Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shore Thing

On a night with heavy hearts, UConn jumped out to a quick lead against a Maryland-Eastern Shore team without a win yet this season, hitting a couple of jumpers and finding ways to get to the rim, but their defense struggled to contain Spencer and Mays.  They found ways to score easy baskets near the rim and slowly chipped away at the double digit lead, but when UConn's jumpers are falling, it is tough to beat them and they were able to push the lead to eight by the end of the half.  It only took UConn three minutes to rattle off 11 points to start the second half and Maryland-Eastern Shore went frigid from the field, making this game a laugher. UConn then made 17 straight points to extend the lead to well over thirty.  Even in this lopsided victory, they were still out rebounded and the Hawks aren’t a juggernaut in that department, which leaves fans scratching their heads, especially considering that with UConn's great shooting percentage that there wasn't many defensive rebounds for the taking for the opponent to tally rebounds.

Napier is becoming a true pass first point guard.  He wasn't looking for his shot, only taking four field goals, and has put back-to-back solid assists numbers together.  He did have some problems controlling the ball, dribbling a few times off his feet, but he’s becoming more of a floor general out there, especially since his other guards had their jumpers working.

Boatright had his best offensive game of the season and had his whole arsenal working from the outside shot, getting to the line, snagging rebounds, and getting his first dunk of the year.  He’s still taking too many 3-pointers, 6 of his 10 shots and needs to drive more, but they were falling for him.  This could be that breakthrough game that he needed to get his jumper corrected, but only time will tell.  It was also great to see Calhoun get his game back on track.  He was more confident out there, taking more shots than he normally takes. Unlike other games, he came out in the second half and made an early impact, knocking down 3-pointers, not turning the ball over, fouling on defense and got to the line.  Too many times, he fades away from the offense when Napier becomes more aggressive or the game is close, but he looked more comfortable in asserting himself in this game.

DeAndre Daniels was coming off a career game versus Harvard and backed it up with a solid outing.  His outside shot wasn’t dropping but he thrived around the rim for several lay-ups.  He also got to the line, rebounded okay, and had a couple of blocks.  It wasn't his best rebounding performance by a long shot, but he is still showing a maturity to his game that few UConn wing players have shown at this stage of their careers.  What has happened to Olander?  It is reminiscent to what Oriakhi went through last year.  He just isn’t rebounding like he needs to and the team is suffering because of it.  All you need to know is that he didn’t even get one board in his 12 minutes of play.  He is such an important piece to this team that if he isn't contributing in the rebounding department than they have no shot of winning the battle on the boards.

Enosch Wolf got the start but Ollie tinkered with a more smaller line-up on the court, so the big German only played 13 minutes. He still had 4 rebounds and 1 block in his limited role, not bad. Giffey had a good performance, getting a couple of lay-ups, knocking down a jumper and doing an adequate job on the boards, though he could focus a bit more there.  Tolksdorf was able to get precious minutes in this game and was able to shake off a bit of rust.  He hit a 3-pointer, actually knocked down a free throw, had some nice passes, snagged 2 boards, and had 2 steals.  This was by far the best game of his short career.  Phillip Nolan also was able to get some valuable playing time and made a nice jumper and got a lay-up, and had a dunk late when he should’ve ran out the clock instead.Ollie gave R.J. Evans the game off to rest his aching shoulder.

It was great to see UConn shoot the ball so well, but if they are so dependent on the jumper for points then they’ll have trouble finding consistent offense and when it works early for this team, they tend to keep shooting until the well is thoroughly dry, often times losing leads they could have sustained if they were more aggressive.  Sure it worked against Maryland-Eastern Shore, but against more talented squads, it won't have the same outcome.  They’ll need to be a more slash and gash team and find ways to get to the line.  But for now they can enjoy this win, heal some heavy hearts across this state, and find a way to move on.

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