Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blaney on Napier & Smith Injury & more

Know Your Enemy: St. John's

St. John's tops Providence in Big East opener: foxprovidence.com



Ed Cooley on loss to St. John's

Thursday, December 29, 2011

True Grit


UConn wasn’t heading into Big East play with a lot of confidence, letting leads slip against inferior teams at home. They had a tough road test against a pesky and big USF team to open Big East play and they started out on the wrong foot. Blaney didn’t give the starting line-up on time and was given a technical foul before they even tipped off and the sloppy play continued from there. They turned the ball over on four consecutive plays trips, couldn't find any rhythm in the halfcourt sets and USF began to drain the outside shot. But UConn stayed the course and climbed back into the game with some tough nosed defense which fueled their offense. They carried the defense into the second half, protected the perimeter that has caused them so much trouble, held Gilchrist in check, and limited easy fast break points. The backcourt took over offensively down the stretch making jumpers and the frontcourt began winning the rebounding battle. They held on down the stretch, making just enough free throws to keep USF at arms length and earning them a much needed confidence builder of a road Big East game.

It took awhile for Lamb to get going, hitting a left handed lay-up which led to an off-balanced jumper and an offensive rebound & put-back & 1 in the first half, but it was in the second half that Lamb took over and pushed UConn ahead for good with back-to-back-to-back jumpers. From there he had a wild circus bank shot, a fade away jumper, and made his free throws down the stretch. He did have a horrible foul late in the game, fouling a three point shooter, but other than that and a few turnovers, Lamb had a fantastic game.

Napier cooled down a bit from his torrid pace had has set in the past three games. He had problems handling the basketball, getting stripped and reaching in on defense for needless fouls. He had a 3-pointer mid-way through the first half, but other than a free throw, he didn’t contribute that much offensively. Boatright got off to a fast start, hitting two jumpers in the first half. In the second half, he had a great pass to Oriakhi, sank a 3-pointer, snagged an offensive rebound & lay-up, and played good defense, but he also had a couple of sloppy turnovers.

This was the biggest test for the frontcourt and Oriakhi & Drummond did a great job of holding Gilchrist in check for the most part. Oriakhi continued to struggle offensively and had two quick turnovers and offensive fouls. He did hit a nice jumper against the zone, and had a power move & 1, but he was in foul trouble for much of the second half. Drummond is making leaps and bounds in his development. He worked hard on the boards, protected the rim, had back-to-back offensive rebounds, and scored on a slam when it looked that USF was making a comeback. He has supplanted himself as the team’s best big man and made a statement that he is going to be a force down low all Big East season.

Olander had a solid game. He had a nice dish, a jumper against the zone, made his free throws, and an offensive rebound & put-back. He was the most reliable bench player this game. Smith got the start but struggled to find his offensive game. He did make his free throws and played good defense, but he hasn't shown that defensive or rebounding prowess that he demonstrated last year. Daniels had a sweet reverse early on, had a hustle save, a couple of blocks, and a tip-in. Daniels and Smith will be battling all year for minutes and both are doing a good job with the limited time they are getting because of the three guard line-up, but Daniels' minutes have shined more.

This was a great win for this team. They needed to get off to a good start in conference play and to do it in a hostile environment is the confidence builder that this team needed. The great thing was that they did it on the defensive end, got the lead and answered every run with one of their own. They’ll need to limit the turnovers which they had done a much better job and get off the better starts to both halves, but without their leader in Calhoun and against a gritty team in USF, they couldn't of had a better outcome.

Lamb's Second Half Surge Lifts UConn. Watch more top selected videos about: Connecticut Huskies, ESPN

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Know Your Enemy: USF

<a href='http://msn.foxsports.com/video?videoid=c1469430-c1de-4caa-b447-5580ba6d0339&src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Highlights: South Florida beats Cleveland State 70-55' >Video: Highlights: South Florida beats Cleveland State 70-55</a>

<a href='http://msn.foxsports.com/video?videoid=6148e6a3-39b5-4a78-8d53-02cd4ea27f4c&src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Highlights: Jayhawks beat South Florida 70-42' >Video: Highlights: Jayhawks beat South Florida 70-42</a>

Ray Allen Off-Balance Three versus Heat

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fair Fight


Here we go again. UConn once again came out of the gates strong this time on the backs of Napier and Drummond. The Huskies scorched Fairfield with 22 fast break points and walked off the court at halftime with a 20 point lead. But it didn’t last long. With that lead, UConn didn’t push the tempo but settled for half court sets that played into Fairfield’s strength. The offense struggled to get points. The frontcourt which dominated in the first half became a non-factor in the second. The backcourt couldn't contain Fairfield’s perimeter offense, a problem this team has had all year. They were often caught behind screens when the ball switched sides. A hat tip must go out to Fairfield. The three pointer is the great equalizer and allows smaller and less athletic teams the chance to pull off these victories. Ask Kansas this when they lost to VCU. The only redeeming quality about this game though was that when all the momentum was in Fairfield’s direction, Lamb, Napier and Boatright took over and pulled out the victory.

Lamb had another slow start and found himself on the bench early on because of some poor defense. Calm and steady, he didn’t get into the scoring column until late in the first half on back-to-back 3-pointers. In the second half Lamb had a sweet turnaround fade, a 3-pointer, a baseline dunk, and a game sealing slam. His major problem is that when this team was struggling for consistency in the offensive sets, he doesn't demand the ball and take it to the basket. He only had 2 free throw attempts.

Napier was a man possessed and has taken his game to another level. He was on fire early, hitting a 3-pointer, a jumper, fouled on a 3-point attempt, had a fade away, a nice fake and lay-up, and a finger roll. The problem was that was all in the first half. He struggled to find his first half mojo and that coincided with Fairfield’s 3-point barrage. This team is so dependent on him to perform that when he doesn't have the offense flow through him, the team gets stagnant.

Oriakhi’s struggles continued. He played 21 minutes but only had 2 rebounds. He clanked two 15-foot jump shots and missed both his free throw attempts. At this point it is all about confidence for him. Luckily Drummond picked up the slack. He scored the first two points of the game on a put back, had two steals and dunks at half court, and beat the buzzer on another. He also is showing more and more in each game. He showed a step back jumper and is turning into this teams best rebounder. Hopefully he can continue this caliber of play into the Big East portion of the schedule.

