Thursday, January 31, 2008

Big East Power Rankings

It is nearly impossible to do these power rankings lately. There is to much parody from 2 through 6 and 7 through 10.

1. Georgetown. They are living life on the edge but are coming out of these tight games with victories. Their stellar defense and consistent offense has carried this team through adversity and has put them in sole possession of first place. They’ve got to be worried about their poor rebounding margin, 13th in the conference and dead last in offensive rebounding.

2. Louisville. Entering conference play, Louisville looked like a team in a nose dive but since then, they have the league’s best defense. Now that they are healthy, they should remain in the upper echelon of teams positioning themselves for the title.

3. Notre Dame. Their defense has gone south since entering league play but their offense has carried this team. Having a 75.7 points forced and 75.5 points allowed is going to give fans heart attacks but they have a great inside-out game and once they figure out how to slow opposing offenses, this team is primed for the postseason.

4. Connecticut. Amazingly Connecticut has the best offense in league play at 79 points a game. They don’t rely on the perimeter shot and the majority of their points are from attacking the basket. They have a great combination of front and back court players but they are having trouble with perimeter defense.

5. West Virginia. They play excellent perimeter defense and shoot the ball extremely well, though they rely heavily on the outside shot. They don’t have great post play and need their shot to carry them.

6. Syracuse. They’ve stopped the bleeding on defense but their awesome offense, entering league play, has dwindled from 81 points a game to 72.1. They have some excellent freshmen and once they come around, this team will be extremely dangerous.

7. Providence. Scoring 72.9 points a game and allowing 72.9 points a game isn’t what you’re looking for. They are hitting the three ball extremely well but they aren’t hitting the boards like the should. This team needs to find consistency.

8. Pittsburgh. One day they can beat Georgetown and the next lose to Rutgers. They are another team trying to find consistency. They rebound well, have a great outside shot, and have superior guard play but they can’t come out and give solid performances every night.

9. Villanova. They are slipping fast. They lack an inside game and are having a terrible time with perimeter defense. They hang their hat on outside shooting and getting to line.

10. Marquette. This squad possesses the best perimeter defense in the conference and their pressure causes turnovers and easy buckets. But they are getting killed on the boards. The lack of a solid front court has hurt them in league play. With James injured, this team has slipped.

11. Cincinnati. They are an up and coming team. They started conference play exceptionally well but have fallen off a bit. If their outside shot is falling, Cincinnati is a dangerous team but the three is a bit inconsistent. They are dead last in turnover margin and need to protect the ball more.

12. DePaul. Sitting at 4 and 3 in conference play is amazing, considering they are scoring 69.9 points a game and allowing 71.3. They are having problems on defense, especially from the perimeter. They are dead last in rebounding margin but somehow they grit out wins. They have overachieved so far this year but they play hard every game.

13. Seton Hall. Offense is overrated if you can’t stop the opposing team. Seton hall has a talent laden back court but they struggle from the outside and rebounding. They create points with pressure defense, getting to the line and not turning the ball over.

14. St. John’s. They are in desperate need of a point guard. They turn the ball over way to much and can’t shot the ball from the arch that’s a bad recipe.

15. Rutgers. They are an up and coming team but not this year. They have talented players but they haven’t gelled. Hamady Ndiaye is a beast and JR Inman is a player.

16. USF. The hull on this ship is battered. They righted the ship once and now its sunk. Losing 6 straight and nearly all by 10 or more points. It’s a shame because Kentrell Gransberry is having a hell of a season.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stanley Robinson Highlights vs. Louisville

A.J. Price Highlights vs. Louisville

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Step Right Up

UConn fans should be proud of the effort and execution of this team. Beating two solid squads in such a short period of time and doing it with two key players out. They did everything that they needed to do to ensure the victory. The half court offense and the perimeter defense never looked better with the new lineup in effect. Gone are the costly turnovers when pushing the ball up court against pressure defense and rushed offensive possessions. And without the speedy guards, UConn didn’t lack their staple transition game. This is a testament to good coaching and players stepping up and buying into the system.

