Thursday, March 3, 2011

Work Zone

What can you say? This team just can’t play against the zone. Against man-to-man they were able to sink jumpers, get dribble penetration, and make plays, but as soon as West Virginia went zone, UConn’s offense went sour. There is just too much dribbling, they aren’t moving the ball from side to side or inside then out. They settle for bad shots late in the shot clock and they haven’t shown any improvement since they middle of the Big East season. They played well defensively and credit goes to West Virginia for hitting their jumpers, but it was UConn’s lack of offense that caused them to lose this game and it doesn’t look good for them entering tournament time. Their once growing momentum has shriveled to mediocrity.

It seems like in every game, Walker gets going early but when the game gets into five minutes to go, he becomes selfish and takes bad shots. After making 4 of 5 at the start of the second half, he went 1 of 7 with most of those misses against the zone. He needs to either draw the defense and dish or take the mid-ranged shot and not get to deep, but most of his shots are shot clock beating threes or off-balanced jumpers in traffic. He is also not playing the pick and roll well against the zone, dribbling to deep into it and not distributing the ball when the help comes.

Oriakhi just couldn’t get any offense going. He rebounded well in the first half, but struggled to get much going in the second half. He had a couple of quick fouls, missed on a crucial one-and-one attempt, and didn’t get any second chance points against the zone, which he should with his size. He knew it wasn’t his night when one of his free throws stopped on the rim. Without his help against the zone, UConn had no other option other then chucking up threes. Okwandu had problems with fouls again with some being questionable. He did hit a nice hook shot and a pretty fifteen footer. He isn't getting any benefit for contact in the paint and is drastically limiting his minutes.

Napier was UConn’s best player out there. He had a four point play, hit several jumpers, and most importantly took the ball to the rim more and was rewarded with trips to the line. He did take a horrible shot which always leads to points on the other end, but without his play, UConn had no shot to be in this game with five minutes in the game. The future looks bright for UConn.

Lamb continued his struggles. He missed all his jumpers in the first half and had problems with his dribble. He did hit a three pointer in the second half, but other then that, he was non-existent. This team desperately needs him to get back on track. Smith rebounded well in the first half, but didn’t contribute anything offensively or show up in the second half. He should be solely focusing on getting second chance points for this team at this point. Giffey had a bad pass and wasn’t seen again. Coombs-McDaniel had an early three pointer and a rebound but didn’t do anything in the second half. Where was his flashing to the rim without the ball or his rebounding?

While this team is playing for seeding at this point of the season, there is no way that they can be happy with the type of effort they are showing late in ballgames. If they can’t find a way to get sustained offense against the zone, then it doesn’t matter what seed this team is awarded, because their stay in the tournament will be short lived. Walker has too much talent to play the way he has in these losses. They need his offense, but not the shots he is taking. It is time to put away the Kemba-Iso plays and start rotating the ball and working some inside-outside passes. The offense isn't working and needs a major overhaul.

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