Boatright had a quiet night other then the tail end of the game where he once again stepped up and made the play of the game on a 3-pointer that sealed the game shut. He was also money from the line, 5 of 6, and did a good job of distributing the ball, 5 assists. It is amazing that he hasn't been on this team all year and his teammates show so much trust in him.

The Olander brother duel had an effect on Tyler. He wasn’t his reliable self. He only had 2 boards, 2 points, and 2 turnovers in 16 minutes. He was forcing the issue and that isn’t his game. Smith had an early 3-pointer and had more rebounds than Oriakhi, 4, and in less minutes. He did struggle on perimeter defense and was caught a few times behind screens. Daniels only played 6 minutes, and did get to the line and had 2 boards.

It isn’t the way that this team wanted to head into Big East play. They should be dominating on the boards, they should be using their speed to beat the defense down court before they set up, and they should be more effective in the half court sets and they aren’t. The one thing this team lacks is consistency and the ability to sustain offense when they have a lead. Their flat offense often leads to the other side of the court and that has to frustrate Calhoun. The defense, especially the perimeter, just isn’t there yet. They’ll need to figure it out, because these mistakes will be magnified against the comparable talent and hostile environments. It doesn't get easier from here.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

UConn Alumni Preseason Basketball

Kemba Walker


Hasheem Thabeet


Charlie Villanueva


Caron Butler

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holy Night


For having a lengthy layoff due to finals, UConn shook off the rust and came out with the best team win of the young season. They did it on the strength of their much maligned frontcourt. Oriakhi, Drummond, and Olander combined for 45 points, 17 rebounds, and 7 blocks. While this isn’t Big East talent that the frontcourt played against, it was the first time that all three players played well in one game and it is a great confidence builder going forward. The defense took awhile to find its legs, letting some early open looks for Holy Cross shooters, but once they settled down they used their quickness and length to bother shots and get into passing lanes for steals that fueled the transition game. The offense was firing on all cylinders, shooting 50% for the entire game and they were passing the ball much better and not relying on one-on-one plays.

The rust garnered by the long lay-off was evident early on for Jeremy Lamb. He had a couple of bad misses and a travel early on. He did have a several steals that led to easy points, had two three pointers, and battled hard on the boards which was a pleasant surprise. The thing about Lamb is that he never forces anything but instead he did the little things to help his team with the victory.

This was the best point guard game of Shabazz Napier’s career. Instead of looking for his shot, he concentrated on distributing the ball, 13 assists, and did it in total control, only 3 turnovers. It is good to see that he can play this type of game as well as his scoring point guard role. His passing was crisp and he was getting into the lanes and creating easy scoring opportunities for the big men. While there will be times when the team will need him to score twenty points, to show that he can be the facilitator is a huge step.

It was refreshing to see Oriakhi come right out of the gates and be aggressive and effective with several dunks and put-backs early on. He carried that over into the second half with two slams and a lay-up. If there is one thing to nit-pick about his day was that he is still tipping the ball around on rebounds and not going up strong for the boards. But beyond that this was a great performance from him and this team needs Alex to lead the young frontcourt.

Drummond was an absolute beast. He showed athletic slams, monster blocks, a fade away jumper, the ability to pull down boards in traffic, and most importantly knock down free throws. This was the coming out party that UConn Nation was waiting on. He is getting more confident in each and every outing and it is showing on both ends of the court.

It is amazing how the tempo of the game changes when Calhoun inserts Boatright into the game. It seems like each and every game Ryan puts his stamp on it. He did it in the second half where he scored on two dunks. He creates havoc on the court. Allen got into the game late and wanted badly to score, jacking up three 3-pointers but missed them all. Kyle Bailey also got some minutes and found himself a rebound. P.J. Cochrane played 2 minutes.

Olander had a solid game and is becoming a fantastic passer in the high low set. He also is playing well with his back to the basket. Daniels had a hard time finding minutes in the past couple of games but didn’t get himself down. He came out and had a solid game. He had a nice reverse, 15-footer, and worked hard on the boards with 6 rebounds. If he can contribute on the boards, he will be hard to take out of the lineup. Smith’s day mirrored that of Daniels. He did a little of everything from rebounding to playing solid defense. He also had back-to-back lay-ups. Giffey on played 6 minutes and was the odd man out. He had a dunk & one, but needs to contribute on the boards to keep up with what Smith and Daniels bring to the table.

It was a total team effort which is something this team hasn’t been able to do. It is a great sign especially the 23 assists on 68 field goals and only 7 turnovers. If they can hover around those numbers than this team can compete with anyone in the country. They have the talent and if they can meld that into a cohesive unit then watch out. The question is if they can do this against comparable talent, because so far this team has been playing against sub-par to par talent and while that will buy you time to get you prepared, it isn’t close to what they will face in adversity of an on the road Big East team. Hopefully they can build on this performance and carry it over into the next and not make this game an anomaly.




Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Interviews from UConn Practice

Alumni Profile: Charlie Villanueva


Looking Back: Charlie Villanueva had a solid year and did what was asked of him. He came off the bench and was effective but only started a handful of games and hasn’t been able to win a starting spot yet. Unfortunately the most memorable part of Villanueva’s season was his verbal sparring with Kevin Garnett.

The Good:
Villanueva has a small forward’s athleticism with a power forwards size, which is rare. He has a versatile offensive game where he can knock down the outside shot but is more comfortable off the bounce. He moves well without the ball and plays the pick and roll well. He has a nice jump shot and isn’t afraid of contact.

The Bad:
If Villanueva could become a more consistent rebounder and dedicate himself more on the defensive end then he would be a starter for sure, but he relies heavily on his offensive skills to carry him. While he has become a much better shooter, he tends to be too streaky. He shows flurries of the spectacular but hasn’t been able to be consistent.

Looking Ahead:
This is a big year for Villanueva. He needs to show that he can compete for a starting spot on a team that is desperate for consistency. With Detroit not expected to be a playoff team, they might go young which they might dangle Charlie has trade bait. He needs to start the season out strong and commit himself to rebounding and defense.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Alumni Profile: Rip Hamilton


Looking Back: This was one of the most disappointing seasons in Rip Hamilton’s career. He dealt with injuries, sickness, and feuded with his coach. He was relegated to riding the pine for much of the season. When he did get into the game, he was effective but at times didn’t give it his all. The fracture in the locker room created a horrible atmosphere and mired Detroit into mediocrity. It wasn’t the way his storied career should’ve ended and left a bad taste in most Pistons’ fans.

