Tuesday, January 18, 2011
This is a gritty team. Everything wasn’t going their way. Jumpers weren’t falling, Villanova was getting all the calls, and they were getting beat on the boards, but they continued to fight. While UConn started out hot it soon turned ugly with both teams struggling to get to the rim and knock down jumpers. Both defenses were effective in sealing lanes and limiting the offense to jumpers and Villanova finally started sinking theirs. With the lead switching hands several times, it came down to the superstars and Walker again showed his magic, sinking the dagger. This team might not be athletic, deadly from outside, or dominate in the paint as previous teams, but this team fights harder then any team in recent memory.
The Legend of Walker continues to grow. He had a tough night with his jumper and was getting in trouble with the double and triple teams in the paint. It looked like he was going to be held in check, but then the referees began calling fouls again, which sent him to the line for five of his last ten points. His clutch floater in the closing minutes masked a bad foul that tied the game up and several missed free throws.
Oriakhi had a tough start to the game, missing on some easy baskets, but he was strong on the boards and continued to snag boards throughout the game. He got himself in trouble a couple of times with taking to long to make a move and having the double team swallow him up, but he has shown a consistent hook shot and finished with authority on a couple of plays. He also did a great job at the line and is making teams pay for sending him there. His improved play is why UConn is winning these games.
Napier did a good job defensively but struggled on the offensive end. He had a nice highlight pass to Coombs-McDaniel but didn’t do much other then that offesively. Lamb has been a completely different player in the past two games. He is taking more shots and it is paying off. He is still inconsistent from deep but his mid-ranged game has been his major weapon and he is helping out on the boards too. Hopefully this is the Lamb that will be around all season. Beverly played sparingly and had a turnover. If he can’t limit his turnovers then he will be riding the pine.
Olander had a rough outing. He fell out of bounds on a rebounding attempt, missed a wide open jumper, and was blocked on a post move. He needs to do a much better job on the boards and he isn’t. Okwandu was a pleasant surprise. He did his job on the glass, snagging offensive and defensive boards and even sank a free throw. Most of his fouls are due to the guards letting their man into the lane and Okwandu helping out. He is in there to provide fouls, rebound, and block shots.
Smith is struggling with his jumper, sinking one in the second half, but he needs to do more on the glass and find ways to get to the line. He has all the tools to be a legit wing man but it is taking him some time to adjust. Coombs-McDaniel clanked all his jumpers but did have a nice lay-up from a great feed from Napier. He is running hard and moving well without the ball. Giffey played a couple of minutes and quickly sat back down. He isn't getting the opportunities to get out of his slump but it was a tight ballgame and Calhoun needed to go with what was working.
With Napier and now Lamb beginning to find their respective roles, this team is beginning to get a rhythm. Like the teams of the last several years, the wing position is the only spot where there is still a question mark. It could lead Calhoun to run more of the three guard lineup which he has used on occasions. One thing for sure is that the defense is legit, the freshmen are gaining confidence and Walker is a superstar. That is a deadly combination.