We are watching the metamorphosis of A.J. Price. He took this team on his shoulders and willed them to victory. Shouldering most of the offensive load, he did a little of everything, from pulling down 7 boards to scoring 20 points. Having two point guards in the game has stabilized the half court offense and broke the full court pressure, leading to several easy buckets. Austrie’s line isn’t impressive but his ability to seal the game in the end is his greatest asset. What doesn’t show up in the box score is his ability to beat the press and break down the defense with dribble penetration.

Look how Robinson’s game flourishes when he is getting his nose bloodied while rebounding. He pulled down 5 offensive boards, got to the line with put backs and outplayed Louisville’s talented forwards. He is also creating his shot off the dribble and they are starting to sink. I’m salivating when thinking about how good this kid will be in a year or two.

Hasheem had problems rebounding and needs more than 2. He only got to the line once, which is unlike him recently. He’s improved on the offensive front and free throw line but he needs to work on position rebounding and switching off on players. Sometimes he gets in no man’s land on defense. Adrien gives ultimate effort. He battled on the boards with 4 offensive rebounds and has improved at the line, going 6 out of 7.

Mandeldove, Gavin and Kelly all came in and contributed. They had to fill in minutes for the fatigued front line and didn’t let Louisville go on a spurt. Beverly had another solid day. He didn’t force the issue and dribble into trouble. He needs to have more confidence in his offense and take the shot if it is there.

The Wiggins and Dyson drama continues. Its sad that Wiggins couldn’t keep his nose out of trouble after the revelation that he failed a prior drug test earlier in the year. He was just beginning to find his role on the team and emerge as an offensive weapon. Dyson has the most to lose here, simply because he has so much talent. Its got to feel terrible that they had to watch from the sidelines but it should also kick them down a peg that UConn still won their two biggest games without them and the perimeter and half court sets were the best all year.

Losing Johnson, Dyson and Wiggins has created a very short bench for the pups. If Dyson and Wiggins should be out for an extended period, UConn is going to fatigue down the stretch. So far the team has risen to the occasion but with a major chunk of the Big East schedule to go, UConn is going to need Dyson.

Next up is Pittsburgh. Who knows which team will arrive here, the one that beat Georgetown or the one that lost to Rutgers? Either one, UConn needs to keep up the battle on the boards. That and hope Price stays hot.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Total Team Effort

Not only is this a huge win for the Huskies, but it is just as big of a win for the conference. It legitimizes the Big East as the premier basketball conference in all of the NCAA. The pups did this with one arm tied behind their backs, with the suspensions of Dyson and Wiggins, and demonstrated the deep bench that Calhoun has all but kept under wraps. Adrien, Robinson, Price, and Thabeet all logged in over 30 minutes but players like Austrie, Beverly, Edwards, and Kelly came in and didn’t let Indiana go on a run.

With no Dyson and Wiggins, Price had to shoulder more of the offensive load and he was up to the challenge. He went 5 for 14 and 8 boards. It has been awhile since Price has had more turnovers, 7, than assists, 6. His ability to drive into the lane and break down the defense helped create easy baskets for the big men. Austrie is a rock. He came in, shot well, and sealed the game shut in the final three minutes. Though he wasn’t his usual iceman, missing some free throws down the stretch, he finally sealed the coffin shut. Beverly’s line might not be impressive but this kid played well against the high pressure defense of Indiana and didn’t have a turnover. He never looked overwhelmed when in the game and should turn into a solid point guard.

Robinson should know his role now. Rebound. He is at his best when he is under the boards and fighting hard. He is also creating his shot more, by dribbling and pulling up for a jump shot. He isn’t making them now but if he can make it consistently, then no one can stop it. UConn is going to be a tough team to beat if they have three players willing to commit to the boards.

Adrien brought his work pail. 11 boards and 11 points. His high arching shots, though they seem inaccurate, are falling. He has been more aggressive with rebounding in UConn’s last several games and his post moves are effective. Thabeet had an okay game. He finished plays around the basket and intimidated shots in the paint but he had trouble playing outside the paint and didn’t rebound or make free throws like he has in the past three games. Kelly grabbed a board in his 8 minutes, Gavin scored 2 points and a board in his 4 minutes, and Mandeldove fouled twice in his 3 minutes.

