Friday, November 2, 2012

Building Blocks

Everyone knew that this team was going to be a work in progress and it was evident early on.  AIC jumped out on UConn with easy basket after easy basket.  They exploited a sloppy UConn defense, had easy looks in transition, and watched a UConn offense that struggled to get anything going in the half court.  Every UConn look was contested, passes were off the mark, and they were out of sync.  They did finish the half strong and narrowed what had been a surprising double digit lead to just one.  It was on the backs of Boatright,Calhoun, and Ollie's in game decision to pressure the ball more that helped UConn to finally take control of the game and put away an AIC team that is scheduled to finish in the bottom of a very mediocre league.

The rust for Napier was evident.  He struggled to get any offense going, had a game high four turnovers and settled for mostly jumpers.  He was crucial in knocking down a three pointer in that late flurry of points in the first half to bring the team a back from a disappointing start to the game.  Boatright had a tale of two halves.  In the first, he struggled to keep the handle on the basketball, creating a multitude of turnovers and nothing was falling for him.  In the second half though, he knocked down a few jumpers, showed his speed to get to the rim and get some and-ones. His offense sparked UConn's comeback and the energy level of the whole team.

This game was the coming out party for Omar Calhoun.  It didn’t take long for him to show his silky smooth and lightning quick release from deep.  He certainly wasn’t shy, shooting a game high fourteen attempts.  What was most impressive about his performance was his ability to rebound.  He ended up with six boards, two of them on the offensive end.  He was also stout on the defensive end with a block and a steal.  This has to be a huge confidence boost for him in his first game and he needs to carry it over into the next exhibition game.

Giffey found himself in the right place at the right time to get himself some easy buckets and get to the line which he is an excellent free throw shooter.  The only question with him is his ability to help out on the boards and he only had four.  He needs to focus more on that aspect to his game.  Phillip Nolan had a rough night.  He missed several easy shots, had a team high five fouls, and had a turnover.  Evans had a solid game and had a nice steal, lay-up and-one.  Tolksdorf had a quiet game and played only three minute.

With the smaller line-up, Olander played most of the game as the five, but still found an opportunity to attempt three three-pointers.  Tyler has to be the physical presence for this team in the paint and he did a good job, ending his night with eight rebounds and a block, but it was DeAndre Daniels that was the most impressive of the front court players.  He had a team high nine rebounds, had a block, and put his stamp on this game in a variety of ways.  This is a great sign for him.  He looks to be a much more focused player and not relying on the outside shot.  He only took two of his nine field goal attempts from deep.

It wasn’t pretty but that’s what these exhibition games are for.  They still need to work better in the half court sets, avoid the careless turnovers while still attacking in transition, and play better transition defense.  While the first half was frustrating, UConn fans have plenty to be happy about.  The three guard line-up looks impressive and they out rebounded AIC by nine which was something they had a problem doing against lesser competition last year.  This was a great building block for Coach Ollie to instill a foundation for this young, undersized, but talented squad.

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