Saturday, November 26, 2011

Paradise Lost

This loss was far from surprising. It was bound to happen with the way Connecticiut was playing. UCF is an experienced team and talented across the board and UConn was playing sloppy basketball, they were playing with a shortened bench, and they were coming off a back-to-back games. On tired legs, UConn’s top backcourt struggled down the stretch. As UCF began their dramatic comeback from 17 down and used the zone, UConn changed their game plan, settled for one pass and a jumpshot, turned the ball over by taking on double and triple teams, and did not use sound half court offense. It all led up to an utter collapse and one that this team has been flirting with all year.

Jeremy Lamb had a rough game, going 5 for 16 from the field. He took way too many three point attempts, 9, and wasn’t attacking the glass, which might be a result of tired legs. He also had some costly turnovers down the stretch and didn’t help out on the glass as much as he has in the past several games. As the game was getting close, Lamb looked to be rushing things and looked uncomfortable, which isn’t his game. He needs the game to come to him and his game isn’t creating plays 20 feet from the basket.

It just wasn’t Napier’s day. He was sloppy, took ill-advised shots all over the place, took on triple teams that caused several turnovers, and his jumper just wasn’t there. It wasn’t all his fault, because a lot of pressure was on him to produce and he felt that pressure down the stretch and forced the issue. Without Boatright, Napier was asked to shoulder most of the point guard duties and it has taken its toll on him. Even with all that, he needs to do a much better job of setting up the half court sets, especially against the zone. He hasn’t done a good job of that so far this year.

Oriakhi came to play. He had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. 7 of those offensive, but the most impressive part was his ability to score with his back to the basket. It was a great sign. He also had 5 blocks and no turnovers. The only thing was that when UCF went zone, Oriakhi disappeared. He needs to do a better job of getting involved either by pick and rolls or offensive boards against the zone. Drummond also had a strong game. He nearly had a double-double with 9 boards and 13 points. He also had 4 blocks. But just like Oriakhi, he couldn’t find a way to contribute once UCF went zone, which was the story of this game.

Olander had his worst showing of this young season. He had a hard time finding rebounds which he was doing a much better job of this year. He also took some ill-advised jumpers late in the game. He ended up with 4 points and 2 boards, which is far below his average. Daniels also had an off game. His jumpers weren’t falling and he forced up a few shots too early in the offensive set. Smith continued his up and down season with an off shooting night hitting only 1 of 4 from the field, but he did do a good job on the boards, pulling down 4. Giffey had a nifty driving lay-up and a rebound but that was about it in his limited minutes.

Hopefully this game is a wake-up call for this team. They need to know that the effectiveness in the half court sets isn’t were it needs to be and the shot selection is far from acceptable. They can’t allow the zone to affect them the way it has and need to make teams pay on the boards if they use it. They also can’t settle for the outside shot in the first ten seconds of the shot clock and need to use it after the third or fourth pass. They also can’t allow teams to keep up with them on the glass, especially with their superior size and talent. The turnovers, the lack of consistent rebounding, and the love of the jump shot has plagued this team since preseason. They need to realize their strengths and haven’t adjusted to that yet. Luckily this loss does little to their hopes of their ultimate goal but only if they learn from it and that has yet to happen.

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