Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Picking Up The Pieces
It was a must win for UConn. They had to have a full forty minutes of solid play, had to come out with a sense of urgency, and needed everyone to step up to beat a Providence team that sits near the bottom of the Big East cellar and they could not do it. They had everything going their way, gaining a 14 point lead, because they fed their big men down low and scored high percentage shots, but then came the bad UConn team that has shown up in each and every game this season. They fouled on defense and sent Coleman to the line, Giffey, Napier, and Boatright started to shoot three pointers (Message to UConn: You sit dead last in three point percentage), they let Providence get 4 offensive rebounds, and they once again let wide open shooters drain three after three after three. This team just can’t hold leads, doesn’t understand their strengths and weaknesses, and just played themselves out of the NCAA tournament.
Lamb reverted back into the black sheep. He took way too many 3-pointers, 7, didn’t get to the line once, and didn’t demand the ball early and often. He did make two vital 3-pointers late, but it was in that crucial Providence rally that he disappeared. He did rebound the ball better with 6, but it wasn’t enough and this team needed more leadership from him and he didn’t provide it.
For some reason, Napier is not taking shots, and it feels like he is doing so to prove a point. He struggled mightily down the stretch of this game, turning the ball over, taking poor 3-pointers, and couldn’t stop Providence’s outside shooters. He did get to the line late and sink them, but it was too little too late and fingers have to point to his decisions late in these past couple of games that have hurt this team. Boatright played well off the bench and did a better job of not relying on the 3-pointer, taking only 4 out of his 9 shots from deep. He also had 5 rebounds and 6 assists, but he also was nowhere down the stretch of this ball game when UConn desperately needed someone to step up.
This team lives and dies by their rebounding and they lost the battle again. Fingers have to be pointed at Oriakhi for just not showing up in the rebounding department. He ended his night with only 3. Napier, Lamb,and Boatright had more then that and it is hurting this team badly. His poor play had him riding the pine late in this ballgame. With Oriakhi struggling Drummond picked up the slack and had 12 boards and several dunks early. The only problem is that the team got away from feeding him inside and let the game get away from them. They started to panic and try to match three pointers instead of going to what got them the lead, Drummond and the inside game. There was also that poor called technical foul at the worst time that gave Providence a ton of momentum, but no one can point a finger at Andre for this loss.
Smith continued his good play offensively, hitting 4 of 6 from the field, but struggled to rebound the basketball with only one rebound and was caught not blocking out, giving up several offensive rebounds in that monster Providence comeback. This team needed him on the boards and he wasn’t there. Giffey got more minutes and was effective, but had a costly turnover on a bad pass that led to a Council lay-up. Olander had a nice jumper on the wing, but didn’t contribute on the boards in his limited minutes. Daniels played only 3 minutes and had a board and a block.
Where does this team go from here? They are a fatally flawed team. They can’t rebound, are getting slaughtered from deep, are guaranteed to have a 5 to 7 minute offensive drought sometime in a game, and foul too much on defense. They don’t deserve a tournament berth, not with the way this team is playing and it is a shame. These are good kids and the effort is there, but it is all about execution and it is severely lacking on all facets of their game. For now they need to pick up the pieces, find a way to glue them back together, and pray for some of those dark clouds that are hovering over this team to dissipate, because things are pretty bleak right about now.