Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On the Canvas

It was bound to happen with the way UConn flirted with every team.  Eventually one of them would come out of the gates scorching and Houston was unstoppable.  Everything that they jacked up went through and UConn tried to answer jumper for jumper.  They found themselves down ten, fifteen, nineteen, and then twenty-one points.  They gave up lay-ups on made field-goals, let shooters get their own misses, and they were sloppy in their halfcourt sets.  After a first half thrashing, UConn came out with the energy and defensive intensity that they should’ve started the game with.  With a flurry of UConn jumpers and transition points, the large Houston lead quickly erased in the first five minutes, but the Cougars responded and both teams traded buckets down the stretch. UConn couldn’t maintain consistent energy to pull away and began settling again for bad shots and Houston took advantage.  Give them credit, they answered each blow in the closing minutes and won this game.

Napier was no where to be seen in the first half of this game and like the rest of the team, he settled for jumpers instead of attacking.  He came out aggressive in the second half and his jumpers began to fall.  He knocked down three 3-pointers, three jumpers, a tip-in, and got fouled twice on pump fakes.  Unfortunately it was too little too late and his inability to make an impact in the first half created too big of a hole to climb out of.

Boatright carried the team throughout that dismal first half and had a steal & dunk, two lay-ups, and a jumper.  His second half wasn’t as impressive and had a banked in 3-pointer, a dunk, and a lay-up.  He did play solid defense in the second half, but this team needed him to get to the line more, especially since they were in the bonus for much of both halves.  He ended up with only one free throw.

There is no other way to describe Daniels performance other then disappointing.  He had two early travel calls and struggled in the post.  He did get to the line on two drives to the basket and hit a 3-pointer, but his lackluster defensive effort in the first half cost his team dearly.  His energy in the second half wasn’t much better and other than a 3-pointer and getting to the line, he was a no show.  This team needs more from him in the paint and he couldn’t provide that.

Giffey once again got the start and showed some hustle, blocking shots, getting deflections, and diving out of bounds for loose balls, but he is struggling to find his shot now that defenders are riding his shooting hand.  He needs to curl off screens more and use his quick release for mid-ranged shots.  Just when you think that it can’t get any worse for Calhoun, he comes out with this performance.  He played only seven minutes and missed a wide open jumper, had an air-ball, and traveled.  Kromah had a poor defensive first half and struggled securing the ball.  He missed two free throws in the second half but provided a lay-up & one.  Samuel got to see some action and was fouled on a drive but only saw 3 minutes of action.  The back-up guards struggled and didn’t even record an assist in this game.

Brimah got the start but like in every game he has played so far the referees are calling him for touch fouls.  He ended up only playing 4 minutes.  Nolan missed shoot around with flu-like symptoms and also only played 4 minutes.  Olander showed the best effort out of this group and had a lay-up, played solid defense,  and hustled.  Overall this unit took a major step back and couldn’t control the paint and were pushed around for much of the night.  They ended up with 2 points and 5 boards in  24 minutes.  Not good.

It felt like UConn was going through the motions in this game and expected to just let their talent win out against a depleted Houston squad in a sparse home crowd.  They then took a haymaker to the jaw and found themselves on the canvas.  They did pick themselves up, but that mistake cost them the game and hopefully this is a learning experience for them because they need to bounce back and play again in a few days.

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