Monday, March 1, 2010

Lost Opportunity

It was another missed opportunity and one that could bite UConn in the end. It certainly puts more pressure on them to win these next two games. They are squarely on the bubble and losing home games doesn’t help their cause. This loss can be blamed on the turnovers. Louisville were swiping at the ball and UConn was weak in handling the rock. There were plenty of positives to take from the game though, starting with the rebounding. During the last four games, they have done a great job of competing for the ball. The frontcourt is more active and Calhoun isn’t afraid of having Okwandu or Majok foul out early in the ballgames, as long as they are making an impact on the court. It boiled down to another close game down the stretch where UConn couldn’t finish their two drives around the rim in the closing seconds and Louisville finished theirs. It’s a shame that they lost on senior night and the turnovers are unacceptable, but they have a lot of positives to take from this loss.

Dyson played solid defense and made a ton of plays on offense, but just couldn’t carry this team over the finish line. He missed a very important front end of a one-and-one and turned the ball over in a crucial possession. It was good to see him knock down some jumpers but the zone kept him from using his main weapon, the dribble drive. For Jerome to take the next step to his game, he needs to knock down those free throws late in the game and make plays in the final possessions and he hasn’t.

What more can you say about Walker’s ascendancy? He knocked down a ton of 3-balls, sank all his free throws, was fouled a bunch while driving, played solid defense, and took care of the ball. He has a great ability to exaggerate contact through body language that is reminiscent of a Paul Pierce. If he continues to play with this amount of effectiveness then UConn is a lock for the Tournament.

Robinson had a solid first half but still has a problem of making an impact late in the second half. This team needs him to be effective late in ballgames and he hasn’t. He is also making a ton of turnovers with sloppy passes. Sticks has done a great job on rebounding and he is making a concerted effort to go after the ball, but they need more from him.

Edwards was very active all game. He was a rebounding machine and was fouled a ton in the paint. It was good to see him knock down his free throws. He did save the ball underneath his own basket and gave up two points, a cardinal sin, but he was all over the court and played well. Oriakhi had a tough outing. He rebounded well, but wasn’t effective on the offensive end other then a dunk. Okwandu played with energy and was crashing the boards with aggression and blocked shots, but he was out of control when the ball was in his hands. Majok missed a jumper and didn’t play much.

Beverly played well. He hit a jumper, which is a great sign, and he had a great tie-up. He is an unsung part of this team and one that doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Coombs-McDaniel missed his only 3-ball attempt and had a turnover.

It’s been one of those seasons for this team. They’ve played a bunch of close games and they’ve been on the short end of most of them. While this is a lost opportunity, they still control their own destiny. If they win these next two games then they are more then likely in the Big Dance. It won’t be easy, not with how Notre Dame is playing and how much South Florida has improved, but if UConn takes better care of the ball and they rebound like they have, then they have a great chance. But their chances have dwindled down to two.

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