The Good: Hamilton still has skills that teams can use. He is a master of the lost art of the mid-ranged shot, plays great defense, is automatic at the line, and can knock down the outside shot. He still has the motor to keep going and is a savvy veteran and born scorer.

The Bad: This whole episode in Detroit has tarnished an otherwise stellar career. It is never a good sign to be a labeled as not giving it their all or a troublemaker. He will need to do a lot to regain some of his esteem from around the league. He is also at the tail end of his career and will be on a new team with a more relegated role. While he still can shoot the ball, it is unclear how many minutes he can handle at this stage of his career.

Looking Ahead: There is still a lot of basketball left for Hamilton but he will need to find a team that fits his half court style. He’ll find a home that’s a give in, but what his role will be is unknown. He’d be a great sixth man on an established team. There are just too many questions and not many answers for Rip’s upcoming season. The Bulls have shown interest in Rip and he’d make a good fit in that system with a stellar point guard in Rose. Hopefully he can have a resurgence to his career.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Higher Learning


Calhoun knew that this game wasn’t going to be easy. He had a first hand view of Harvard in the Bahamas and came away impressed. So he sent a sharp message to his team to not take this team for lightly and right from the tip-off, UConn looked prepared. They finally put together a game where they kept the turnovers down and won the rebounding battle. This was by far the best game of the year for this young team and a good sign heading into the break. The front court held Keith Wright in check, using their length to bother anything near the rim and the back court played stellar perimeter defense, something that they had struggled with. It was a complete game and a great sign that this team is progressing.

Lamb was his usual smooth self. In the first half Lamb had a dunk, a deflection, and a deep 3-pointer, but wasn't forcing the issue. If he didn't have anything he passed the ball. He really heated up in the second half though, coming right out of the gates by hitting a 3-pointer, but then had two consecutive turnovers before hitting a floater, step back, and steal & 3-pointer. The impressive thing about Lamb's night was his ability to battle on the boards for some strong rebounds. The only knock was that he only got to the line 4 times and settled for jumpers instead of attacking the rim.

It wasn’t the greatest shooting night for Napier, but he seemed to make plays when his team needed them the most. He also wasn’t three happy and did a fantastic job of using the ball screens to get into the lane to make plays. He also had 7 assists to only 2 turnovers. That’s back-to-back games where he has doubled up the assists to turnovers, which is a great sign. He did take a few bad shots that Harvard quickly turned around for easy baskets. Overall it was a great game for him heading into the break. He is getting used to be more of a facilitator and that is making the halfcourt sets run more smoothly.

It was a tale of two halves for Oriakhi. In the first half he took weak shots and didn’t rebound with authority. Hopefully this turns his game around because this team needs his play badly. But in the second half, he came out with a strong dunk and was fouled on another. He also had a great put-back and followed that up with some tough rebounds. Drummond exerted himself throughout this game and put on a dunk-fest. He had four dunks, a hook shot, a put-back, and was a defensive force down low. He is slowly coming along and did a great job on Harvard’s best player, Keith Wright.

It seemed like Boatright was forcing things, but his aggressive play and energy gave UConn a spark that they desperately needed. He was effective off the dribble drive, hitting several jumpers. He also played great defense and made several hustle plays. Giffey only played 5 minutes but did have a rebound and took a jumper without hesitation, all good signs.

Olander continued his productive season and has turned into a reliable role player. He had several nice passes, a 3-pointer, a hook shot, and an elbow jumper, but the best part was his contributions on the boards. If he can be competitive on the glass then he'll remain at 20 to 25 minutes a game. Daniels played in the first half and did hit a 3-pointer from the corner, but with the three guard lineup, his minutes have diminished. Calhoun wanted to give Smith more playing time. He played well, but wasn’t scoring. He did play better defense without fouling, had a block and rebounded much better. All small victories for his confidence going forward.

It was good to see this team clean up the turnovers and use their length and strength to protect the glass against a solid Harvard team. UConn is still learning to play together, especially in the three guard lineup and each and every game they are looking smoother in the half court sets. They head into the final’s break with a bit of tailwind in their sails, putting together a solid performance in every aspect of the game and Calhoun has this team moving in the right direction. Sometimes it is hard to take a step back and see that this team is still very young and needs time to grow, but like all Calhoun teams it is the end product that truly matters.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

November 2011


The question heading into the first month of the season was who was going to replace Walker’s scoring and leadership. That was answered right from the tip-off of the preseason. Napier and Lamb proved plenty capable of pouring on points and the freshmen looked the part of their highly touted rankings. While scoring wasn’t a problem, getting a consistent effort for 40 minutes defensively, especially around the perimeter and in transition, and a combination of poor ball handling, put UConn in some uncomfortably close games through much of the month. Their sloppy play finally cost them a game against UCF, where they held a 17 point lead but watched it wither away with inconsistent play. They didn’t finish out the month strong, battling a pesky FSU team into overtime and scratching and clawing their way to a victory on the back of their freshman guard, Ryan Boatright, playing his first game.

If there was any question to whether Jeremy Lamb could lead this team, this first month answered that. He showed his versatility on the offensive end, knocking down threes, throwing down some spectacular dunks, getting to the line, and using his patented floater. He hasn’t been forcing the issue or taking an inordinate amount of shots to get his points too. He’s been letting the game come to him and makes points look effortless. If there is any knock to his game, it is that he needs to be a bit more aggressive and take it to the rim more. He has the speed and length to shoot over any defender.

Napier has adjusted well to his role as the primary ball handler, especially with Ryan Boatright’s absence. He played a ton of minutes and probably wasn’t as aggressive as he would’ve liked. He has shown the ability to knock down the three, though sometimes falls in love with it to much, and it has opened up the lanes for the frontcourt to work in. His major issue is his turnovers. He needs to get that part of his game under control. He doesn’t need to make the homerun play on each possession but instead he needs to make the simple one. That being said, Napier has exceeded most expectations and this team would be floundering in mediocrity without him. Boatright played in the final game of the month and shined. Calhoun utilized the three guard unit for much of the game and Ryan adds another facet to this team that the Hall of Fame coach can play with. He also showed that he can be trusted in crunch time.

