Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blown Away

This was an old fashioned beat down.  UConn used a combination of steals and blocked shots to fuel their fast break and led to easy points against an offensively challenged USF team.  UConn’s defense stifled the Bulls and the front court did a great job of blocking out and rebounding the basketball.  The Huskies didn’t let up, like they had in previous games when they had big leads, and they kept attacking, ballooning the lead to 10, 20, 30, and finally 40 points.  They didn’t rely on the outside shot and did much of their damage in or around the paint which was a great sign.  It was a team win with no one scoring more than 12 points and only two players in double figures and they still managed to score 83 points.  Simply amazing.

Napier wasn’t asked to do much in this game.  He hit a 3-pointer, had a lay-up, and got to the line, but he sat much of the first half with foul trouble and then sat much of the second half when the game was out of hand.  His defense caused havoc on USF’s young guards and didn’t turn the ball over at all.  If there is anything to complain about it is his overly fancy passing.  He just needs to make the simple play and not dazzle.

Boatright had a hard time knocking down free throws early on, but he finally found his jumper and hit two 3-pointers.  Like Napier, he played sparingly in the second half, which he needed because he was dealing with a sore shoulder.  On top of that, he tweaked his ankle early in this game, but he fought through it.  He’s shown tremendous heart throughout this season.

Daniels had a terrific game and had his mid-ranged game working.  He carved up USF’s soft zone.  He hit a floater, three jumpers, a lay-up, and a tomahawk dunk that put an exclamation mark on UConn’s run that put USF away for good.  He also played great on defense, blocking two shots and getting a steal.  On top of that, he didn’t settle for the outside shot and focused his offense in the paint.  This is the type of game that Daniels needs to emulate heading down the stretch of crucial games.

Kromah did all the little things in this game like setting the table for easy buckets, blocking shots, getting steals, hitting a lay-up, and getting a dunk as the first half expired.  He’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. Giffey was a bit hesitant to shot the ball, but did knock down a 3-pointer.  Ollie has shown more trust in Samuel and he has responded.  He made an early impact and had two lay-ups, a deep jumper, a couple of steals, took a charge, and got to the line.  He made the most of Calhoun’s absence and deserves a bit more of a role heading forward.  Lennehan hit a 3-pointer and was allowed his name on his jersey, Tolksdorf continued to jack up shots whenever he got the ball and sank a 3-pointer, and Amilo got to the line.

Brimah put his stamp on this game and had 6 blocks which changed the aspect of what USF wanted to do since they are a horrible outside shooting team.  He also had two early dunks, got to the line, and hit a nice hook shot.  He did have some problems rebounding and defending without fouling but his shot blocking was immense.  Nolan hit a baseline jumper, had a dunk, and a lay-up.  Like Brimah, he had trouble rebounding and needs to do better on the boards especially with so many misses by USF.  Facey just comes in and makes plays.  This time he hit a turnaround jumper, had a dunk, a lay-up, and hit a 3-pointer.  Who knew he had that range?  He needs to defend without fouling though and ended up fouling out of the game.

UConn needs to put this game behind them and prepare for a tough game against Memphis in a few days. Games like these are great to take the pressure off the starters and get a look at some of the role players, but there really isn’t much they can take from this game other than confidence.  In fact it might be a detriment if they come out slow against Memphis.  Hopefully that defensive intensity that they had garnered in these past two games can transfer over to one of the elites in this conference, because UConn could use another marquee win to bolster their resume.  But for now they can savor this one win before this winter storm blows through.

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