Thursday, February 16, 2012
No Wiggle Room
It wasn’t perfect but it was a victory and UConn needed it in the worst way. They got out to a fast start, dropping a couple of jumpers and 3-pointers, but it was a blessing in disguise because they began to settle for jumpers instead of attacking DePaul inside where they had a major advantage. Once again the jumpers dried up and DePaul was able to capitalize on UConn’s lackluster transition defense. It was in the second half that UConn began to pound their way inside with easy and high percentage baskets. They also dominated on the boards out rebounding DePaul by 23 and they had 20 offensive rebounds. When was the last time UConn had that big of an advantage on the boards? It was also great to see a team struggle from deep for once, though DePaul was missing their best perimeter player. It was a much needed confidence booster for the struggling Huskies and they have a glimmer of hope heading into their final stretch.
Jeremy Lamb finally had a good shooting game and he didn’t settle for three pointers. Only 4 of his 13 attempts were from deep. He also helped out on the boards and even had an offensive rebound. This team needs this type of performance from him for the rest of the season. The offense plays much better when it flows through Lamb and he is moving towards the basket with the ball.
All you need to know about Napier’s night was his 11 assists. He was making great decisions with the ball and making plays while in the lane. Like Lamb, he didn’t take a ton of 3-pointers, only 4 of his 12 shots, but he managed the game and showed some maturity. All great signs. He also took care of the basketball and hopefully the he is finding the right pace to play at to utilize his speed without losing the basketball. Boatright had a rough game. He couldn’t finish plays and had way too many turnovers. But he did do a good job of getting to the line, help out on the weak side rebounding, and find his teammates in positions to score, but his turnovers fueled runs for the DePaul and helped their first half lull in their offense.
Oriakhi had his best game of the season. He finally made plays with his back to the basket, got offensive put-backs, rebounded the ball better, showed a nice baseline jumper and didn’t turn the ball over. He still needs to be stronger with the ball while rebounding, but this should give him the confidence going forward, but his major problem is being able to string together good games. Drummond hasn’t had a problem doing that. He again showed his above the rim game in transition, kept Cleveland Melvin in check, and made play after play on the offensive glass. It was a thorough annihilation by the front court and that is a great sign.
Olander was coming off his best game in nearly a month and while he didn’t score much, he did a great job in rebounding. He is probably UConn’s best position rebounder on the team. Hopefully he can find his jumper again because teams unlike DePaul will be playing a majority of zone against them and his jumper will come in handy. DeAndre Daniels had a great opportunity with Roscoe Smith out with an Achilles injury. He got off to a fast start, hitting two 3-pointers but then began to settle for the outside shot which young players tend to do. He did get to the line and had an offensive rebound, but it was a shaky game for him. Giffey played five minutes and wasn’t much of a factor. There was a Enosch Wolf sighting for about 1 minute.
It was a great win and much needed. They now have a great opportunity against a scrappy Marquette squad. While this game was never in doubt, UConn still needs to play better, clean up the transition defense, take better care of the basketball and not settle for the outside shot so much. They’ll need a sense of urgency from here on out because there is no wiggle room. They need victories and they have only a handful of games to get them from. This next game is going to be a great indicator of what this team is made out of, because if they can overcome the adversity that they were given in this past month and a half, and make it into postseason play, then this team has already won in most of the eyes of the fans.