebounds being poked out of his hands, but overall he had a much better game. He needs to build on this game.
Oriakhi had his starting position taken from him and he still struggled on defense, especially against the pick and roll. He was out of position to contain the dribble penetration and time after time he left a wide open lane to the rim. He did have a few dunks and blocks, but he needs to do much better. Majok had a hard time staying in the game, but when he does, he plays with a lot of energy. Okwandu had a tough time staying in the game also, but had a put back and made a free throw.
It was good to see those shots sink for Coombs-McDaniel. Hopefully this will turn the rest of his season around now that he has found a little confidence. Beverly missed his only jumper and had a bad pass, but what he does doesn’t show up in the stats sheet. He is the third guard in a the three guard line-up and is the only pure point guard off the bench.
This was a great win for a team with questions swirling about to their motivation. They proved that they are still a team to beat in this league and they looked primed to head into the Big East tournament with a ton of momentum. They need to finish this season strong, even if the Big Dance is but a dream now. For this team now it isn’t about the name on the back of the jersey, or the school on the front, but what beats beneath the jersey that truly matters, and this win proves that this team still has the heart and tenacity to keep fighting. For that we should all be proud.