Thursday, November 3, 2011
With Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson looking on, UConn began their 2011-2012 campaign by hosting AIC. UConn had such a distinctive advantage at every position that it was like playing a pick-up game with your little brother. In a game like this the big things to take away are the turnovers, the outside shooting, free throws, and defense. While the defense was outstanding, only giving up 10 field goals all game, the outside shooting was atrocious, hitting only 1for 8 from deep. The rust was evident and not surprising. UConn did feast on a sloppy AIC team that had 18 turnovers and the bigs sealed the paint area, limiting AIC to outside shots that weren’t dropping.
Jeremy Lamb got off to a fast start and looked to be ready to dominate the game, but he quickly cooled off. His outside shots weren’t dropping but he did get to the line, making 3 of 4. He'll need to get to the line a lot more though. He has such a fluidness to his game that even with having what seems like an off night, he still drops a game high 17 points.
Napier has been in the doghouse for the past couple of practices but Calhoun likes to ride his point guards hard to start the season, even calling A.J. Price soft once. Napier struggled mightily on offense only hitting two shots. He did drop 15 assists and played great on defense, stifling AIC’s guards. The most impressive aspect of his game was that he didn’t have a single turnover. He has so much talent around him that his main job is to pile on the assists, limit turnovers, and play defense. His offensive game is a distant fourth.
Oriakhi looked great in the post, but he had a size advantage. He showed the ability to score in a variety of ways but none better than displaying the ability to knock down a jumper. The only down side to his night was that he didn’t rebound well. He pulled down eight boards, but with so many missed shots by AIC and his size advantage, he should of had more. Drummond came in off the bench wearing a protective mask and shaking off the cobwebs from a mild concussion. He was rusty early on missing on some easy baskets. The good side was that he had 4 rebounds, 10 points, and he did it in only 17 minutes. He didn't force the action which is a good sign from a star like player.
The most impressive player had to be Olander. He was a man possessed, grabbing 9 boards, 9 points, and a game high 3 blocks. If he can keep this improvement up then he could steal some major minutes away from Smith, Daniels, and Giffey. Giffey had a rough night, having a team high 3 turnovers. He is still dribbling too much and found himself in trouble with a charge and a turnover. He did do a good job of getting to the line and hit 5 of 6 from there. He needs to know his role and so far he hasn't.
DeAndre Daniels got the start and was effective hitting 4 of 5 from the field and had the only three pointer for the Huskies. For the first game of his career, he didn’t rush anything and let the game come to him. Smith finally got into the game in the second half because of breaking a team commitent, and only played 12 minutes. He did a good job in his limited minutes, snagging 4 boards. It is going to be interesting to see how Calhoun dices up Daniels and Smith’s minutes.
With Boatright sitting out this game due to an investigation into his eligibility, Brendan Allen, a walk-on, played a good chunk of the game. He did his job, getting 2 steals, 1 board , and playing solid defense. It is rare that Calhoun has that much confidence in a walk-on to play that much. Wolf and Stewart found their way into the game but didn’t get into the box score. It is a shame that Wolf has fallen this far down the depth chart. He had such high hopes coming into the season late last year.
It was a good showing for their first game. The defense look stout, the offense, though a work in progress, still unloaded 78 points. There is still enough on tape for Calhoun to work on for his team, like rebounding and turnovers, but the most troubling thing for Calhoun is how he is going to divvy up all the minutes which is a good problem to have. This team looked the part of a National Championship contender and they did it the Calhoun way, defensively.