Oriakhi has been an enigma. Calhoun has been pulling all the strings to try to get Alex going. He’s benched him, limited his minutes, and has given him an earful during some heated timeouts, but Oriakhi continues his inconsistent play that has plagued his career. He is shy on taking that 15-footer, is rushing plays around the rim, and isn’t dominating smaller players on rebounds. Hopefully he turns this around, because the frontcourt needs his leadership. Drummond has taken some time to find his footing, but he has shown flashes of his NBA-like skills in each game. The college game is more backcourt oriented and it takes big men like Drummond time to find his niche. He has certainly outplayed Oriakhi in this short season and has deserved the start.

Olander has been the biggest surprise so far. He has shown the ability to hit the mid-range jumper, is rebounding much better, and is finishing plays around the rim. While he started the month out strong, his play has tailed off a bit. Daniels has made the most impact out of all the freshmen. He has shown the ability to be another outside shooter, can rebound the ball, makes the hustle plays, and is strong on the defensive end. He has slowly eroded Smith’s minutes who has struggle for much of the month. Roscoe just couldn’t find his offense and couldn’t defend without fouling. He found himself watching from the bench as Daniels made plays.

Giffey continued to struggle in finding his role. It didn’t help that he was injured for a few games. If he can not be a spot up three point shooter, then his minutes are going to dwindle. Allen, a walk-on, played significant minutes early in the season, but once games began to get close, his minutes dropped. With Boatright on the team now, it will be hard for Allen to get playing time. Wolf has fallen drastically down the depth charts, playing only a handful of minutes in the entire month. It has been a mystery as to why. He has made plays in those limited minutes. Hopefully there won’t be another Okwandu issue, where Calhoun regrets not red shirting him in his freshman year.

It hasn’t been pretty and this team isn't playing like a top echelon team, but the talent is all there. They just need to put it all together and the season is just beginning. They are learning on the fly to life without Walker. They just need to limit their turnovers and most of these close games would’ve been blowouts. This team just has too much talent to not compete for the Big East crown. They just need to absorb the fundamentals, which is easier said then done. But what is always true is that Calhoun’s teams get better as the year progresses and looking at this roster, that’s pretty scary.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Righting the Boat

Coming off a long lay-off with a disappointed performance in the Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas, UConn looked to bounce back with a better performance. They got off to a sluggish start and let a solid Razorback team jump on them 8 to 1. But then Calhoun put in Boatright, who righted the ship and put on a display. The three guard line-up handled the full court press and ignited the offense with an aggressive transition game. If it wasn’t for the ten first half turnovers, UConn would’ve blown the doors open, but Arkansas battled back and closed the gap heading into halftime when Jeremy Lamb sat on the bench in foul trouble. The Huskies cleaned up their act with turnovers in the second half, but was thoroughly dominated on the boards, especially offensively 4 to 23. That’s giving your opponent 23 more looks at the basket. That’s a recipe for defeat, but this team kept the foot on the offensive pedal and powered their way to a victory on the backs of their talented back court.

Jeremy Lamb battled foul trouble for much of this game and didn’t have his usual impact. Calhoun also kept him on the bench longer than normal to send a message to his elite shooting guard. He only took 9 shots in his 26 minutes, but still made an impact, hitting two 3-pointers, three floaters, and a massive dunk. He also had 6 boards, which is a great sign. While the offense stuttered with him not in the game, it was a good test for this team to force the offense through someone else.

Napier had a superb overall performance. He was aggressive with the ball, took some nice open shots, found his teammates in transition, used the step back jumper, a pull-up off a ball fake, and most importantly took care of the ball. It’s been awhile since the assists doubled up the turnovers and when that is happening then this team is playing at a high level. He is also benifiting from Boatright handling the basketball and isn't seeing the double teams he has been.

Boatright put on a show. He was simply amazing. He had a steal-lay-up & 1, an ankle breaker that sent him to the foul line, hustle boards, a 3-pointer, coast-to-coast lay-up & 1, steal & foul, and a floater. Not too bad. He certainly causes mismatches and moves Napier to the two spot and Lamb to the three. That is a tough match-up for anyone, but puts a ton of pressure on frontcourt to rebound and they didn’t do that. Has there been another freshman that has had this type of impact on an already star laden team?

Oriakhi got the playing time, 28 minutes, but didn’t have the impact. He did have a lay-up & 1, played good help defense, a transition dunk, and a lay-up, but also didn’t go up strong with the ball, was rebounding with one hand, gave up a free throw rebound, had a goal tend, gave up a jump ball on a drive and a rebound, and didn’t have good position rebounding. Calhoun has to be happy with his attitude. He looked to have a chip on his shoulder. Drummond again had trouble staying out of foul trouble and played sporadically. He did have some monster blocks in the second half. It takes awhile for big men to find their way in the college game.

Olander pulled himself out of the rut he has been in with a stout performance. He had five jumpers, six rebounds and an offensive board & put back. He certainly expands the floor when he is out there. He is the only frontcourt player knocking down that fifteen-footer with consistency and that shot is the zone buster. With the three guard line-up, the wing position is taking the hit minutes wise. Smith played 6 and struggled to find a role with only a turnover on a sloppy drive and a bad pass as his only contributions. Daniels also had six minutes but took three shots in that time, getting a lay-up and a steal in that time. Giffey had a good outing. He had an aggressive lay-up, got to the line, and a hustle steal. It would be nice to see UConn’s three point champion take atleast one in a game though.

It is like playing whack-a-mole with this team. They figure out a way to stop the turnovers but give up a ton of offensive boards. They have yet to play that 40 minutes of stellar ball yet, but there are plenty of good things to take from this game. Boatright is legit and a credible third scorer this team desperately needs to take the pressure off Lamb and Napier to produce every game. Once they figure out how to get Oriakhi and Drummond on track then this team will be playing at the level everyone expected them to be playing at. But with the backcourt that this team has, this boat is steering in the right direction.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big East Power Rankings


1. Syracuse. (+1) This is a well rounded Orange team and Kris Joseph is leading the charge with 15.3 points per game which isn’t a lot, but this team is still ranked 2nd behind Marquette in points per game. That means that they are getting offense from a multitude of places and teams can’t scheme against any one player which creates nightmares for opponents. They have also done a great job of handling the news hysteria surrounding their team. They have also adapted to the zone quickly and are using their length to cause havoc.

2. Louisville. (+2) Louisville is winning games on defense end, stifling teams with the Big East’s number one defense. They’ll need more offensive from this team once conference play starts though. Kyle Kuric, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng are having good starts to their year. The scary thing is that this team isn’t healthy yet.

