Sunday, March 2, 2014

Jack of All Trades

Someone needs to check the rims before UConn plays because in the past three games their jumpers have been nothing short of awful.  They shot 3 of 14 from deep and only 31% for the game.  The one constant during this offensive slump has been their defense.  Sure Cincinnati missed some wide open jumpers, but UConn did a great job of rotating their defense and clogging passing lanes.  With both teams having issues offensively, the game muddled along with no rhythm.  Cincinnati used their size advantage to out rebound UConn by 14 and had 14 offensive rebounds but UConn’s defense counteracted that by getting the Bearcats to cough up the ball 20 times.  This game came down to one thing, free throws.  UConn hit 18 of their 25 while Cincinnati hit 13 of their 21.  That was the game right there.

  Napier was the jack of all trades in this game.  His jumper wasn’t working but he adjusted and started attacking the paint more.  He was rewarded with going 9 of 10 from the line and also added 11 rebounds.  He did a great job defensively and played the passing lanes and didn’t have those lapses on the wings that he displayed in the prior couple of games.  His passes were a bit off though and tried to force some things. He did a little of everything to guide this team to the finish line in what was an ugly game for both teams.

Boatright banked in a 3-pointer, had a dunk, and a jumper, which in this game was an offensive outpouring.  Like Napier, he did a great job defensively and kept in contact with his man.  He needs to work more on his late game decision making and has been making some costly turnovers in the last three minutes of these tight games but this was a step in the right direction for him.

Daniels had a rough start.  He had a travel and two turnovers in the first five minutes and had a seat on the bench.  He did provide a sweet reverse lay-up, a steal, and another lay-up that gives UConn fans a glimpse of his potential but then he loses his dribble on a drive and takes some off-balance shots in the post.  His game is all over the place right now but the one thing he should be able to do consistently is rebound and he only grabbed four.   That’s not going to get it done.

Kromah finally got his game back on track.  He had two early steals, was fouled on a drive, hit two jumpers, had a lay-up, and a nice pass.  This team needs Kromah to step up and he did in this game.  Giffey was wearing a bandage on his hand and it might have effected his shot because he went 0 of 3 from the line.  He did hit a 3-pointer and also had a block, but he didn’t have his usual impact.  Calhoun continues to search for his shot but he isn’t shy of taking them which he needs to do.  Shooters need to forget the misses and take the shots when they are in rhythm and they are open and he did.  Samuel has been playing so well that his minutes have slowly increased in each of these past three games.  In fact he played more minutes against Cincinnati then DeAndre Daniels and he didn’t disappoint.  He had a lay-up, played solid defense, had a sweet assist, a steal, and got to the line.  This unit did a great job of helping the starters.

On the other hand, the front court had a hard time of keeping the Bearcats off the glass or defend without fouling.  Ollie likes to get the ball into Brimah on the first play of both halves and the big man made a nice hook shot, but he struggles to get a similar look after that.  He had several nice blocks but only had one rebound.  Nolan hit his free throws and created a charge call but like Brimah, he struggled to rebound.  He only had two boards.  Olander only had a personal foul in his brief stint.  This unit put up a paltry 7 points and 3 rebounds in 37 minutes.

UConn’s jumpers will eventually come around.  They are too good of a team for it not to.  This is what happens when you are too dependent on the outside shot and a lack of any consistent post play.  If they don’t drop, the game muddles along.  The one constant for this team is their defense and it has allowed them to remain within a few possessions of games until they found their rhythm if only for a spurt and it was enough to them to win these past two games.  Hopefully they get out of this funk they have been in and head into both tournaments with some confidence because right now it is all mental.  They just need to see a couple of jumpers sink and it they'll get their swagger back, but they only have a few more games to do this.  The clock is ticking.

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