Friday, February 29, 2008

Rudy Gay thunders it home

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Man Among Boys

Connecticut did to Rutgers what they should have done to Villanova, feed the big men. Adrien and Thabeet took 22 shots, while Price, Austrie, Wiggins and Dyson had 21. UConn is an inside-outside team and should not rely on three. In this game, they were determined to get the ball inside and did so. That collapsed the defense and led to open shots for the guards, and they hit from outside consistently, going 6 for 11.

This game came at the right time for the pups. After coming off a tough loss, a win on the road by double digits helped right the ship. It wasn’t a perfect game and even through the winning streak, UConn hasn’t played their best ball yet. They still let one of the league’s worst 3-point shooting teams hit 8 for 16 from beyond the arch, and the game never felt in UConn’s control until late in the second half. But they closed it out and put Rutgers away, something they couldn’t do in their previous games against comparable opponents.

Price wasn’t as assertive on the offensive side like he was during Dyson’s absence. He only shot the ball 6 times, way to little. He needs to get that number around 10 a game. He did have 6 assists to 1 turnover, but he went 0 for 3 from the arch and didn’t have a free throw. Austrie played excellent, hitting jumpers, going perfect from the arch, having 3 assists to 1 turnover, and ending with 18 points. Wiggins had a better showing, but Dyson is eating at his minutes. He hit a three and played with energy. Dyson looked a bit rusty and didn’t want to takeover the offense. He picked his spots and got to the line but was tentative out there.

Stanley had a monster game and showed he isn’t all about dunks. His mid-range game is blossoming. He went 8 for 13 from the field, 13 boards, 6 of those were offensive, and had a spectacular put back. Its great to see him play with confidence and not shy away if he gets his shot blocked. His pull up jumper is nearly unstoppable and he is so athletic that he can create a shot any time he wants.

I had been looking forward to seeing Thabeet versus Ndiaye. Thabeet had his issues on offense and hasn’t found a hook shot all year, but he was more then effective on the defensive end. He had 6 blocks, 10 boards, 6 of those offensive, and changed countless shots. Ndiaye only had 3 boards, 2 blocks and 4 points. Adrien on the other hand was a man among boys. He shot 10 for 15, 11 boards, and 2 assists, but the most incredible stat was his 7 for 8 from the line. If he can shoot like that from the stripe, then he will be a force.

Mandeldove played an incredible game and had 4 blocks and 1 board in 5 minutes! Gavin came in and fouled twice in his 2 minutes. With Thabeet and Adrien out of foul trouble, the bench wasn’t needed.

This was a perfect get right game for the Huskies before they play a tough game against a potent West Virginia team. If UConn doesn’t stop teams from pouring in points from the arch, then it will be a tough night. They aren’t playing to the level that they can and that is an encouraging sign if they can play their best ball leading into the tournament. They just need to avoid those slow starts and stop teams from hitting 50% from behind the arch. With the guards knocking down shots and the big men controlling the paint, they need to shore up their weaknesses and get on a roll like they were and who knows where this team can go.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Grave Diggers

If you live by the sword then you will die by the sword. UConn’s inability to score points out of the gate and then play from behind finally caught up with them. The front line had another tough day and Adrien and Thabeet ended up only taking 9 shots. There has been a consistent theme in most of their games, missing easy shots early, their opponents get hot from outside, they turn the ball over, miss free throws, and don’t get the early calls. All this leads to a sputtering start, and once they get things settled, they make a run and chip away at the lead until it is down to single digits. Once out of the break, they go on another run and take the lead, but unlike other games in this streak, they couldn’t make the plays down the stretch.

Dyson is coming back just in time and should have fresh legs. The pressure to score and make plays is forcing A.J. into bad shots. He took 22 shots and only made 6, 3 of those were from downtown. It isn’t UConn’s game to take 20 or more threes, especially when you have an advantage down low. Price’s missed free throw down the stretch was costly. Austrie had another solid performance, hitting the outside shot, protecting the weak side rebound, playing superior defense, and settling the team down in half court sets, but he didn’t take a free throw, one of his greatest assets. Wiggins, who was playing extremely well, hit a roadblock. He went 0 for 3, all 3 were from the arch, and didn’t get a rebound. He did play great defense, but he should be able to juke his man and take it to the tin more. He is our best free throw shooter and needs to use that part of his offense more.

