Jan 2, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT
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.
Apr 18, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Boise State received some encouraging news this week as Anthony Drmic is returning for another season.
Apr 18, 2015, 2:36 PM EDT
Hammons’ decision to return makes the Boilermakers a Top 25 team.
Apr 18, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT
Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan has been taking classes at the school in order to complete his degree.
Apr 18, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
A look at the top storylines from the 14th annual Jordan Brand Classic.
Apr 18, 2015, 11:58 AM EDT
Illinois landed a huge graduate transfer on Saturday.
Apr 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
Coppin State junior guard Sterling Smith is looking like a prime graduate transfer.
Apr 18, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT
Kentucky five-star big man Skal Labissiere believes that the NCAA will allow him to play this season.
Apr 17, 2015, 10:23 PM EDT
Cheick Diallo won named MVP for both the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.
Apr 17, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT
Hoiberg just completed his fifth season at Iowa State.
Apr 17, 2015, 8:20 PM EDT
The Aztecs now have no commits for 2016.
Apr 17, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT
Domantas Sabonis previously announced he would return.
Apr 17, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
The Jordan Brand Classic is Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Apr 17, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
The former Villanova guard cut his list to eight.
Apr 17, 2015, 4:23 PM EDT
Thanks to this ruling Neal will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Apr 17, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
Heron, who committed to Pitt back in January 2014, says he will continue to consider Jamie Dixon’s program.
Apr 17, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Dazon Ingram joins Brandon Austin and Donta Hall, both of whom remained committed following the firing of Anthony Grant, in Alabama’s 2015 class.
Former Florida guard discusses Billy Donovan’s potential as an NBA head coach on ‘Dan Patrick Show’ (VIDEO)
Apr 17, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Beal spoke highly of his college coach, including how a possible adjustment would go should Donovan decide to try his hand at the NBA game.
Apr 17, 2015, 12:19 PM EDT
Harris is the fifth departure from the Kansas State program since the end of the season.
Apr 17, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT
Hooley’s game-winning shot in the America East title game came less than two months after his mother passed from a lengthy bout with colon cancer.
Apr 17, 2015, 12:04 AM EDT
Hale is Alabama’s leading returning scorer, as he averaged 8.2 points per game last season.
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