Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dog Eat Dog

This was just what UConn needed. The offense looked crisp, the defense mostly kept Georgetown to outside jumpers, they rebounded well and Walker and Coombs-McDaniel carried over their stellar play. Again a team didn’t play a majority of zone or pressure defense which plays into UConn’s strength and Georgetown’s defense was getting gashed by drives and mid-ranged shots. On the other hand, they also need to do a much better job at the free throw line, leaving numerous points on the court and making this game closer then it had to be. But this was a fantastic performance against an elite team that was playing at a high level and should instill some confidence that had been tarnished with their play in the past couple of weeks.

He’s back. This was the Walker that Husky fans had seen in the first two months of the season. He found his jumper against Providence and carried that over in this game, but he rediscovered his driving lay-ups that he were missing throughout his extended slump. He had everything working from his outside shot, mid-ranged jumper, to a street ball off the glass lay-up, and he also made the right play when the help came. The only thing lacking from his game was consistency from the line, leaving five points on the court. Hopefully this is the Walker that will be showing up the rest of the year and especially against the zone.

Oriakhi had a bounce back performance. He rebounded much better and single handedly brought UConn back in the first half with three consecutive offensive boards that led to two dunks and a nice over the shoulder lay-up. He did make a bad play in the closing seconds of the game and pulled a Scottie Haralson and made a basket that he didn't have to which had Calhoun jumping mad. But this game should put him on the right track and hopefully get him to play with energy he displayed all game.

Lamb is in the midst of his own slump. He did make a three pointer and a floater in the first half but missed a lot of shots that had been going down for him. He still played solid defense, snatching two steals, which is good to see for a player not playing well on the offensive end of the court It wasn’t as much of a factor since Coombs-McDaniel has emerged as an offensive juggernaut and filled the role that Lamb had. He finally looks like he is having fun and why not when he is scoring from deep, driving to the lane for runners, and hitting numerous jumpers. Having a fourth option behind Walker, Oriakhi, and Lamb has given this team much needed versatility and should be able to break the zone with the ability to make plays from the top of the key.

Napier struggled and was pulled early in the ballgame for not getting back on defense. He didn’t have much of an impact on the game other then running the point to free up Walker. Beverly had a board, a miss, and dribbled into trouble. He needs to do more with less. Giffey had some early minutes and had a horrible pass. He needs to know his role as a spot up shooter and like Beverly, he does too much when the ball is in his hands.

Okwandu had a good game and had a few blocks and a dunk but Calhoun went small and he had a reduced role down the stretch. He has been a pleasant surprise on the defensive end of the court and lets Oriakhi play his true position at power forward. Smith continues to struggle to find his shot, missing everything that he threw up there. He had a tough time with the back cuts and the Princeton style of play, but his length defensively was invaluable on the perimeter. He is the missing piece to this offense and if he can get it going from the wing then watch out. Olander had a really good outing with his limited minutes. He had a nice up and under move and hit a jumper. He seems to always be out of breath after a few minutes in the ballgame but he still plays with a ton of energy.

UConn has clawed their way back into contention for that coveted double-bye with this impressive victory, but they still have a brutal stretch of games left. The good thing is that Walker has gotten back on track, they have rebounded much better, and they have found help offensively from Coombs-McDaniel. They just need to get Lamb on track, get Smith rebounding, and Napier to hit the outside shot, then this team has a chance to finish this season out strong. They are a lock for tournament and are only playing for seeding in both tournaments but with their higher expectations these next few games can determine how hard their final goal can be ascertained.


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