Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heart, Hustle, Effort ... Loss

"Window washing" is how George Blaney described UConn's propensity to pass the ball around on the perimeter in its halfcourt set. The Huskies certainly had the squeegees out for the first 30 minutes of action tonight against Syracuse, unable to get much of anything going against the Orange's vaunted 2-3 zone save for a few acrobatic Stanley Robinson dunks. It was a minor upset that they only had two shot-clock violations.

Then, the Huskies finally started to flash forward Gavin Edwards to the high post and hit him in the paint. With that -- and some Syracuse foul trouble -- UConn's halfcourt offense finally started to click, and the Huskies climbed all the way back from a 16-point deficit with 13:50 to go to tie it on a Jerome Dyson trey with 2:33 remaining.

They showed tremendous heart and hustle in mustering the comeback. But, eventually, they fell short. Again.

Dyson missed a 10-footer with 1:02 left that could have given UConn its first lead since 2-1. Then, things got odd.

After a timeout, Syracuse inbounded the ball with 45.5 seconds left and Andy Rautins missed a corner 3-pointer. Rick Jackson grabbed the rebound and passed to Scoop Jardine, and Jim Boeheim called timeout, though nobody but referee John Cahill seemed to notice. Jardine drove for a layup and was blocked by Gavin Edwards, and UConn grabbed the loose ball. But Cahill had awarded Boeheim the timeout, and the Orange retained possession with 36.6 seconds left.

Why did Boeheim call that timeout?

"I saw Scoop with the ball," he deadpanned. "I didn't look at the rest of it, but I don't think I had to. He didn't know where he was going, that's why I called time out."

Johnson was fouled by Robinson and hit both freebies. After a timeout, UConn ran its offense and Dyson settled for a long wing 3-pointer with about 13 seconds still remaining. He missed.

"We weren’t afraid to take a 3," said acting head coach George Blaney, "but we would have liked to have taken it a little closer. And 'Rome agrees."

Indeed …

"I could have gotten a better one than the one I got," Dyson confessed. "It felt good. I let it fly, and I looked where I was and I was a step or two (behind the 3-point line) … I thought it was going in."

When asked if Dyson's shot was the one the team wanted, sophomore point guard Kemba Walker said, succinctly: "Not really. We just wanted to get a good shot. That's really it."

Kris Joseph was fouled on the rebound and hit both free throws. Walker drove the length of the floor for a layup, but after a timeout, Wes Johnson hit Joseph with a long inbounds pass and Ater Majok was called for an intentional foul. UConn didn't guard the inbounds pass, meaning it had a 5-on-4 advantage, but still allowed Joseph to break free.

"You're trying to press, and what you always try to do in those circumstances is try to be a defensive back and not allow space in between," said Blaney. "They stepped open and created space, and that was all."

When asked if the long baseball pass was what he had designed, Boeheim simply said: "Once in a while, we have a play."

Joseph hit both free throws, Jardine added another for good measure, and Syracuse had survived.

Syracuse, a 65-percent foul-shooting team, hit 23-of-28 (82.1 percent) from the charity stripe.

***Not sure if Blaney was criticizing the refs or not with this postgame remark: "I asked the officials one time that Jimmy Boeheim has 800-and-whatever number of wins, and that he didn't need any help from them tonight. He had enough wins. We were trying not to get him another win tonight."

Blaney said he had been "really angry" with the team the last two days, but "I told them I was really proud of them tonight, because they gave everything they had. We just made some foolish mistakes. The three fouls that we committed just were really killers, and to me, that changed the game for them, and for us."

***Boeheim on Jim Calhoun:

"George Blaney is a tremendous coach, but Jim Calhoun is one of the best coaches ever to coach in college basketball. People don't mention him that much when they talk about great coaches. He's done more -- taking a program from the Yankee Conference to the top of college basketball – than anybody else has ever done, at any school. If you look at the other great programs, they were great before their coaches got there. For them to play this well with Jim not being there is a tribute to George, and the kids themselves."

***Anyway, tough loss, great effort by UConn. But at some point, it's got to turn these close calls against top teams into victories. A Cincinnati team that appears in a bit of disarray comes to town on Saturday, then comes a trip to Philly for No. 4 Villanova, and yet another opportunity to score that signature win.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

his game makes me sick. We should have had the ball, tie game, with the shot clock off. Instead, a very familiar looking ref makes a terrible call, grants Syracuse the timeout even thought Syracuse had already shot the ball.

After the game I researched the referee, whose name is John Cahill, and it just so happens to be that John Cahill is the same referee who made that very questionable call during the Cincinnati game (he called a questionable foul against UCONN, tie game with virtually no time remaining). Is something going on here? This jerk has cost us two games by making awful calls. It just too sketchy how two games this year we lost on awful calls, by the SAME referee? What’s going on with this idiot?>

February 10, 2010 at 11:40 PM 
Blogger David Borges said...

I will say this: earlier this season, some time in December, Jim Calhoun stated that he thought John Cahill was the best referee in the country. Jim Calhoun's own words. (True, he may think differently after the Cincy game).

February 11, 2010 at 1:19 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The calls were legit. ESPN is throwing the time out rule on every page and blog they have and it comes down to a TO "shall" be granted when there is a visable or audible signal and the team has possession. That's it, 2 elements - the signal and posession. Satisfy both and the TO is legit. When the ref calls the TO is not part of the equation, remember the language in the rule is "shall" not after or following or once or something else. Let's put it another way, if the language is something other than "shall" plus the two non-subjective elements, then refs would truly be able to introduce their own subjectivity into a game. What if a building is loud or a coach can't be heard for some reason, does that mean a TO would not be granted. The refs did the right thing on the TO call. Let's all move on and win the rest of our games. Good luck the rest of the way.

February 11, 2010 at 10:13 AM 

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