This game was a total team effort. They out-rebounded Indiana 44 to 28 and played solid perimeter defense. UConn might be a poor three point shooting team but three pointers and “and ones” count for the same points when they make the free throw. With UConn’s “and ones” and three pointers, they are as comparable as any other team. In the long run a team less dependent on the three will have an easier time when their shot isn’t there. But UConn’s points are determined on how the referees are calling the game. When the game is called tight, they will be able to pile up points on the line but in games called loosely, they will need to rely on their inconsistent outside shot.

Next up for the Huskies is Louisville and a chance to take over second place in the conference. Louisville has found a resurgence and is playing like the team everyone thought they were. UConn will need to rebound like they did today to compete with this team. But no one is playing with more confidence then these pups and deservedly so.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

UCONN vs. Indiana Preview

Take The Money And Run

You can still smell the rubber left by UConn’s bus, as it squealed out of the parking lot. The Huskies showed some grit and tenacity in climbing back into the game. They withstood another barrage of threes from a star player. They seem to give their ‘A’ game when playing the pups. This time Deonta Vaughn went 10 out of 14, and 8 out of 11 from three. Those are outstanding numbers. The Huskies took Cincinnati’s best punch and clawed back in it. Doing it on the back of free throw shooting.

UConn’s smaller guards are getting bumped off their man. In the past Anderson and Brown could muscle their way through screens but Price, Dyson and Wiggins have to use their speed. So far it has not been pretty. Great shooters are having a field day with clean looks. Down the stretch, the smaller guards started to produce steals and combined for 8. Cincinnati barely ventured inside the paint because they couldn’t miss from outside. They shot 47% in the first half and 50% in the second.

And it was UConn’s greatest flaw last year that has become their major weapon this season, the free throw line. Going 32 for 37, will win ballgames. They outscored the long distance onslaught with pressure defense and attacking the basket.

Thabeet showed that he isn’t all about the blocks today. He rebounded well, 7, controlled the ball, made his free throws-8 of 9, and finished around the rim. Both big men combined for 34 points an helped combat Deonta’s awesome night.

But the win fell on the shoulder’s of the player in the longer slump. Early Dyson couldn’t find the rhythm of the game, dribbling through the pressure defense, not getting to loose balls, hanging on the rim (his second this year) and missing shots. But when they needed him the most, he hit back to back threes. That’s got to feel good. His counterpart, Price, had a solid game in his limited time. He shot the ball well and ran the break and half-court fluidly.

Stanley continues to try to find a consistent game. He skied early for boards but didn’t show any tenacity that fuels his game. If he committed more to the boards, he would double his points. He is strong and has the hops to out jump the big men.

There was another Mandeldove sighting and he picked up a board in his 2 minutes. Kelly needed 7 minutes to pick up 2 of his boards. Austrie came in and ran the offense effectively in Price’s early absence. He is a special weapon to put in when you need to sink free throws. He has ice water for blood.

There is no downplaying this win. UConn has positioned themselves in contention for the Big East. The road only gets harder from here. They will have another road test in Indiana. They have been tested pretty good by Cincinnati and came away with the win but will they carry that momentum into the next game?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cincinnati Scouting Report

Cincinnati poses a tough test for the Huskies. Deonta Vaughn, Jamual Warren, and Larry Davis are all talented guards and Dyson, Wiggins and Price need to play good perimeter defense. John Williamson is a tough match up for Robinson. He’s a 6-6, 225 pound senior that is shooting well from three, hitting .500. They group rebound with Williamson leading the team at 6.4 a game. Shortly behind him is Adam Hrycaniuk, their 6-10, 230 pound center. Thabeet should have a major size advantage and needs to box out and rebound. The game will be decided on if Uconn can successfully score inside, where they have a huge advantage, or will Cincinnati’s back court have a great shooting night.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

UConn's Kyle Hayes Shows his Skills

Just What The Doctor Ordered

No one knew that the pups would come out of the gates, after their worst game of the year, and play the most solid 40 minutes of basketball so far in this short season. They attacked the basket, tormented shooters, dominated the paint, and made their free throws. The Achilles heal of this team, shooting, was their catalyst. Wiggins, Robinson and Price combined for 6 for 11 from three and Adrien and Thabeet pulled down 13 boards.

