Tuesday, November 20, 2012
This was bound to happen. UConn had flirted with defeat in the last two games and did so again, but couldn’t finish off a final comeback. They dug themselves a huge hole and couldn't climb out of it, giving up way too many open looks on the perimeter and fouling too much on defense which New Mexico didn’t miss, hitting an astounding 21 of 21. UConn had problems converting scoring opportunities in the paint, getting in transition, and getting to the line like they had in the previous two games. New Mexico converted on their open looks and took advantage of a fatigued and sloppy UConn defense. UConn wasn’t going to go out without a fight though and Napier, Boatright, and Daniels hit big shots to get within one, but that was as far as they would get. The Lobos snatched control back by sinking clutch shots while UConn settled for threes down the stretch instead of having an attacking mentality. The game was won at the line with UConn only getting 7 points to New Mexico's 21.
Napier had a slow start to the game, displaying lazy defense, taking a bad 3-pointer, and having a bad pass, but he quickly made up for it by having a nice dish, an offensive rebound, a lay-up, a 3-pointer, and a jumper. He was the only offense in much of the second half hitting several jumpers, a lay-up, a bank shot, getting a hustle steal, and 3-pointers. He had a solid game and carried much of UConn’s offense because Boatright struggled mightily. Boatright’s night started off on a bad note, having an early turnover. He did have a lay-up and a jumper in the first half, but he struggled on defense and put undue pressure on the big men to help out. His sloppy play carried over into the second half where he had an unforced turnover, missed a wide open Wolf for an easy score, and had a bad foul. He finished the game on a strong note, hitting a jumper, a 3-pointer, and was fouled on a 3-pointer, hitting all three, but his first half and much of the second half disappearing act caused UConn's offense to sputter.
Calhoun had an up and down game. He was fouled on a drive, had a 3-pointer, a jumper, a tie-up, and a lay-up but then had a couple of bad passes, a travel, and disappeared down the stretch again. He needs to be a part of this offense in clutch time. There just aren't enough pieces on this team to carry the offensive load without his contribution. Daniels had an early block, a pick & roll lay-up, a steal, a tip-in, another lay-up, and an offensive rebound in the first half, but was in foul trouble for much of the game. He didn’t have the same impact on the game in the second half, besides a clutch three late. He needed to hold his own on the boards and only had 5 rebounds which isn't going to cut it. Olander had a horrible game and he desperately needs to get back on track. He struggled to create space, block out, or play defense without fouling. He needs to play more in control and simplify his game. One dribble and a shot and keep his arms from reaching on defense, which is one of his biggest problems. The only stat you need to know about Olander's night is 0 rebounds.
The bench was flat out awful besides Wolf, who hit a nice jumper and a jump hook, but Giffey, Evens, and Nolan all struggled to make any meaningful impact on the game. Evans did have a steal and some rebounds, but couldn’t get those lay-ups that he was able to get in every other game. Giffey couldn’t find the basket at all, missing open jumpers or tapping the ball around on rebounds though he did have 5. Nolan looked out of place in the half court sets but did play solid minutes without fouling.
Name your excuse: fatigue, poor defense, bad shot selection, or a clutch shooting New Mexico team. UConn didn’t play UConn basketball, pure and simple. The help defense was late and the guards played too lackadaisical on the perimeter, leaving their man for wide open shots or dribble drives. On the offensive end, UConn couldn’t get on the fast break, the driving lanes weren’t there and UConn dribbled into trouble. This team has some glaring warts from a bench with limited skills sets, and poor front court play, but they’ve been in every single game with a chance to win it in the last three minutes, which is all you can ask from this team this year. They need to take this loss, get some much needed rest, and continue to work hard on getting better, because they don’t need to play the NCAA beauty contest to get a good seed this year, they just need to win their conference games. So tip your cap to New Mexico and move on.