Robinson played an all around great game. He showed an outside game, a mid-range game, a spectacular slam dunk, blocked 2 shots, had a steal, and pulled down 9 boards, 4 of those were offensive. He was able to get into the offense early and avoid the fouls, while playing his aggressive defensive style. It is great to see that getting yanked from the game on his first shot didn’t affect his game. He still shot 12 times, that is about the right number for him.

The big men are continuing to have slow starts to games. Thabeet couldn’t get anything going early and Villanova’s double teams frustrated him and Adrien, but they started finding their game in the second half. Hasheem is getting much better rebounding the ball and brought down 10 boards, 2 of those were offensive. Villanova didn’t force the ball into the paint until the second half, and why not, they shot 60% from three in the first. Thabeet was getting mauled early on and the referees had left their whistles in the locker room. In the second though, he started getting free of the double team and getting to the rim, but he only took 3 shots. When you have the advantage down low, they need to feed the big man. 3 shots is pathetic.

Adrien had an Adrien performance. Which is to say he had a double-double, 15 points and 10 boards. But he only took 6 shots, that number should have been in double figures. He had another bad night at the line, and probably cost them the game, only hitting 5 of 10. You can’t knock his intensity out there, but until he becomes consistent from the stripe, intensity and bad free throw shooting are a horrible combination.

Kelly took a nasty fall and hopefully his elbow is okay. He was just scratching some playing time and this could knock him down the depth chart for awhile. Gavin came in and played a solid 10 minutes, getting to the line, pulling down 3 boards, 1 offensive, and making an assist. Where was Mandeldove? I expected to see a glimpse of him when Curtis went out.

You can’t dig yourself a hole in every game and expect to climb out. When you do that, then every mistake is magnified. Credit this team for getting back into the game, but in an elimination tournament, you don’t want to tempt fate that way. Barring a complete collapse, knock on wood, UConn is playing for seeding now. They don’t want to get themselves in the 6, 7 or 8th seed. So these last few games and Big East Tournament are important. They are going to need to play better in the first 10 minutes of games or these holes they are digging themselves will be graves.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Top Ten UConn NBA Players

1. Rudy Gay. 20 points, 6 boards, 1 assist, and 1 steal. Rudy is a stud. He is the new human highlight reel and is just a gifted athlete. He has blossomed into one of the up and coming stars. Imagine having him on UConn’s team. It makes me sad just to think about it.

2. Rip Hamilton. 18 points, 3 boards, 4 assists and 1 steal. Rip is a model of consistency. He gives you good shots and makes them. He is shooting .500. He is also a great defender on the perimeter and has an undying motor. You know that he is good for 10 or more points in every game.

3. Ray Allen. 18 points, 4 boards, 3 assists and 1 steal. Ray is having a great season, though he is down in almost every career statistic, because he is on a well rounded team. He has shot the ball better from downtown lately and has scored 32, 20, and 21 in his last three games.

4. Caron Butler. 21 points, 6 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals. Caron has the best stats of all the UConn alumni, but hasn’t played in almost a month, so he has dropped a few positions. It is a shame because he was emerging into a star at the time. Hopefully he can bounce back and perform in time for the playoffs.

5. Ben Gordon. 19 points, 3 boards, 2 assists. Ben has been fighting a bad wrist and missed a few weeks. He was turning around his slow start to the season and scoring more before he was injured. In his return game against the Nets, Ben shot 5 for 15 and 14 points. He is still not the Ben of old.

6. Emeka Okafor. 13 points, 11 boards and 1 block. Okafor is a double-double monster and in the game against Atlanta on the 13th, he scored 20 points and pulled down 21 boards. His numbers are slightly down from what he posted last year and his offensive output is inconsistent, scoring 9, 20 and 2 in his last three games.

