Thursday, March 10, 2011
It is good to see UConn playing well and it didn’t matter that it was against a wounded Georgetown team. They carried over the energy level from the DePaul game and feasted on a sloppy Hoyas team that struggled without their point guard. It also helped that they didn’t play zone or full court pressure for a majority of the game, which played right into UConn’s strengths. The defensive rotation was stellar and they kept Georgetown off the glass for the most part. The freshmen all contributed, Walker was the best player on the court, and they played with a renewed vigor that wasn't there for the last month. It is a great time to be playing great basketball.
Walker was masterful and diced Georgetown’s defense. He got to any spot he wanted, splitting the double and triple team and was able to get into transition for easy buckets. Georgetown wanted to play physical with him but he was getting the touch fouls and they had to back off of him, which allowed him to get that deadly first step. While he still hasn’t hit a three pointer in the tournament, his mid-ranged game has been effective and his off-balanced shots around the rim are sinking. If he can continue this type of play and teams don’t play zone, then it could be an interesting end to the season.
Oriakhi didn’t carry over his monster play from the DePaul game but was still effective in the first half. He was able to get to the line early and had several defensive boards and a nice free throw offensive rebound. He didn’t play much in the second half and Calhoun went with Okwandu instead. Charles had a great game. He showed two hook shots, had a steal, a hustle save, a nice dish, and a dunk. The only negative is his lack of rebounding, but surprisingly he has been the best post player for UConn and no one would’ve thought that at the beginning of this year.
Lamb continued his solid play. He had a three pointer, three steals, a lay-up, and dunk, and that was only in the first half. He continues to struggle in the second half though and only had two free throws as his only offensive down the stretch. Hopefully he can play second halves like he does in the first. Coombs-McDaniel had another solid game off the bench with two three pointers, a lay-up, jumper, and floater. He did miss a wide open lay-up, had a couple of bad passes and only had one board, but he is becoming the glue guy of this team.
Smith had a good first half making a three pointer which is a great sign and had two boards, which is not enough. He struggled defensively and was in and out of the game with foul trouble. Giffey had a lay-up & one which should’ve been a charge. He also had a rare rebound. While he didn’t take a jumper, this game should be a confidence booster for him. He still is passing up wide open shots for the dribble.
Napier had a tough first half with a couple of turnovers, a steal, and a missed shot as his only contributions, but he more then made up for it in the second half. He started out with a lay-up & 1, a floater, a steal, and made his free throws. He provided a ton of energy out there and isn’t forcing things. Beverly made his free throws, didn’t have a turnover, and helped break the full court pressure late in the game.
From here on out, UConn is playing with house money. Walker is back to form, the freshmen are scoring, and the defense is doing a great job. They did have two teams that weren’t playing at a high level, but UConn will take any confidence building at this point. They’re going to have a much tougher time of getting easy points and will need the front court to hold their own against a great rebounding team in Pittsburgh. No matter the outcome, UConn has stopped the bleeding and will enter the Big Dance with some swagger that it didn’t have a week ago. Which is all you can ask from a team that had lost its way a for the past month.