Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shabazz: 'I've Got to Question These Guys' Hearts'

Shabazz Napier speaks from the heart.

We learned that after the Rutgers loss, and we learned it even more after today's bad home loss to Marquette.

Here's what Napier had to say about his teammates:

"I've got to question a lot of these guys' hearts. Just simple stuff like allowing alley-oops at the end of the game, just quitting ... it doesn't look like UConn basketball. You don't quit. It doesn't look like basketball at all. Where I'm from, you ain't getting that alley-oop at the end of the game. You won the game, you won the game. Don't try to embarass us. That's just a measure of your heart. If you've got to knock somebody out of the air, you knock them out of the air. The other team's not going to beat you up physically. It can't happen. It looked like we gave up at the end. That's tough to say, because we're a great team. For those words to be coming out of my mouth, it's just horrendous."

He continued:

"When push comes to shove, it's who's out there and who's not giving it back. Some guys don't want to give it back. Some guys get punched and want to throw a pillow at somebody. It's basketball, you're supposed to go out there and give it your all. This is team basketball, it's not tennis, it's not golf, it's not a one-player sport. You get punched, and some guys are throwing pillows back. You're not supposed to throw pillows back, you're supposed to lock up on defense and do the necessary things to get the win."

"I'm blunt. I told guys all the time what I feel, but sometimes I hold a lot back in ... I don't want to say the wrong things. But at the end of the game, I told the guys, 'I've got to question a lot of your hearts.' You're not giving your all. I make mistakes, but at the same time, I learn from my mistakes, I make sure I apologize for my mistakes, and I tell guys, 'I'm not perfect.' The only reason I'm speaking out is because I'm the captain, and at the end of the day, I"m the only one who wants to speak out. Everybody else, when they get in the locker room, they're so quiet, like we just died."

Napier specifically called out Tyler Olander.

"Tyler can be real good for this team. He can knock that mid-range shot down. I don't think any other big can shoot like him. He gets out there and plays timid. We try to tell him all the time, 'Do the things you do in practice, you'll be a good player.' He's timid. We don't understand why he wants to throw a bounce pass three feet away from his other teammate, rather than shoot that mid-range shot."

So there you have it, from UConn's captain. A lot of what he says is true (though defending late-game alley-oops is the least of the Huskies' problems; stopping Marquette's early-game fast break would have been far more vital).

I don't think UConn lacks heart, but when compared to the fire and heart and veteran leadership and smarts displayed by Marquette today, the Huskies sure fell short on just about all counts.

And it should be noted: Marquette is good. A team that can defend like that, with two terrific senior players in Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, with the ability to shoot (10 3-pointers) and run the floor, has got to be dangerous come NCAA tourney time.

I know I'll have them advancing pretty far in my bracket, for whatever that's worth.

As for UConn: Yeah, they're still in the Big Dance, based on their RPI and strength of schedule. But do they really pass the eye test right now? Are they truly a deserving tourney team, after losing nine of their last 13 games?

Be honest.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This team is a disaster. Between Olander's tweet earlier in the week about uconn fans being terrible fans and husky nation being small, as well the overall lack of productivity from the offense. This team really needs to look in the mirror and realize that if they want to be good they have to move the ball as a team, not let one guy do all the work, because there isn't one guy who can carry them like Kemba did. Shabazz has no right to speak up, the guys a bust. The whole team should go down and play for quinnipiac to see if they can win some games there. Finally, the fact that you think they should be in the tournament is deplorable.

February 18, 2012 at 5:06 PM 
Blogger David Borges said...

I don't think they should be in the tournament. Quite to the contrary, actually. But considering the standards the NCAA tournament selection committee goes by (RPI, strength of schedule, etc.), they most likely are in the tournament. As of now.

February 18, 2012 at 5:21 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still a good amount left that will determine if they make the tournament. If they lose out, which is a distinct possibility, they should not be in.

Shabazz pisses me off too. He's a total hypocrite. Look at his body language. He's not a leader. I remember your post a while back about how the team wouldn't listen to him. Wonder why??? Not to sound cliche, but a leader doesn't complain that people won't follow him. They find a way to make the team follow him. He's absurd. I have never seen a team leader act this way in any sport. Kid needs to grow up.

February 18, 2012 at 5:42 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree with that last comment. Although,it should be noted that olander and shabazz are on fine terms becauae they were both at huskython together this evening. Playing around. Did not seem upset. For whatever that's worth. Drummond was also there.

February 19, 2012 at 2:24 AM 

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