Saturday, November 10, 2012

Litmus Test

This was a great litmus test for UConn.  They knew that they had a talented back court, a questionable front court, and some young and unproven talent.  So going up against a top Michigan State team on a neutral court would give Coach Ollie some answers to were his team was truly at.  UConn couldn’t have gotten out to a better start, using their defense to get steals and converting them into points.  Like any good team, Michigan State made their run but to UConn’s credit, they answered back each time they lost the lead.  It was a gritty and tough nosed victory for this young squad that has already taken on the persona of their coach and this one game could propel them throughout the rest of the season.

Napier had a sub-par performance in his first two preseason games, but he brought his A-game at the right time.  He had 3 lay-ups, two 3-pointers, and a steal in the first half which helped UConn take control of the game early.  He wasn’t as effective in the second half and might have had to do with his conditioning, since he missed most of the summer due to injury, but he still had a pretty reverse lay-up, a spin move bank shot, a 3-pointer, and sealed the game at the line late.  He still took 3 bad three pointers, making one of them, but he showed the leadership down the stretch that will carry this team throughout the season.

Ryan Boatright was a menace all game.  He had several steals that led to points, had a beautiful dunk, a sweet pull up jumper, and a 3-pointer late in the ballgame to sustain the lead.  It was his toughness in this game that was most impressive.  He turned his ankle at a ninty-degree angle and limped off, but came back in the second half and earned this victory through his play.  That type of fight is what this team needs.  Calhoun had a freshman-like game.  He looked a bit overwhelmed and some of his passes were late and he was reluctant to get his offense going.  These types of games are going to happen to Calhoun, he just needs to keep his confidence up.

What more can you say about DeAndre Daniels?  He had a tremendous preseason and then he comes into this game and immediately plays solid defense, has a spinning lay-up, a 3-pointer, a monster baseline dunk, a sweet lay-up, and then a spin hook.  His passes in the second half were a bit sloppy and his offense dried up, but he still battled hard on the boards and had numerous blocks.  He has been the most improved player on this team by far.  Tyler Olander had a tough job.  He was out sized by Michigan State, but did all the little things that this team needed to pull of this upset.  He rebounded in traffic, had a hustle save, a tie-up, some blocks, a spinning hook, and some great rebounding in traffic.

Giffey did a good job.  He had a steal and a 3-pointer, but got himself into trouble dribbling but overall it was a good game for him.  Evans jad a nice turnaround in the first half, two lay-ups, and a steal, but had a couple of bad passes. Wolf had a nice block, a 15-footer and did a good enough job on defense.

This was a great win for this program.  Not only did they get a win against a Michigan State team that has a chance to win it all this, but it gives Ollie some room to breath, a front court some much needed confidence, and a backcourt a chance to test their mettle against the best.  They’ll need to build on this, heading into lesser talent.  The rebounding needs to get better, the half court sets need to be more efficient, and the passes need to be more crisp, which are all correctable.  So enjoy this win and know that even though this season will end abruptly they still have plenty to play for, each other.


Curtis said...

Have been very impressed with Daniels improvement so far this year. As long as he learns to take it to the rack and not chuck threes anytime he sees the light of day, he should have a solid year.

I was hoping Nolan would be more of an impact bench player, perhaps eating 8-10 minutes a game. I know it's early, but he must not be showing much in practice. I'm a little concerned that if it stays this way, he may be a one year bench player that transfers (citing his history to move).

I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but glad the Huskies gave us something to cheer about this early!

David Gillett said...

Thanks for reading. Nolan had a really bad preseason, but I expect to see him in these next couple of games. Ollie knows that it is only confidence for him right now. So expect him to be in the rotation for 5 to 10 minutes.

Matias Nino said...

Ollie is the real deal.

So nice to see the boys come out on the other side and win a tough game again a top team. Also great to see Jim Calhoun there smiling them on.

This game made me miss Roscoe, but Ryan's energy was clutch. There are some nice developments to this team but also a few issues we've seen plenty of before.

All in all, this win was a great validation of the team's potential.

David Gillett said...

Thanks Matias for reading. It does look like Ollie has all the tools to make a great coach. He just needs to land that big named recruit, which he will eventually. With DeAndre Daniels' performances, I forgot about Roscoe Smith. That baseline dunk was impressive. It was a great confidence booster for this team and will serve them well heading forward, but the rebounding is going to cost them a game or two.