Thursday, February 27, 2014

Plain Ugly

Nothing has been easy for UConn in the last three games and they once again found themselves in the offensive doldrums.  Jumpers clanked off the rim, passes were deflected, and simple dribbling seemed impossible.  USF wasn’t much better and with referees having a hard time calling a clean game, it all added up to an ugly game to watch.  Their calls were inconsistent and they missed some blatant and obvious calls against both teams. With UConn struggling to get anything going, Kevin Ollie tried to mix and match his line-up and defensive schemes in hope to jump start his team.  It finally worked and they began getting turnovers that led to easy points.  Their defense kept the game within arms reach and the offense finally put together a string of points that got them the lead and they held onto it by the skin of their teeth.

Napier’s game has been in a funk in these last three games.  He dribbled the ball off his leg twice, shot an air-ball, and took some poor shots.  It wasn’t until he attacked the lane that he started getting his offense going.  He needs to play more north/south earlier instead of leaning on his jumper to kick start his offense.  With his poor showing, it is amazing that he finished with 17 points and 7 assists.  On top of that, his clutch shooting has been incredible this year.

Boatright let his early poor play in this game effect him.  He wasn’t getting calls and his jumper was all over the rim. It began to snowball on him and his body language reflected it.  His game finally started to come around and he made a lay-up,  a 3-pointer, had an intentional foul called against him, and hit a 3-pointer, all in a quick spurt that brought UConn from down 9 to up 9.  That stretch turned the whole thing around.  His game is centered so much on that jumper of his that when it isn’t dropping, he has trouble adjusting.  He did do a great job of getting to the line and converting, dropping 6 of 7 from the charity stripe, but it was a slow go for him.

Daniels continues to struggle through this offensive lull that UConn has been going through lately and this team desperately needs him back.  He hit another early 3-pointer and had a lay-up, but that was about it for him. Five field goal attempts isn’t going to cut it. He is not rolling to the basket or using his athleticism to make plays, not to mention his lack of post production.  He needs to post up and demand the basketball.

Giffey was outstanding and finally began taking those open jumpers without thinking about it.  He knocked down some big time 3-pointers and quietly did a good job on the boards.  Kromah looked good early with a steal, a dunk, and a lay-up, but then ended the first half with poor defense and a travel.  Other than a 3-pointer, he struggled to get going and found himself on the pine for the rest of the game.  That was because Ollie inserted Samuel and the freshman made some key plays that helped UConn get the gears going offensively.  He had a sweet reverse lay-up and two critical steals.  Ollie rewarded him with crucial minutes down the stretch.  This unit has been a bit inconsistent as of late and needs to get on track.

Brimah got into early foul trouble and had a hard time rebounding.  Other than a dunk in the second half, he struggled. He only played eight total minutes. Nolan had a charge and a put-back that should’ve been a basket interference.  He had a hard time defending and found himself in foul trouble throughout the game.  Olander struggled defensively and was really out gunned in the paint.  If you blinked, you missed Facey play.  This unit had a rough go and couldn’t keep USF off the boards.  They all combined for 9 points and 7 rebounds in 43 minutes.  That is not going to get it done.

This was the third game in a row that UConn’s offense has struggled.  They settled too much on their jumpers early and couldn’t get into their transition game or to the line which is the main culprit as to why this team is struggling lately.  The defense continues to be there for this team though and that was the reason why they were able to pull this game out, but they need to figure out where their offense went and soon because they have a very tough stretch in the next couple of weeks.  They don’t want to head into the tournaments playing this lethargic brand of basketball.  Next up is Cincinnati and if they come with this type of effort, it could get ugly real quick and this team needs to bolster their resume heading into March.

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