Notch this one as the first legitimate win and a solid step towards the NCAA tournament. Marquette is a reeling team right now and Dominic James was playing hurt, but UConn shut down the three and Thabeet and company took care of the rest.

Price is everything you want in a point guard. He runs the offense and knows when to push it or slow it down. He is in his element when he drives to the basket and breaks down the defense. He never forces a shot and was reliable from three, going 2 for 3. Wiggins had a solid game but needs to keep his play consistent. He has an unstoppable motor and makes it hard for defenders to turn the corner on him. He shot the ball well, 2 for 6, but needs to work on scoring in transition. What can you say about Austrie? Here is a guy who is relegated to fourth in the depth chart and when Dyson gets his second foul, he comes in and gives you 15 points, 4 boards, and 3 steals. He is the player you want on the line at the end of the game.

What happened to Dyson? He is only shooting 5 to 6 shots a game. He is the most offensively gifted player on the team but if he isn’t getting points in transition or from the three ball, then he passes the ball. He did sit most of the first half after getting his second foul, but shooting the ball once every 5 minutes for a super star is disconcerting. The Huskies are going to need him to be more of a leader if they want to take their game up a notch.

It seems that if Robinson has a good game, UConn wins. It was evident from the start that Robinson was into the game. He soared for rebounds and hit an early three. From there UConn was off to the races. Its good to see him bounce back from his poor performance against the Friars.

Adrien is so consistent that its easy to overlook what he means to this team. He is a powerful rebounder and UConn’s only post threat. He gives you an elbow jumper and runs the break. His 15 points and 6 boards are expected but his 5 for 6 from the line aren’t. Thabeet is a monster. He hit 9 for 13 from the line, blocked 6 shots, and pulled down 7 boards. His defensive energy feeds the offense. Its also good to see Kelly have a solid game. He came in and played hard. He had a spectacular block that set the tempo on defense.

All year this team has lacked the killer instinct but found it today. They put their foot on Marquette’s throat and didn’t let up until the buzzer sounded. They dominated all phases of the game and should put to rest the notions that set in with the Providence loss. That loss was just a freak poor shooting game and this team is much improved over last years. They might not be considered a top tier team yet but they are nipping on their heals.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Two Steps Backwards

What channel was the UConn game on? What I watched was last years game. You know the one where they couldn’t find a basket, missed easy dunks and had these nasty droughts that made you throw your remote against the television screen.

Note to UConn, when you are missing outside shots, take it to the basket. They couldn’t get control of the ball on offense and continued their horrendous perimeter defense. Until the NCAA moves back the three point line, it is an NBA mid-range jumper. They need to stay with the defender around screens and they aren’t getting back in transition and leaving open shooters. Its not everyday, just for UConn, that you’ll get two players to combine for 14 for 22 and 43 points. And UConn had no answers.

Dyson needs to figure out his role. Shooting only 6 shots in 31 minutes is useless. If he wants to garner those types of minutes, he needs to be more assertive on offense. His game is two dimensional, either he shoots a three or drives to the basket. He has the speed to up fake and take a mid-range shot. Wiggins continues to be inconsistent shooting but stayed with it, going 4 for 10. Price has emerged into a player. He pushed the tempo and scored but didn’t take over during the second half lull.

The big men battled hard underneath with Adrien pulling down 15 boards. Providence committed to rebounding and it was a battle down low. Thabeet got clobbered a few times and got to the line, converting. He anchored the paint inside and swatted away anything near him but he needs to rebound better, 3 boards doesn’t cut it.

Where is the Stanley Robinson that played in December? 2 of his 4 points came from that spectacular one handed put back dunk. He battles for rebounds, 5, but couldn’t make a basket and shied away from the offense. He needs to work on his passing. To many times he commits to late and the defender is able to get his hands on the ball. We really need him to step up and make more plays. He has so much talent, probably more then Price or Thabeet and he just doesn’t know how to use it. He has the athleticism to create his own shot anytime he wants to but doesn’t. He should easily be a 10 points a night player.

