Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Roscoe Smith has range


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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Caron Butler Highlights

Monday, March 29, 2010

March

UConn was heading into March with a lot of steam. They had won three out of four games with two of those against the conference elites of Villanova and West Virginia. All they had to do was win their next two games of the regular season and they would be dancing, but that proved to daunting for UConn. They lost a tough nosed game at Notre Dame and followed that up with another heartbreaker down in Florida to USF. But they weren’t done. Entering the Big East Tournament with all their hopes on the line they put forth an effort of ineptitude, getting blown out of the waters by a mediocre St. John’s team. Limping into the NIT, UConn scrapped and clawed their way to a nail biter against Northeastern. Their season ended shortly after against Virginia Tech, a talented squad, in a tough battle in which Connecticut held the lead for most of the game, but just couldn’t seal the deal late in the game, a common theme throughout the season.

Dyson struggled in March. His jumper just wasn’t falling and teams were playing the lanes and forcing him to take shots. He wasn’t getting to the line and without his offensive output, the team struggled to keep up with teams. He started to force the action and his turnovers began to mount, culminating in a dismal performance against St. John’s. But in the end, he turned his game around, carrying his team to a victory against Northeastern and nearly did it again against Virginia Tech. It will be interesting to see where he lands in the NBA draft. He has the driving ability to play at the next level, but if he can’t consistently hit jumpers then he’ll be relegated to second unit status at the next level.

Walker continued his strong play. He took more of an assertiveness with his offense and mixed his game up more. He drove to the basket, got to the line, and converted there. His outside shot, though not deadly, was falling especially in the first half of ballgames. Kemba still struggled when teams played the zone, and he needs to use his speed more to collapse the zone. Even with all that, Walker showed improvement in all aspects of his game and took over the leadership of the team by the end of the month. He will more then likely return and should become a more deadly scorer, but if they can’t find another legitimate scorer to play next to him then he could be facing major double-teams.

Robinson struggled throughout March, disappearing from crucial stretches of ballgames. He did a much better job of rebounding, but his outside shot was non-existent. He did put together a solid performance in his last game, but much of this season seemed a struggle for Stanley. He never found the post game that the team desperately needed nor did he show a dribble drive, which left him out of any pick and roll offense. The majority of his points came from out of bounds plays, break away dunks, and put-backs. He is going to be a project for a team at the next level. He has out of the world athleticism, but his offensive game is severely lacking and makes him a liability.

Edwards had a good month. He rebounded well and played with energy. Even though he was UConn’s only post threat, he wasn’t a very consistent. He set good picks and was UConn’s best offensive rebounder. He was by far the most improved player on the team, but will an NBA team take a chance on him? He might need to take a year or two in the developmental league, before finding his way onto a roster.

Oriakhi gave UConn what he normally did. He was a body down low that snagged some boards but never solidified a concrete game. He didn’t play the pick and roll well, didn’t fight hard for position on the block, or finish plays around the rim. While he didn’t have the season that he wanted, he has a lot of growth in both size and play left in him. He has the frame to be a strong presence. He just needs to learn position rebounding and how to play defense without fouling.

Majok played with a lot of energy when he was in the game but never had consistent minutes. He made an immediate impact when he was in the game and showed some of the athleticism that warranted the hype, but he never felt comfortable on the offensive end. With some extended minutes coming his way, he should feel more comfortable with the ball in his hands.

Okwandu didn’t show much with the limited amount of minutes he had to work with. He played solid defense but with Majok sharing the same skills but with more athleticism, Okwandu was left to riding the pine. It will be interesting to see how Calhoun sprinkles the minutes around regarding Okwandu with the incoming freshmen.

Coombs-McDaniel was still searching for his jumper through the month of March, but he took it to the rim more which was effective. He played good enough defense to remain in the game, but couldn’t find his place in the offense. Next year he should be more comfortable with taking more shots. It is tough to find his range if he is only taking two or three shots a game. He needs to take at least seven a game next year.

