Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bottled Up

There isn’t must wins this early in the season but UConn certainly didn’t want to head into Big East play with two losses and no wins.  So it was a priority that the Huskies held home court advantage, especially against a team like DePaul who is much improved but isn’t the elite of the conference.  It didn’t take long for Connecticut to assert themselves. They surged out to an early nine to nothing advantage on the backs of DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright who combined for thirty-one first half points.  The second half was a little reminiscent of the Fordham game where UConn’s large lead was whittled down to a nervous twelve points, but they kept up their aggressive mentality and found enough lay-ups to extend the lead again. The biggest surprise was UConn’s improvement on the boards.  They did a great job of boxing out and securing the ball when they had two hands on it.  No one saw this team winning the battle on the boards and for them to out rebound DePaul by twenty is simply astonishing.

Napier hit an early 3-pointer but unlike other games he didn’t become three happy and only took three of his thirteen shots from deep.  He was aggressive throughout the game and was rewarded with three lay-ups and six trips to the charity stripe.  He was making contributions everywhere from snagging 8 rebounds, dishing out 7 dimes to 0 turnovers, to causing havoc on the defense end with 4 steals.  This is the type of performance this team needs from their captain heading forward.

Boatright kept up his torrid pace.  He had everything going in this game from his jumper, his fancy dribbling , dunking, to dropping three 3-pointers.  He’s turned the corner on his game and is playing at such a high level right now and it has allowed Napier to pick and choose his spots without forcing to much.  The only knock on his game was his poor free throw shooting, 3 of 5, and his turnovers, 3, but that is nit-picking a fantastic showing.  Omar Calhoun had a rough outing.  His outside shot is hitting the back of the rim and he isn’t being aggressive enough to get to the rim which is important when your shot isn’t falling.  He also had a hard time controlling the basketball, having a team high 4 turnovers.  These next couple of games are going to be important for him to get some confidence back.

UConn is a much different team when Daniels is making an impact on the game and he was everywhere against DePaul.  He got out to a fast start, getting a lay-up and a 3-pointer in the first three minutes but he was just getting started.  He made a couple of jumpers, got to the line 8 times, had a dunk, rebounded the ball and did a masterful job on Melvin, dominating that battle.  Giffey did a much better job on the boards than he has shown previously but he is struggling to find when and where to assert himself into the offense though he wasn't really needed in this game, but it would’ve been nice to see him take some jumpers.  R.J. Evans didn’t have much of an impact offensively but did the little things like pass the ball, contribute on the boards, and he found ways to get to the line.

Olander got the start and played well, getting an early jumper and had some early offensive rebounds.  He was active throughout the game and it was by far his best game of the season.  Hopefully he can build on this because it has been a tough season for him.  Wolf did a great job in his limited minutes and made some great plays around the basket, rebounded the basketball, and gave UConn some points in the paint.  He did have an awkward traveling call and missed some easy shots, but he has been playing some consistent basketball lately.  Brandon Allen, Phillip Nolan, Watts, and Lammi all got playing time and Tolksdorf got the stare down from Ollie as he ignored the stop sign his coach put up and drained a jumper in the closing seconds.  Not a smart thing to do if he wanted more minutes.

This was by far the best game UConn has put together.  It was a solid forty minutes of basketball and even though DePaul made a run, UConn remained aggressive and never let the momentum swing in the other direction.  This team is playing well and at just the right time, heading into a tough stretch of games.  If they can just bottle this game up and take it on the road with them then this team could do some major damage this month and put themselves into position for their ultimate goal, the Big East regular season trophy.

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