Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hanging Their Hat

If this team has any aspirations at a Big East title, they’ll have to hang their hat on the defensive end and they did just that against a good Vermont squad.  The backcourt did a great job of putting pressure on Vermont’s guards, creating 16 turnovers which led to 23 points.  UConn’s jumpers weren’t falling in this game, but they didn’t continue to settle for outside shots.  Instead they attacked the rim and were rewarded with easy lay-ups and trips to the line, which they hit an astounding 14 of 18.  It wasn’t all great though.  The rebounding still needs some major improvement.  They were out rebounded by 7 and gave up a horrible 17 offensive boards to an undersized Vermont team.  That is a formula that will cost them numerous games against better talent and needs to get fixed.

Napier had a quiet first half and did most of his damage in the second period.  A good sign for him was his aggressiveness.  He wasn’t settling for the outside shot and had several nice cuts to the basket for lay-ups, or got to the line. He took a few bad shots but this was the first game that he was thinking drive first.  Boatright carried the team in the first half and has turned into the primary facilitator for the offense.  He had a game high 7 assists.  He had the highlight of the game with a beautiful behind the back pass to Daniels for a dunk.  Calhoun came back to life in this game.  He made some early jumpers and he felt more comfortable at home.  He also did some of the little things like diving on the floor for loose balls and taking a charge.  That’s a great sign for such a young player.

Olander had a very good outing.  He rebounded well in traffic, made his free throws, attacked the rim, blocked shots, and had a pretty post move for a lay-up. These are all encouraging signs, but he needs to keep his man off the offensive glass.  DeAndre Daniels had an off night besides his rim rattling dunks that he sprinkled throughout this game.  This team needs his rebounding more than any other aspect of his game.  He only had 3 boards and also gave up a free throw rebound by not boxing out. He has set a blistering pace with his early play, but this team desperately needs more from him in the rebounding department to be successful. Giffey played solid defense, rebounded well, and had a nice tip in.  Evans had a fantastic showing, finding easy paths to the rim for lay-up after lay-up.  He has deceptive speed and has a knack for getting the ball in the basket in traffic.  He is really thriving in the bench role and isn't afraid to insert himself into the offense.

Be it fatigue or just giving opportunities, Ollie used a deep bench in this game.  Nolan got 7 minutes and finally got a ball to fall through the hoop.  Hopefully this will give him some much needed confidence going forward, though he is extremely foul prone.  Wolf got in and had a reach in that promptly sent him back to the bench.  Tolksdorf also played 7 minutes, missed a deep three, and had a pass go right through his hands.  These players are all a work in progress and they'll need patience with the lack of playing time.

There was plenty of good and bad from this game from UConn’s ability to attack the zone to their inability to block out, but the consistency on the defensive end has to be the most impressive.  They make it tough to score the basketball and that type of intensity will serve them well heading forward.  They’ll never be a great rebounding team, but they’ll patch up the holes as best as they can, especially on the defensive rebounding end.  If they can't group rebound better, it will be a tough year, but so far Ollie has them playing hard and coming out with the intensity early on.  These are all encouraging signs from this young squad.

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