7. Charlie Villanueva. 9 points and 5 boards. Charlie is back in the starting lineup but is only playing 20 or so minutes a game. His offense is a bit erratic taking 22 shots one game and then 10 in the next two.

8. Josh Boone. 7 points and 7 boards. Josh turned his ankle late in January but it is fine. He is beginning to get heftier minutes and is playing the role of rebounder, pulling down 15 in his last game. He is horrible at the free throw line shooting just .395.

9. Marcus Williams. 4 points, 1 board, and 1 rebound. With Kid gone, Marcus is playing more and is contributing, scoring 25 points, 4 boards and 4 dimes in his last game. He will continue to start until Harris returns.

10. Hilton Armstrong. 3 points and 2 boards. Hilton is relegated to 11 or so minutes a game but is contributing in those. He isn’t rebounding as well as he should but he is a reserve and plays sporadic minutes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rudy Gay Dunks Over Chris Kaman

Finding a Way

It wasn’t the prettiest of games. At times, it looked down right horrible, but in the end, with a combination of good outside shooting and rebounding, UConn was able to crawl back into the game and secure their tenth win in a row. The offense at times looked stagnant and the defense looked sloppy. If Connecticut doesn’t fix their lax transition defense, then faster up-tempo teams are going to kill them. The perimeter defense was phenomenal and held DePaul’s talented back court to 9 for 26 shooting.

It will be interesting to see how Calhoun deals with Austrie when Dyson returns. Austrie has earned the right to start. His defense is stifling the opponents best player. Draelon only made 2 out of 9 from three. The greatest weakness in UConn’s early games, their perimeter defense, is now their strength and that has to do a lot with Austrie. He is also starting to knock down shots with consistency and is stretching defenses, opening up the big men down low.

Price had an off night, the worst of this 10 game stretch. He still came out and attacked the defense and had 7 assists. It’s a good sign that Price only scored 6 points and they still pulled out a victory. It shows that this isn’t a one trick pony. Wiggins is finding his stride and made several big shots. His spectacular diving defensive stop was the catalyst that sparked their comeback. His decision making has improved also, dishing out 4 dimes to only 1 turnover.

Robinson was on a mission to become more assertive in his offense and took 10 shots, though he only made 3. It is a good sign. I can’t remember the last time he had taken the most shots then anyone else on the team. He still attacked the boards and pulled down 7 rebounds and had 3 blocks.

Thabeet had a monster first half but faded during the beginning of the second half. He nearly pulled off the triple double with 16 points, 13 boards, and 8 blocks. 7 offensive rebounds is amazing, but he has regressed at the line. His post play has improved but it seems to me that he doesn’t palm the ball. He seems to fumble with it when taking a shot. Adrien also had a solid night with 12 points and 11 boards. He was able to lose his defender and get to the rim often.

Kelly made a brief appearance and didn’t show much, only 1 board, but its good to see that he still exists. Gavin took 3 shots but clanked them all. Calhoun used a small bench in this game and gave his reserves only 8 minutes total.

Its great to see UConn win but they are not playing well at all. They are giving up to many easy buckets and are playing sloppy in stretches. They should be able to win these games by double digits, with their superior talent but they are unable to pull away from teams. They have won only 2 games by double digits in this 10 game win streak. They are going to need to fix their transition defense and sloppy execution on offense if they want to make a run in the tournament.

Up next is Villanova, a team that is a cornered animal, playing for their tournament lives. They need wins and a bunch of them to get into the 8th spot and I don’t know if they even have a chance to get there. It will be a tough road test for the pups. Luckily it will be on a station that everyone can get, ESPN.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Strong Armed

Once again the UConn’s game will be on ESPNU. This will again screw the fans that do not have this channel. It is appalling that two games this season weren’t even televised and two others are on an obscure cable channel. I don’t think Duke or North Carolina fans are having trouble finding their respected games. What is going on? Fans must stand up and be heard. Contact UConn’s athletic director, Jeffrey Hathaway, at athleticdirector@uconn.edu and state your complaint. Also contact ESPN here. Fan’s should have the right to see their games without being strong armed to paying an online service or for a higher tier programming.

