Sunday, February 21, 2010
Time Will Tell
Every game is a most win at this point in the season and UConn continued their strong play with a great performance on the road, a rare occurrence this year. They hung their hat on defense and made Rutgers work for every shot. Everyone made a conscious effort on the glass and scrapped and clawed their way to second and third chance points. The offense took some time to get going, getting their first jumper at the twelve minute mark, their was too much dribbling to set up their offensive sets, and they were lucky to have a couple of sloppy shots turn into points, but they did a great job of limiting the turnovers to give themselves the opportunity to put up a shot. This was a team victory. Everyone had a hand in this win from Beverly and Coombs-McDaniel to Dyson and Walker, which is a great sign. The bench is finally getting results for all the effort they showed out there and it is coming at the right time.
Dyson is in a bit of a shooting slump, though he did hit a three ball and a mid-ranged jumper, but he has become a bit inconsistent from outside. He had a powerful block and a pretty up and under move, but what was most impressive was that he made his free throws down the stretch. It is good to see him sink those and hopefully it lifts his confidence in those situations. It was a bit concerning though to see him limping when he was heading to the bench at the end of the game.
Walker wasn’t as dominating as he was against Villanova, but he didn’t need to be. He was aggressive on defense, creating a charge and snagging steals. His jumper has come a long way since the beginning of the year and he has such a sweet stroke that if he stays four years, he will have a deadly jumper. Kemba has the ability to take over the game at any moment but he just doesn’t realize it yet.
Robinson is returning back to what he does best, sticking his nose into the paint for put-backs and rebounds. His outside shot has slipped a little but he is making up for it with helping solidify the rebounding which was killing UConn for the past two months. He also took much better care of the basketball, made his free throws, and was roaming in transition to steal the ball.
Edwards had a rough start, getting benched right away after his sloppy hands made an appearance and had his shot blocked, gave up an offensive board and shot an airball, but he didn’t give up. He battled hard, had a pretty spin move, had some dunks, and rebounded solidly. What has been disconcerting with Edwards game, besides his hands and passing, has been his descending free throw percentage. He started the season as UConn’s best free throw shooter and now he is missing a ton of them. He was another Husky that looked banged up, shaking his wrist and flexing his fingers.
Oriakhi continues to be inconsistent. He traveled, didn’t block out, had horrible position on defense and gave up a lay up, and missed his free throws. He did have a put-back and rebounded well, but UConn needs more from him. Majok did well and had an early put-back dunk, but he didn’t show much after that other than a held ball. Okwandu had a sloppy pass and an over the back foul and wasn’t seen from again. They all need to do a much better job.
Beverly played a solid game and he is really settling into his role. He had a prayer 3-ball, a put-back, steal, and helped out on the boards. It was his most effective minutes he had played all year. It was good to see Coombs-McDaniel come in and sink an open three, putting together back-to-back solid games. He also played solid defense creating an offensive foul and was fouled driving to the basket. He needs to continue to look for his shot, especially driving to the rim.
The team is definitely headed in the right direction at the right time, but they left themselves little room for error. Every game is a must win at this point because a bunch of teams are battling for that elusive seventh spot in the Big East standings. Anything below seventh will not be enough to get in alone. The great thing is that they are playing their best ball of the year through solid defense, attacking the glass, making their free throws, and sinking some jumpers, which is something they had trouble doing all year. The question remains: Is this the real UConn team or is it the team that played against Providence and Cincinnati? Only time will tell.