Wednesday, February 1, 2012

'Back to the Drawing Board' for UConn

What do you do when you make wholesale lineup changes and end up with the same results?

“Back to the drawing board,” according to Ryan Boatright.

For about 3 1/2 minutes, Boatright's presence in the starting lineup in place of Shabazz Napier really seemed to light the spark UConn has desperately been missing. He hit Andre Drummond for three early hoops, and the Huskies had a 13-7 lead.

Then, Georgetown went into a 2-3 zone, slowing UConn's offense back down to a standstill. Not long after, Boatright picked up two quick fouls and was on the bench for the final 10 minutes of the half.

The rest of the way, it was pretty much more of the same for the Huskies. UConn did manage to get more good looks but couldn't shoot at all. The Huskies were 18-for-60 from the floor, 2-for-20 on 3-pointers (heck, even 6-for-13 from the foul line).

The 44 points mark the second-lowest total ever for a UConn team in Big East play. The previous low was 42, set in 1982 and 1999.

Jeremy Lamb was 4-for-18, 2-for-11 -- many of them open looks. The three new starters -- Boatright, Niels Giffey and Roscoe Smith -- were 1-for-9 for two points.

Of course, the players they replaced weren't much better -- particularly Alex Oriakhi and Shabazz Napier.

Oriakhi went scoreless with one rebound and attempted exactly one shot all night. That shot? A dunk attempt that somehow wedged between the rim and the basket.

And Napier. Oh, Napier. He went 0-for-9 with one point and has now missed 17 straight shots from the floor. His body language wasn't much better tonight, either.

“I expect a lot more out of him, an awful lot more – including body language,” said Jim Calhoun.

Said Boatright of Napier: “He’s not showing hatred towards me or anything like that. He’s handling it like he’s handling it. We like each other, we still get along and stuff like that. It’s the coach’s decision.”

UConn's point total matched its second-lowest ever in Big East play.

“The one thing that did shake my head, we missed a ton of shots that Division 1 basketball players ,and UConn, should make,” said Calhoun, seemingly separating, at least for a moment, the fact that his team is, indeed, a D-1 team.

There have been times over the past few games where it’s been tough to tell.

But the Huskies -- at least some of them -- vow to keep fighting.

“I’m going to keep working, I’m going to keep pushing. We’re going to keep pushing,” said Calhoun. “Tomorrow’s (practice is) going to be longer, and we’re going to go at them and find people who can do what they can do. We’re not the most talented team, I guess we’re the sixth-youngest (team in America). I have no idea what that means. It means (bleep), in plain English.”

Added Andre Drummond: “I have faith in everybody, I’m sure everybody has faith in everybody else, the coaching staff has faith in us. Nobody’s given up yet. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”

And Boatright: "I remember last year’s team, I remember watching them, they lost the last four out of five heading into the Big East and they put it together and made a run and they just came back. We still have a chance.”

In all, Calhoun was -- once again -- surprisingly serene after another bad loss.

“I’m happier with our defense than I was on Saturday against Notre Dame," he said. "Our defense, generally, was good, except we had some people who felt, down nine with 12 to go, game’s over so they’re going to gamble. Bang. You’re not down nine anymore, you’re down 11.”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

They don't even look close to being a good team. Shabazz is too erratic. He's a great ball handler and he's not afraid to make a mistake like a lot of other point guards under Calhoun. But his shot selection is just poor (especially with that fade away J where he kicks one leg forward). I realize Oriakhi is struggling horribly but the offense starts with napier (and lamb for that matter). They are the facilitators and they have done a pretty poor job up to this point.

February 2, 2012 at 1:34 PM 

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