Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Machine

UConn brought their solid play on both ends of the court against AIC into their last exhibition versus C.W. Post. The Huskies stifled C.W. Post in the first half, limiting them to outside shots which just weren’t dropping. All the while UConn’s offense kept attacking and when their jumpers are falling a lesser talented C.W. Post squad didn’t have a chance. There were some troubling signs behind this thirty point blowout though. The rebounding continued to be a problem and UConn was out offensively rebounded 24 to 13. The problem is that UConn’s bigs are tipping the ball around instead of going up with two hands and corralling it. They were also outscored in the second half which is a bit disconcerting. Overall it was a good warm up to knock off a bit of the rust to get ready for the regular season.

Lamb had a great first half. He showed some nifty ball handling skills, knocked down a couple of jumpers, a transition three, and had some deflections that led to easy points. He disappeared somewhat in the second half, making only half of the plays that he did in the first half. A major sign of worry is that he only had one free throw attempt, which means he wasn’t attacking the rim. He needs to hover around five to seven attempts a game from the line and have a more aggressive mentality.

Napier had another solid game though he was more sloppy with the ball, committing 4 turnovers. He is doing a much better job of dribble penetration and dishing the ball for easy buckets. He also had two nice three pointers, one of which had Calhoun cheering from the bench for the excellent ball movement. He is playing a ton of minutes, 33 already. Hopefully he doesn’t hit a wall. With Boatright missing another game, Calhoun again relied on Brendan Allen to back up Napier. He played 16 minutes and did a good enough job even knocking down a three pointer but also had a horrible pass that had Calhoun fuming. For a walk-on this is pretty impressive.

Oriakhi had a rough start, getting blocked on a jumper and benched. He barely saw the court, playing only 12 minutes. It was a message from Calhoun that he needs to play better. He has fallen in love with the jumper and needs to become more of a post threat. He did have 8 boards in those 12 minutes, which is a good sign.

Drummond was a beast and took over a stretch of the ballgame in the second half where he had a steal, power slam, block, and finger roll in consecutive plays. He put his stamp all over this game, getting 10 boards, 16 points, and 3 blocks. He did have a game high 5 turnovers and didn’t attack the offensive glass, but with that all said it was a much better showing from the freshman.

Smith climbed out of Calhoun’s doghouse and played a good chunk of this game. His jumper wasn't hitting and he was a bit erratic on the defensive end, but he did a good job of rebounding and blocking shots. Smith might be looking over his shoulder at Daniels who had back-to-back solid performances. He hit 2 of 3 from deep, had a couple of powerful slams and made two hustle blocks. These games can only be confidence boosters for him and he is a great compliment to Smith. Giffey missed the game due to a hyper-extended knee and a soar ankle. Hopefully the layoff doesn't put rust on his jumper.

Olander continued his improved play. He hit a jumper, jump hook, and attacked the rim. He has put in the work in practice and it is paying off on the court, but he still needs to show more in the rebounding department. 5 boards in 25 minutes isn’t good enough. It was great to see Wolf make some positive plays in his limited role. He had 4 boards, 4 points, and 2 assists in only 8 minutes. Hopefully he can find Calhoun’s trust to get more minutes. He sets great picks with his wide frame and he can be significant piece to the rotation if he can continue this type of play. Stewart and Bailey both got into the game but didn’t score.

Even for a blowout there were still some glaring problems that UConn needs to work on. Rebounding and turnovers on top of that list. They have such a talented squad that giving up second and third opportunities and easy buckets will beat themselves against better opponents. The offense will not be a problem and the defense, while in the half court, will be formidable, but they’ll need to play with more fundamentals in rebounding and not rely on shear athleticism. But this is the reason why they play these games. Shake the rust off, oil up the moving parts, and see what this machine can do. So far it looks offensively potent.

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