Lineup Shake-Up: Boatright, Roscoe to Start
JIm Calhoun is shaking things up: Ryan Boatright will start at point guard tomorrow night vs. Georgetown and Roscoe Smith will start at power forward. Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi, the team's two captains, will come off the bench.
Also, Niels Giffey returns to the starting 5, in place of DeAndre Daniels.
It's simply a matter of quickening the pace offensively for the Huskies, who have scored 57 and 48 points in their last two games and look stagnant on offense.
"It doesn’t mean ‘Bazz can’t do the job … We just need to get into a better pace," Calhoun said. "From Bazz’s standpoint, he’ll get a better viewpoint coming off the bench.”
“We’ve got to get some cheap, easy points, be it against Georgetown or Seton Hall," Calhoun added. "We just can’t keep getting 50 points a game. We’re just not going to win that way.”
Calhoun said he started pondering such changes a couple of games ago. However, the team had some good practices over the past week, and he felt good about things going into Sunday's Notre Dame game (and, of course, had Boatright practicing on the blue team all week, not knowing if he'd be able to play).
But Sunday's stinker was the final straw.
"It’s not against anybody, it’s for the team," Calhoun said. "It’s what we think is best. (Boatright) is young, and he’s been told to push the ball up. And it’ll be against some three-quarter court pressure, because they will trap us.”
Telling Napier and Oriakhi, the team's captains and key cogs in last year's title run, wasn't easy.
“It’s very difficult, in a lot of different ways," the coach said. "But what I’ve got to do is not what’s best for each individual player, it’s what’s best (for the team) ... The one thing I’ve always felt we need to do as a team is to create easy baskets. It’s pretty hard to win a league as crazy and as close as ours (without doing that)."
Giffey is the quickest player up the floor, according to Calhoun, and Daniels is a close second. But Giffey's got more experience and is back in the starting lineup.
And as for Roscoe, his ability to run the floor should also help UConn's pace.
“He will get up the court," Calhoun siad. "I don’t know what he’s gonna do when he gets there, but he’ll try to make something happen, that’s for sure.”
Pretty intriguing stuff. Of course, Boatright could throw the ball away 37 seconds into the game, and Napier could pop right off the bench to replace him.
Calhoun also defended criticism of Andre Drummond's recent play.
“I’m not saying Andre’s perfect, he made a couple of not-so-good plays, but if he can keep giving us double-doubles, block four shots, it gives us a much better chance to win basketball games," the coach said.
It's also incumbent upon the Huskies to get Jeremy Lamb more than just the nine shots he got against Notre Dame.