Tuesday, February 5, 2013


UConn is now in the heart of Big East play and it shows with many of the games in January becoming very close down the stretch.  The month started out with an instant classic, a tightly fought battle against Marquette that went into double overtime.  It was a back and forth game that UConn ultimately lost as Marquette found some last second magic to tie it up and run away with it in overtime.  They followed that up with a dominating performance against DePaul and then got a signature win against Notre Dame in South Bend, ending another home winning streak for the Irish.  The Huskies then came crashing down to earth as Louisville laid a whooping on them in Hartford, handing UConn their worst lost of the year.  They then traveled to Pittsburgh to play a must win for the Panthers and Jamie Dixon had his team playing well.  UConn hung with them and made it close, but couldn’t make the plays down the stretch to pull off the upset.  With back-to-back losses their next game against Rutgers was pivotal for UConn and would determine where this team was heading.  Ollie had them playing hard and though Rutgers made it a game early, UConn wouldn’t be denied and pulled ahead for good.  They then had the craziest game of the year, stat wise, against Providence.  The Friars had their way on the glass, but UConn counteracted that with a deadly outside game.  They pulled off an improbable victory in Providence when all the chips were stacked against them. It was a good January for this team and they looked improved and heading in the right direction for not only next month but for the next season.

Napier had a fantastic game versus Marquette, hitting the outside shot and getting to the line.  He continued his aggressive style against DePaul, only taking three attempts from deep and snagged 8 rebounds.  His torrid pace continued versus Notre Dame where his jumper was deadly and his defensive intensity caused a normally sure handed Notre Dame squad to cough up the ball.  His incredible play soon came to an abrupt halt against Louisville.  Siva outplayed him and Napier had some costly turnovers that fed Louisville’s deadly break.  After suffering a shoulder injury in the Louisville game, he had a rough game against Pittsburgh, not getting involved in the offense and had way too many turnovers.  He bounced back with a great performance against Rutgers, playing an excellent game and was assertive.  He finished up the month with a stellar overtime performance against Providence where he sank three 3-pointers.

Boatright had a slow start in the Marquette game but picked it up in the second half.  He then scorched DePaul, carving up their defense and knocking down jumpers.  Under the eyes of most of his family, Boatright came alive in the second half of the Notre Dame game and sealed it at the line. Like Napier, he also had problems against Louisville and his offense shriveled up.  Boatright carried UConn against Pittsburgh, probing the Panthers defense and was able to get the ball to drop in on some wild lay-up attempts.  He had a slow start to the Rutgers game, not getting his first field goal until 11 minutes in to the ballgame and picked up a early 2nd foul.  Boatright was aggressive against Providence and was knocking down 3-pointers.  He needs to get off to better starts and take better care of the basketball.

Calhoun struggled shooting the ball throughout the Marquette, DePaul, Notre Dame games.  His poor shooting soon came to an end in the most unlikely of games, against Louisville.  Calhoun hit 3 of 4 from deep and 5 for 5 from the line.  He did have 6 turnovers, but his jumpers were finally dropping.  He put together another solid game with a nice outing against the Panthers, hitting three 3-pointers.  His jumper remained true, hitting a corner three and a baseline jumper.  He came up clutch against Providence and knocked down some open jumpers, ending his month on a three consecutive games of good shooting.  Hopefully he can keep this momentum going through February.

Daniels had some defensive lapses and disappeared through much of the game against Marquette, but he bounced back in a huge way against DePaul, getting to the line, dunking, knocking down jumpers, and dominating his match-up against Melvin.  He had a slow start in South Bend but picked it up in the second half, flirting with a double-double.  He played well against Louisville, doing all the little things but took a step back against Pittsburgh, only mustering 1 rebound. He made some noise late in the Rutgers game and had a rim rattling dunk and had a sub-par game against Providence.  Right now Daniels is searching for consistency.  At times he looks like a big time forward and looks lost other times.

Giffey continued to search for his offense throughout the month but rebounded much better.  He had a nice dunk against Rutgers though he nearly broke his neck on the landing, but his offense sputtered throughout the month.  He did the little things like hustling for loose balls and defending four positions, but his spot up shooting has nearly disappeared.

Olander's defense continues to be an issue, fouling too much and getting out of position on the pick in roll.  He had a good game against DePaul, getting some offensive rebounds and hitting a rare jumper.  Then came the Notre Dame game where he had a career day.  He lived in the paint and even hit a step-back jumper.  Olander played well against Pittsburgh, but still was having problems in the pick and roll.  He had a rollercoaster of a month.  His rebounding was much better, but he continued to search for points in the pain.  Coaches say that if you can do it once then you can do it again. We need to see that Olander we saw in the Notre Dame game.

Wolf started the month out strong against Marquette, blocking shots and getting lay-ups.  He carried that play over into the DePaul game.but struggled in the next two games against Louisville and Pittsburgh.  He has shown spurts of really solid play, but has problems of defending without fouling or boxing out.  He has outplayed Olander for much of the month but yet remains inconsistent with minutes played.

Evans had a tough month.  His lay-ups dried up and his playing time was erratic.  He needs to help out on the boards more and can’t turn the ball over.  He's mostly filling in to spell Napier or Boatright.

Nolan had problems defending without fouling and if he wants more minutes in February, he will need to rebound better.  He's a work in progress.

Tolksdorf got some playing time against DePaul but shot the ball when Ollie wanted him to run out the clock.

UConn won the games that they were supposed to and their loses weren't unexpected.  They'll need to continue to play inspired basketball, rebound better, and not get so jump shot happy against the zone.  If they can do all those things then they'll be right around the top five teams heading into the last week of Big East play, but February is going to be a tough month.  They still have some tough games to play but this team visibly matured in January and looks poised to make a statement in February.

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