Ray Allen is a true Husky

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Taking the Bull at the Horn

After doing everything to give this game away, from Adrien going over the end line to giving up 19 offensive rebounds, UConn’s guards came through again, and squeaked out a win. With 6 seconds left, Adrien looked to Calhoun for a time out but the coach motioned to play on. USF doubled Price and that left Austrie open. He took the pass and made a crossover move at the three point line and took an elbow jumper. He did an excellent job of squaring up and settle into his shot. There was no doubt that it would go in as it thudded home.

This game was reminiscent of the one at Cincinnati, where UConn was getting beat all game, but in the end they were able to string together a few stops and make the necessary plays. While there are some serious defensive lapses and slow starts, they were able to withstand another big time performance. This time from Gransberry, who had a 26 points and 15 rebound game against this serious front line. USF is going to need to replace the backboards, because both teams must have banked in 20 or more shots off it.

In back to back games, the three guard line-up has come up big, going 16 out of 34, and 51 points. Unlike the Notre Dame game, Connecticut didn’t jack up the three ball, only taking 6 shots and making 3 of those. The perimeter defense was on display again and kept the three happy USF team to only 3 for 13 shooting.

Price again led the team with 23 points and 7 assists to 3 turnovers. He finds his points just when UConn needs them the most. He was able to get to the rim at will and has deceptive speed. Wiggins, who turned the corner in the Notre Dame game, is on the front stretch. He scored 20 points, hit a three, got 2 offensive boards, and went 11 for 11 from the line. Austrie has become a solid contributor in every game he has played. His clutch shot with .2 seconds left was epic and will go down in UConn lore.

Though Robinson disappears at times, he has been making plays at key moments. His weak side put back and off balance drive were incredible, but he only took 4 shots more than Mandeldove. With his athletic ability, he should also be going to the line more then once. He is still sticking his nose in the paint and battling for rebounds, which is a good sign.

Thabeet’s man in the past two games has gone 25 for 34, 58 points, 31 boards, and 6 blocks. Not a good sign. Thabeet went 6 for 14, 10 points, 19 boards, and 14 blocks, in those same two games. He hasn’t been able to slow down, the bigger and more aggressive players. Though Gransberry and Harangody are one and two in The Big East in rebounding. He is allowing his player to create space with contact and shoot the ball off the back board. Many of those points come from Hasheem leaving his man to help out, and teams are making the extra pass. Adrien also had an off night and made some costly mental errors down the stretch. He did get to the line but had a bad night, going 4 for 9 from the stripe. The big men are going to need to protect the paint better. They are letting teams score to easy.

Mandeldove had a solid day, playing in reserve. He anchored the zone while Thabeet sat. He rebounded and had a block. Edwards only came in for 3 minutes and wasn’t a factor. Beverly came in and fought well for a loose ball, making a play in his limited minutes.

It is close games like these that make teams stronger. They won’t get frayed when in the same situation down the stretch. Though they are on an incredible 9 game win streak, they are missing Dyson. There is no doubt that he makes UConn a better team. It will be interesting to see if he starts or comes off the bench. Calhoun might use him like he had Rashad. Even though Denham started games, Anderson was a better scorer and came off the bench for instant offense. It might be the right formula for this team.

Next up for the pups is DePaul. Draelon Burns has been on a tear lately and is a great outside shooter. Dar Tucker isn’t far behind him either. UConn will need to keep up their back court excellence and keep Mac Koshwal off the boards. If they do that then this should be a Connecticut victory but in The Big East there are no easy victories, just ask Georgetown.

NBA SLAM DUNK 2008 Rudy Gay !

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gavin Edwards Block Wiggins Dunk

Avengers

Who knew that UConn could gun it with Notre Dame, one of the best three point teams in the college basketball? They diverged from their normal offense, of attacking the basket, and dusted off their rarely used outside shooting. They only had 9 threes in the last three game, but they came out and sank 8. Harangody had a monster night but unlike early games this season, UConn was able to withstand it. The back court came alive just in time, because Adrien and Thabeet had a tough offensive night, going 7 for 23. While the defense was spotty, especially in transition, UConn showed that they had improved defending the perimeter. Mcalarney, who had a career night a month ago, had a tough night.

A.J. Price was the man again, leading the Huskies in scoring 26, and had 9 assists. He shouldered the load on offense again, with 19 shots, 10 of those from three point range. He and the rest of the guards were able to get into the lane all night and create havoc. Austrie is continuing his solid play, hitting threes with regularity, dishing out 4 assists, and not turning the ball over. He did have some uncharacteristic missed free throws down the stretch which plagued the Huskies all night. Wiggins is turning the corner and played his best game since returning. He hit some outside shots, pushed the ball up, and pulled down 9 boards. 9 boards! That’s as many as Adrien had all night. The three guards took over the game with their perimeter defense and consistent outside shooting.

Robinson did well in his limited time, 17 minutes. He hit a clutch three, which is great for his confidence, took 9 shots, an encouraging sign, and had 3 offensive boards. Calhoun used the three guard line-up in this game but it didn’t effect Robinson. He is going to be the X-factor in most of UConn’s games.

Thabeet had a tough night offensively and couldn’t contain Harangody. It shows how much he has progressed so far when we call a 10 boards and 6 blocks, a bad game for him. Adrien also had troubles offensively, only going 5 for 15, but he pulled down 9 boards and hit 3 for 4 from the line. He has improved leaps and bounds from the line this year. Credit goes to the coaching staff for turning around the abysmal free throw shooting of last year.

Gavin Edwards had his best game of his short UConn career. In 8 minutes, he shot 3 of 4, hit both is free throws, pulled down 3 boards, 2 offensively, had 8 points, and 1 spectacular block. That’s quite a line. There was a brief Mandeldove sighting but didn’t contribute much to the game. There is no rhyme or reason to how Calhoun uses his big men off the bench. One game its Kelly who is first off, then Mandeldove, and then Edwards. Maybe he is giving all three their shot and at times they have all been contributors, but without consistent minutes, they seem rusty.

Next up for the pups is South Florida, which is coming off a big win against Syracuse. They are a three happy team and UConn will need to bring their perimeter defense down south. Connecticut is entering a soft spot in their schedule, playing South Florida, DePaul, Villanova, and Rutgers. They need to keep pace with the upper echelon teams and not slip in their intensity. If they can continue this torrid pace, then the sky is the limit for this sky rocketing team.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ESPNU Suck

It all started with the NFL network, playing games on their specific channel and making people shell out more cash to watch their new channel. Now ESPN is following suit and putting important games on their new ESPNU channel. The only people it hurts is the fans. ESPN is forcing people to upgrade their packages to watch their local team. They shouldn’t put up with it. It is the fans that support the teams. They buy the tickets, the hotdogs, the shirts, hats, and bumper stickers. They are the ones camping out at night before a big game.

Somewhere there has been a disconnect from the people that run the sport and the fans that pay for it. By blacking out an entire state that does not have the channel is wrong. Now that UConn has garnered some buzz and playing a huge game at home against Notre Dame, they decide to black out the game. This is a huge blunder and should never have happened. Like in the uproar with the NFL network, local networks broadcasted the team and weren’t blacked out. ESPN should do the same.

Its up to the fans to show their disgust. Contact ESPN and state your complaint. Here's the link.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Attack of the Clones

This game was won on the glass. UConn’s superior front line held back the army of Georgia Tech’s clones. They were running in fresh bodies like Peacock, Lawal, Clinch, Miller, Causey and Smith. They all played 16 or more minutes and Bell and Morrow played 31. Every player shot 5 or more times, pulled down some boards and scored. UConn pulled it off by walling off the paint and attacking the tin. The front line players, including Robinson, crashed the boards and came down with 10 offensive boards and shot 16 out of 26 from the line.

A.J. is going to see this type of pressure defense until Dyson returns. Georgia Tech played aggressive and was defending chest to chest all day. They had the deep bench to withstand the fouls that would mount up by playing such an aggressive defense. Price still found a way to make plays, hitting Uconn’s only threes, dishing out 5 dimes, and creating 3 steals. He has supplanted himself as the best point guard in The Big East.

Austrie has a shooter’s mentality and stuck with his shot even though they weren’t sinking. He did have 4 assists with no turnovers. With the new two point guard look, UConn is able to run Price as the two guard and create mismatches. Wiggins made sure to shoot more and took 7 shots but couldn’t hit. His confidence isn’t there yet and didn’t take several threes when open. But he made 8 for 8 from the line and had 4 assists. All three guards were able to collapse the defense and find the open big men for easy baskets. Its good to see the them protect the weak side and rebound. The three totaled 10 boards.

Robinson had a tough game and fell quickly into foul trouble. He needs to defend better without fouling, though Georgia Tech kept throwing players at him. He is a great defender but creates to much contact with the body. His shot might not be where he wants it to be, but he knows that he can contribute on the glass. Lurking in the paint all day, he pulled down 6 boards. He has started taking his man off the dribble and pulling up for a jump shot and they are falling with more consistency, but he needs to take more than 2 shots.

Thabeet might have the line of the year so far with 15 boards, 6 blocks, and 24 points. He was awesome. The Yellow Jackets couldn’t match up with him and he had free reign inside. He has been playing much better defense and staying home more and not getting caught in no man’s land. He hasn’t rebounded this well all year and he is finishing plays around the rim with authority.

Adrien also had a monster night. He made a living at the line, going 9 for 15. Someone needs to check his sneakers for springs, because he is dunking from two or three steps away from the rim. That one-handed power slam was impressive.

Mandeldove, Edwards, and Kelly combined for 1 board, 1 assist, and 1 turnover in 6 minutes. All the stats were recorded by Kelly. Beverly had a better game then he had against Syracuse. He didn’t force the action and pushed the ball up.

Up next is the rematch with Notre Dame. UConn is a different team now then when they last met. The perimeter defense if much better and Price and Adrien are playing outstanding. They need to keep playing stellar perimeter defense and avoid getting bombarded from outside. Connecticut is entering the last quarter of their season playing their best ball. It will be the next several games that will tell where this team is going to be come March.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Clockwork Orange

With both teams playing with a shortened bench, Syracuse and Connecticut played another tough nosed Big East classic. Syracuse’s guards, Harris and Flynn, were outstanding, shooting 16 for 32 and 44 points. But they were no match for UConn’s superior front line. Thabeet and Adrien protected the paint and made Syracuse a one dimensional team.

Shouldering most of the offensive load, Price took 17 shots. He was able to use screens to free himself for floaters and jumpers in the lane. He played solid defense and had only 1 turnover to his 6 assists. Austrie shot well, 2 of 6 from three and hit a clutch floater down the stretch. Though UConn misses Dyson’s offense, they have created a better half court offense with Austrie’s proficient outside shooting and ball handling skills. Wiggins has lost his game since suffering the suspension. He only played 6 minutes and took only one shot. He made some freshman like turnovers and forced the action rather then getting into the flow of the game.

Robinson didn’t have a great shooting night, 3 for 10, but he kept himself active on the boards, pulling down 9. That’s exactly what Calhoun wants from him. He is playing great defense, though he has a tendency of leaving his feet on pump fakes. The zone has given him problems and he hasn’t found a way to get to the basket. He is at his best in transition and playing against a man to man defense.

Adrien was monstrous. He hit the elbow jumper, finished around the rim, grabbed 12 boards and only had 1 turnover. Price is the fuel to this team but Adrien is the torch. What is amazing about Adrien is that he is so active, especially late in the game while he played every minute. Thabeet did his job protecting the paint and rebounding. Grabbing 8 rebounds for Hasheem is fantastic which should be his normal numbers for a man his size. His hands aren’t there yet, bobbling easy passes, but he is such a luxury to have protecting the paint.

