Friday, November 30, 2012

Half Built

It certainly wasn’t pretty.  UConn used its defense to create turnovers to stretch out leads throughout the game, only to then let up on the intensity and let the Wildcats back into the game.  Their hot shooting from the arc in their last outing went frigid in this game, shooting an arctic 7.1%.  With little to nothing coming from the deep, UConn relied on getting to the line, 2nd chance points, and points off of turnovers for their offense.  The half court offense struggled and they took early shots or passed into trouble.  There was no inside-out game, little to none  effort to rotate the defense, or dribble and pitch out.  It was mostly one to two passes and a shot.  The defense was the best weapon for the Huskies, but that also was inconsistent.  They had 18 points off of turnovers, but they also gave up way too many easy plays around the basket because the help was slow in getting into position.  They did enough to win this game, but the half court offense and front court remain major concerns and this game did little to alleviate that.

The only thing you need to know about Napier’s night is that he didn’t even attempt a free throw.  He wasn’t aggressive, took only 9 shots, had only 3 assists, and was a non-factor for long stretches of this game. His slow starts have now become a theme rather than an anomaly.  He has way too much talent for these kind of performances.  Again the majority of the offense had to flow through Boatright and he delivered.  He remained aggressive and was rewarded with 11 trips to the charity stripe and he also improved on his turnovers, only having one this game.    It was one of his better all around games of this season.  Omar Calhoun had an excellent night and made an instant impact on the game with energy on the boards, playing good defense, getting to the line, and making plays around the rim.  He is still turning the ball over way too much, but he’s improving each and every game.  It was good to see him more assertive, especially late in the second half where he usually disappears.

DeAndre Daniels is the unsung hero of this game.  He did a great job on the boards, 10 rebounds, had a block, 2 steals, and got to the line.  His impact was evident when he got his second foul in the first half and was on the bench, New Hampshire instantly went on a run.  He makes plays when he is around the paint by either getting second chance points, blocking shots, or just creating havoc.  Olander again struggled to play defense without fouling and only played 16 minutes.  He was having a pretty good game offensively, hitting a 15-footer and some shots around the rim, but couldn’t put together long stretches of plays without having to go to the bench because of fouls.  Some of the foul calls against him are inconsistent but he puts himself in bad positions to get those calls.

Giffey was coming off a career game versus Stony Brook but he couldn’t carry it over.  He didn’t get to the line at all or find ways to contribute on the boards.  His shots caught a lot of iron and only finished with 2 points and 3 boards.  The good sign was that he wasn't turning down open jumpers. Wolf did a good job.  He outplayed Olander in his comparative minutes of play by snagging 6 boards,  dishing 2 assists, and finishing plays around the rim.  Nolan got some playing time and was very active on the glass which is a good sign, but he struggled to get the ball through the basket, missing all of his free throw and shot attempts.  The bench was very average and inconsistent.  One of them shows signs of life but just can’t put back-to-back solid performances or carry any momentum forward.  It leaves Ollie to search for the right combinations throughout the game.

Its amazing that they got virtually nothing out of Napier and they still never relinquished the lead.  They gritted out another tough fought win, bending but not breaking.  Omar, Wolf, Daniels all did a good job on the boards and they need to build on that, but winning the rebounding battle by one is more of a tie than a win, but at least it's an improvement.  Their half court sets need major polishing and they rush things instead of moving the ball to make the defense work more.  Ollie has his team playing hard though and showing improvement.  He has limited materials to work with, but he's building something and that's obvious.  Hopefully it gets built before the end of the season.

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