Sunday, January 13, 2013

Oh My Olander

This was a good ole fashioned Big East slugfest.  Notre Dame used its great passing to get excellent looks in the paint, moving UConn’s defense to draw defenders and then hitting the open player.  The Huskies used a resurgent rebounding game and a dominating backcourt performance to keep them within arms length by the end of the half.  UConn then turned the tables in the second half and lived in the paint and getting contributions from Olander and Daniels to add to the consistent contributions of Napier and Boatright to take the lead.  Notre Dame fought back to tie it up but unlike the Marquette game, there wasn't any miraculous shot to steal this game away from UConn's grasp.

Napier was masterful.  He had his shot dead on right from the tip-off. His three 3-pointers in the first half kept them close and he carved up the Notre Dame defense.  Even though he was on fire from deep in the first half, he remained aggressive in the second and made some nice plays in the paint which shows a maturity to his game.  His defensive pressure also caused havoc for a normally sure handed Notre Dame backcourt.  This was a great performance on the road and he displayed true leadership in this game by his hard play on both sides of the ball.

Boatright had a slow start, hitting a 3-pointer as his only real offense in the first half, but it didn’t take him long get going in the second half.  With most of his family in the crowd, he had every aspect of his game on display from a floater, a massive slam, took a charge, and sealed the game at the line. He has an uncanny ability to dribble the ball in traffic and find that sliver of sunlight to get the ball off the glass on a reverse.  Once his jumper has started sinking, in early December, his game has reached epic status.

Calhoun had a freshman like game.  Other than an early jumper, his shots were way off.  He did have a nice tie-up that gave UConn the possession but that was about it. He did play some good defense and caused some difficulty for Notre Dame's guards.  Evans played a good chunk of this game, but other than a lay-up, he struggled to find points.  Giffey had a nice lay-up early, but didn’t contribute much other than that and he needs to do better than two rebounds.

What a game by Tyler Olander!  He backed up his solid performance with a career game on the road and against one of the best rebounding forwards in the country.  He started the game out with a baseline jumper, defended without fouling and had a nice tip-in. But he was just getting going.  In the second half, he lived in the paint getting fourteen points from five feet and in.  He knew this was his day when he hit a step back jumper and when blocked shots dropped right into his lap. His defense was just as impressive as his offense getting a few blocks late in the ballgame to shut Notre Dame's comeback hopes down.  There is no one that needed this type of performance more than Olander.  His confidence was at an all time low but now he has put back-to-back solid showings and hopefully this carries on because this is a totally different team when the frontcourt makes plays.

Wolf had a quiet game, getting into foul trouble early and could only muster up a couple of rebounds.  He never got into the flow of the game in the second half with Olander’s outstanding outing and only played in a few spurts.  Daniels also had a slow start, missing all three of his field goals in the first half, but came out strong in the second half.  He attacked the offensive glass, had three lay-ups, a couple of blocks, and played great defense.  He flirted with a double-double which is exactly what this team needs from him.

This was a statement game by these Huskies.  They are playing swarming defense, hitting jumpers, getting third and fourth scoring options and finally rebounding.  It is great to see this team come together.  They are playing as a team and overcoming some obvious deficiencies, unlike a year ago where they couldn’t enforce their strengths.  They’ve put the rest of the Big East on notice because this team and coach are trying to prove not only to their peers but to themselves that they belong and with this win,they've proved that not only do they belong with the elite of this conference, but they are also giving a nice homecoming gift for their opponent's new conferences, a loss.


Matias Nino said...

Kevin Ollie's comments after the game were truly great. So proud of this team right now!

David Gillett said...

He's a class act.