3. Marquette. (+7) Marquette has come out of the gates with a scorching offense, averaging 88 points a game. Led by Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, this team is hard to slow down. Match that with the second ranked field goal defense in the Big East and Marquette has made an early statement that they are contenders for the Big East title.

4. UConn. (-3) The Huskies are having their ups and downs with the front court but with the talented backcourt of Napier and Lamb and the addition of Ryan Boatright, this team will be vying for the top spot on the power rankings all season. UConn's arch enemy is itself, landing dead last in turnover margin in the Big East and no one is even close.

5. Pittsburgh. (-2) While Pittsburgh has struggled through their early stretch of games, Travon Woodall is putting up some impressive assist numbers averaging 8.5 a game and Nasir Robinson is knocking down shots. The Panthers known for their tough inside game have been tearing it up from deep, leading the Big East in 3-point efficiency. What is un-Pittsburgh like is their defense which is struggling at the moment.

6. West Virginia. (-1) Kevin Jones is tearing it up. He is near the top of the Big East in points per game at 21.8 and rebounds per game at 12.3. This is a blue collar team. They aren’t going to blow you out of the water with either offense or defense, but they give you 40 minutes of effort.

7. Georgetown. (+4) The Hoyas offensive prowess has been surprising, averaging 82.2 points per game. They are deadly from deep and Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson, and Henry Sims are a great triple threat. They are gelling nicely and might sneak into the top five before it is all said and done.

8. Seton Hall. (+5) Fuquan Edwin has become a defensive force for Pirates and Jordan Theodore is doing a great job of being a facilitator. So far they have taken good care of the basketball but they probably don’t have the fire power to stay in the top 10 once conference play starts.

9. DePaul. (+7) Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young are leading DePaul up the rankings. They are knocking down threes, getting steals, and sinking free throws. If they don’t rebound and play better defense though then a plummet down the standings will certainly occur.

10. Villanova. (-2) The Wildcats are struggling on defense and haven’t been knocking down shots. You can’t blame Maalik Wayns for that though, averaging 20 points per game. They lead the Big East in free throw percentage and do a good job of getting to the line. This team is finding its way and won’t be in the middle of the pack for long.

11. Cincinnati. (-2) The Bearcats are leaning heavily on their defense until they get their offense on track. Yancy Gates and Sean Kilpatrick need some help and can’t do it alone. This team needs to figure out how to get more efficiency on the offensive end before Big East play or they are in trouble.

12. Providence. (Even) Vincent Council and Gerard Coleman are a good one two punch but they need more help from those around them and they don’t have a solid defense to keep them in ballgames. They need to do a better job on the boards with LaDontae Henton as the only one stepping up and doing the dirty work. It doesn’t look good for the Friars early on.

13. South Florida. (+1) Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Ron Anderson Jr. are doing all they can for the Bulls. They are playing really good defense but are dead last in offense in the Big East. They need to find more help on the offensive end and keep up the strong effort defensively. If they do that this team might surprise some.

14. Notre Dame. (-7) It doesn’t look good for the Irish. They are average on both ends of the court, are lousy rebounding the ball, and have no one to protect the rim. Jerlan Grant is their leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. That just isn’t going to cut it.

15. Rutgers. (Even) This is an average team. They don’t do anything extremely well or poorly. They are lacking a go-to-scorer and are relying on everyone contributing. Without any star power this team is going to struggle once conference play starts.

16. St. John’s. (-10) The Red Storm are the most disappointing team on the list. They have such a heralded group of young talent but with Lavin’s illness, they haven’t been able to put any type of consistency together. They are near the bottom of both offense and defense in the Big East, can’t hit or defend the 3-point range, and struggle mightily rebounding the basketball. It is a combination that will put you in the cellar of the Power Rankings. The upside is the young players will eventually mature. They have too much talent.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Survival Mode


Coming off the collapse against UCF, UConn looked to bounce back against an offensively challenged but defensively stout Florida State squad. While the beginning of the game was sloppy for both teams, UConn found it’s rhythm with inside-outside passing that led to open jumpers. They were also running much better and found easy baskets in transition that they couldn’t find in previous games. The second half was much different though. UConn began turning the ball over in stretches and FSU started draining 3-pointers. Another bad sign was that whenever UConn scored, they didn’t get back on defense and allowed the offensively inept FSU team easy looks at the basket or gave up lay-ups. This was one of the major issues that cost Connecticut the basketball game against CFU. Watching their lead dwindle and disappear again, it was an unlikely hero that stepped up and put this team on his shoulders, Ryan Boatright. Playing his first game, he knocked down three free throws that sent the game into overtime where UConn held on by their fingertips to come out victors.

Sure Lamb only took 9 shots, but unlike his poor shooting day versus CFU, he played within the flow of the game. Instead of taking jumpers, Lamb attacked the rim early and often, getting to the line 5 times. He also showed his floater again and was attacking the glass, snagging an offensive rebound then hitting a 3-pointer in the same possession. He is still having difficulty with ball security, having 4 turnovers, with some of those leading to easy points on the other end. His outside shot was working again with none bigger than the one he made in overtime. What is missing from his game is the mid-ranged curl route that he developed late last year.

Napier was determined to have a better game and had a game high 26 points, and while his numbers looked good, there were still some disconcerting numbers. He took way too many 3-point attempts, 13, and is still turning the ball over at a atrocious rate, 6. He is making some difficult passes in crunch time to his big men and not allowing his offense a chance to score. He is so talented and sometimes mimics Walker too much instead of being himself. His outside shot is a deadly weapon but he needs to know that when it is crunch time that means take it to the basket.

It was Ryan Boatright’s first game as a Husky and he didn’t disappoint, playing 33 minutes. Calhoun utilized the three guard offense for a bulk of this game and Boatright used his speed to get into the lane for several nice passes that led to easy baskets. He also had a corner three pointer, made those crunch time free throws, and most importantly didn’t turn the ball over. It was one of the best first games for a freshman in recent UConn history, especially considering the level of competition and what was on the line. With Boatright playing major minutes and the ballgame tight, Giffey and Allen didn’t get into the game.

