Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Spark

They sure make it interesting. UConn looked dead to rights. They were getting slaughtered on the glass, giving up 21 offensive rebounds, and were in that offensive mailase that has plagued them throughout the year. All the momentum was in West Virginia's direction, but this team dug down deep and found away. They stopped West Virginia's dominance on the glass, didn't foul on defense, and knocked down some crucial shots. For the final five minutes of play, they played flawless basketball and showed everyone what this team is capable of. Now only if they can play that way for the entire game then this team would be mentioned among the college basketball elite.

Lamb was aggressive early, hitting a 3-pointer, a pretty step-back, and a cross over lay-up &1. It looked like it was going to be a big night for him, but he once again lost his aggressiveness in the second half when West Virginia seized control of the game. He still had a 3-pointer, a lay-up, and a nice jumper off the curl in the second half. It was in the overtime session, when Napier had fouled out, that Lamb made a critical three pointer that put UConn ahead for good. He also did a great job on the glass, snagging a team high 8. It is amazing that with his scoring ability, he disappears in such crucial stretches.

Napier had a sloppy start, having some bad passes, missing a lay-up, before hitting a 3-pointer. He really came alive in the second half with a 3-pointer & 1, two more 3-pointers, got to the line, and had back-to-back steals & lay-ups. He single handedly brought UConn back from the dead and into overtime before he fouled out in the extra period. While he was the catalist for this victory, he still took too many threes, 10, and had too many turnovers, 4. But a win certainly washes that away. Boatright had a nice pass, a floater, and a bank shot in the first half, but he was a non-factor in the second half with only a reverse as his only field goal. He also had a chance to ice this game in overtime and went 1 for 4 at the line. He is driving the ball more, which is a good sign but he needs to sink those free throws.

Oriakhi didn't carry over his improved play and struggled to contain Rutledge and Kilicli. He ended his day with 6 points and 5 boards. He did have 4 blocks but continues to bobble rebounds around and lose the loose balls. Hopefully this is a one game anomaly and he bounces back. Drummond is in a bit of a funk and has had back-to-back bad rebounding games, only having 4. He had a nice lay-up in transition, but his major contribution was on defense on the last possession of the game. This team desperately needs his rebounding with no other front court player even flirting with double digits on the boards. Olander had an offensive rebound in his four minutes of play.

Smith had a rough game. He had a tough time gaurding Kevin Jones and was in and out of the line-up, only playing 19 minutes. He missed both his free throw attempts, didn't get a single rebound, and had a turnover. Like Oriakhi, hopefully he gets back on track. Giffey played with energy but continued to search for his offensive game and like Drummond, he played excellent defense late in the ballgame to secure the victory in overtime. He has been a consistent role player all year, which is something this team doesn't have many of.

This could be the spark that this team desperately needs. They'll get a huge test against Syracuse, but they are now playing with house money. They should be able to play carefree basketball, because they really have nothing to lose in terms of seeding. They know that they can match up with the Orange, but need to play that elusive 40 minutes of basketball. They have it in them and have now have something they have lacked for most of the second half of the season, confidence. With that who knows where this team can go?

No comments: