Tough one to take. I'm not going to post a lot tonight, but a few quick thoughts.
Refs were absolutely brutal in the first half. The foul ratio was unbelievably tilted in U-Con's favor. Still, we played hard in a great atmosphere. Our shooting down the stretch was abysmal and killed us. Make a couple shots here and there and this is a win. Still, proud of our defense, proud of our players, and proud of our winning streak that sadly must come to an end.
That said, we need to bounce back in a big way Monday. If we lose to Marquette, that's four in a row and we're looking at the bubble. Need to make sure this loss doesn't become two or more.
One last thought, I'd take Luke Harangody over Thabeet or Adrien any day or night. At the risk of sounding crass and losing all journalistic integrity, I must say that Hasheem Thabeet sucks. ESPN cover boy looks terrible on offense and has very little agility. What makes this loss most frustrating is how both those players ran their mouths prior to the contest. Props to Adrien because he backed it up, but Thabeet wasn't even one of the best five players on the floor tonight*.
Ok, time to actually break down the game. We'll start with Harangody because he was the only one in double figures scoring tonight. 24 points, 15 rebounds. He wasn't as effective as he was in Storrs last year, but still a very solid game. Neutralized Thabeet with outside shooting and taking him away from the rest of the game. No complaints here.
Tory Jackson has a tendency to make frustrating decisions when you need him the most. Two turnovers at critical times, but you cannot be upset with the rest of his game. 7 rebounds, only 4 assists, but made a couple big threes.
McAlarney was awfully cold tonight, especially in the second half. He tried to take the ball inside the arc a bit more and the shots were not falling. 3-15 shooting overall is a terrible game. 3-8 beyond the arc. If he had made a few of those then this game would have turned out very differently. He did not, and we lost.
Ayers and Hillesland should not be starters together. Swapping the small forward and sixth man slots last year they were good, but this season it is clear that neither is good enough to start for a Sweet 16 caliber team. 4 points between them. 11 rebounds, but few of them were contested. Ayers is nothing when he has such a terrible night shooting and Hillesland makes plenty of errors driving to the basket. Bench one or both, please.
Off the bench, I liked Luke Zeller today (did I really just say that?). Not a lot of stats, but he played better D than Ayers and Hillesland and showed some tenacity on the boards. At least he looked like he cared out there. Peoples was nothing special and we didn't see enough minutes from Nash or Scott. Nash did score 8 points in 2 minutes (why doesn't he play more?).
Overall, as Coach Brey hinted post-game, I'd like to see more of Nash and Scott. At least give Nash the 10+ minutes he deserves on the floor. If Zeller can give us better minutes at the 4 (as I believe he can), he should be starting. Ayers and Hillesland are not big time starters and should split time at the 3 like last year.
Frustrating end to a very fun day. The school came through at GameDay and we played tough against a very good opponent, but a loss is a loss. Must bounce back against Marquette or this season may go down the drain. As it is, we should be unranked for the first time Monday.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
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*F.Y.I. The five best players on the floor were Jackson, Dyson, Adrien, Harangody, and... damn maybe Thabeet. But he's a distant fifth!
You can push Thabeet down if you try hard enough. Kemba Walker had a good game. Do it! Thugbeet is lazy and overrated!
When one team attacks the basket and one settles for jumpers you are not going to get calls. Nothing, and I mean nothing from Ayers, Hillesland, Zeller and McAlarney. Get Nash on the floor. Very disappointing performance. We are a long, long way from being able to compete with teams like that.
Thabeet was the one who wasn't afraid of Hansbrough, right? Tyler, not Ben.
I thought Harangody had teammates. You wouldn't know it from last night. McAlarney was especially disappointing.
BTW, what makes you think a loss to Marquette makes this a bubble team. This team is a bubble team right now.
Zeller was tenacious on the boards? Were you out buying popcorn when he got beat twice in a row for putback baskets? Brey promptly sat his sorry butt down.
mcalarney showed the flaws in his game. dyson might be the best perimeter defender in the big east and he showed that against mcalarney. you can't blame the refs here. uconn dominates free throws in every game they play because they're so big. i think we're in trouble.
Our FT rate was low even by UConn's standards. Their median conceded is around 15, we only had about 5 last night.
If you want evidence that we played a very good game defensively, consider that we held UConn to their lowest offensive efficiency of the season, second lowest EFG% (behind their game at WVU) and second lowest offensive rebound % (behind their game at Buffalo).
In addition to our shooting, our offensive rebounding also left a lot to be desired. We didn't get second chance points, and this is something that Nash might have helped with (his offensive rebounding numbers are very good, albeit in very limited minutes).
Impressive numbers. Would have been a very good win had we just played a respectable offensive game.
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