Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Starters not Closers

It wasn’t how UConn wanted to end their season, but at least they left it all out on the court. There can’t be any finger pointing at a lack of heart or energy that was seen in games against Providence and St. John’s. They played hard and were beat by a better squad. UConn’s season long flaw sealed their fate, they have starters but they don't have any closers. They can’t make the positive plays down the stretch of tight ballgames and it cost them at least five games and a chance at the Big Dance. The offense looked good early on but they couldn’t buy an outside shot in the second half. They feasted on put backs and second chance opportunities. The defense was solid enough, but struggled all year in getting back, even on made baskets. Why is it so hard to run back? It cost them a half dozen points and most likely the game.

It was good to see Dyson play well in his last game. People can say what they want about him, but they can’t question his toughness and heart. Even though he struggled down the stretch of the season, he willed his team over a gritty Northeastern team and nearly won this game. He did have two costly turnovers late in the final minutes, but was everywhere defensively. He just isn’t a closer.

Walker was simply amazing. His jumper was working in the first half and when it wasn’t in the second half, he took the ball to the rim and was rewarded with free throws. He was also able to get into the lane and draw the defense in to slip the ball to his big men. It was also interesting to see him play the two man game with Edwards with effectiveness. His turnaround in the later half of this season has given UConn fans hope for next year.

Robinson had his best game in some time. He showed a dribble drive and finish around the rim, which is what NBA scouts are drooling over, but he just hasn’t forced the action all year. Again he was a non-factor down the stretch of the ballgame. He has so much potential that it will be interesting to see where he lands in the draft. He is also a major culprit in not running back on defense.

Edwards had a solid game around the rim, but couldn’t finish his final shot. He showed good hustle and energy, fighting hard for loose balls and rebounds. It will be interesting to see if a NBA team takes a shot at him. Oriakhi played much better. He rebounded and scored around the basket, but he is another one that isn't running back hard. Majok took an early jumper and Calhoun pulled him, but when he came back he had a nice rebound and put-back, hustle dive for a loose ball, and a steal. Okwandu played solid defense, a block and had an and-one.

Coombs-McDaniel had a pretty drive and finish but his outside shot wasn’t dropping. He’ll need to be much more aggressive next year and should be flirting with a double-digit average. Beverly did a good job of running the point but then had a costly travel call that sent him to the bench.

The season is finally over and this game was a microcosm of their entire season. They looked great at times and horrible at times, they couldn’t buy a basket against the zone, they couldn’t run back on defense, and they couldn’t finish games. It wasn’t the way the seniors wanted to end their season, and their legacy here will be of not living up to their full potential and for Calhoun that has got to be killing him.


Matias Nino said...

Well said. Thanks for your great post game sum ups this season. It was a pleasure reading your very accurate and straight up commentary.

David Gillett said...

Thanks. While it hasn't been the best season, it truly was a journey. Lots of ups and downs. It was good to see the seniors play well in their last game.

hedgie said...

Ditto what Matias said, great commentary throughout the season. Dyson is a monster and will be a better pick than Robinson. Dyson is 6'3"-6'4" and can do a LOT in terms of 1 on 1 defense which the NBA likes and has great speed and I think his jumper can get going now that his goal is to be a pro.

Robinson will be a flop. He's a dunk and little else. He'd be a 6'9"-6'10" small forward meaning he needs to be able to handle the ball. This guy has no handle at all and cannot do much in terms of driving to the basket from what I've seen. Guys will strip him anytime he puts the ball on the floor with his high dribble, I just don't see him being that great in the NBA. He's too much of an in-betweener physically. He's a small forward but probably has the ball control of a power forward. He has no real jump shot and no handle that a small forward should have.

There wasn't any mental toughness this year, Kemba has it but didn't get hot til the second half which is when Dyson faded.

I can't see Gavin Edwards in the NBA. He's a 6'10" body and nothing else. He did step up in the first half but then regressed to the typical butterfingers we've seen, the weak fouls, and then the occaisonal "what the hell are you doing" jump shot.

I think the Uconn era is going to be stalled for a bit. I hope I'm wrong but I just see nothing on the pine for us next year. Darius Smith and Mccoombs should be in a summer long shooting clinic cause we need jump shots.

It's funny watching the NCAA tourney and seeing teams that can hit jump shotsjust taking it to these big conference teams over and over. If we can get Kemba and the two sophomores to be taking jump shots and being consistent, we'll be ok next year.

David Gillett said...

Thanks Hedgie. I agree with you on the mental toughness. In tight ballgames, this team just couldn't make plays down the stretch or hold leads.

It is hard to see where the points are going to come from next year, but defensively this team should be solid. Coombs-McDaniel should be much better. He plays better when he isn't worried about getting yanked. Majok and Oriakhi should be a more solid players, but offensive consistency is still a question. What will Trice bring to the table and will Smith play under control on both ends of the court? The Freshmen are all question marks too.
I don't think Walker will jump to the NBA, not without an opportunity to improve his draft status in the NCAA tournament.

Robinson will make a team but I wouldn't put a bust on him yet. He doesn't have a dribble drive and his jumper needs some work, but the NBA game is so much different then the NCAA game. With a few years under his belt, he could be a good utility player. Dyson will make a great second unit player. His physical style will entice a team to snag him. Europe seems the most likely place for Edwards or a team will put him in the D-league for awhile.

Thanks again for reading my stuff guys!