Beverly did a good enough job of taking the point, but he also had problems finding a role on the offense end of the court other then setting up half court sets. He doesn’t have a tremendous first step and can’t create his own shot. So for him to score, he needs to get kick outs for jumpers. His role should remain the same next year, a utility player battling for minutes.

Smith played some extended minutes with Dyson’s early exits and he showed some speed, but didn’t play with much control. He rushed things on offense and got himself into trouble. His defense needs drastic improvement. He is way to aggressive and allows an easy first step towards the rim. He also bites hard on pump-fakes and needs to just remain in front of his opponent. If he can bulk up and slow himself down a little, then he should be a much more improved player.

This team had everything set up for them to have a solid run in March, but everything just fell apart. The seniors didn’t step up when they needed to and the bench never solidified into a unit. It all added up to a horrible ending to what looked like a promising year. There are still some signs of hope springing up from the ashes of this season. Coombs-McDaniel looks to be a promising player, Walker stepped up and became a leader, and Majok and Okwandu showed improvement and should make a solid three man rotation with Oriakhi. The major question for UConn next season is will there be an effective two-guard for Walker to work with. Trice is waiting in the wings but didn’t show anything all year to suggest that he is ready to take that leap. Next year should be interesting, with a much younger team led by a truly special point guard.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rudy Gay dunk and Thabeet rejection and dunk





Final Minutes of UConn versus Virginia Tech



Starters not Closers


It wasn’t how UConn wanted to end their season, but at least they left it all out on the court. There can’t be any finger pointing at a lack of heart or energy that was seen in games against Providence and St. John’s. They played hard and were beat by a better squad. UConn’s season long flaw sealed their fate, they have starters but they don't have any closers. They can’t make the positive plays down the stretch of tight ballgames and it cost them at least five games and a chance at the Big Dance. The offense looked good early on but they couldn’t buy an outside shot in the second half. They feasted on put backs and second chance opportunities. The defense was solid enough, but struggled all year in getting back, even on made baskets. Why is it so hard to run back? It cost them a half dozen points and most likely the game.

It was good to see Dyson play well in his last game. People can say what they want about him, but they can’t question his toughness and heart. Even though he struggled down the stretch of the season, he willed his team over a gritty Northeastern team and nearly won this game. He did have two costly turnovers late in the final minutes, but was everywhere defensively. He just isn’t a closer.

Walker was simply amazing. His jumper was working in the first half and when it wasn’t in the second half, he took the ball to the rim and was rewarded with free throws. He was also able to get into the lane and draw the defense in to slip the ball to his big men. It was also interesting to see him play the two man game with Edwards with effectiveness. His turnaround in the later half of this season has given UConn fans hope for next year.

Robinson had his best game in some time. He showed a dribble drive and finish around the rim, which is what NBA scouts are drooling over, but he just hasn’t forced the action all year. Again he was a non-factor down the stretch of the ballgame. He has so much potential that it will be interesting to see where he lands in the draft. He is also a major culprit in not running back on defense.

Edwards had a solid game around the rim, but couldn’t finish his final shot. He showed good hustle and energy, fighting hard for loose balls and rebounds. It will be interesting to see if a NBA team takes a shot at him. Oriakhi played much better. He rebounded and scored around the basket, but he is another one that isn't running back hard. Majok took an early jumper and Calhoun pulled him, but when he came back he had a nice rebound and put-back, hustle dive for a loose ball, and a steal. Okwandu played solid defense, a block and had an and-one.

Coombs-McDaniel had a pretty drive and finish but his outside shot wasn’t dropping. He’ll need to be much more aggressive next year and should be flirting with a double-digit average. Beverly did a good job of running the point but then had a costly travel call that sent him to the bench.

