Sunday, February 19, 2012

Second Gear

Nothing new here. It was another game where a team hits shot after shot from deep, they get easy opportunities off of poor UConn transition defense, and UConn’s offense lacked any type of consistency to overcome double digit leads. This team that has all the talent in the world at every position to match up with with any other team in the country, but unlike those this teams, this one isn't playing for each other but instead is playing for themselves. They point fingers at each other, jump up and down when they don’t get the ball, and hijack the offense when they feel determined that it is their turn to take a shot. It is unfortunate especially for the juniors who might not get a chance to make the tournament next year.

Lamb was on fire to start the game, banking in a floater, knocking down a step back jumper, hitting another off the screen, and sinking one more. He couldn’t contain the pace that Marquette’s hot shooters were dropping, but he carried UConn with his 19 points. He had a few bad turnovers in the second half and some poor shooting decisions with quick three point attempts, but he also had a sweet dunk and two 3-pointers. It was a much better performance because he wasn't settling for the three pointer as much and tried desperately to create off the dribble.

Napier had a point guard like performance and did a great job taking care of the basketball. It was unacceptable though to let your frustrations with your teammates spill over so much where he was seen heading to the bench ignoring his teammates and sulking. He did step up his play after that though and helped UConn get back into this game, but he couldn’t sustain the momentum. Boatright had a freshman-like game, hitting a couple of 3-pointers but also having a momentum stealing technical foul. He also led the team in turnovers again and needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball. He is going a bit too fast right now and needs to slow down a bit.

Oriakhi had a hard time dealing with the smaller Marquette team. He had two early turnovers and got his second foul early on in the first half. He did do a better job in the second half with a lay-up, two dunks, and got to the line, but to only have three rebounds in a game where you needed to dominate is unacceptable. Drummond had a sweet reverse, a steal, and an offensive rebound & put-back in the first half. His play dropped off in the second with two bad shots while in the post, he had a dunk, but played bad defense fouling a three pointer and gave up a free throw rebound. He too only had 4 rebounds and that is a major reason why UConn lost this game. Some of the problem was not their fault. They found themselves in foul trouble because of poor defense from the back court that sent opponents into the lane where they had to help out and the referees had a bad game, but that doesn't excuse the rebounding.

Olander had a rough game, giving up two transition scores because of not running back, ran into Napier after setting a screen, had a bad pass, and missed a wide open lay-up. He did have a lay-up and got to the line. He also had one rebound less then what Oriakhi could muster and did it in half the minutes. With all the fouls occurring to UConn’s big men, Ensoch Wolf got some playing time and had a block, an offensive rebound, and showed some energy out there. He deserves more of a look.

Smith had an offensive rebound and put-back & 1, sank a jumper, but also had a major offensive foul that killed what would have been a Boatright 3-pointer. Daniels struggled against the pressure and was trapped several times. He also struggled with his shot. Giffey struggled defensively and didn’t get much action. This should have been a great opportunity for the wing position to get minutes because of the match-ups but they didn't produce.

No perimeter defense, Individual offensive mindsets, and Transition defense ineptitude leads to one thing: N.I.T. It is a shame and with the soft bubble that makes up the NCAA landscape this year, UConn only has itself to blame. UConn fans are used to their teams improving throughout the season, but this team seems stuck in second gear and just can’t find the clutch. There are some glaring problems and little to no time to turn this around. All you can do is support and even that is waning.

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