Mandeldove, now the first big man off the bench, played well. He was even assertive on the offense side of the ball. Edwards made some bad plays and some costly turnovers. He did take the open 15-footer but clanked them both. Beverly had his worst game so far. He dribbled into trouble and looked like a freshman out there. He did stick with a busted play and scored, but he needs to stay under control. Kelly was a non-factor in the ball game.

Who would have thought that after losing horribly to Providence at home that this team, minus Dyson, would go on the run that they are on now. Its great to see, but I hope they aren’t peaking at the wrong time. They need to stay at this level of play and not let up. They can’t start playing crazy and shoot outside shots or return to their lazy perimeter defense. You are what you are and Uconn is a team that attacks the rim, makes free throws (not today), and plays great defense. If they play within themselves, like they have for the past six games, then they should be a force in the Big Dance.

Next up is Georgia Tech. They are a high scoring offense but lack defense. The Huskies need to stay with Anthony Morrow, a deadly outside shooter. Jeremis Smith is great rebounder with 7 a game. But UConn should be able to have an advantage with size. They just need to protect the outside shot.

Monday, February 4, 2008

TKO

It wasn’t pretty. Both teams slugged it out armed with powerful frontlines and quick penetrating guards, but in the end it came down to UConn making free throws, attacking the glass, and protecting the perimeter. The run they are putting together has positioned themselves in contention for the Big East title, got their foot in the door of the top 25 rankings, and all but a collapse should get them into the postseason.

What’s up with the stuttering starts? First, Thabeet can’t win a tip off. Second, they miss point blank shots. Lastly, they dribble themselves into trouble to force the action and turn it over. This leads to easy points and momentum. Now the team does respond and claw themselves back into the game, but its not a way to survive a tournament.

A.J. Price is on a tear. He is getting into the lane, making free throws, hitting jumpers, pulling down boards, and making plays down the stretch. With Dyson’s suspension, Price is playing some two guard, and did well. Beverly pushed the ball up and that left Austrie and Price to catch the ball in rhythm. The freshman did his job and didn’t turn the ball over. Austrie, full of confidence, hasn’t shied away from his shot, taking some clutch threes. He played as good of a game as he has all year long. Wiggins had a limited role, didn’t make a shot and had two turnovers.

Robinson had a horrible game. Pittsburgh’s small forwards played him tightly and he had trouble getting into any sort of offensive rhythm. He couldn’t get to loose balls and he only shot the ball four times. He needs to be more assertive. He has a habit of ball watching and needs to move more while the ball is in the air.

Thabeet played a solid night, defending the paint and pulling down 7 boards. He didn’t get to the line, only 2 attempts for the second game in a row. He isn’t holding onto the ball when making a move to the basket. After a tough first half, Adrien came out in the second with some attitude. He rebounded with authority, played excellent defense, and made his free throws- 4 out of 6. His and Price’s consistent efforts are fueling this five game winning streak.

Curtis Kelly, Mandeldove and Gavin all played limited minutes and combined for 3 boards and 1 block. These three players are going to be solid starters down the road. Each possesses something different to throw at teams. Kelly has brawn and athletics. Gavin is the faster of the three and good position rebounder. Mandeldove is lanky but has the best length. He has room to bulk up and is reminiscent of a young Hilton Armstrong in his sophomore year.

Having Pittsburgh shoot 2 for 16 from beyond the arch was huge. The pups suffocated Ramon and finally solved the high screens. Pittsburgh had open shots and didn’t take advantage, which has been a rarity in recent games. Credit does go to UConn’s defensive effort. Next up is Syracuse, a talented offensive team, with a solid front and backcourt, but the team is young. They will test UConn’s perimeter shooting and transition defense. The team with the fewest turnovers should win the game.

Saturday, February 2, 2008