Saturday, November 17, 2012

Paradise City

Get used to this UConn fans.  This team isn’t going to blow out other teams.  They are going to scratch and claw to victories on the backs of their defense and this game symbolized that.  The offense was a work in progress and they reverted back to their 2011 season and depended on the 3-pointer way too much.  That can’t be their style.  While they have good 3-point shooters, they need an attacking style, slashing to the basket to either get to the line, make a lay-up, or kick out to open shooters.  With little to no fast breaks going, they grew frustrated and lost that attacking mentality, letting a young Wake Forest team take UConn’s bad shots on one end of the court and turn them into points on the other.  The rebounding edge was as lopsided as other games and they only lost the rebounding edge by 5, which is not bad at all considering Daniels and Olander sat out much of the first half in foul trouble.  What won this game was the relentless defense.  They clogged passing lanes, attacked inbound passes, walled off driving lanes, and created 18 turnovers.  That will win you games.

Napier had another slow start that put undue pressure on the rest of the team to make up for the difference and it looked like it wasn’t going to be his day.  Then he found a way to get a rare fast break lay-up which ignited his game.  From there he hit a 3-pointer, had an inbounds lay-up & 1, grabbed a steal, and sealed the game at he line, going 6 for 6 down the stretch. Shabazz needs to stop settling for 3-pointers. That's not his game, he settled too much for bad shots and that gave UConn empty possessions that created momentum for Wake Forest. Omar Calhoun seems to be a different person on the road than at home.  His day did start out good, hitting a 3-pointer, getting a lay-up off a steal, and making some free throws, but he disappeared in the second half, taking a bad-3 and having a turnover.  He still provided great on the ball defense and did the little things to contribute to this win.

What more can you say about Boatright?  He carried the team in the first half, getting to the line, hitting a jumper on the baseline, making some incredible passes, and putting pressure on the Wake Forest defense with his aggressive mentality.   Even with him carrying the offense for much of the game he still was able to get a team high 7 rebounds.  His play was simply amazing and continues to be UConn's best player.  Evans is one of those steady players and a pleasant surprise.  He finds a way to impact each and every game.  He had a nice bank shot through contact, had a steal & lay-up, played great defense, and had a lay-up.

Olander had a tough game and needs to do a better job of staying out of foul trouble, playing only 9 minutes.  He did display some pretty post moves though they didn’t fall, but 1 rebound in 9 minutes isn’t what this team needs.  Daniels has become such an important piece to this team.  He started off hitting a 3-pointer but got some fouls being aggressive which Coach Ollie probably doesn’t mind.  UConn needs him to have that attacking mentality and if costs him a few offensive fouls then so be it.  But with him sitting on the bench with two fouls,  Wake Forest made a run and UConn’s offense hit a brick wall.  Ollie unlike Calhoun inserted Daniels back in with those two fouls and was instantly rewarded with a 3-pointer, a jumper and a baseline lay-up.  The only thing that Daniels needs to do better would be his rebounding.  He only had 2 and if that trend continues then this team is in trouble.

The biggest surprise of this game was Enosch Wolf.  Every UConn fan is rooting for him.  He has the body to be a true center which this team needs, but just hasn’t shown solid enough play on the court until now.  He displayed great hands with steals, had offensive rebounds, blocks, four lay-ups, and an 18-footer that swished.  Hopefully this is the coming out party for Wolf and not an anomaly, because this team could use him more.  Giffey played solid defense, had a nice lay-up, and hit a jumper.  It was an overall solid game for him.  Tolksdorf had some early playing time and got to the line to make his first collegiate points.  Nolan continues to search for his game and had the opportunities to make plays but had a turnover and missed another easy shot.  It is all mental for the freshman right now.

This was another solid win for this team.  They overcame a lot of adversity from a cold shooting Napier, a depleted frontcourt due to foul trouble, and travel weariness but they found a way to win the game.  There are definite flaws to this team, but they play extremely hard, fight to the finish, and believe in themselves.  That all comes from their head coach.  As fans we need to understand the undue pressure this team is under each and every game.  They get questions about the bans each and every game, they have a coach playing for his contract, and they have a very thin line-up, but they play together as team, which unlike last season is a breath of fresh air, and that is something we can all be proud of.

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