Oriakhi played sparingly due to a hyper extended knee. He saw 10 minutes of action and only had 3 fouls and a turnover in his box score. Drummond was also battling an injury, hurting his wrist in his last outing. He came to play though, having several spectacular dunks, put-backs, lay-ups, and 7 blocks. He also was a beast on the boards, snagging 10 with 4 of those offensive. He is becoming more confident in each and every game. They just need to find ways to get him the ball late in the second half and against the zone. Olander continued his slump. His jumpers weren’t falling and he had a dunk as his only field goal. His passes were off the mark, he was caught not looking for the ball when it went his way, and he missed the front end of a 1 & 1. He did pull down 6 boards and had 4 assists, but with his solid play earlier this year, this team needs more from him.

With Calhoun utilizing the three guard lineup, the wing position took a hit minutes wise. Daniels set the bar high and he has been in a bit of a funk. He only took 3 field goal attempts with 2 of them threes. His shot was all over the place, sinking an in rhythm three but then airballed a jumper. Smith played the least at the wing position, 12 minutes, and also chucked up an airball on a 3-pointer. He did have 4 boards with 2 of those offensive, but he has been careless with the ball and that is too much of a liability if he isn’t making plays.

For some strange reason this team is not carrying over the defense from the first half of ballgames into the second half. They kept an offensively inefficient FSU team to 37% shooting in the first half but then let them shoot 63.6% in the second half. A lot of those points were on beating UConn down the court on made baskets which is unacceptable. The turnovers continue to plague them, 19, with a majority of them being unforced. This team is a fantastic offensive team, maybe when all said and done one of the best ever to suit up for UConn, but they aren’t playing a team game. They are playing to much isolation basketball and that plays right into their opponents hands. If they can’t stop turning the ball over, giving up easy baskets on the other end, and forcing up poor shots by trying to go one-on-one then this team will be in survival mode all year.

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.



Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.



Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Paradise Lost


This loss was far from surprising. It was bound to happen with the way Connecticiut was playing. UCF is an experienced team and talented across the board and UConn was playing sloppy basketball, they were playing with a shortened bench, and they were coming off a back-to-back games. On tired legs, UConn’s top backcourt struggled down the stretch. As UCF began their dramatic comeback from 17 down and used the zone, UConn changed their game plan, settled for one pass and a jumpshot, turned the ball over by taking on double and triple teams, and did not use sound half court offense. It all led up to an utter collapse and one that this team has been flirting with all year.

Jeremy Lamb had a rough game, going 5 for 16 from the field. He took way too many three point attempts, 9, and wasn’t attacking the glass, which might be a result of tired legs. He also had some costly turnovers down the stretch and didn’t help out on the glass as much as he has in the past several games. As the game was getting close, Lamb looked to be rushing things and looked uncomfortable, which isn’t his game. He needs the game to come to him and his game isn’t creating plays 20 feet from the basket.

It just wasn’t Napier’s day. He was sloppy, took ill-advised shots all over the place, took on triple teams that caused several turnovers, and his jumper just wasn’t there. It wasn’t all his fault, because a lot of pressure was on him to produce and he felt that pressure down the stretch and forced the issue. Without Boatright, Napier was asked to shoulder most of the point guard duties and it has taken its toll on him. Even with all that, he needs to do a much better job of setting up the half court sets, especially against the zone. He hasn’t done a good job of that so far this year.

Oriakhi came to play. He had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. 7 of those offensive, but the most impressive part was his ability to score with his back to the basket. It was a great sign. He also had 5 blocks and no turnovers. The only thing was that when UCF went zone, Oriakhi disappeared. He needs to do a better job of getting involved either by pick and rolls or offensive boards against the zone. Drummond also had a strong game. He nearly had a double-double with 9 boards and 13 points. He also had 4 blocks. But just like Oriakhi, he couldn’t find a way to contribute once UCF went zone, which was the story of this game.

Olander had his worst showing of this young season. He had a hard time finding rebounds which he was doing a much better job of this year. He also took some ill-advised jumpers late in the game. He ended up with 4 points and 2 boards, which is far below his average. Daniels also had an off game. His jumpers weren’t falling and he forced up a few shots too early in the offensive set. Smith continued his up and down season with an off shooting night hitting only 1 of 4 from the field, but he did do a good job on the boards, pulling down 4. Giffey had a nifty driving lay-up and a rebound but that was about it in his limited minutes.

Hopefully this game is a wake-up call for this team. They need to know that the effectiveness in the half court sets isn’t were it needs to be and the shot selection is far from acceptable. They can’t allow the zone to affect them the way it has and need to make teams pay on the boards if they use it. They also can’t settle for the outside shot in the first ten seconds of the shot clock and need to use it after the third or fourth pass. They also can’t allow teams to keep up with them on the glass, especially with their superior size and talent. The turnovers, the lack of consistent rebounding, and the love of the jump shot has plagued this team since preseason. They need to realize their strengths and haven’t adjusted to that yet. Luckily this loss does little to their hopes of their ultimate goal but only if they learn from it and that has yet to happen.





Friday, November 25, 2011

Flaws in Paradise


While UConn was playing in paradise, the game was far from perfection. They got off to a fast start and the game looked to heading towards a blowout, but UConn began turning the ball over, a nasty trait of late, and they started taking jumpers instead of using their superior size to attack the paint. The poor shooting for UNC-Asheville didn’t last long and they soon began knocking down threes and clawed their way back into the game. Every time UConn looked to be ready to land the knock out punch, UNC-Asheville made some tough shots and UConn took some ill-advised shots or turned the ball over. The half court offense again stuttered with little to no ball reversal or inside outside passes. Most of the offense began and ended with Lamb and Napier, which was just enough to keep a pesky UNC-Asheville at arms length and pull off the victory.

Lamb had a very efficient night hitting 8 of 13 from the field. He has become a reliable three point shooter, but at times falls in love with the shot and needs to use the floater and mid-ranged shot. He got to the line four times, but needs to at least double that. He also found himself caught in the air with no where to go with the ball and had a horrible foul on a three point shooter in the closing minutes. Besides all that Lamb did a great job on the boards, pulling down 6 rebounds with some of those in traffic. He has been the quiet assassin for this team.

Napier carried over his superb play against Coppin State into this game. He was driving the lanes for some acrobatic lay-ups, sinking the outside shot, and getting to the line but only sank 4 of 9. He did have a hard time taking care of the ball, having 5 turnovers. He also had four 3-point attempts that were either too early or not in the flow of the offense. He needs to be more patient with the offense and not rush things and let his big men settle into position. Everyone must understand that he is playing a ton of minutes, isn't used to having the ball this much, and is still only a sophomore.