The season is finally over and this game was a microcosm of their entire season. They looked great at times and horrible at times, they couldn’t buy a basket against the zone, they couldn’t run back on defense, and they couldn’t finish games. It wasn’t the way the seniors wanted to end their season, and their legacy here will be of not living up to their full potential and for Calhoun that has got to be killing him.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

UConn versus Northeastern Press Conference

 

Finish Line


How many chances can you give a team to beat you? UConn seemed to hand Northeastern several dozen, missing one and ones, coughing up the ball, missing lay-ups, and letting a smaller team dominate the paint in the second half. They shouldn’t have won this game, not with the effort put out there. The energy that this team displays is lethargic, shown by running back or playing solid defense. They are a step behind and end up fouling. They were lucky to have Dyson heat up and sneak out a victory, but this team isn’t playing like it could possibly be their last and they should.

Boy it was good to see Dyson playing well again. He deserves to go out playing solid basketball. It didn’t start out well, getting pulled early for lazy defense and deferring on offense, but when he was put back in, he was aggressive. He was driving more and finally had some of his runners falling. He alone carried this team over the finish line.

Walker had a great first half, but tailed off in the second. He still played with energy, which is more then what other players can say. His jumpers weren’t falling and he very nearly cost them the game with horrible free throw shooting down the stretch, but he was great on defense. He had a couple of charges and steals that helped fuel the comeback.

Somebody get Robinson a six pack of Red Bull, because he is playing with no energy. He lingers around the baseline for dunks and had one nice dribble drive, but he lags behind on defense, gets beat off the dribble and isn’t sticking his nose into the paint for rebounds anymore. He should be crashing the boards on every possession, offensive fouls or not. His offense is useless down the stretch of ballgames and he needs to contribute in other ways and he isn’t.

Edwards had a solid game. His jumper was falling and he rebounded well, but he also struggled on rotations and was beat off the dribble. Oriakhi had a solid first half but didn’t do much in the second half, which is usually what he does. He hit his jumpers and had a strong put-back dunk, but had no offensive input in the second half and they desperately need him to scrap more for put-backs. Majok and Okwandu didn’t play much but both showed good hustle and made positive plays.

Coombs-McDaniel played solid defense and wasn’t shy about shooting the ball, which is a great sign. He hit a 3-ball and showed a strong drive which ended with an and-one. Beverly came in and pushed the tempo but didn’t play much. Smith played sparingly and had two horrible passes.

This team looks exactly like it did in October and that just isn’t a Calhoun team. They are usually a totally different team at this time of the year and it is baffling. What else can Coach do? If seniors are playing in what possibly could be their last game of their collegiate career with lackluster basketball, there really isn’t any more buttons to push. The thing is that the talent is all there. They played Syracuse, Georgetown, Duke, Kentucky, and Louisville all tough and beat Villanova, West Virginia, and Texas. They are a solid squad that had the potential to be a Sweet Sixteen team, but they just can't sustain forty minutes of energy to get over the finish line and that is the most perplexing thing to see.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flawed


Kerplunk. That’s the sound of UConn hitting rock bottom. Luckily this game was played in the afternoon so most people were spared watching what was a horrible display of basketball. Calhoun tried to pull every trick in his arsenal to get this team to play fundamental basketball on both ends of the court but nothing worked because this team is flawed. They have a multitude of players at each position that have the exact same strengths and weaknesses. Kemba and Dyson's weakness is in their outside shooting and their strength is in their drives. Oriakhi, Majok, Robinson and Okwandu do not possess a back to the basket game and their strength is in put-backs. Edwards stands alone as the only player that can play the post but he is turnover prone there. They just don't compliment each other.

Defenses sagged back, eliminating lanes, and dared UConn to shoot over them. It’s no surprise that the Texas, Villanova, and West Virginia games were all great outside shooting performances. They just couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch and it culminated in putrid performances. Nothing was going down, from threes, free throws, to lay-ups. No one stepped up, demanded the ball, and took control of the offense. Everyone was waiting for someone else to do it.

