This offense has been in a rut ever since the second half of the Stanford game. All the shots in the paint are rushed and are rolling off the rim, the long shots that had once swished through are now clanking off the rim, and the ball movement has become stagnant and stuck on one side of the court. It all adds up to poor shot selections that is carrying over to the defense where they aren’t getting back on defense, giving up defensive rebounds, and not winning those 50/50 balls. Offensively, Napier, Boatright, and Daniels went 10 for 29 and if it wasn’t for free throws, this game could have been much uglier. Kevin Ollie is like one of those old operators and trying to plug different holes to see what combinations will work on the court. It ends up becoming a shuffling of lineups with none of the bench players getting consistent playing time and they have all struggled, leaving the scoring pressure on the Napier, Boatright, and Daniels. They all had a couple bad games in a row, leaving UConn with a two game losing streak and scratching their heads for answers.
Napier once again had a slow start, passing up looks in order to get other involved. This team needs him to score at this point and be in attack mode right from the tip off. He also has to adjust to how teams are hedging him and not respecting the rolling screener. To combat this, he or Coach Ollie, needs to give him plays off the ball where he can catch and shoot.
Boatright had solid performance. He found his shot, knocking down three 3-pointers, a floater, and a jumper. On top of that he rebounded much better and was a menace on defense, though he did get caught not getting back. He also is having problems around the rim and throwing up shots that aren’t even close to dropping. He tends to rush shots and needs to slow down a bit. He is doing a much better job in the half court sets and isn't dribbling the clock out.
Daniels needs to get back on track. His mid-ranged shots are rimming out, he is getting called for travels and offensive fouls, and he is rushing shots around the rim. He needs to square up, pump fake, and drive, but instead he is backing his man up and taking off balance shots. Another troubling sign is his rebounding. He only grabbed five boards in his 31 minutes. He needs to double that out put. If this team expects to go places, he needs to find his game.
Giffey only took two shots and he had plenty of opportunities to take more but passed them up. He played 15 minutes but only grabbed one rebound. That can’t happen. He needs to find a way to do more than just be a decoy. Calhoun did outplay Giffey and made a lay-up & one, grabbed two boards and also got to the line, but his once deadly jumper is now a whimper. At this point in the season it is all confidence and right now he is at an all-time low. Kromah continues to impress and even outplayed Napier. He had a steal & lay-up, a jumper, block, two other lay-ups, hit the offensive glass for a team high 3 boards and another team high with 6 rebounds, and got to the line. He’s earned his starting spot.
The front court continues to struggle with Olander getting the start in this game. He immediately gave up an offensive rebound by not blocking out and letting balls slip through his hands. He can’t play 25 minutes and only get one rebound. Nolan is officially in Ollie’s doghouse right next to Brimah. He only played 2 minutes and didn’t show the energy he needed to out there. He might still be suffering from the flu but his effort was non-existent. Brimah rebounded much better, 4, and had 5 blocks, but he let too many balls fly through his hands for turnovers. He needs to show better and never take the ball lower then his waist. While it wasn’t a great outing for him, it was an improvement. Facey found some minutes but couldn't record a rebound. The front court provided only 8 points, 5 boards, and 5 blocks in 40 minutes. That’s not good.
UConn must now pick up the pieces of their season and put them back together again. Coach Ollie must find the right combination to be able to stretch the court but also provide a threat in the paint. The defense must create turnovers to fuel the fast break and also attack off of made baskets before the half court settles. The guards need to hurry back and protect the rim off of misses. These things are what an inexperienced team needs to learn but this team is full of experienced players and they aren’t getting it done. They don’t have much time to turn it around and face a tough Harvard team in a few days. With the direction of their season in the balance, they need to figure it out and fast.