Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Man Show

It wasn’t how Calhoun had drawn it up. Kemba Walker sitting for almost the whole first half. It could’ve been ugly but the freshmen held their own and took a lead on a Smith three pointer at the buzzer. There were some troubling signs though. Wichita dominated the paint area, were winning the loose balls, and sinking threes that ballooned the lead. But UConn had Kemba Walker and he took over. Sure UConn benefited from some bad calls, but the aggressiveness made the referees have to make calls and some went the Huskies way.

Walker is having a sensational start to his season. The only real knock on his game was that he was too aggressive defensively in the first half. He needs to know that he can’t pick up those type of fouls. His jumper wasn’t falling early and he started driving to the basket, feasting at the line. He took over late and after missing a three pointer, he then made 6 points at the line, hit a three pointer, had a steal, got fouled, made two more free throws on a questionable call, and then sank two more jumpers. That’s stepping up down the stretch and they needed every single point.

Napier played solid defense getting some steals, but was a bit too aggressive, fouling twenty feet from the basket. When the team needed someone to step up when Kemba was in foul trouble, Napier took over. He displayed the ability to get to the lane and to the line. He did take a couple of bad jumpers and needs to take more shots in rhythm. Beverly handled the press well, had a nice assist, made his free throws, and had an offensive board, but he isn’t much of a factor offensively and didn’t look aggressive out there. Lamb also stepped up in the first half. He rebounded great, had a beautiful bank shot, and a steal, but wasn’t as much of a factor in the second half especially on the boards.

The front court played horrible. There was no semblance of position rebounding and it turned into a tip drill for every board. Oriakhi did have a nice post move and scored on a hook, but he didn’t have any consistent offense. On defense he was getting beat on back screens and was out of position, giving Wichita easy looks and put-backs. While he did have a horrible pass that gave up a dunk, he did step up and seal the game with a free throw. Overall though, UConn needs more from him. Olander also had a tough game and wasn’t effective rebounding. He took an ill-advised three pointer that had him riding the pine. Okwandu started the game and blocked a shot, got to the line, and had a steal, but didn’t have an impact in the second half. Calhoun isn't giving him much minutes.

The small forward position is still finding its way and struggled. Smith was UConn’s best outside threat sinking a pair, but other then that he had a tough game. He wasn’t effective on the boards and gave up a free throw rebound. He needs to do much better on the boards. Coombs-McDaniel showed that he wasn’t strictly a jump shooter and had a nifty lay-up. He played solid defense and had a block, but he also didn’t do much in the second half. Giffey had a lay-up, snagged an offensive board, and made half of his free throws.

What happened to the consistent outside jumpers, the flawless free throw shooting, and ball movement that UConn showed in the preseason? There is too much dribbling to this offense and little to none ball movement. While Kemba Walker is a great option, it is starting to look like the UConn of last year where everyone stepped aside and let Dyson take the ball to the rack and everyone knows how that story ended. This team is going to need a more well rounded effort especially from the front court and small forwards against an elite team in Michigan State. If they don’t then its going to be a long night.

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