This team also couldn't get multiple stops, which feeds their fast break. The frontcourt was getting killed inside and that just isn’t Connecticut basketball. With their length and size, they should be dominating the glass, but all year it has been a major issue. The backcourt, used to a major shot blocker to protect them, struggled containing the basic pick and roll play. Guards gashed the man-to-man defense and found easy lanes or got fouled on drives.

The most frustrating part of this season is that they never got better. Calhoun’s teams usually played their best towards the end of the year, but this team had the same struggles throughout. It even seemed like some players were reverting. Robinson became his inconsistent self, disappearing from stretches and even halves of ballgames. Dyson couldn’t find a jumper to save his life and he began to show his lackadaisical style that frustrated UConn fans throughout his first two seasons. While Dyson looked to not care, he had a lot to lose at the Garden other then the game. There were plenty of NBA scouts there and his performance down the stretch of this season could possibly cost him a ton of dough.

Edwards and Walker both were solid, though both struggled with turnovers. Walker was the only outside threat and Edwards the only inside one. That put a lot of pressure on them to be effective and when they weren’t, the team could barely hit the fifty point mark. Majok is going to be a player. He has all the tools and plays hard, but is very raw. The same goes for Okwandu but isn’t as athletic. If he can bulk up and use his strength more and position rebound better, he has a chance next year to start. Oriakhi is a total mystery. He struggled all year on every aspect of the game. He was getting beat rebounding, off the dribble, has no post moves, and fouls a ton.

Coombs-McDaniel could be a major player next year. When he was comfortable with taking more then three shots, he did well. He has a nice stroke and just needs the minutes. Smith is another player that needs a bit more time. He definitely has to bulk up without losing his speed, but it is his defense that needs serious improvement. Beverly was a pleasant surprise and can be the Austrie of this team next year. He has shown the ability to hit a jumper and run the point. Another year under his belt should only add to his confidence.

This team was filled with a bunch of role players waiting for a star to take over the game. Kemba has the opportunity to be that, but for a point guard to be successful, he needs a co-star. Will one of the incoming freshmen be that? Either way, UConn’s seniors have a farewell NIT tour. It wasn’t what they wanted but its what they deserved. They had every opportunity and let each one slip through with a more disastrous finish. The shame of it all is that they'll leave a legacy, and not one that they intended to.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Settled


Well that about settles it. UConn is NIT bound. Calhoun had enough of the unenergetic, not running back, late rotation, not blocking out, poor decision making, and overall lack of effort from his seniors and said, hell to high water with the Tournament and decided to play his reserves for the rest of the game. Funny thing is that they almost pulled this one out. It is amazing how this team plays at two totally separate paces. Sometimes they are lightning fast on both ends of the court and at other times they look to be playing barefoot. Calhoun just couldn’t find the right buttons to push to keep this team playing at the breakneck tempo that it needed to be successful. What this game does do is show some of the talent that has been sitting there on the bench the whole time. They just needed some extended minutes to showcase it.

Dyson struggled mightily again. He didn’t show much exertion out there and was beat several times down court. He has been struggling with his jumper for a few games now and it has started to effect his lay-ups too. They were rolling around the rim and out. He just isn’t getting fouled driving to the rim that he has been feasting on during much of the season. He hasn't been aggressive with the ball in his hands and it has hurt the team. It will be interesting to see how he responds to sitting his last regular season game on the bench.

Walker has stepped up and seized the mantel of being the leader of this team. He is in a bit of a shooting slump, but when the offense is flowing throw him, good things start to happen. He very nearly stole this game. He played with a lot of energy when he came back into the game and started taking the ball to the rim more, which is what he needs to do. He does well at the two guard and the future looks a bit brighter after this game.

Robinson’s jumper is missing in action and if he isn’t rebounding with any authority then he is silent for major stretches of the ballgame. He has too much talent to be silent for so long. When was the last time that he had an offensive foul? He needs to be much more aggressive with his game.

