Wednesday, January 5, 2011
What more can you ask for? UConn played horrible defense all game and Walker was off for most of the night and they still had two shots at tying the game up in the closing minutes. The freshmen’s shots were finally falling but they just couldn’t keep Notre Dame in front of them defensively and let them get lay-up after lay-up down the stretch. UConn knew it was going to be a tough road in the Big East, but they have barely led in any of the first three games, just squeaking out a victory late in the South Florida game and it all has to do with the defense. Maybe the zone would’ve helped, but they need to do something. This team has to stay above water and can’t fall to 1 and 3 in the conference.
Walker struggled mightily throughout the game. He couldn’t buy a basket but he was still effective in finding his teammates and playing solid defense. He also did a good job of not picking up that second foul in the first half. He had his looks but they just weren’t dropping and that was the reason why they couldn’t match Notre Dame.
Oriakhi did a better job of rebounding and was very aggressive with the ball in his hands. Calhoun shouldn’t be mad that he had three offensive fouls because this team needs him to be in attack mode in the post. The more he takes it to the basket the better this team will become. Olander had a tough game and was getting out hustled in the paint. This team needs him to contribute more. Right now he is creating more negative plays then positive. Okwandu played well with his minutes, hitting a nice hook, getting a board, and blocking a shot.
Napier was impressive. His outside shot was on and he was a pest defensively. It is too bad that he had that freshman moment in the closing seconds of the ballgame. He was the best player on the floor for UConn and hopefully he can keep up this kind of productivity. Lamb had a solid game, hitting the outside shot and attacking the boards. He is still struggling defensively and his man is getting a step on him. Beverly played sparingly and wasn’t much of a factor.
Smith had a good first half, blocking shots, dunking the ball, and finally hitting a jumper, but he needs to block out and rebound better. He is also trailing his man on most possessions. Coombs-McDaniel had back-to-back solid games. His outside shot was working and was taking the ball to the rim too. Hopefully this is a confidence builder for him. Giffey finally hit a three, but he continues to create tougher shots by dribbling the ball. It was great to see him take the open shots without hesitation though.
All you can ask for your team on the road against a solid squad like Notre Dame is to be in the game at the end and this team did that. The freshmen finally contributed but the defense is still struggling. They need to figure it out and fast because these next couple of conference games will determine which direction this team will be headed. Will they dig themselves a hole to big to climb out or will they battle back into contention for a conference title? If this defensive effort continues though, it could spell trouble.