Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hands Tied

It is hard enough to win a game on the road in the Big East but trying to do it without your best player on an already short staffed squad is like playing with one hand tied behind their back.  So when UConn led at halftime with little contribution from Boatright, it felt that this team could over come just about any obstacle in its way.  But in the second half Napier's absence was felt and UConn’s offense went stagnant, struggling to put points on the board while Cincinnati began knocking down threes.  Like in their first meeting, Cincinnati dominated the first ten minutes of the second half, but UConn turned the tables and clawed their way back.  Unfortunately the turnovers and second chance points that have been the bane of UConn’s season came back and bit them, sinking their hopes and costing them valuable looks at the basket in critical situations.  It was a weird game statistically, with Cincinnati taking 31 3-point attempts, making only 9, but those came in a single stretch.  Both teams were tied up in the rebounding department at 36, with the offensive rebounds not that far apart, but the Bearcats were able to convert those offensive rebounds into points while UConn could not.  Stats can be misleading because it is what you do with those stats that makes the difference and Cincinnati made them count when it mattered.

Boatright has been in an offensive rut for a several games now and needs to get his jumper back.  The majority of his offense came at the free throw line which is a great sign and showed an aggressive mentality.  The turnovers continue to plague him and should be his primary focus on improvement for next season.  He plays the game in the moment and needs to see the court better and read the defenses quicker.  It isn’t all about speed but about when and where you use it.

Calhoun got going early with a 3-pointer, but struggled from there on out.   The most improved aspect of his game is in the rebounding department, grabbing 6.  Like Boatright, he will need to improve on his decision making.  Turnovers have been a major concern with his game all year and this game was no different, but more acceptable from a freshman.

Daniels has been a tear in the last couple of games and the ceiling on his game is sky high. He hit an early 3-pointer, a one handed dunk, a circus shot at the half, two other dunks, two lay-ups, a fade away, and had a team high in rebounds at 8.  Now that’s making an impact.   He has the best opportunity to make an impact at the next level as anyone else on this team, but needs to fill out more.

This has to be a new low for Olander.  Earlier in the year Wolf came in and outplayed him.  Now Nolan has come off the bench and has done the same.  Tyler could only muster 4 rebounds with 2 of those being offensive in his 14 minutes of play.  Nolan came in and had two consecutive lay-ups, got to the line, had a nice pass, and had 5 rebounds in the first half alone.  He didn’t have as great of an impact in the second half with a couple of offensive rebounds, a put-back, and got to the line.  He has shown drastic improvement in each and every game and deserves a start before this season is done.

Giffey had a tough game, hitting a baseline jumper, but struggled on the defensive end and was injured in the second half.  Hopefully he’ll bounce back.  Evans got the start with Napier out, and had a Evans’ like performance.  He hit the glass hard, got some offensive boards, blocked a shot, had a lay-up, and played some solid defense, but he also took some bad shots and turned the ball over.  Tolksdorf found some playing time but was quiet.

The only surprise in this game was that UConn had a chance to win it. Kevin Ollie’s next man up mentality has rubbed off on this team and the future of this team is pointing in the right direction.  Everyone on this squad has shown growth and while the end of the season is looming right around the corner, this team continues to play hard and hasn’t shied away from adversity.  They’ll have another tough road test against a reeling USF team.  These types of games in the past have been problems for UConn and they’ll need to remained focused on the task at hand, something Coach Ollie has done well this entire season.

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