Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Square One

Every flaw that UConn was fighting against showed up against an upstart Seton Hall squad. The Huskies couldn't get stops and couldn't cool down the hot shooting Pirates on the perimeter, they were outworked on the boards, couldn't get anything going against the zone, the frontcourt couldn't get involved in the offense, and they turned the ball over again and again and again. It all led up to a humilating performance where they were outworked on all facets of the game. Sure Calhoun wasn't on the sidelines, they were dealing with injuries, and weren't getting the calls, but to put forth an effort like this sets this team back a month.

Jeremy Lamb carried the enemic offense and did it with mostly outside shooting, taking 10 of his 14 shots from deep. That is way too many. Seton Hall did a great job of sealing up the lanes and only giving him one free throw attempt. He has yet to figure out the zone and is settling. He needs to utilize the pump fake and drive more.

Napier had a night to forget. He was turning the ball over, taking bad shots, couldn't buy a basket, and was gambling on defense that was giving up easy points on the perimeter. He was battling an injury but that's not an excuse for his lackadaisical play. He reverted to the way that he played early in the season and if he can't control the turnovers than this team will flounder.
Boatright also struggled to make an impact and only had 5 points on 5 field goals. This team needed his offense and he didn't show up.

The bizarre Oriakhi season continues. He played 19 minutes and only had 2 rebounds. It is unfathomable that he isn't rebounding better. Sure his offense isn't there but he is barely scratching double digits in rebounds and that should be his strength. He is ball watching again and isn't blocking out when the shot goes up. He isn't playing like a junior. Drummond gave Seton Hall some locker room material when he said that he didn't know who Herb Pope was and unfortunately he didn't back that up. He only had 4 points and 5 boards while Pope had 15 points and 8 boards. He was still UConn's best frontcourt player but the zone is taking him out of the game.

Tyler Olander came to play. He was aggressive late in the game and was the one frontcourt player attacking the rim. He had 8 points and 5 boards. The other player that stepped up was Giffey and was the only silver lining in this game. He made his three pointer, hit a mid-ranged shot, grabbed 4 boards, played the best defense on the team and hit 6 for 6 from the line. Daniels looked to have a good game early but disappeared. He hit a three pointer and had 4 boards in his 12 minutes. Smith had 5 points and 2 boards in his 15 minutes and is still fighting that wrist injury.

It was a tough loss to swallow. It is rare for UConn to be outworked like they were and it seems like this team that looked to be turning the corner on the maturity of their game is now back to square one. They can't turn the ball over 13 times in a half and expect to win, especially when they aren't playing defense. Sure they aren't getting the calls on the road and they're getting pommeled from deep, but good teams can weather those storms and keep themselves close enough to make a run when the shots stop dropping. This team stands at a crossroads, either they can be that team that has the unfulfilled potential or they can play at the all more controlled level where they don't turn the ball over, show more patience against the zone and also demonstrate better perimeter defense. The ball is in their court now.


Matias Nino said...

Could it be Seton Hall's critical tactic was confusing the Huskies in the first half by switching between zone and man to man? It seemed to completely derail the Huskies' zone-busting rhythm and left them standing around in hesitation while Seton Hall plucked ball after ball from them.

If they want to go anywhere, they absolutely cannot allow an opponent to become unleashed like this.
9 months ago, Alex Oriakhi would have single-handedly turned this game around. He is just too experienced to be showing the kind of hesitation, lack of confidence, and quite honestly lack of joy that he is currently playing with. I hope he is able to snap out of it.

On the bright side, it was great to see Giffey playing with confidence and draining buckets. I hope this game translates into more confidence for him in his normal role.

David Gillett said...

Most of those turnovers were unnecessary and could have been avoided. They are settling too early in the shot clock for jumpers and aren't attacking the rim. Oriakhi's troubles are a mystery and Giffey was the one bright spot in an otherwise eyesore of a game.