Thursday, December 19, 2013

Zoned Out

This wasn’t the UConn team that we had seen all season long.  This team settled for difficult shots, played selfishly, didn’t probe the defense, or have any energy on the offensive end of the court.  They had one spurt in the first half that allowed them to balloon the lead to ten, but then Stanford went into a press that slowed down UConn’s fast break game and allowed them to settle into their zone defense which stifled the Huskies.  It looked like UConn had never played against the zone before.  They shot only 13% in the second half and scored only 13 points.  There is no way to sugar coat this.  It was ugly and UConn needs to figure it out and quick because from here on out teams are going to zone them.

Napier started shooting the ball well, knocking down a couple of three pointers early and distributing the basketball, but then the freshman Shabazz showed up in the second half.  He took an enormous amount of bad shots, deep threes or contested jumpers, and they almost always led to points on the other end.  He needed to probe the defense, draw, and pass, but he played selfishly at times and with no one else stepping up, the game slowly slipped out of their grasp.

It looked like Boatright had snapped out of his shooting slump against Maine, but he once again struggled to get anything going offensively.   He had a jumper and a dunk in the first half, but when Stanford applied their zone, he disappeared.  He gave the team nothing in the second half other than a missed lay-up and a turnover.  If this team has aspirations for a deep run in the NCAA tournament then they need Boatright to figure out how to manufacture points without his jumper.

Daniels was the only player that had a good night offensively.  He had an early 3-pointer, a lay-up, and a couple of nice moves in the paint in the first half.  The zone frustrated him in the second half though and could only muster a lay-up and a lucky offensive rebound & and put-back.  Like the rest of the team, he forced some things, turned the ball over several times, and also gave up an offensive rebound on a free throw.

Despite the lack of touches, Giffey played well.  He hit 2 of 4 from the floor and grabbed 3 boards.  He also played solid defense and kept his man in front of him.  Omar Calhoun’s game continues to spiral downward.  He had multiple open looks that weren’t even close to going in.   Other then a first half 3-pointer, he bricked everything, including the last shot of the game.  6 of his 8 shots are from deep and he keeps shooting from there.  He needs to attack and get to the line which he didn’t do.  Kromah came in and added a bit of spark in the first half.  He had a jumper, a 3-pointer, a team high 5 boards, and a lay-up.  His energy allowed UConn to build on their lead heading into the half, but he failed to make a similar impact in the second period.

Heading into this game, the question was could UConn’s frontcourt hold up to Stanford’s.  Nolan, Olander, and Brimah combined for 0 for 7, 8 boards, 2 points, and 4 blocks.  Not that good.  Nolan was aggressive though and didn’t hesitate to make some post moves in the paint which did get him to the line, but some of his shots were rushed or out of control.  Olander flat out struggled and only played 8 minutes.  Brimah’s length did make a huge impact in this game and he rebounded much better, but he needs to set better screens and use his length more to allow his guards more room to get into the lanes.  Besides not providing any assistance within the zone, they held up nicely defensively.

Ollie needs to watch this tape and immediately burn it, because this wasn’t the team we have seen all year long.  This team didn’t have a chip on their shoulder or play with any heart.  They looked lethargic and hopefully this loss can put some perspective and sense of urgency back into their game before heading across the country to play in their first true road test of the year.  Especially since every team they face will be zoning them until they do figure it out and cross your fingers, hopefully they will.

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