Sunday, January 16, 2011

Road Warriors

This was the first game in a long while that UConn dominated in all aspects of the game. The offense wasn’t dominated by one player but points were distributed throughout the lineup, they held their own on the boards, found ways to get into the fast break, and while they fouled a ton in the first half, they made them earn every point in the second half. This team is beginning to gel and find their roles. The freshmen are all contributing, the sophomores are stepping up, and Walker is getting more comfortable and not hijacking the offense. They are also doing what they need to do, win the games that they are supposed to win and they did it in convincing fashion.

Walker had his best game since his superb play against Vermont. He came out on fire, getting a steal and lay-up, and then sank two jumpers before his first miss. DePaul continued to pressure UConn and it allowed Walker to attack the defense with no double in sight which he made them pay. His whole game was on display. He was getting to the line with aggressive plays, hitting wide open jumpers, grabbing boards, and creating havoc defensively. It is good to see him so effective without taking a ton of shots.

It took awhile for Oriakhi to get going. He only had one board in the first half and missed some easy buckets. In the second half though, he started out strong, getting the ball in the post and finishing. He then found a couple of easy dunks, rebounds, and nice post moves for lay-ups. His free throw shooting has improved so much and is now a weapon for him. He just needs to find ways to get on track earlier in the game.

Napier had a quiet game. He didn’t do much in the first half other then a pretty assist, but in the second half, he made another nifty pass and a three pointer. Lamb had a spectacular game. His mid-ranged jumper finally showed up and he sank four of them. He also did a great job with the ball in traffic. His ball control has improved since the beginning of the year. He had the highlight of the game with a poster dunk on a nice feed from Napier. Hopefully he can keep this type of play up because this is a different team when he is making plays.

Smith did a good job. He had a nice reverse lay-up, blocked shots, rebounded, and found ways to get to the line. He is going to be a special player when he finds his jumper again. Coombs-McDaniel had an on and off game. At times he had some nice lay-ups, boards, and ran hard on made baskets, but then he made some bad passes,did not block out, and had some poor fouls. His jumper is still a liability for him too but atleast he is making positive plays. Giffey had a tough game. He had a bad foul, horrible pass which got him benched, and played some sloppy defense. He did have a couple of offensive rebounds, but his confidence is at an all time low. He needs to keep shooting though and not pass up open jumpers because he still has one of the best strokes on the team.

Olander had a better game on the boards, but he can’t find ways to get anything going offensively. He isn’t getting any opportunities on the block or hitting the fifteen footer. He also needs to do a better job defensively and continues to foul too much. There is a ton of pressure on him though because of the lack of depth there. Okwandu had a couple of blocks, but didn’t do anything on the boards or help out offensively. He needs to do more when in the game. Wolf finally found some minutes with three minutes left in the blowout. He was aggressive when the ball was in his hands and was called for an offensive foul but he plays with a lot of energy. This would’ve been the perfect game to get him some solid minutes, but Calhoun must not trust him yet.

This game was won on the defensive end and once they stopped fouling DePaul and sending them to the line, they began to pull away. They are winning the games that they are supposed to and it sets them up nicely for some upcoming Big East games. They’ll need to continue to play stellar defense, have Walker efficient, and hope some of the freshmen continue their improvement. If they can hold home court and steal a few upper echelon road games, then they’ll be where they need to be. But with a young team like this, consistency is always inconsistent.

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