Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Identity Crisis

This was a tough loss.  UConn came out of the gates strong, playing aggressive basketball, attacking the seams, and hitting their jumpers but as soon as they got a comfortable lead, they relaxed and became indecisive, letting N.C. State slowly creep back into the game.  Once the Wolfpack seized the lead, UConn began settling for the easy 3-pointers.  Sure UConn was out manned in the front court and N.C. State's forwards were getting second and third opportunities at the basket, but UConn lost this game because they failed to understand who and what they do best.  They have great slashing guards that can break their defenders down one on one, they are great free throw shooters, and they play solid defense.  Instead of playing down hill and creating contact, they settled for the easy and low percentage shots.  This team should always have more free throw attempts than 3-point attempts but it wasn't even close, ending the game with 11 free throw attempts to a whopping 23 3-point attempts. That's the game right there.

It looked like Michigan State all over again when Napier started the game aggressive, hitting several open shots, getting fouled on an offensive rebound, and playing tight defense, but those jumpers dried up in the second half and he never adjusted.  He had some costly turnovers that led to points and a momentum swing that UConn couldn't get back, but other than a couple of steals that he turned into lay-ups, his second half performance was near to non-existent.

Boatright's first half was quiet, hitting a mid-ranged jumper, and turning a steal into a lay-up, but he carried the team in the second half.  He started with a floater/bank shot, creating a steal then lay-up, dishing out a nice pass, getting into the lane for another floater, hitting another lay-up, and then sinking two 3-pointers.  He just didn't get much help in the second half to get UConn over the edge and get the lead, but he was the only one remaining aggressive.

Calhoun had a flat out bad game.  It looked good with an early 3-pointer and getting to the line, but after that  he had some costly turnovers and looked lost within the offense.  He did play quality defense and helped out on the boards, but this team needs more than 5 points from him.  Evans looked much better and was active early on with a nice steal but missed two easy baskets in the first half, but he did get two lay-ups in the second half, with one coming against the zone.  He is very creative in traffic and outplayed Napier in much of the second half.

It was a struggle for much of the night for Daniels.  He had a 3-pointer in the first half, but was a turnover machine in the second half, traveling on key possessions that swung the momentum back in N.C. State's direction.  He had a tough order though, going up against one of the most talented big men in C.J. Leslie, but this team needs more than one rebound from Daniels.  This might signal the changing of the guard for Olander.  He started the game but then sat out much of the first half and it wasn't because of foul trouble, only having 1 the entire game.  He missed some defensive assignments and was out of position for rebounds on several occasions.  He was a non-factor the entire game.

Wolf on the other hand was amazing.  He hit a sweet hook shot, created a steal that he gave right back, had an offensive rebound tip-in, a layup, a 15-footer, and an amazing offensive rebound off-balance jumper that he was fouled five times on but was never called.  Add in 9 rebounds and you have yourself a fantastic outing.  This is now two solid games so far this season, which is two more than Olander and should warrant not only more minutes but a possible change in the starting rotation.  Giffey was put into some tough situations, having to guard C.J. Leslie and struggled, fouling out of the game.  So its understandable that he didn't show up in the box score.

UConn played well enough to get the win despite being dominated on the glass, but just couldn't find enough consistent offense in the second half to match N.C. State's.  This team has an identity crisis right now.  They want to be a sharpshooting team when they just aren't.  They don't play to their strengths and allow way to many back-to-back empty possessions.  They need to realize that good teams sprinkle in free throw attempts throughout a half to help stop offensive droughts and to do that they need to attack early and get into the bonus which they failed to do.  Once this team figures that out then they just might have something special.

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