Thursday, January 9, 2014

Desperate Times

After returning home from a disappointing road trip where UConn lost back to back games in Texas, they hosted a much improved Harvared team that was missing their primary scorer.  It was about as sloppy of a first half of basketball that there could be.  Both teams turned the ball over, missed easy shots, and had to play through bad calls.  Both teams traded runs but Harvard finished the half with a flurry of outside shots and midrange jumpers to balloon a lead while UConn still tried to get some traction on an inconsistent offensive.  UConn came out in the second half with an attacking mind-set and quickly got into the bonus with 12:45 left to play.  They ended up taking eleven trips to the line in the second half which helped eradicate the Harvard lead and build their own.  Napier and Daniels added some deep shots and UConn held a comfortable seven point lead heading into the closing minutes when they began to make losing plays.  Napier fouled on a made 3-point attempt, Daniels fouled on a made lay-up, Giffey traveled and Boatright missed free throws.  UConn held on to the lead by the thinest of margins and pulled off a victory against a solid Harvard team.

For the fourth game in a row, Napier had a slow start with only a spinning jumper and a 3-pointer as his only field goals.  Teams are not fearing the screener and are hedging the ball handler out of the play.  Napier did not adjust.  After the slow start, he began to attack more and got to the line four times in the second half and had two back-to-back 3-pointers that helped UConn build a lead.  He did a great job on the boards, snagging 7, but struggled passing and handling the ball, turning it over four times with only four assists.  He needs to simplify the game and not try to make the more difficult play.

UConn leaned heavily on Boatright’s offense in the first half.  His dunk and lay-up seemed to be the only field goals this team could produce for a good chunk of time.  His good offense carried over into the second half where he knocked down a floater, a 3-pointer, and got to the line four times, though he struggled to knock them down late free throws, going 3 of 6 down the stretch.  He’s finally found his jumper and he’s playing with more confidence, though he still dribbles into trouble at times.

It looked like Daniels would have another clunker of a game.  He had two bad turnovers before knocking down a 3-pointer, but found himself on the bench for much of the first half with his lackadaisical play.  He bounced back in the second half and hit two big 3-pointers, hit the boards hard with 8 big time rebounds, and played great defense around the rim.  Hopefully this can knock him out of the funk that he has been in for the past couple of games because he is UConn’s only post threat and the team desperately needs him to produce points in the paint.

Giffey had a pretty jumper but only took a couple of shots.  He passed up some open looks for passes that led to worse shots and he had a couple of bad passes.  He did improve his rebounding though and pulled down 4 boards but this wasn’t a great game for him.  Calhoun’s minutes were almost non-existent.  He only played five minutes and had two turnovers.  He only had a rebound for his brief stint.  Kromah had another fantastic performance.  He had three lay-ups, a 3-pointer, and played solid defense.  On top of all that, he pulled down 5 boards. Where would this team be without him?  Samuel got some action, playing 3 minutes without much impact.  So far the minutes out of this group are going to Kromah and deservedly so.  Until Calhoun and Giffey rebound and knock down shots, their minutes will continue to drop.

Nolan only played seven minutes and is still suffering from the flu, but he needs to do a better job rebounding the basketball.  Olander played much better on the offensive end, knocking down two lay-ups and had opportunities at the line, but he only had 2 boards in 17 minutes.  Brimah played much better and even though he fouled out, he rebounded much better, 4 boards with 2 of those offensive, and played great defense around the rim.  This group provided 5 points, 6 boards, and 4 blocks.  That’s not that good, but there were signs of improvement out of Olander and Brimah.

This team will take the win.  They were desperate for one, but it wasn’t encouraging.  There were still troubling signs from Napier’s late arrival in games, Giffey’s hesitation to take shots, Calhoun’s total demise, Brimah’s inability to catch the ball, Daniel’s lack of post production, Boatright’s dribbling into double teams, Olander’s inability to rebound, and Nolan’s ineffectiveness.  This team needs improvement from just about every player except Kromah at this point and they can’t let these conference games slip away from them.  They need to string together a couple of wins to regain some much needed confidence and they need to start against a good UCF team or this season could turn ugly for them.


Matias Nino said...

Remember the days when Olander could hit those 15 footers comfortably. Yea those days are gone.

David Gillett said...

How about anyone could hit those 15-footers?

Matias Nino said...