In the final minutes of Monday’s beatdown — or butt-whipping, as Alex Oriakhi put it — I sent out the following tweet: “I’ve been going to #UConn games since I was a freshman in 2004-05. This is the worst one I’ve seen.”
About a half-hour later, as I waited outside the UConn locker room, my roommate from freshman year tweeted at me.
“This may be unimportant, but that was not your freshman year.”
Nope, it wasn’t. Upon further review, I was a freshman in 2005-06.
Let’s just put it this way: Monday was not my day. I packed just one long-sleeve shirt for this trip and got a big old coffee stain on this morning (it’s a white shirt, by the way). During halftime of the game, I accidentally walked into the women’s bathroom — a mistake I’ve never before committed.
No one saw me do it, but I still felt pretty embarrassed.
Unfortunately for UConn, millions of viewers tuned in for Monday’s second half. The Huskies probably felt pretty embarrassed, too.
Things spiraled out of control faster than I’ve ever seen. Louisville scored 30 points in less than eight minutes and steamrolled UConn, 80-59. Credit the Cardinals, no doubt. They’re a good team that got ridiculously hot. But when the going got tough, UConn seemed to pack it in. And that might be the most discouraging part.
“In the second half, we just gave in,” Oriakhi said. “I told guys, if we’re going to lose, we’re going to go down swinging. And we just took a butt-whipping and we didn’t fight back.”
Here’s the other discouraging part: UConn’s offense is unwatchable right now. It’s never been too smooth, but Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb would always bail the Huskies out with some contested perimeter shots.
That hasn’t happened recently. Not at all. Napier and Lamb have both hit unimaginable slumps.
“It’s very bad timing,” Oriakhi said. “I definitely think we have some of the best guards in the country. It’s only going to be a phase. I think they’ll snap out of it soon.”
The numbers of this phase: Dating back to the end of a loss to Tennessee, Napier is 6-for-40 from the field. Lamb has made just 5 of his last 23 3-point attempts.
“Times like (Monday), I have to put the ball in the hole and I just can’t hit a shot,” Lamb said. “I try to work hard on defense, but I can’t hit a shot right now. I’m just not…I’m just not good on offense. I’m in a bad slump right now.”
Some other things that stick out from Monday: UConn assisted on just seven of its 20 baskets and committed 15 turnovers, 11 of which came in the second half. Louisville, which didn’t shoot particularly well early on, launched 72 field goal attempts!!! The Cardinals hit seven 3s in the second half. The final one was banked in by Angel Nunez with 2:20 remaining.
After the game, Ryan Boatright vowed to become the leader UConn so desperately needs.
“If I have to take that role, then I’m going to do it,” Boatright said. “Something has to happen.”
“I never came in and tried to be the boss or anything like that,” he continued. “I always played my role. I just wanted to win. If all they want to do is win, they’ll accept (me as the leader). Somebody has to step up and do it because we can’t afford to give in and lose like we just did.”