Thursday, December 23, 2010
After the dismal end to the Copper State game, UConn was able to put together a total team effort on both ends of the floor against Harvard. The offense was evenly distributed, shots were falling, and players that weren’t contributing before found ways to score. They pounded the glass and had two or three men at all times attacking the offensive glass. The help defense was much better throughout the whole game and the big men clogged up the driving lanes and the perimeter defenders closed out on the outside shooters.
While Kemba isn’t scoring like he has, not forcing the offense and becoming confident with the freshmen is going to payoff greater for this team more so then if he is going off for thirty a night. Walker is such a fluid scorer and his jumper was falling early. He is still doing too much dribbling in the half court sets, but that is nitpicking an otherwise great performance.
Oriakhi held his own on the boards and was more assertive with his back to the basket which is what this team needs from him. He was a bit lazy with the ball around the rim and needs to finish plays off with authority rather then trying to tip the ball in but he did a good job at the line and played solid defense, though he should be dominating these types of games.
The guards all did a much better job and are showing better effectiveness in the half court sets. Napier had a much more productive output in this game. He took some bad three pointers but he made them and he was able to get steals and create fast break opportunities, none better then the one where he hit Walker in transition for a three. Lamb had a solid first half, showing the baseline jumper, offensive rebounding, the 3-ball, and a sweet floater, but he has had trouble at being effective in both halves. Beverly had a tough night and had a couple of turnovers without making any positive plays.
The front court is becoming an effective core and are doing a much better job on the boards. Olander had his best game of the year and showed the ability to hit that 15-footer that Jeff Adrien had down pat. He also did a good job on the boards, but also was caught in no man’s land defensively a couple of times and had Calhoun yelling at him on the bench. Smith was able to get to the line and find points there. He finally got an outside shot to fall for him, but like Lamb, he disappeared in the second half. Coombs-McDaniel struggled for most of the night. He did post his man up and was fouled, making both shots, but his confidence in his jumper is at an all time low and he isn’t driving to the basket. Giffey struggled too. Dribbling is not his strong suit and he needs to find ways to become a spot up jumper and go right into his shot as soon as he gets the ball.
The transformation of Okwandu in the past two games has been remarkable. He is finding ways to score around the rim, playing excellent help defense and blocking shots. It is great to see. Wolf has been just as effective in his limited minutes and showed a soft shot from a 15-footer and from the line. He is also a great position rebounder which will help this team out in league play.
This was exactly the type of game that UConn needed after the ending of the Copper State game. It was a confidence builder for everyone on the team and they will need it for their first true road test of the year. It will be interesting to see how the freshmen deal in that type of environment and against an elite opponent. For now, this team is gelling and players are beginning to settle into their roles. It is sure is fun to watch, especially when they’re winning.