Saturday, March 2, 2013

February 2013

UConn had a rollercoaster of a February, winning 5 of 7 in the month.  They started out with a gritty comeback and win against USF in overtime, a recurring theme throughout the month. They then turned and played their most disappointing game of the month against St. John’s in Madison Square Garden.  UConn’s defense was carved up and the Johnnies took advantage surging ahead.  The offense made a comeback in the second half but couldn’t sustain the momentum, giving St. John’s a double digit win.  Like so many times this year, UConn bounced right back from a poor showing and took their frustrations out on the Seton Hall Pirates.  It was a hard fought first half, but the Huskies firepower took over in the second half and ran away with the victory.  UConn then headed into it’s toughest stretch of games, playing Syracuse.  UConn did everything they weren’t supposed to do, turning the ball over and getting killed on the boards, but the resilience of this team persevered and it didn’t hurt that they were knocking down the 3-pointers at an incredible clip.  Coming off the high of the Syracuse win, they let their guard down a bit, letting the Villanova Wildcats come into their home and dominate.  Again UConn had to pick themselves up after a thorough beating and play a top 25 team in Cincinnati.  Both teams mirrored each other throughout the game, matching baskets.  UConn rode the hot hand of Napier in the extra period and pulled off the victory. The month ended in possibly the best game of the year, besides it being a loss.  UConn vs. Georgetown was a double overtime slugfest where both teams hit big time shots.  Unfortunately one team had to lose and it was UConn.

Napier has had some slow starts to his games in February but has made up for it with his play in the second half and especially overtime.  He took over the game against Cincinnati  and USF, knocking down several 3-pointers that propelled UConn to the victories.  He’s done a better job of ball handling and not turning it over like in the previous couple of months, but he needs to establish his offense earlier.  There are times when he takes only two or three shots in the first half.

Boatright struggled at the beginning of the month against USF and St. John’s, but bounced back with a stellar performance against Seton Hall and Syracuse.  His last three games were sub-par with bad outings against, Villanova, Cincinnati, and Georgetown.  He is pounding the rock too much and needs to attack north and south more.  He tends to dribble into trouble and needs to see the double team coming sooner so that he can dish the ball to the open man.  His turnovers have also been a concern all year and that hasn’t changed.

February was a coming out party for Calhoun who made impacts in each and every one of the games.  His outside shot is becoming more consistent and he is using his dribble drive more often, but the most improved aspect to his game is his rebounding.  He’s hovering around the painted area more and is being rewarded with second chance opportunities.

Daniels had an excellent month.  He’s improved in just about every category.  He’s rebounding much better, knocking down the outside shot more, getting to the line, and is playing extremely well on the defensive end.  With the lack of front court depth, he is being asked to play the four and five position which is asking a lot from a sophomore, but he has not only accepted it but has flourished.  He’s running away with the most improved player award.

Giffey has been the workman of this team and it showed in February.  He was asked to defend several different positions and did well.  His shot wasn’t consistent, but he isn’t hesitant to take the open looks.  His rebounding varies from game to game, but his effort doesn’t, which instantly makes him a fan favorite.

Olander had a tough month with Wolf being suspended from the team halfway through this month, leaving him with shouldering a lot of the responsibility with the center position.  He hasn’t been able to put together a performance like the Notre Dame game, but did make an improvement throughout February.  He gave the team spurts of offense and had several games when his jumper was working, but he hasn’t been able to flirt with a double digit rebounding game and he has had a hard time of playing defense, especially against the pick and roll, without fouling.

With the emergence of Calhoun during this month, it has diminished Evan’s minutes, but the senior has made the most of his minutes.  He played hard while he was in the game, wasn’t afraid of diving on the ground for loose balls, and still has kept up his aggressive mentality, though not as frequently as in the previous months.

Wolf struggled through his three games in February before he made a very poor decision off the court that has his basketball career in limbo.  It was the dark spot of this month and the first true conflict that Kevin Ollie has had to deal with.

Nolan played an important role in this month.  He was thrust into a pivotal role and has slowly improved with each performance.   He has played well defensively and has shown an ability to block shots and rebound.  He finally was able to get some offense going in the last game of the month and has shown Ollie enough to warrant extended minutes.

Tolksdorf couldn’t find the magic that he had in January, hitting a three pointer early in the month, but with the emergence of Nolan, his minutes are going to be spotty.  He does bring an outside aspect to his game which is a great compliment to what Nolan brings.  He’s shown enough to be a pivotal piece moving into next season.

This month was going to show exactly what this team was made of and it has. Heart.  They never backed down and battled hard in each and every game, even the ones that didn’t go their way.  The loss to St. John’s was probably their worst of the year, but those games happened.  It was the overtime games that have tested this team and they responded.  They won’t win the Big East regular season title or get any trophies or banners to place on the mantle, but this team has done more in this month than can be expressed in trophies, because with the collapse of the Big East and Uconn’s suspensions from post season, retirement of their hall of fame coach, and scholarship penalties, this team was losing it’s relevancy, but in one month they have turned all that around, proved that they are still a team to reckon with and have stabilized the turbulent waters they have treading in all year, steering this ship safely to port.  No mere banners can state the importance of that.


Matias Nino said...

It truly has been a pleasure watching this team contend, battle, and grow despite their glaring disadvantages.

The anticipation for next season couldn't be higher.

What do you think the chances are of Deandre going pro? I'm afraid his NBA level potential has been very prominantly on display the last few games.

David Gillett said...

He needs another 20 pounds but has all the tools to be a solid NBA lottery pick, but after a good run through the NCAA tournament where he makes a significant impact.