Sunday, February 17, 2013


Whatever the excuse, UConn just didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm that they had against Syracuse and without Napier and Boatright contributing anything in the scoring column  they couldn’t overcome playing with one hand tied behind their back by playing with sloppy  ball handling, 19 turnovers, and a failure to control the glass, giving up 20 offensive rebound.  Villanova came in with a sense of urgency, needing a victory to remain in the conversation of getting into the tournament and UConn couldn’t match the energy down the stretch of this back and forth affair. Credit goes to Villanova which used traps that  stopped any dribble penetration that stiffled UConn’s offense and without the outside shooting to counteract Villanova’s second chance points, the game slipped away.  Eventually it was going to catch up with them and until they fix those two glaring deficiencies, they are going to stumble down the stretch.

Napier got his second foul before he even broke a game sweat on two silly reach ins.  It is okay to be aggressive, but not so early in the game.  When he was on the bench UConn’s offensive wheels turned into squares and Ollie had to roll the dice and bring Napier back in to help jump start the offense. It worked out and though he wasn’t scoring, he was finding the open man for easy looks.  Down the stretch, when the game was still close, Napier had some uncharacteristically bad turnovers that led ballooned Villanova’s lead.

It was as bad of a game as Boatright has had in a UConn uniform.  He had a travel, a couple of bad passes, his shot was way off, and he couldn’t sniff a lane to penetrate.  Hopefully he can put this game behind him, because this team can’t have another performance like this from him. The most unfortunate thing about this game was his body language.  That stuff rubs off on the team and was a major reason why Ollie pulled him from the game.  He needs to remain in control of his emotions, especially when things aren't going their way. Calhoun has put together several solid games in a row.  He started by getting to the line and sinking some free throws which opened up the rest of his game.  He added a floater and one, a 3-pointer, a bank shot and three more trips to the line. He's become that reliable third scorer and more importantly has started out strong for UConn and has been a tone setter for this team.   Evans had a lay-up and a trip to the line, but also played some quality minutes with Boatright sitting on the bench for a big chunk of the second half.  He's taking shots that tailor to his strengths which is what he needs to do.

Olander had a good game offensively, hitting a couple of jumpers, a hook shot, and had a steal, but struggled keeping Villanova off the glass.  His major issue is reestablishing position after he hedges on the pick and roll.  He usually gets pinned out of position and can’t get close to a defensive rebound.  He needs to run back with hands up and seal his man quickly.  Nolan played only five minutes but looked active in his limited time.  Tolksdorf took a majority of the minutes from Nolan and instantly rewarded Ollie with back to back 3-pointers. If he can rebound with more authority, then his outside shooting will be a tremendous asset going forward.

Daniels left his mark all over the place in this game.  He had an up and under lay-up, a driving lay-up, a monster dunk, a 3-pointer, a put-back, another lay-up, and a steal.  He didn’t rebound like he should have, only having 4 boards, but he was the primary scorer for this team with the lack of any dribble penetration.  Giffey had a 3-pointer, got to the line, had a lay-up on a curl, a sweet dunk, and a put-back.  The only thing lacking was his rebounding. The wings did a good job of making up for the lack of backcourt scoring, but need to do a better job of helping out on the glass.

This was a tough loss.  These home games are vital to win. It puts a lot of pressure on them to make up for it by winning on the road, but it hasn't dashed their ultimate hopes.  They need to put this game behind them and refocus on getting the defensive rebound and ball control, because they won’t be able to win games down the stretch of the season with the numbers that they are putting up in those two departments. They have a big time game coming up against another desperate team in Cincinnati that are looking to tighten up their resume.  UConn needs to finish these next couple of weeks off strong to remain in striking distance in the conference standings but this loss might ultimately haunt them when all the dust settles on the Big East regular season because this game was theirs for the taking.

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