Skip to content

After getting drubbed by Houston, is UConn a flawed basketball team?

Jan 2, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT

UConn Maryland Basketball AP

It would be easy to look at UConn’s loss to Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion on Tuesday and write it off as the Huskies having a bad night.

It was a late tip on New Year’s Eve way out in Houston in an arena that may not have held enough people to fill my old 600-seat high school gym. For a program that’s used to playing their leagues games in places like the Carrier Dome and against teams like Louisville and Pitt and Georgetown, that’s not exactly and easy game to get fired up for.

Maybe that’s why they dug themselves a 46-25 hole in the first half, and maybe that’s why they erased that deficit once Shabazz Napier woke up and put on a 25-point second half display.

But writing off No. 17 UConn’s eventual 75-71 loss to the Cougars as a simple problem of motivation would make you ignore the fact that the Huskies are a flawed basketball team.

“I told them [at halftime] you have to play with heart,” Ollie told Don Amore of the Hartford Courant. “Our best player [Shabazz Napier] has to set the tone, he has to come out and play, he can’t have two points. DeAndre Daniels has to come and play. Our starters have to play, that’s why I changed the starting lineup. We have to figure out something. That’s my job as a head coach, to figure it out.”

Simply put: their front court is going to be at a disadvantage every night for the rest of the season. Amida Brimah is a very good shot blocker, but he’s not strong enough to deal with good low-post players and his footwork is nowhere near good enough to matchup with a face-up big man like Tashawn Thomas. Phil Nolan and Kentan Facey don’t look like they’re ready to play this level of basketball just yet. Tyler Olander is, well, Tyler Olander. He’ll give you decent minutes, but the senior is what he is.

There are going to be times where UConn plays with a front line of Deandre Daniels and Niels Giffey. Oy.

Then there’s the issue of balance.

Look, there is a reason that Shabazz Napier is still sitting near the top of any Player of the Year ranking that is worth you paying attention to. He’s been terrific this season. He’s won games single-handily, but that is only going to get UConn so far without help from their supporting cast. The problem? Ryan Boatright, Daniels, and Omar Calhoun are about as streaky and unreliable offensively as you can be.

There’s a reason why every possession late in games features Napier trying to find a way to create an open shot. That’s why the ball is always in his hands.

And he’s good enough that he’s going to win UConn some games.

But take a closer look at the games UConn has won. Maryland has been anything but impressive this season. Indiana hasn’t, either. Boston College stinks. That win over Florida is nice, but it came on a fluky buzzer-beater at UConn in a game where Florida was dealing with injuries to both of their point guards.

Was Tuesday really just an example of why you need to be ready to play every single night, or was it a sign that these Huskies have a long, long way to go?

UConn pays a visit to SMU and Larry Brown on Saturday afternoon. I have a feeling we’ll have a better understanding then.

Latest Posts
  1. Nebraska guard Tarin Smith to transfer

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Nebraska is losing another player from the roster.

  2. Ohio State lands a top 50 Class of 2016 commitment

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Harrison Heath, Derek Funderburk AP

    Ohio State landed an impact forward in the 2016 class on Wednesday.

  3. Wisconsin stops selling Nigel Hayes-inspired shirt in campus bookstore over potential NCAA violation

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:10 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Wisconsin stopped selling Nigel Hayes-inspired shirts at a campus bookstore.

  4. Kevin Ollie, UConn coaching staff won’t attend Final Four in Indianapolis over state travel ban

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Kevin Ollie and UConn will stay away from the Final Four in Indianapolis as the state of Connecticut has banned state-funded travel to the state.

  5. San Diego hires New Mexico assistant Lamont Smith as new head coach

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Lamont Smith, right, is San Diego's new head coach (Getty Images) Getty Images

    San Diego turned to a former player to lead the basketball program.

  6. Washington State losing three players to transfer

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Jackie Davis, Brett Boese, Lucas O'Brien AP

    Head coach Ernie Kent is losing three first-year players after his first season at the helm.

  7. Report: Murray State guard Cameron Payne heavily considering NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

    Cameron Payne, Reece Chamberlain AP

    Could Murray State guard Cameron Payne enter the NBA Draft?

  8. UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn signs an agent and enters NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    UNLV officially loses Rashad Vaughn to the NBA Draft.

  9. Rhode Island lands impact transfer from Towson

    Mar 31, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    BB&T Classic Getty Images

    Rhode Island landed an impact transfer on Tuesday.

  10. Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera heading to NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Georgetown takes a major hit with the loss of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

  11. Southern Illinois loses five to transfer, coach rips the decisions

    Mar 31, 2015, 3:22 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Barry Hinson is not happy about losing the players he brought into the program.

  12. Highlights of the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest (VIDEO)

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT

    Dwayne Bacon, Jalen Rose Dwayne Bacon, Jalen Rose

    It wasn’t as good as the last two years, but there were still some impressive dunks.

  13. Kentucky, Wisconsin join short list of Final Four rematches

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT

    So we meet again... (AP Photo) AP

    Teams that won the first meeting have won three of the four Final Four/title game rematches, with Duke (1990-91) being the lone exception.

  14. LSU’s Jordan Mickey to enter the NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Mickey is the second player from LSU to declare this month.

  15. Indiana’s 1976 undefeated team is rooting for Kentucky to go 40-0

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:09 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Bobby Knight would probably not approve of that.

  16. Cleveland State to lose Trey Lewis to transfer

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Lewis will have some well known suitors this offseason.

  17. Rick Barnes will be the next head coach at Tennessee

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:57 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Barnes spent the last 17 seasons at Texas.