Edwards started the game out well with some strong boards, a 15-footer, blocks, and some dunks, but in the second half, he was a jump shooter and that isn’t his game. He was also getting beat time after time with back screens, late rotations, and sagging off his man. Oriakhi did show a baseline jumper and a ferocious dunk, but he is still struggling with defending without fouling and it is frustrating him. He is also struggling with late rotations too.

Majok had a solid performance with a sweet jump hook, strong boards, dunks, a tie-up, and some blocks. He is still fouling too much and did give up a free throw rebound, but he played an overall good game. Okwandu had a lay-up and offensive board, but also had a horrible foul while trying to wall off the point guard.

Beverly had his best game of his career and made play after play in the second half. He showed a pretty jumper and was active. Next year looks a bit brighter if he can contribute like he did. Smith looked to be stealing Donnell's minutes and when Dyson was sent to the bench, Beverly didn’t hesitate to show his skills. Smith played alright, but is having trouble on defense. He did have a tough assignment with covering one of the Big East’s best players in Dominque Jones. Smith is over aggressive and gives his defender a first step on him. Coombs-McDaniel did well and didn’t give up after two early misses. He eventually hit a 3-ball and a couple of lay-ups. He also played the passing lanes well for a couple of steals.

Truth be told, UConn didn’t deserve to be dancing. They haven’t played with intensity in a night in and night out basis. They continue to let teams into the lanes for easy buckets and can’t defend without fouling. Calhoun has been so frustrated that he used the zone more then at any other time and it was ineffective. Teams are also getting into the bonus in the second half at around the seven minute mark and coasting to the victory at the charity stripe. The Big East tournament now lies ahead of them with winning the whole thing as their only legitimate chance of making the Big Dance. But with the way they have been playing, having one solid game out of every four or five, that winning four games in a row is nearly impossible. But with this team, who the heck knows.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lackluster


With everything on the line, UConn comes out with a performance like this. Lackluster, unenergetic, and uninspired. Why was everyone playing hot potato with the ball and not taking good shots? They were turning the ball over by passing it over the defense. Everyone has a bad shooting night, it happens, but it shouldn’t effect the entire offense. They did play solid defense and rebounded well enough to win this game, but the offense stuttered and stalled with air balls, missed lay-ups, and sloppy decision making and that falls squarely on the backcourt. They couldn’t find their way into the lane and settled for off-balanced jumpers. It was an ugly performance and when they should’ve played with an enormous amount of energy, there was a lot of shaking heads, lingering after non-calls, and drooping shoulders. It all ended up being the worst offensive output of the season and at the worst possible time.

Dyson couldn’t of hit lay-up. The ball bounced off every inch of the rim without dropping but he settled for those shots. He didn’t force the action and began to defer, which led to a ton of turnovers. His decision making had a lot to do with UConn’s offensive woes. He relied too heavily on his jumper, which he knew wasn’t there. He needed to get to the line and sink some free throws to find his stroke and he couldn’t. It all added up to a horrible performance.

Walker started out the game hot, hitting two early threes, but that was it for the first half. In the second half, he opened up with an air ball and began missing shot after shot. Dyson’s shooting woes seemed to be catching. He didn’t get into the lane like in previous games and wasn’t getting to the line that he had been feasting on. He looked to revert back to the old Walker with turnovers and poor decision making.

Robinson hit an early jumper and it looked like he was primed for a solid night, but he disappeared too. He wasn’t getting the boards and put-backs that he was in the previous games. When he did get the ball in the post, he threw the ball away without taking a shot. He needs to shot the ball, but with one game left in the regular season of his senior year, he is what he is, a dunker and an inconsistent three point threat.