The blame for this pathetic loss goes down to poor perimeter defense, sloppy passing, missed lay ups, lousy shot selection and horrible execution in the half court and transition. Just a few things to fix before they head into the 13th ranked team in the nation. UConn needs to keep their head above .500 if they want to get to the real postseason. And to do this, they’re going to need to beat Marquette.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More of Khalid El-Amin scoring 33 Points Over Seas

Top Ten UConn NBA Players

1. Caron Butler. His monster season continues. He is averaging 21.7 points, 7 boards, 4.4 assists, and .378 from downtown.

2. Emeka Okafor. The defensive specialist is averaging a double-double with 12.8 points, 10.3 boards, 1.8 blocks, and 1.1 steals a game. He scored, 19 points and 14 boards, in his last two games.

3. Rip Hamilton. His game has started taking off. He is averaging 18 points, 3.4 boards, 4.5 assists, and .423 percentage from three. He is shooting the ball better, but he is below his average at the free throw line.

4. Ray Allen. Not far behind Rip, Allen is at 17.6 points, 3.9 boards, 3 assists and .369 from three. He isn’t as accurate from long range so far, going 2 for 7, 2 for 8, and 2 for 6 from deep.

5. Rudy Gay. He is averaging 19 points a game, 5.6 rebounds, and hitting the three ball. His minutes have increased and he is making spectacular plays in transition. He is a streaky scorer getting 31 in a loss to the Kings.

6. Ben Gordon. His numbers mirror Gay’s. He is averaging 19 points, but his rebounding and outside shooting are slightly worse. His game is slowly coming around but it is under his normal average. He went for 21, 15, and 6 points in his last three games.

7. Charlie Villanueva. His minutes are down and so are most of his stats. He’s shot well, 6 for 15, in his last three games.

8. Josh Boone. He is getting more playing time and is finding his role. His points per game are increasing and he is rebounding with tenacity.

9. Hilton Armstrong. Only getting 11 minutes a game, Hilton is only getting 3 points a game and 2.7 rebounds.

10. Jake Voskuhl. He’s playing in reserve but gets 3 points, 2.4 boards in 10 minutes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Denham Brown doing his thing overseas

Time to make a play

Remember that Georgetown is 8th in the country and UConn is picked to be middle of the pack this year. Now listen to the hometown announcer.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Big East Power Rankings

1. Notre Dame. Entering the weekend, they were in the top 5 in both offense and defense, 2nd in free throws, 1st in three point accuracy, 2nd most attempts of the three, 1st in rebounding margin, 1st in assists, and 2nd in turnover percentage. Enough said. They have a great front and back court, and play solid on both sides of the ball.

2. Georgetown. Their defense right now is out of this world. Teams are only averaging 54.8 points a game. 27 points a half. With that you can get away with the 12th ranked offense but it is a serious flaw. They come in dead last in free throw shooting. They play a great high low game. Teams double down on Hibbert and leave open shooters and they are feasting. They grind out games and execute on offense.

3 Marquette. They have a solid back court but are lacking in size. They make up for it with pressure defense and steals. But they need prove that they can stand up against teams with legitimate post players. It’s hard to push one of the best guards in the league but Dominic James needs to find another level to his game if Marquette wants to go deep into the NCAA Tournament.

4. Connecticut. They are much improved with the 3rd ranked offense. Their defense has improved in the past several games but stands at a paltry 11th. They lack the outside shot but have controlled the paint. With a solid front and back court, Uconn is primed to compete with the elite in the conference. Price is the best point guard in the league, averaging 6.40 assists a game.

5. West Virginia. They lack the size down low and are having trouble with more athletic teams but they are still dangerous. They have one of the best outside shooting teams but rely heavily on it. If their shot isn’t falling, then they have problems generating points. They also have one of the best perimeter defensive units.

