Monday, January 30, 2012

Pulling Hair

This team is hard to figure out. For much of the month the frontcourt was a no show and the backcourt carried the team, but when the frontcourt finally showed up and made plays, the backcourt struggled to find any semblance of consistency and they once again fell to an inferior opponent. It was a combination of poor shooting, poor rebounding, and no offensive rhythm. And this was happening with Ryan Boatright back from a long layoff. But it didn’t matter, they still found themselves coming out sluggish in the second half, letting Notre Dame score 12 consecutive points and UConn couldn’t muster enough offense to claw back. Though the problems have been different, the end results have been the same. They just can’t make enough positive plays to overcome their negative ones, pure and simple.

It took forever for Lamb to get going, making his first attempt at the basket 12 minutes into the game. But when he finally got it going, he was UConn’s sole offensive threat outside the paint, hitting three 3-pointers, a floater, an 18-footer, and a jumper. He nearly stole this game down the stretch, but it was far from enough to put away a pesky Notre Dame squad. In games where the ball isn’t going, Lamb needs to take a more aggressive mentality. Only two free throw attempts is just not enough.

This was by far Napier’s worst offensive game. He missed all his shot attempts and some of those were horrible decisions. The only positive for him to take away from this game was that he only had one turnover to four assists, but if he and Lamb aren’t contributing in the scoring column then the pressure to score falls on the frontcourt and that is a tall order.

Drummond came to play. He had a couple of dunks, a put-back, a jumper and a wild shot that fell in. He was also UConn’s sole rebounding threat with 11. He was the only bright spot of the game with so many others struggling to get anything done. Oriakhi’s season continues to slide. Once again he started out strong with an early jumper and a dunk but then got into foul trouble with offensive fouls. It is his rebounding that is the most frustrating. Four rebounds isn’t going to cut it and if he can’t give more then Calhoun needs to find someone who can, because it was the offensive rebounds in the second half that beat this team. Olander is another who is a shell of what he was and hasn't gotten over his foot injury. He only played 7 minutes and didn’t contribute much.

Boatright finally got out on the court and had a nice dish and floater at the buzzer in the first half and it looked promising, but other then a reverse and a coast-to-coast lay-up, Boatright struggled missing all his jumpers and having problems defending without fouling. Hopefully it is just a little rust and he'll be back. Smith had a good game and played solid defense, got fouled, and had a steal, but he needs to rebound and he didn’t have a single one. Daniels couldn’t find the basket in his limited play. Giffey had an early lay-up and was sporadically in and out of the line-up.

It doesn’t look good and with a weakened Big East this season only 5 or 6 teams are going to get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and right now UConn is on the outside looking in. And it doesn’t get easier from here. They will need to play an elite Georgetown team coming off a tough loss of their own. If they drop this next game they might have dug themselves a hole that they won’t be able to climb out of unless they make some noise in their conference tournament. This has to have Calhoun pulling his hair out. This team just shouldn’t be in this predicament.

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