UConn was pounded on the boards and inept in the backcourt Saturday against Villanova.
The end result: A major letdown following the exhilarating victory over Syracuse Wednesday. The Huskies (17-7, 7-5 Big East) gave up second, third and fourth chances to the Wildcats, the league’s No. 1 rebounding team. It’s tough to win when you give up 20 offensive boards. It’s even tougher when you combine that with 19 turnovers.
Some notes and quotes from the XL Center:
*Villanova center Mouphtao Yarou had 11 points and a game-high 16 rebounds in what Jay Wright termed “maybe the best game of his career.”
*Ryan Boatright’s turnovers (5) matched his combined points (4) and assists (1). It may have been the worst game of his career.
*Kevin Ollie didn’t single anyone out — not his style — but he spoke in general terms about UConn’s “toughness.”
“It’s more about being tough,” Ollie said. “That’s tough on defense, tough on offense, tough on the boards. When tough situations happen, you have to have the mindset that, ‘I’m going to get thorugh this adversity.’”
*Leon Tolksdorf connected on two 3-pointers in the first half, which equaled his season total.
*Shabazz Napier (1-for-8 from the floor) talked about making an impact in other areas.
“You have to just give yourself up for the team — most players don’t know how to do that yet,” Napier said. ” I wasn’t able to score, but I tried my best on defense, tried my best passing the ball. (Boatright) just has to learn that you have to find other ways to be productive. I learned that my freshman year when Kemba (Walker) was the scorer and I was the defensive player. I don’t think (Boatright) really had a chance to learn that his freshman year trying to score, so he just has to learn that.”
*Omar Calhoun led the Huskies with 16 points and six rebounds. DeAndre Daniels (13 points, four rebounds) and Niels Giffey (11 points, three rebounds) were the only other Huskies in double-figures. A combination of poor rebounding (often a theme) and careless ballhandling (a rarity) ultimately killed the Huskies’ chances.
“When you get knocked down, hopefully you pick up something,” Ollie said. “And hopefully we picked up that we have to be a little tougher.”