Tuesday, December 21, 2010
It was a long layoff and the rust was evident early on. Jumpers were clanking and lay-ups were rolling off the rim, but UConn used their overpowering size and strength to dominate the boards and keep themselves in the ballgame early until some of the jumpers began to fall. The defense was there for most of the night. Except for the three-ball, which Coppin State made their fair share of lucky ones, UConn kept Coppin State out of the lane until the very end of the ballgame. They just didn’t put this team away and let them back into the game with sloppy offense and poor rebounding down the stretch. It left a sour taste on an otherwise good team victory.
Walker didn’t have a great game. He forced the offense a couple of times and ended up with off balance and contested shots in the lane. The offense is so dependent on him that if he isn’t scoring then the offense grinds to a halt. Even though it was an off night, he did hit the three-ball and had a highlight steal and dunk. This team needs someone to step up and become a consistent second scorer. You can almost mirror this teams runs to when he is scoring the basketball which isn't the best sign.
Oriakhi also had a tough night. He did well on the boards, but couldn’t finish plays around the rim. He is still struggling at the line and isn’t getting a good arch on the ball. He also isn’t demanding the ball in the post. He has a nice post game, shown by a nice spin and lay-up with a foul, but this team needs more. Against this team, he should be dominating.
Napier failed to produce any type of offense, but he didn’t take any horrible threes that had plagued him in previous games. He did have a beautiful no-look pass to Walker, but his lack of offense contributed to Coppin State climbing back into the game. Lamb was solid and looks to be the second scorer on the team. He battled hard on the boards and hit a few jumpers. He just needs to be that type of player for both halves. He did much of his damage, especially on the boards, in the first half, but this type of growing pains are expected from a freshman. Beverly didn’t have much of an impact on the game other then a scoop shot and a rebound. He did provide some ball handling in a three guard lineup. He gave up some wide open jumpers for contested shots.
It was a awful night for the wings. Smith had a tough game. His shot was all over the place and nothing was dropping for him. It was good to see him on the boards and using his athletic frame in getting some second chance opportunities, but he forced some jumpers instead of getting to the line by attacking the rim. Coombs-McDaniel’s shot is just not falling and unlike other games, he didn’t take it to the rim. He ended up clanking all of his jumpers. He is on a major shooting slump. Giffey also bricked everything and decided to use the glass on his only jumper. He played solid defense and didn't force anything.
Okwandu had his best game of the year and might be feeling the heat from the newly arrived Wolf. The biggest difference for him is that he finished plays off with authority. He was all over the place, dishing the ball, blocking shots, and showing a sweet hook shot. He will need to put this type of effort in back-to-back games though and in conference play too. Olander played well in the first half. He rebounded much better and made a nice spin move, but he isn’t a passer, making several poor decisions. He was more energetic and showed a presence in the paint area. Wolf made the most of his limited minutes, making two lay-ups and missing two more. He will add much need depth and doesn’t look like he will need a lot of time to get adjusted to this team.
It wasn’t the dominating performance that they wanted, but coming off an extended break, they needed this type of game to shake off the rust. This is still a very young team that is dependent on one player and is susceptible to a seesaw effort that was displayed tonight. It is a great motivation for Calhoun to use in practice. While effort like this tonight against any Big East team will get you beat, it is a teachable game while getting a win, which isn't that bad at all. Just as long as they learn from it.