With Oriakhi’s struggles, Drummond was rewarded with the start. He had an up and down game, which is expected for a freshman. He started with a two dunks, a steal and an offensive rebound, but he soon found himself struggling to find some rhythm. He wasn’t attacking the rim and found himself laying the ball off the glass or floating it up for misses. He did do a good job on the offensive glass, snagging 3. He found himself again fighting foul problems with two offensive fouls and several on help defense. Oriakhi's mystery season continued. He had a lay-up and 1, a nice block, and a nice post move that sent him to the line, but he was supposed to be a leader on the court this year but instead he is losing minutes, playing only 15 minutes. His inconsistencies are hurting this team and they desperately need him to show up.

Daniels also started the game off strong, sinking a 3-pointer and had a tip-in, but disappeared down the stretch other than a huge block in the second half. This was a off night for DeAndre, who has been one of the most consistent players not named Lamb, Napier, or Olander. Roscoe Smith was coming into this game on a high note and it looked to be continuing, nailing an in-rhythm 3-pointer, had a block and a sweet turnaround jumper, but then the wheels fell off in the second half, missing a 3-pointer, having 3 turnovers, and missing the front end of a 1 and 1. Olander also had a fast start. He is turning into a nice passer, 4 assists, and is consistently hitting the 15-footer, but couldn’t find any offense in the second half. Giffey and Allen both got into the game but didn’t do much.

This team is a bit in flux with inconsistencies across the board among the frontcourt. With little help there, any flaws in the backcourt's play gets magnified and with Napier and Lamb turning the ball over 8 times and playing one-on-one basketball, it let a less talented squad hang around. Luckily they made the plays to shut each UNC-Asheville run, but it is far from a convincing win that this team is top echelon and deserving of a number four ranking. They certainly have the talent to warrant that ranking but their play hasn’t. They need to clean up these flaws, play more fundamental half court sets, and not fall in love with the jumper.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seeing Triple


For some odd reason it takes a whole half of a ball game for this team to get going. In the first fifteen minutes, the half court sets were stagnant, they weren’t closing out on the Coppin State's hot three point shooters, they were being out rebounded by another smaller squad, and they were being out worked for loose balls. It all added up to Coppin State jumping to a surprising 12 point lead. UConn kept up their aggressive play though and got into the bonus early, keeping them in the game until Coppin State’s shooters came back down to earth.. The Huskies came out in the second half and dominated, shooting 74 percent with most of those points coming from the paint. They finally controlled the boards and did a much better job with turnovers only having 9. But the story of this early season has been the backcourt combination of Napier and Lamb, with this game going down as one for the record books for a young and upcoming star.

For someone coming into the game that Calhoun didn’t even expect would play because of a sprained ankle, Jeremy Lamb put on a show. Most of his jumpers in the first half were short which was expected with a sore ankle. But later in the first half shots started to fall. He sank an eighteen footer, a 3-ball, and an off balance fade away jumper at the buzzer. He was more effective in the second half with two 3-balls, a lay-up, and a jumper. It was a typical Lamb night. He lets the game come to him and looks effortless in doing so. This type of performance under the circumstances that he played under shows a quiet leadership that his teammates can respect.

What more can you say about Napier’s day? He did a lot of everything from being aggressive with driving the ball into lanes, hitting three 3-balls, knocking down free throws, hustling for loose balls, snagging those pesky long rebounds among the trees and making nifty passes for easy points for his teammates. He was much better with ball security, having only 1 turnover to his 13 assists. Everyone thought that Napier would be ready to take over the point, but no one could’ve expected the high level of play he has shown so far, especially without a capable backup. This triple-double performance put him in elite company among UConn lore and he still has so much more potential which is scary.

Oriakhi was coming into this game with a solid performance in his rearview mirror, but he couldn’t get himself on track. He was practically a no show through the first half, throwing up a wild shot as his only offense. He finally hit a floater for his first points in the second half, but he needs to be much better. With his struggles it has added more pressure on the other frontcourt players. Oriakhi wasn’t the only one to struggle, Drummond can’t seem to get out of foul problems, picking up a quick two and found himself riding the pine for much of the first half. He did contribute on the offensive glass and made 2 out of 4 from the line. He needs to defend better without fouling though.

Olander continues to impress. It took him awhile to get going with a bad turnover, was hesitant to shoot the ball, and had a very serious chewing out by Calhoun for not rebounding well, but once the second half started, he was a beast. He had a lay-up, a 17-footer, and two slam dunks. The most impressive part of his game is in the rebounding department where he had 10. He is by far the best surprise of this young season. Giffey had a rough day. He went 1 for 5 from the line, only had 1 board, but he did have a dunk which is un-Giffey like.

The stats won’t show it but Daniels had a solid game. He had a big time slam in transition, hustled for a couple of steals, and continued to show his range. He has a great combination of defensive and offensive skills that this team hasn’t had in the wing position in a long time. It was good to see Roscoe Smith bounce back with a great performance. He started out slow, missing most of his early shots, but he then found his offense by attacking the glass. He had three lay-ups, two reverses, and a slam. Hopefully this will get him back on track and a bit more confidence in his play.

It was another slow start where they struggled to find their groove early on. Again the backcourt carried this team behind the sensational play of Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb who combined went for 18 for 31 for 47 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists, 4 blocks, and 4 steals. Not bad. They’re going to need more from the front court though and Drummond and Oriakhi need to be more effective and they weren’t. But with all the upsets going on in college basketball, this team is taking some pretty good punches and not backing down. These games which aren't pretty at times are exactly what these young players need and with the improved play of the wing position, this team is starting to gel. It always helps when you have a couple of Superstars on your team too.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Maine Attraction


It was such a horrible first half that Jim Calhoun didn’t even bother to watch the last play, walking towards the locker room as his team had their final possession. They couldn’t figure out Maine’s zone defense, turned the ball over in bunches, couldn’t secure rebounds, and were out worked on both ends of the court in the first half. The second half started off just as bad as the first with Jeremy lamb out of position and Calhoun called one of the quickest timeouts in the history of UConn basketball, 5 seconds into the second half. To UConn’s credit, they righted the ship and dominated the foul plagued Maine’s front court. The bigs came alive and just in time with a depleted UConn backcourt that did little to thwart the 1-2-2 zone.