Edwards had a poor start to the game, having a turnover in his first couple of seconds. He was getting fouled in post but they couldn’t consistently get the ball to him. He did well on the boards and was the most effective player tonight, but he needs to limit his turnovers. Oriakhi was ineffective and needs to show a lot more. Majok had a foul in his first three minutes, but also had a dunk and put-back early on, but he needs to slow down with the ball in his hands. He rushes things and turns the ball over. Okwandu had an air ball and not much else.

Beverly had his most aggressive game of the year and with no one else stepping up, he filled the void. He just couldn’t find the basket either and missed a bunch of shots, but he also had a pretty assist. It was good to see Coombs-McDaniel hit that jumper, but where was he earlier in the ballgame?

It was a real shame to see this type of performance at such a crucial time. It just might of cost them the at-large bid. It was the body language and energy that was most disappointing though. Even if shots aren’t falling, it shouldn’t effect their demeanor. All the momentum they had garnered from their previous victories, all the strides they had taken in their game, have now hit a brick wall. It’s tough to start over again in your last game of the regular season.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

February

M.V.P. Kemba Walker

February was a whirlwind of a month for UConn. They were reeling exiting January and were soon knocked to the canvas with a horrible loss to Cincinnati, as Calhoun made his triumphant return. All seemed lost with the most brutal stretch of their schedule left and they did what seemed impossible. They went on the road and beat one of the best teams in the country in Villanova and followed that up with a win against a scrappy Rutgers team at the RAC. They then rolled over another good team in West Virginia and pulled themselves up off the carpet for another round. While they ended the month on a sour note in losing a close game to Louisville, they continued their resurgent play, other then a massive amount of turnovers. The defense was stingy, the rebounding did a total one-eighty, and they started sinking some outside shots. With the league beating up on each other, and UConn getting enough quality wins, they put themselves in position to close out the regular season strong and garner a coveted at-large bid.

Dyson has been the most consistent player all year and that hadn’t changed throughout the month of February. While his dribble drive was his primary weapon, he struggled from deep and never had a solid performance from the line. His defense has always been stellar, though at times he does ball-watch and give up an easy lay-up. The biggest difference for Dyson was that he was able to stay out of foul trouble in the first half, though he wasn’t as aggressive on the defensive end in the first half, but it was necessary for UConn to function well on offense.

The biggest difference to UConn’s resurgence has been due to Kemba Walker’s transformation into a scorer. He no longer takes ten minutes to take his first field goal attempt. He is much more aggressive with the ball and he has developed a pretty outside jumper. It only opens up the lanes more for him to utilize his tremendous speed. On top of that, he is UConn’s best free throw shooter, which is important because the ball is in his hands the most. He has limited his turnovers and is playing tremendous defense. There really isn’t an area of his game that he isn’t playing well at right now and it has given UConn new life.

Robinson is still struggling with his post game, but he has done a great job on the boards which had been killing the huskies. He is finding a ton of points on put-backs and second chance opportunities. His outside shot has been a bit erratic and his free throw shooting isn’t great, but he has done a lot of the dirty work to help solidify a major weakness for UConn and he deserves credit. Robinson still has an issue with turnovers, especially with careless passes.

Edwards has also stepped up his rebounding game, but his hands are still a liability. He turns the ball over too much and he is getting it stripped out of his hands or passing it to the wrong team. He is also struggled at the charity stripe. But with all that, he has developed a solid repertoire of post moves that are effective. There is no other legitimate option in the post other then Edwards, so if he isn’t knocking down shots in the paint, UConn is extremely limited in the half court.

Oriakhi was relegated to the bench when Calhoun returned. He just hasn’t shown anything on the offensive end and gets lost at times on defense. He is a natural rebounder but that is about all he has done so far and his progression is coming along at a snails pace. His free throw shooting has improved in every game and is as reliable there as Edwards is.

Okwandu and Majok have shown the energy on the rebounding end and both can block shots, but they can not stay on the court without getting into foul trouble. Offensively they both have an unreliable elbow jumper and aren’t comfortable in the post yet. Majok has a nice stroke from the charity stripe and Okwandu struggles there. Both have shown flashes of greatness in February, but lack the consistency to steal minutes from Oriakhi or Edwards.

