On the drive to Newark yesterday, I had this brilliant idea: Grade UConn on its performance after each game.
Simple enough, but still a fun little feature.
Professors never like handing out F’s on the first exam, and I’m no different. Unfortunately, UConn doesn’t deserve anything better than a failing grade for its effort versus Seton Hall.
A good friend of mine texted me during the game and summed it up perfectly: “They’re playing like they only met five minutes before the tip.”
UConn was discombobulated and pretty much overwhelmed by The Hall.
Let’s run through a checklist of basketball’s basic elements:
Ball protection: UConn turned the ball over 13 times (13!!!) in the first half. And that’s the main reason the Huskies trailed 35-22 heading into the locker room. Turnovers morphed into Seton Hall fast break points, and soon, an early UConn lead became a double-figure deficit.
Rebounding: The Huskies surrendered nine offensive boards to SHU in the first half, which equated to nine second-chance points. UConn had zero.
Shooting: Aside from Jeremy Lamb (7-for-14), the Huskies were miserable 13-for-43 from the field.
Balance: UConn never established a low-block presence — Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi combined to take just seven shots — and oftentimes had two guys on the high post.
“We wound up taking a lot of shots at the end of the clock and it was very stagnant,” Blaney said. “I just couldn’t get them out of it, so I’m not happy with my performance, either.”
Defense: UConn didn’t close out on 3-point shooters, something it’s struggled with at times this season. SHU point guard Jordan Theodore scored all 19 of his in the second half and hit a trio of 3-pointers that really opened things up.
The Little Things: No stats for this, but Lamb said “They made more hustle plays at some points in the game.”
Intangibles: Outside of the first few minutes, UConn never looked completely composed. The Huskies were on the opposite end of a blowout for the first time this year, and they failed to draw any closer than nine points.
That big UConn run we all expected — the oop to Drummond, the three by Napier, another three by Lamb — just never came.
So, chalk it up as a bad game on the road in the Big East. UConn gets an F. By no means, though, is it a reason to hit the panic button. This is still one of the most talented teams in the nation.
It just has some work to do.