6. Syracuse. This team is improving with every game. They are one of the best on the offensive side and the defense is slowly coming along. Their freshmen are incredible but will they be able to hang against the top Big East teams? Donte Greene is leading the league in scoring at 19.4 points a game and doing most of his damage from three and from the stripe. He is in the lead for rookie of the year.

7. DePaul. Surprise! Who knew that this team would come out of the gates with solid play. They might have peaked at the seventh spot but they have certainly shown signs of maturity. Teams are having a hard time stopping Draelon Burns, averaging 17.2 points a game and Dar Tucker is turning into a player. The glaring weakness to this team is their rebounding. They are the only team in The Big East to average a negative in rebounding margin.

8. Villanova. Health issues have made them play small ball and it has hurt them against bigger teams. This team needs more scoring from the rest of the team. Scottie Reynolds is carrying this team. Donte Cunningham needs to raise his game to another level.

9. Pittsburgh. Another team that has health issues and this talented team is reeling. They are going to be dangerous and one of the best teams in the conference when they get healthy. They just don’t have the depth to withstand injuries to their key freshmen. DeJuan Blair is a monster on the boards and leads the conference in offensive rebounds at 4.25 a game.

10. Louisville. They are clawing to save their season but the early bad losses has put them three feet deep in the hole. They have been battling injuries, character issues and poor execution. Earl Clark is a vacuum cleaner, causing teams to be one and done. He is number one with 7.43 defensive rebounds a game.

11. Cincinnati. They are a team on the rise right now and have put together several good performances. Deonta Vaughn is their catalyst, averaging 17.3 points a game and is turning into an all around player. The bench needs to produce more and they need to rebound better.

12. St. John’s. This team does not have the talent to win the conference outright but they work hard and it has turned into solid wins. Justin Burrell is a talented freshman but they can’t rely on his scoring alone. D.J. Kennedy and Eugene Lawrence needs to step up and help.

13. Seton Hall. The talented back court can’t mask their deficiencies. They can’t hit the outside shot or stop the opposing team. They are a tested group, playing in tight ball games throughout the season but they are not coming out of these games with victories.

14. Providence. While not as disappointing a season as Louisville so far, Providence’s talent should have put them in contention for a NCAA Tournament seed. They need to right the ship and fast before they fall into mediocrity.

15. USF. This team could have up and quit after the first couple of games, but they played hard and are hurting teams with the three ball. They just don’t have the overall balance to compete with Big East teams. But this team will be on the rise. Kentrell Gransberry is a beast and is tops in rebounding at 11.2 a game.

16. Rutgers. They are young and have played that way so far. They are building up a solid front and back court right now but this team is going to struggle with executing and making shots. Inman and Chandler are a great combo, totaling 27 points a game. Hamady Ndiaye is an anchor on defense for them. They have pieces but they aren’t fitting in right now.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Slipping Through Their Fingers

So close. UConn played a solid game, against an excellent opponent, and fell a few plays short. Hibbert’s three pointer was something they must live with. I don’t know why Georgetown was granted their 69th point to tie the game? Ewing traveled and then was awarded two points. But the pups shouldn’t hang their heads. It is still an early season, though they left two winnable games on the table. They need to regroup and build on being able to hang with the 8th best team in the country.

A.J. played great, 9 assists and 17 points. His control over the offense and free throw shooting made up for his poor shooting from the field, 3 for 11. Dyson had a spectacular dunk but turned it over when they needed him. 8 points and no free throws is unacceptable for a team leader. He needs to shoot more then 8 shots a game. Wiggins kept the huskies afloat in the first half and showed some outside shooting. If he is consistent with his shot, then this team will be going deep into both tournaments.

Robinson didn’t have a major impact on the offensive side and finished with only 2 points. He battled hard on the boards but he needs to explode to the rim more. He also had no free throw attempts and only shot the ball 5 times. If he produced half his normal numbers then Uconn would have won.

Thabeet played tight in the first half and Hibbert got the best of him. But during the second half, he became a force down low and sparked Uconn’s comeback. He only finished with 2 boards and needs to do a better job of fighting for position. Adrien made up for Thabeet’s lack of offense with a 7 for 13 performance, 6 boards, 4 for 4 from the stripe and 18 points. Mandeldove got into the box score with 2 points and he did an admirable job in reserve. Kelly and Edwards had little impact in their 11 minutes.

