Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mere Inches

UConn knew heading into the game against Cincinnati that scoring wouldn’t be easy, but unlike their previous game against them, UConn had regained their offensive swagger and just in time.  They jumped out to an early lead with some hot shooting, but then the sloppy play that had plagued the Huskies during the past couple of weeks started to creep in.  They rushed shots, couldn’t secure defensive rebounds, and had numerous unforced errors that left them with empty possession after empty possession.   UConn leaned heavily on their defense.  Their rotations were spot on and their switches kept Cincinnati out of the lanes.  Eventually the offensively challenged Bearcats hit that drought that happens periodically to them and the Huskies seized control of the game with some deadly outside shooting.  Like many times this season, UConn had trouble in end of game situations and had problems in-bounding the ball, making free throws, and playing defense without fouling.  Cincinnati made a late run and had a chance to tie it up on a last second basket, but UConn held on by mere inches.

Napier had his highs and lows in this game.  His jumper was there for him early, hitting a deep jumper, but he took numerous bad shots, had some sloppy passes and was lackadaisical on the defensive end.  When it came down to crunch time though, he hit a big time jumper that helped create a big enough cushion to hold on to the lead.

Boatright also had an up and down game.  He had several unforced errors, continues to dribble into trouble, is not aggressive on the break, and had some poor passes, but his jumper came to life in this game.  He had two 3-pointers, a jumper, and was fouled on a 3-pointer.  He also was very active defensively and caused havoc.  This team needs him to play a more controlled game, especially in late-game situations.

Daniels was simply amazing.  When this team needed a play, he was there.  He hit a turnaround floater, two 3-pointers, a hook shot, another floater, and he did a great job on the boards.  His rotations are a bit late though and that is where he is getting a lot of his fouls on.  He needs to get to his spot early and seal the lane for the charge.

Giffey continues to shoot lights out like he had at the beginning of this season.  He hit 3 of 4 from deep and even dribbled into a 3-pointer.  His passing was a bit off and he needs to make safer passes, but he is playing with so much confidence right now.  Kromah needs to get back on track and had problems making crisp passes.  He missed all of his shots.  Samuel had a freshman like game and had an early turnover while trying to split a double team.  He was quickly pulled for Calhoun and only played 3 minutes.  Calhoun also only played a sparse 3 minutes but at least he got into the game.

Brimah has come a long way since the beginning of the year.  He was fouled on a dunk and hit both free throws, had 4 blocks, made some nifty passes, and had a great dunk.  It was his rebounding that was the most impressive, pulling down 7 boards.  Nolan struggled to get anything going and is so foul prone at the moment that he is playing a very timid defense.  He also hasn’t gotten the charge calls he had been getting earlier.  Ollie shrank his bench in this one and didn’t play Olander or Facey.

If UConn wants to win the Championship against Louisville, they will need to play with more respect for the basketball and also get the ball into the middle of the court while in-bounding the ball.  They found themselves trapped too many times in this game and the intensity will only increase.  When they do break the press they need to continue to attack the rim instead of slowing down and getting into their halfcourt sets with ten seconds to go in the shot clock.  The one thing that they have going for them in this match-up that they hadn’t in their previous meeting is their jumpers.  If they can knock down some shots over that zone, they will be in this game and with Napier on their side, they’ll always have a shot if they are within a few possessions, but they’ll need to play their A-game because no team in America is playing better right now than Louisville.

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