Sunday, November 27, 2011

Survival Mode

Coming off the collapse against UCF, UConn looked to bounce back against an offensively challenged but defensively stout Florida State squad. While the beginning of the game was sloppy for both teams, UConn found it’s rhythm with inside-outside passing that led to open jumpers. They were also running much better and found easy baskets in transition that they couldn’t find in previous games. The second half was much different though. UConn began turning the ball over in stretches and FSU started draining 3-pointers. Another bad sign was that whenever UConn scored, they didn’t get back on defense and allowed the offensively inept FSU team easy looks at the basket or gave up lay-ups. This was one of the major issues that cost Connecticut the basketball game against CFU. Watching their lead dwindle and disappear again, it was an unlikely hero that stepped up and put this team on his shoulders, Ryan Boatright. Playing his first game, he knocked down three free throws that sent the game into overtime where UConn held on by their fingertips to come out victors.

Sure Lamb only took 9 shots, but unlike his poor shooting day versus CFU, he played within the flow of the game. Instead of taking jumpers, Lamb attacked the rim early and often, getting to the line 5 times. He also showed his floater again and was attacking the glass, snagging an offensive rebound then hitting a 3-pointer in the same possession. He is still having difficulty with ball security, having 4 turnovers, with some of those leading to easy points on the other end. His outside shot was working again with none bigger than the one he made in overtime. What is missing from his game is the mid-ranged curl route that he developed late last year.

Napier was determined to have a better game and had a game high 26 points, and while his numbers looked good, there were still some disconcerting numbers. He took way too many 3-point attempts, 13, and is still turning the ball over at a atrocious rate, 6. He is making some difficult passes in crunch time to his big men and not allowing his offense a chance to score. He is so talented and sometimes mimics Walker too much instead of being himself. His outside shot is a deadly weapon but he needs to know that when it is crunch time that means take it to the basket.

It was Ryan Boatright’s first game as a Husky and he didn’t disappoint, playing 33 minutes. Calhoun utilized the three guard offense for a bulk of this game and Boatright used his speed to get into the lane for several nice passes that led to easy baskets. He also had a corner three pointer, made those crunch time free throws, and most importantly didn’t turn the ball over. It was one of the best first games for a freshman in recent UConn history, especially considering the level of competition and what was on the line. With Boatright playing major minutes and the ballgame tight, Giffey and Allen didn’t get into the game.

Oriakhi played sparingly due to a hyper extended knee. He saw 10 minutes of action and only had 3 fouls and a turnover in his box score. Drummond was also battling an injury, hurting his wrist in his last outing. He came to play though, having several spectacular dunks, put-backs, lay-ups, and 7 blocks. He also was a beast on the boards, snagging 10 with 4 of those offensive. He is becoming more confident in each and every game. They just need to find ways to get him the ball late in the second half and against the zone. Olander continued his slump. His jumpers weren’t falling and he had a dunk as his only field goal. His passes were off the mark, he was caught not looking for the ball when it went his way, and he missed the front end of a 1 & 1. He did pull down 6 boards and had 4 assists, but with his solid play earlier this year, this team needs more from him.

With Calhoun utilizing the three guard lineup, the wing position took a hit minutes wise. Daniels set the bar high and he has been in a bit of a funk. He only took 3 field goal attempts with 2 of them threes. His shot was all over the place, sinking an in rhythm three but then airballed a jumper. Smith played the least at the wing position, 12 minutes, and also chucked up an airball on a 3-pointer. He did have 4 boards with 2 of those offensive, but he has been careless with the ball and that is too much of a liability if he isn’t making plays.

For some strange reason this team is not carrying over the defense from the first half of ballgames into the second half. They kept an offensively inefficient FSU team to 37% shooting in the first half but then let them shoot 63.6% in the second half. A lot of those points were on beating UConn down the court on made baskets which is unacceptable. The turnovers continue to plague them, 19, with a majority of them being unforced. This team is a fantastic offensive team, maybe when all said and done one of the best ever to suit up for UConn, but they aren’t playing a team game. They are playing to much isolation basketball and that plays right into their opponents hands. If they can’t stop turning the ball over, giving up easy baskets on the other end, and forcing up poor shots by trying to go one-on-one then this team will be in survival mode all year.

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ballastv said...

i know shabazz missed tough shots but he also made tough shots people need to ease up off of him a bit because no one else was scoring including jeremy lamb so he kind of is forced to score unlike last year when they had kemba. He missed 7 3's but made 6 thats > 46% every coach in america can live with that percentage thats why calhoun gives him leeway

David Gillett said...

I agree that he is a great at the outside shot, but 13 attempts are way too many. It is his turnover to assist ratio that is most troubling. Some of his passes are to difficult to catch or he attacks double or triple teams. Turnovers are this team's major issue and he leads the team in them.

Matias Nino said...

Shabazz had a commendable game. His guile and poise is the team's best offensive trait because it has such a discombobulating effect on opponents. Yes, he made some mistakes and forced things when he shouldn't have but for each of those he had three undefendable assists/shots/layups. I think towards the end of the game he took it all on his shoulders and it caused him to miss easier scoring opportunities. However, he needs this kindof experience because there will inevitably be bigger 'survival-mode' games coming where the late-game decision will inevitably be on his shoulders on whether to be the hero, defer to Lamb or Ryan, or find Alex/Andre/Roscoe in the paint. The latter option needs development late-game but can be the lethal option that puts the game out of reach for most opponents.

The balancing out of this offense is going to be absolutely riveting especially when the big conference games come in Jan/Feb.

David Gillett said...

There is nothing wrong with how he is performing offensively other than taking too many threes. His ball security has been his major issue.

Without him though this team wouldn't be in any of these ballgames. It isn't all his fault but with the ball in his hands the majority of the time, he is under the microscope and I'm sure that is how he wants it to be.