Good win for UConn tonight. Yes, Temple is awful (how were the Owls picked to finish fifth in the American this season?). Still, the Huskies did what they had to do -- beat up on a bad team and never take their foot off the pedal, cruising to a 90-66 win
DeAndre Daniels and Shabazz Napier combined for 58 points and came a Napier missed trey away from becoming the first Husky duo to score 30 in the same game (Daniels had a career-high 31, Napier 27). Kevin Ollie apparently kept Napier in the game late to try to get him to 30, but Napier missed a trey with a little over a minute left (one of only three 3-pointers he missed in eight attempts).
“If you leave me in the game to get 30, I met as well
just shoot the 3," Napier said afterwards. "I messed that one up. Hopefully,
I get another chance.”
All in good fun on a fun night for the Huskies, who outrebounded the Owls by 20 (45-25) and held Anthony Lee, the AAC's top rebounder, to nary a board.
Daniels and Napier stepped up in the absence of Ryan Boatright, who attended his cousin's funeral earlier in the day in Aurora, Ill.
“It’s tough," said Ollie. "I talked to him right before the funeral,
talked to Tanesha (his mother), just let them know that we’re thinking about
him. He sent me a text, told me to ‘Get that dub (win)’ … I know he’s got a
heavy heart, I know his family’s going to get through this, leaning on their
guy. Hopefully, they can get through it. It’s just a tough situation. A kid
dies at 21, I couldn’t even imagine what they’re going through.”
The coach added: “I’m glad he stuck with his family, to be there for his
mother. He’s got a couple of young brothers and sisters, and they probably
needed that man of the house to be there.”
*** We cover all of that and more in our game column tonight
. But one other thing struck me the past couple of days: Terrence Samuel, the freshman pressed into more action (15 minutes) than he's seen in over a month due to Boatright's absence, hasn't seemed himself lately. Speaking to him last year while he was in high school, playing in all-star games, etc., he was always an upbeat, effervescent personality. And he was a kid who absolutely loved
all things UConn. I remember calling him last March, the night it was announced that the AAC wouldn't be playing its conference championship tourney in New York City, Samuel's hometown.
"I love UConn,” said Samuel, who had committed to the
Huskies the prior fall. “I’ll be proud to have ‘UConn’ on my chest.”
I'm sure Samuel still loves UConn as much as ever. But the kid's seemed a bit down the past two days, even as the chance for more playing time loomed tonight. Asked Monday if his lack of playing time had been bothering him, Samuel responded: “It has, actually. At first, it kind of got to me a
lot. I might have said, ‘Just stop working for a while.’ But I’ve still got to keep
my work habits, keep working in the gym, get better, working on my shot and
getting ready to play when my name’s called.”
On Tuesday, Samuel did pretty well in his 15 minutes, scoring two points, grabbing two rebounds, handing out a pair of assists and turning the ball over twice, as well. Nothing spectacular, but not too bad, either. But Samuel still seemed a bit somber afterwards.
“I second-guessed myself a lot," he said. "When I had my shot, I’ve
just got to get my feel back, I guess. I felt I played OK. I played good ‘D’ at
first, but in the second half, my defense was horrible. I’ve just got to work
Asked again if his lack of P.T. has bothered him, he said:
“At first I did. I mean, I’m a basketball player,
obviously I want to be on the court. It does get to me at times. I want to
play, but I guess the coach doesn’t trust me right now. I know we’ve got a
great point guard in front of me, so I guess I’ve just got to wait my time. If
I get in for one minute or two minutes, just do my job.”
Samuel had said on Monday that Daniels, who didn't see a whole lot of playing time as a freshman, either, has helped him get through his trying times this season.
Daniels said he told Samuel, "Just keep your head up. Basically, you never know what’s
going to happen. Somebody can get hurt and he’d have to come in and fill that spot for that person.
You’ve just always got to be ready when your name’s called. I just told him,
‘Always be ready, because I’ve been through the same thing you’ve been through
as a freshman – wanting to play more, wanting to help your team.’ But,
everybody goes through it. I just told him to keep his head up and keep working
Labels: Anthony Lee, DeAndre Daniels, Kevin Ollie, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Terrence Samuel