The lack of a playmaker down the stretch has caused two losses for Uconn. Give credit for Georgetown, who made all the plays they needed to. But this game will be shrouded in mystery for me with the Hoyas being rewarded two points to tie the game late. Who knows how the game would have been played out if they went into the possession in which Hibbert hit the three pointer from behind? This team is young and doesn’t have the confidence to pull out games like these but it doesn’t mean they won’t. They just need to finally get over that hurdle.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Taking Care Of Business

So this is what a game looks like when an opponent doesn’t have a player go off for a career high. UConn controlled all aspects of the game. The front court dominated the paint, though the rebounding ended up even. The back court slashed into lanes and executed plays. The defense intimidated and flustered the Saint John’s young team and they got easy buckets on turnovers. Its much easier to win a game if you are not bombarded by the three ball.

Price had a solid game, 7 assists to 1 turnover, and controlled the pace of the game. Dyson continued to throw his body around and drive to the basket relentlessly. He had more dunks in this game then in the previous ten. He was more active in the passing lanes then at any other time. Wiggins had an unproductive 13 minutes and seemed hesitant taking the shot when open. His shot isn’t there yet. The smalls played great defense and kept Saint John’s from catching the ball and going up for a shot.

Robinson is a fun player to watch. He is by far UConn’s most athletic player and he has the confidence in his game to take chances. He is as impressive on the defensive side of the ball as he is on the offensive, which is a 180 degree turn from last year. Its also great to see him take those outside shots. He is, as predicted, the most improved player on the team.

Thabeet has improved so much this year that a 8 point, 6 rebound and 3 block performance is lackluster. Last year we would have been content with a line like that from him. Adrien put together his finest game of the season so far, with 20 points and 14 boards. Its great to see his feet leave the floor and remind everyone that he can dunk. Edwards did well in the reserve roll. He didn’t show up in the box score but he played his man well and protected the paint. Kelly came off the bench and played hard. His minutes had dwindled down to nothing lately and he has the motivation to play hard when on the court.

The only knock against the Huskies tonight was their free throw shooting, a paltry 12 for 26. Its definitely a step back from their improvement. Against a more comparable opponent that poor shooting would have cost them the game. Lets hope it’s a fluke.

They took care of business at home against a divisional opponent and now are ready to make a statement against Georgetown. If they could pull off the win, then it would most likely catapult them into the top 25 and secure a place among the top Big East teams. Before we get all excited about this team, they need to knock off a top tier team and Georgetown is ripe for the picking. Their offense isn’t clicking now and they are relying on their stellar defense to carry them. If UConn can score in the 70’s, then they should pull off the victory.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rip lets the dogs out

Career Day

Go ahead and take the Notre Dame shirts and switch them with Memphis and this game could have been a rerun. The Huskies let themselves get down by twenty points and fought themselves back into the lead to only fall short by a play or two down the stretch. McAlarney had a career day, a common occurrence in recent UConn games. If it happened once or twice it could be an anomaly but to have it happen five or more times in this early season shows a problem. The smalls are having a hard time with help defense and running around screens.

UConn had a tough time shooting over the zone and the big men couldn’t maneuver when it collapsed. It wasn’t until the guards slashed into the lane and freed the big men that UConn’s offense started clicking. Teams are going to play zone against the pups until they show consistent outside shooting.

The smalls couldn’t contain the perimeter players and Notre Dame had to many open shots, draining most of them. The Husky guards shot poorly, going 12 for 33 in the game. Price ran the point well, ending with 8 assists and could have had more if the shots were falling. He also had one of his best rebounding performances with 7. Dyson struggled with finishing plays and making outside shots but kept being aggressive. Wiggins had a hard time with screens and kept running underneath them instead of fighting through them. He is still getting used to coming off the bench. Austrie played 9 fruitless minutes with nothing to show for it in the box score.

