Friday, March 18, 2011
Taking Care of Business
It was the perfect storm. Walker created off the dribble penetration and Smith and Lamb reaped the benefits with wide open looks, knocking down shot after shot. Bucknell looked to be up to the task, hitting several threes early to keep pace with UConn, but as soon as the outside shot dried up, UConn ran away with the game. The defense was stellar and didn’t allow any penetration and forced contested jumpers. There wasn’t a lot of foul calls and for a blow out, their was a nice flow to the game. It was good to see them carry over the momentum of the Big East Tournament run and put to rest that they would be tired. This was a great confidence booster for a young team and could be a start of a special run.
Walker played fluidly. He didn’t force up any shots and didn’t need to with his counterparts knocking down shots early and often. He did a little of everything and nearly had a triple double and it was on his mind too, yelling at Oriakhi for snagging a rebound from him. Even if he was stat watching it was all in the flow of the game. He sank a jumper, had two three pointers, and a lay-up. It was plenty of offense. He did have a stretch where he fouled a three point shooter and had a turnover on a bad pass but that was about all that he did poorly in this game.
Oriakhi got into the game early and was effective throughout. He had two blocks, a hook shot, and made one of two from the line in the first half. He did a much better job on the boards in the second half and had three offensive and three defensive rebounds and had several nice plays offensively, hitting a jumper, getting a lay-up, and running hard for a monster dunk in transition. He solidified the paint area and was great helping and recovering on defense.
Lamb had his game going early, sinking three 3-balls and a jumper in the first half and had another three pointer and jumper in the second half. He played great defense and his length gave Bucknell’s guards problems. He did disappear down the stretch, which has been his major problem this season, but the game was well out of hand and their major goal was to run clock. Beverly had a steal in the first half and didn’t do much after that.
Smith played out of his mind and this is a totally different team when he is sinking jumpers. He had a dunk & one to start out his night and it ignited him. After that he hit a three pointer, a lay-up, and a jumper, but it was his blocked shots in the first half that set the intensity dial up a notch. He continued his solid play in the second half, knocking down another three pointer, lay-up, and jumper to put Bucknell away for good. Hopefully he can have this type of impact throughout the tournament. Coombs-McDaniel had an off night and reverted back to his jump shooting ways and it didn’t work, missing all four of his three pointers. He did have two rebounds but he needs to get to the rim more and rebound the basketball.
Okwandu had a good game with a nice block, a hook shot, a rebound, a lay-up, and a dunk. He also played solid defense and was able to help and rotate back without giving up easy buckets. Olander had a nice game too. He hit a jumper, had two boards, and was energetic out there. Giffey had an offensive rebound and put-back, two more boards, and a hustle tie-up. Wolf had a rebound and Stewart had a lay-up, which brought the bench to their feet.
They took care of business and kept the pedal to the floor. While they couldn’t maintain the offensive pace they had early, their jumpers were clanking iron down the stretch. Hopefully that won’t carry over into their next game. The first game was important for the confidence of the freshmen and for them to play in the fashion that they did is a great sign for things to come. They'll be up against a tough Cincinnati team and need to have their front court hold their own. It won't be easy and they'll know each others tendencies. UConn will need to play solid defense, hold their own on the glass, and knock down jumpers. If they do, then they'll move on.