Monday, November 8, 2010

Making Some Noise

There are only a couple of positive things that UConn can take away from this blowout, jump shots and free throws. With such a size, depth, talent and speed advantage, they were supposed to dominate this game and did so. This is definitely a different team then last year’s with their ability to hit the outside shot. Sure it is only two preseason games, but it seems like this team will be the most consistent outside shooting team that UConn has had in years. The free throw shooting could not be better and will be a major asset if it continues. The rebounding is definitely a concern. The frontcourt should be dominating, averaging double digit’s a piece, but they are not getting it done. The defense has been sufficient and the 2-3 zone and full court press were effective and fueled the fast break which blew the game open.

Walker was a superstar. He had back-to-back solid outside shooting performances, hitting a couple of 3-balls. He was active defensively, getting deflections and steals, pushing the ball up, and driving the ball to the rim. He had a sensational crossover and a beautiful no-look pass that led to an easy lay-up that brought the crowd to its feet. Not only is Kemba the catalyst for the offense, but he is also crashing the boards too, which this team needs. He is doing it all now.

Beverly had an ineffective first half and needs to do more early, but he managed to get some offense going in the second half. It was good to see him nail a 3-ball and a jumper, but he needs to find ways to get others involved. Napier again showed his blazing speed and an ability to score in a variety of ways. He went coast-to-coast for an easy score, had a series of lay-ups, and had another 3-ball. He is making a case for more minutes and could possibly be in the game in the closing minutes of games.

Oriakhi has become a free throw master and if he can remain at this pace then he’ll have no problem getting points. He did everything right except rebound, which is his most important job out there. He tends to wait for the ball on rebounds instead of putting a body on a defender then go for the ball. He is also a non-factor on the offensive glass too, which is also disconcerting. Okwandu continues to show improvement. He got off to a slow start with a travel and early foul, but then showed hustle diving into the crowd for a loose ball, hit an elbow jumper, had a steal, offensive board, and got a charge. His emergence early on as a solid role player has eased the concerns of Majok’s departure.

Coombs-McDaniel is struggling. He is settling too much for the 3-ball and it isn’t falling for him. He needs to drive to the basket and become that third rebounder down in the paint. If he strictly becomes a spot up shooter then he will begin losing minutes to some of the freshmen. Olander had an inconsistent night. He rebounded well, but he struggled offensively, which is to be expected with a freshman. He made some plays in the second half, but he needs to show more of a post presence, because this team doesn’t have anyone demanding the ball in the post and that will cause problems down the road.

Giffey is a solid player. He plays sound defense, moves his feet well, and has a consistent jumper. It has been awhile since UConn has had a wing player that can hit a jump shot. He needs to show the ability to rebound better though. Lamb had a breakout performance. He rebounded, drove to the basket, hit free throws, dropped a 3-ball, sank a hook shot, blocked a shot, dunked, slipped in a runner, and played solid defense. Hopefully this is the Lamb that will show up in every game. Smith was inconsistent. He played good defense and had a block, but also struggled to find his offense. He needs to rebound much better too.

The preseason is over and this team is gelling well offensively, but there are a few concerning aspects with rebounding the most major. The forwards are going to need to do a better job in helping the frontcourt in rebounding. It is all hands on deck for this team. The outside shot looks much more improved, but they can’t rely on it as much as they have. They need to attack the basket more, feed the post, and not fall in love with the outside shot. The freshmen are making major impacts, the seniors are settling into their roles, and Walker is dominating. If they can find a way to rebound the ball better, then this team is going to make some serious noise.

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