Thabeet is turning into a beast and became more aggressive with his back to the basket. He even demonstrated an elbow jumper, something he should be capable of since he has a great stroke from the line. His hook shot still has a ways to go. He needs to take at least three a game. He was the dominate player inside all game and changed a dozen or more shots. Adrien had a solid game. He stayed aggressive on offense, rebounded with strength, and played solid defense. He did have 4 turnovers.

So much for those texts from Rudy Gay. Stanley Robinson has yet to introduce his midrange game. He didn’t disappear totally from the game but 3 for 6 shooting is to low. He needs to shoot more. He still battles hard on the glass and plays solid defense.

Gavin Edwards is improving in every game. He isn’t shy when he has the ball, makes free throws and rebounds well. If you sneezed at the wrong moment then you might have missed a Mandeldove sighting early in the second half. And what happened to Curtis Kelly? He has sunk to third option on the depth chart and his relative early season improvement is nonexistent.

Its been career day for the past several games and teams are able to jump on UConn from the opening tip. The pups are able to claw back but floundered down the stretch. This was a golden opportunity lost, a common theme in games against comparable talent, and they need to get over the hump. They have to play consistent offense and defense for 40 minutes. For now they should put this game behind them and take care of business at home against Justin Burrell and St. John’s. This team has five players that are averaging in double digits. UConn needs to stay above .500 in the Big East standings.

Friday, January 4, 2008

UConn Goes on Blocking Frenzy

Flexing Their Muscle

UConn has shown a versatile offensive game hitting outside shots, beating the press, scoring on fast breaks and getting it inside to the big men. The Huskies flexed their muscles. Seton Hall couldn’t match the Huskies intensity without fouling and to have a differential of 47 to 12 in free throws is incredible. Though many of those came when Seton Hall fouled on every play in the last minute but to do that on the road shows physical dominance.

Once UConn survived another career day from Jeremy Hazell and his offensive onslaught in the first half. Seton Hall went into an offensive shell. It helps when you have a 7 foot 3 monster who blocks and rebounds. Adrien also had a physical game, ending with 13 points and 5 boards. Edwards played well in his limited roll. He got to the basket and got the line, going 3 for 3.

Looks like Calhoun has lengthened the leash on the Huskies. The starters played nearly 30 minutes apiece. He let them play through their mistakes and they did. Bless the Lord the droughts are gone! The Huskies are growing in confidence and it is effecting the outside shot.

Jerome had a solid day from beginning to end. No jogging, though his demeanor is so laid back that it seems like he is going half speed. That behind the back dunk that wasn’t was beautiful. A.J. had a solid night at the point and played excellent against the press. Seton Hall, number one in steals a game, didn’t slow UConn down. They passed crisply up court and beat the press. Excellent game planning.

Wiggins came off the bench again and pushed the ball. He is turning into our best perimeter defender. His speed is a great asset when running around screens. The only thing he needs is a reliable jumper. Austrie came in at the end of the game and sealed it shut. Having an ice cold shooter come off the bench and sink free throws is a luxury.

There are going to be games where the calls are not going to be there and UConn is going to need to make shots. Give credit to the referees to stay consistent in both halves. In most of Uconn’s early games, referees would call 15 to 20 fouls the first half and swallow their whistles in the second. For now the free throw line is carrying this team.

UConn is gathering a little momentum on their side for their biggest test so far. Playing their third road game in a row and against a really good Notre Dame team. The Fighting Irish have a great inside outside duo. The Huskies are going to need to carry their second half defensive effort into the next game because this team is really good.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Meet John Riek

John Riek has a big decision to make. Hailing from Khartoum, Sudan from the Nuer Tribe, Riek has a similar story to Thabeet. And like Thabeet, he is nearing the age of eligibility for the NBA draft. He has garnered attention from NBA scouts during the recent Lebron James Skills Academy. There are rumors swirling that he would be the second best center prospect behind Hibbert. The kid is already a man and is dominate at his position. There are weaknesses to his game, he lacks an offensive game and needs to play with strength but he is a monster on the boards. It is most likely that he will be heading into the NBA but if Thabeet shows signs of being a top NBA prospect, then it could entice him to be under Calhoun’s wing for a year or two.