Sunday, March 10, 2013

That's All Folks

With Napier back from a two game hiatus because of an injury, UConn’s offense found a much needed boost and the defense that was severely lacking against Cincinnati played much better.  They rotated, sealed lanes, and rebounded the basketball after misses. The offense, which at times struggled to get anything going in the halfcourt sets, hit critical shots and found ways to get to the line to do damage. Daniels, Napier, and Boatright played the entire game, plus the overtime, and on tired legs they ended the season like they had six other times, with another heart pounding overtime. This team has demonstrated tremendous heart throughout this season and have expertly guided the program through the most turbulent year ever for UConn and has earned the respect from everyone around the around the country.  The season is over too soon and these kids deserve much better than to be sent packing and watch the swan song of the Big East from the couch especially since they are going to be the jewel in the new conference's crown.

Napier’s injury didn’t slow him down one bit, playing the entire game.  He hit two 3-pointers, a lay-up, a jumper, and a fade away in overtime.  He struggled a bit on defense, not putting his hands up on a perimeter shot and backing away from his opponent. It is amazing that he could bounce back without any practice and play the way he did though.  This season has validated his play and has thoroughly wiped the image that some had of him from that under performing team of last season.  He’s proven to be able to lead a team with less talent to perform better and has solidified his legacy on this team as loyal, tough nosed, and a winner.

Boatright had a much better game with Napier’s return.  He hit an early running lay-up, a 3-pointer, and four more jumpers with one being an and one that put UConn ahead in overtime.  He relies heavily on his dribbling skills to create his shot, but did have a couple of jumpers occur when he was curling off screens which is what he needs to use more.  His court vision and his ability to mask his emotions need to improve, but this was a much better game for him and needed heading into the off season.

What more can you say about Daniels?  He’s been the vocal point of the offense, taking the most shots, 21, on the team and can score in a variety of ways.  He has done a much better job of using the opposite rim for lay-ups and can score on attacking baseline or using the hook when going towards the middle.  His outside shot is still inconsistent, but will be much more improved with more practice, but he has a chance to be an elite player next year.

Nolan got the start with Olander’s foot injury and played well especially on defense.  He had an nice offensive rebound put-back and hustled out there.  He did have an embarrassing dunk attempt but it shouldn’t mar what has been a productive end of the season for him.  Evans played his final college basketball game and showed emotion on a hustle save, but did little offensively and struggled at the line.  Tolksdorf got some early playing time and hit a 3-pointer and had a good rebound in traffic.  He should be an important piece in the next couple of seasons.  He will need to focus on being able to rebound while being able to hang around the three point line.  Allen played a minute but didn’t do much.

There wasn’t much expectations for this team heading into the season, but UConn put together a heck of year and would’ve been a lock for the NCAA tournament.  They beat Syracuse, Michigan State and Marquette and Georgetown needed overtime to beat them.  And they did it with a depleted and injured frontcourt.  Even though their season is done, this team has accomplished something other more talented and decorated teams have not, they have earned the respect of not only the Connecticut but throughout the country.  The way that this team has been treated by the Big East, while every other team has their suitcases ready to go to another conference, has been appalling.  What it does do is not give them pause to leaving this new America 12 league if a suitable offer comes by.  Why should they show loyalty to a conference that has shown none to them?  It's really a shame.

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