Tuesday, January 10, 2012
It didn’t look good early on. UConn continued to struggle in the half court, they turned the ball over on sloppy passes, They were getting pounded on the glass, and once again they were getting sizzled by the three pointer. But unlike the past two games, UConn came out with a sense of urgency in the final ten minutes of play. Fueled by pressure defense, UConn turned the table and cashed in on the Mountaineers sloppy ball handling and the outside shot which was killing UConn dried up. They held on with a free throw battle between both teams worst free throw shooters, Drummond and Kilicli. It wasn’t a must win, but UConn didn’t want a three game losing streak and dig themselves too big of a hole this early in the Big East schedule. This gives them a bit of confidence, though they still have a ton of work left.
Jeremy Lamb had a bounce back performance. He started his night with an up & under move, attacked the rim for an & 1, and had a 3-pointer in the first half. He looked more aggressive early, wasn’t settling for threes, and was coming off the screens tighter. Unlike the other two games where he disappeared in the second half, Lamb came out and took control of the offense. He had 3 jumpers, hit a floater, a dunk, a lay-up, and sank his free throws especially in crunch time. He did a better job of not shying away from contact which had been one of his major critiques of late. This could be the turning point in his maturity where he takes hold of the leadership.
Sure Napier didn’t hit a shot, but that’s fine with him, because this team is at their best when he is setting the table for others. He knew that it wasn’t his shooting night, only taking 6 shots and was scoreless, but his dribble penetration allowed the big men to get open and he made a ton of plays. He still has a bit of Bret Favre in him, because he tends to think that he can fit the ball in places he just can’t, leading to turnovers, but overall he was a much better point guard out there tonight.
What more can you say about Andre Drummond’s night? He had 5 dunks, pulled down 11 boards, sank 2 turnaround jumpers, a 12-footer, 3 blocks, and made free throws in crunch time. He put his turnover plagued game behind him and outplayed Kevin Jones. The only bad thing about this game was that it was in front of a bunch of NBA scouts.
Oriakhi’s line doesn’t display the full impact that he had in the game. He had 8 points, 3 boards, and 3 blocks but he was active throughout the game. He flashed to the rim for easy lay-ups, had a nice dunk, and hit a jumper. He is struggling on the boards, from not putting a body on a player to getting tied up on a rebound, but it was an overall good outing for Alex and one to build on.
Boatright hit a 3-pointer, a steal then dunk, and a jumper in the zone, but he also had numerous bad passes and some poor shots. He is still learning what he needs to do and where he needs to be with the ball. He is also playing a bit too fast. Olander had steal, some nice passes and a 15-footer late, but he also had a double dribble and some bad fouls. Giffey played 10 minutes and made two free throws. Calhoun is shortening his bench and Smith and Daniels are feeling the pinch getting three minutes each. Smith did get 2 blocks and 1 assist in that time though.
For ten minutes this team played the way that they were capable of. Hopefully they can bottle this up and take it with them to South Bend because they’ll need it. The Irish are playing much better and any road victory in this league is tough to come by. They still have a lot of work to do, starting with turnovers and rebounding. It is all about execution and confidence for this young team and if they can play with the type of urgency that they showed tonight then this team can finally live up to their own expectations.