Saturday, November 13, 2010
It wasn’t pretty, buckets weren’t dropping like it has in the past two games and Stony Brook was knocking down threes, keeping themselves in the game early. It looked like it was going to be one of those underachieving performances, but UConn settled down and won this game on the defensive side of the ball, denying Stony Brook open looks on the perimeter. It is a great sign to see that one side of the ball wasn’t affecting the other, especially for such a young team. The rebounding was exceptional and everyone helped chip in and protect those long rebounds that they weren't getting in the preseason.
Walker struggled offensively but he was active. He had open jumpers and lay-ups that rolled off the rim. They’ll eventually drop for him, but he remained aggressive, which is what he needs to do. The team is so dependent on his energy and the tempo that he sets, that even if he is missing, it causes the defensive breakdowns which opens up easy put-backs and lay-ups.
Oriakhi was a beast. This is what he’ll need to do all year. He won’t have as big of an impact when he plays comparable talent, but his activity under the basket, from rebounds, blocks, put-backs, to deflections is what he needs to bring to every game. He needs to get the ball on the post more though. The team is too perimeter focused now and needs Oriakhi to post up and demand the ball. Okwandu didn’t play much and it wasn’t due to his play on the court. He made plays while he was out there from a nice hook shot to some hustle offensive boards. He needs more minutes in games like these to get more confidence.
Beverly had a bad first half but turned it around in the second. It was great to see him sink a 3-ball and it seemed to inject some confidence in him because from then on he had multiple rebounds, a steal, and a highlight stop-and-go lay-up. Lamb couldn’t buy a basket, missing from deep and mid-range, but he made impacts in other areas especially on defense. He had a spectacular steal then dunk and a great block on the perimeter. This inconsistency is expected from some of the young players especially on offense. Napier has had the most impact of the freshmen and has done it in every game so far. While he did have a horrible decision in a 3-ball that luckily banked in, he also showed the ability to hit the open three when it was a good shot. His speed and hustle compliments Walker's game. He needs to use his speed to get in the lanes more though and not rely on the perimeter shot.
Giffey had a bad game and didn’t get into any flow of the game offensively. He played solid defense and kept Stony Brook's streaky perimeter shooters in check in the second half. Olander didn’t play much and didn’t have much of an impact other then an offensive board and a lay-up. Smith did a better job on the boards, but couldn’t muster much on the offensive other then some put-backs. He was active on defense though and wasn’t afraid to crash the boards which is a great sign. It was great to see a 3-ball drop for Coombs-McDaniel, though he still is relying on his jumper too much. He did make a much more consorted effort on the glass and found points on put-backs. If he wants to beat out the freshmen, then he needs to be that third rebounder.
It is strange to see a UConn team jacking up threes, but it is working, even if they weren’t dropping. They found ways to produce points on put-backs, at the line, and second chance opportunities. There just isn’t a baseline to tell if this team is a poor, good, or great outside shooting team, but Calhoun’s hands are tied. He just doesn’t have the frontcourt that can create their own shot off the dribble. For now this team will take a ton of threes, attack in transition, get to the line, and play solid defense. It has worked so far, but it is awfully strange to watch.