Jeremy Lamb had an off night. He was missing the entire rim on jumpers that normally would sink in. To his benefit, Calhoun had him playing out of position, often running point and not to his strength of coming off the screens. The good thing is that even with having a bad shooting game, he still dropped 16 points, which is the sign of a great scorer and he did it with only with 16 attempts, which shows that he isn't forcing things. Defensively, Lamb was able to use his length to get into the passing lanes and get some easy scores. The good sign was that he was active and not frustrated with being pulled, yelled at, and not having a normal Lamb performance.

Napier also had a tough night. He was put under at the dentist and then gutted out a rough performance in which he tweaked his knee. When he was playing, he struggled against the zone. He’s going to see a lot of it this year and he’ll need to be more effective in getting into the teeth of the zone and dish to the bigs. Hopefully his knee is okay. While Allen started out the year playing a good chunk of minutes, he was relegated to only two in this game. Calhoun felt more comfortable in playing with no point guards rather than putting Allen in, which doesn’t bode well for him.

Oriakhi had his best game of the season and did most of his damage in the second half. He was much better on the boards, and got much of his points around the basket instead of settling for 15-footers. He needs to build on his solid play and be more consistent which is the one major knock on his game. Drummond was a beast. He dominated the paint area, blocking shots into the second row and getting a majority of his points on put-backs, snagging 11 offensive boards. It isn’t a mystery that he struggles at the line but 1 for 8 isn’t going to cut it. Wolf once again got into the game in garbage time, but did get a rebound and a block in that short amount of time. He's made plays in the limited time he gets. It must be what happens in practice that has relegated him to this role.

Other then Napier and Lamb, DeAndre Daniels has been the most consistent player for UConn and his hard work was rewarded with a start. While he didn’t have a great shooting performance, he did have 15 points and 7 boards. He needs to diversify his offense though, because he took way too many threes, 8. But without Daniels, this team would be stuttering offensively. Roscoe Smith is in a rut. He can’t defend without fouling, only played 12 minutes, and is thinking way too much when the ball is in his hands. He needs to concentrate on the small things, rebound, defend, and be aggressive without fouling, something easier said then done. Giffey got a bit more playing time, but still wound up dribbling into a walk and was benched right away. He did settle down and hit a three pointer, which is a great sign. He needs to be this team’s Rashad Anderson. Benjamin Stewart and Kyle Bailey also got into the game in the closing minutes.

Hopefully the UConn team that came out in the second half is the one that will stick around, but with the point guard position in flux and players playing out of position, it is work in progress. The half court offense is still stagnant and the turnovers are concerning, but the freshmen are gaining confidence and effectiveness and the rebounding is becoming a strength. They have a tough stretch coming up with five games in ten days and need to make sure that they don’t wear themselves down. There are still some major concerns, turnovers and lack of backcourt depth, but they are improving each game and that is what is a great sign.




Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Making Sausage


The one thing you don’t want to do to an underdog is to give them confidence early and UConn did just that. Wagner came out firing, sinking jumper after jumper and frustrated UConn with some tough nosed defense, which caused 19 turnovers. UConn righted the rebounding department which has plagued them throughout this young season, out rebounding Wagner by 18 rebounds, but they still gave up 11 offensive rebounds. With the turnovers and offensive rebounds, UConn gave Wagner 30 extra possessions, not good. They also had trouble with ball screens and gave up some wide open looks to Wagner’s guards which they took advantage of. It was only UConn’s superior backcourt that carried the Huskies to this victory and Lamb and Napier are holding this team on their shoulders until Oriakhi, Drummond, and Smith find their roles.

One role that is clearly defined is Jeremy Lamb’s, scorer. It was a horrible shooting night for him, going 5 for 15, but the great thing to take from this game was his ability to get to the line. If he can average 6 to 10 trips a game then he and his team can weather a poor shooting night. He also rebounded much better, which this team needs at the moment while the frontcourt gets settled. He is a born scorer and it is scary to see what he can do when he is on fire because a quiet night from him so far is dropping 20.

Unlike the Columbia game in which Lamb made the plays, it was Napier that took control of this game when the momentum was tilted in Wagner’s favor. He did have a hard time with the pressure that Wagner put on him and had 6 turnovers to only one assist. He needs to do a much better job of setting up the half court offense and ball control. Right now their best offense is in transition or on second chance points. Battling a cold, Shabazz looked winded with the up-tempo play and the lack of a backup is taking its toll on him.

Oriakhi was fighting a bad back but he did a better job on the boards, snagging 3 offensive and 6 defensive boards. He played sparingly in this game but was extremely effective in his 17 minutes which is an encouraging sign. He still hasn't dominated inferior talent and needs to find the Oriakhi that averaged a double-double in the NCAA Tournament. Drummond played with more energy and had a better outing. While his numbers won’t stand out, he was crashing the offensive boards and was a force down low. He did find himself in foul trouble early in the ballgame on some tick-tacky fouls. There is so much pressure on him to produce right away that he is forcing things.

Olander had another effective all around game. He was much better on the boards, sank some free throws, and made some nifty passes. He did have 4 turnovers and needs to take better care of the basketball. Daniels continued his superb play. He rebounded, hit the outside shot, knocked down free throws, and played stellar defense. He is already whittling away at Smith’s minutes. If he can continue his stellar defense and still provide an offensive threat then he should be getting 25 or more minutes a game. Smith couldn’t play defense without fouling and found himself on the bench for much of this game. He only had 1 rebound and 1 point. He needs to come out of his shell in the halfcourt sets and crash the boards. He is at his best when he is clawing for second chance points.

Coming off a knee injury, Giffey finally played his first game but continues to not understand his role. He is determined to become a dribble drive scorer instead of a spot up shooter. Why can't he realize that he is passing up one of his strengths in three point shooting for one of his weaknesses? He did win UConn's three point shooting contest. Allen came in for 2 minutes and Calhoun seems to be willing to let Lamb run the point to spell Napier, especially in tight games.

It was another game shouldered by Lamb and Napier. This team is feeling the loss of Boatright even though he hasn’t played a single minute all season. They only have three ball handlers and are susceptible to the full court press. Daniels and Drummond are slowly coming along, but this team needs another consistent double digit scorer. They are in flux now. Once the freshmen settle into their roles and Oriakhi and Smith get back on track, then they’ll show the domination that this team is capable of. That is why they play these early games. It’s a not pretty watching the sausage get made but it sure tastes good when all the ingredients are cooked to perfection.