Monday, November 5, 2012

The Final Tune-Up

It was the final tune-up for the Huskies and they needed to focus on two aspects of the game that Coach Ollie wasn’t happy with in their last game against AIC, rebounding and defense.  They won the rebounding department by 18 but their defense in the first half was again suspect.  They lacked a consistent intensity in transition and in the half court, allowing UMass-Lowell to come back and even take a brief lead late in the first half.  But the story of this game was at the free throw line.  UConn took an incredible 45 free throw attempts and converted 29 of them.  The majority of fouls were on the backcourt being aggressive, which was a great sign and will help stem offensive draughts.  UConn pulled away, in the second half, on a cold shooting UMass-Lowell team and they were able to create turnovers which they converted into points.  It was a total team victory with mostly everyone chipping in and getting playing time.

Napier is still shaking off the rust of not playing for much of the summer and only took 5 shot attempts, 2 of them from beyond the arc, which means that he wasn’t being aggressive.  He did have two fouls midway through the first half that kept him on the bench, but this team needs more from his 22 minutes than 5 points, 2 assists and 2 turnovers.  Ryan Boatright more than made up for Napier’s sub-par performance.  He carried over his second half play from the AIC mgame into this one.  He hustled for loose balls, made some stellar passes, got to the line & knocked down 7 of 10 from there, and had some picturesque slams.  He has become the number one option in the offense.  Omar Calhoun had a slow start to the game, getting two early fouls and playing poor perimeter defense, but he didn’t let it affect his game once he got back in.  He has become a major sharpshooter for this team, hitting 5 of 6 from deep, got to the line, grabbed 4 boards, and didn’t have a turnover.  He has asserted himself nicely into the rotation and has an ease to his game that is far beyond that of a freshman.

DeAndre Daniels has been the most impressive in these preseason games.  He continues to show a maturity to his game.  He scored in a variety of ways and had an impressive 14 rebounds with 4 of  those offensive.  Not only that but he was a force on the defensive end with 4 blocks.  Hopefully he can carry this over into the regular season.  Tyler Olander took a step back.  This team needs two things from him, a defensive presence and a rebounder.  He only had 4 rebounds and he needs to hover around 8 to 10 a game.  He did get to the line and made 6 of 7 from there but it wasn't enough and the pressure for him to perform out of position might be to much for him.

Niels Giffey continues to show improvement.  He had an early 3-pointer, a steal, and lay-up.  Then there was a stretch in the second half that turned into the Giffey show.  He had a block, a lay-up, and then a jumper all in about one minute.  R.J. Evans also had an impact in his 13 minutes with a nice back door lay-up and a tenacity on the boards.  He did make Coach Ollie mad when he didn’t hustle for a loose ball and then had a needless foul.  Phillip Nolan continued his struggles.  He went 1 for 6 from the line and had a turnover in his 8 minutes.  He needs a confidence boost in the worst way.  Leon Tolksdorf got more playing time but only took 3-pointers.  Enosch Wolf found some action in this game and had a productive 10 minutes.  He had 1 slam and 2 boards.  It was a good sign to see him out there.  Brendan Allen came in and played for 3 minutes.

It is fairly obvious that this team is severely lacking in the front court.  Olander and Daniels are playing out of position and will have their hands full when they play top level talent, but this three guard lineup looks intriguing and potent.  They’ll need to be at their best against a Michigan State team that looks talented across the board.  For them to pull off the upset, they’ll need Napier to make plays heading towards the basket, Olander, Wolf, & Daniels to become a rebounding force, and they’ll need to limit their turnovers.  If they can do those things, which is all possible, than they’ll be in the game.

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