Beverly has done a good job in spelling Kemba at the point, but isn’t comfortable in looking for his own shot yet. He has shown the ability to get into the lane and sink a jumper. He doesn’t turn the ball over and plays solid defense, which is what his job is. Coombs-McDaniel struggled for a good chunk of February but found his stroke in UConn’s three game winning streak. He needs to take open shots when they are there but also try to take the ball to the rim more and get to the line. It is hard living for a shooter to take only one shot a game and remain confident.

UConn was a cornered animal coming into February and they fought and clawed their way back into the NCAA Tournament picture, but the work is far from done. They need to finish out the season strong or all the work that they did to get them here will be for not. With the resurgence of Walker’s game and the rebounding becoming a strength, this team has set themselves up nicely for a run at the end of the year. They just need to take care of business and in this league nothing comes easy and UConn knows this all to well.



Warning: Music has swears in it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lost Opportunity


It was another missed opportunity and one that could bite UConn in the end. It certainly puts more pressure on them to win these next two games. They are squarely on the bubble and losing home games doesn’t help their cause. This loss can be blamed on the turnovers. Louisville were swiping at the ball and UConn was weak in handling the rock. There were plenty of positives to take from the game though, starting with the rebounding. During the last four games, they have done a great job of competing for the ball. The frontcourt is more active and Calhoun isn’t afraid of having Okwandu or Majok foul out early in the ballgames, as long as they are making an impact on the court. It boiled down to another close game down the stretch where UConn couldn’t finish their two drives around the rim in the closing seconds and Louisville finished theirs. It’s a shame that they lost on senior night and the turnovers are unacceptable, but they have a lot of positives to take from this loss.

Dyson played solid defense and made a ton of plays on offense, but just couldn’t carry this team over the finish line. He missed a very important front end of a one-and-one and turned the ball over in a crucial possession. It was good to see him knock down some jumpers but the zone kept him from using his main weapon, the dribble drive. For Jerome to take the next step to his game, he needs to knock down those free throws late in the game and make plays in the final possessions and he hasn’t.

What more can you say about Walker’s ascendancy? He knocked down a ton of 3-balls, sank all his free throws, was fouled a bunch while driving, played solid defense, and took care of the ball. He has a great ability to exaggerate contact through body language that is reminiscent of a Paul Pierce. If he continues to play with this amount of effectiveness then UConn is a lock for the Tournament.

Robinson had a solid first half but still has a problem of making an impact late in the second half. This team needs him to be effective late in ballgames and he hasn’t. He is also making a ton of turnovers with sloppy passes. Sticks has done a great job on rebounding and he is making a concerted effort to go after the ball, but they need more from him.

Edwards was very active all game. He was a rebounding machine and was fouled a ton in the paint. It was good to see him knock down his free throws. He did save the ball underneath his own basket and gave up two points, a cardinal sin, but he was all over the court and played well. Oriakhi had a tough outing. He rebounded well, but wasn’t effective on the offensive end other then a dunk. Okwandu played with energy and was crashing the boards with aggression and blocked shots, but he was out of control when the ball was in his hands. Majok missed a jumper and didn’t play much.

Beverly played well. He hit a jumper, which is a great sign, and he had a great tie-up. He is an unsung part of this team and one that doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Coombs-McDaniel missed his only 3-ball attempt and had a turnover.

It’s been one of those seasons for this team. They’ve played a bunch of close games and they’ve been on the short end of most of them. While this is a lost opportunity, they still control their own destiny. If they win these next two games then they are more then likely in the Big Dance. It won’t be easy, not with how Notre Dame is playing and how much South Florida has improved, but if UConn takes better care of the ball and they rebound like they have, then they have a great chance. But their chances have dwindled down to two.