A look at the good, bad and ugly following UConn’s first win in The American – an 84-61 drubbing of UCF:
- BRIMAH’S TIME: The big fellow had a breakout game with career highs in points (20) and rebounds (eight) to go with his standard four blocks and the center position was an asset for the Huskies for once. However, this is what was most impressive about Brimah’s night: after rebounding a Shabazz Napier missed jumper with 16:29 left in the first, the 7-footer confidently (something that was missing in previous games on the offensive end) went right at the basket for an easy two points.
UConn teammate DeAndre Daniels’ take: “His main focus has been catching the ball and finishing without outing the ball on the ground. That’s what he did today. He was able to finish and had a couple of dunks.”
2. GLASS EATERS: Against The American’s top rebounding team, the Huskies as a collective group dominated the boards on both ends of the floor. Six different players had at least five rebounds and they finished with a 50-34 edge there. With a season-high 18 offensive boards, the Huskies scored 21 points – almost their victory margin. UCF coach Donnie Jones: “I thought they played much harder as a team tonight. I thought they played well. Obviously, not just because they beat us, but I thought this was the best I have seen them play in the last four games and that’s a credit to Kevin (Ollie) – he had them ready to play.”
3. IMPOSING THEIR WILL: Too often the Huskies have allowed the opposing team’s guards to dictate tempo, but not Saturday. UCF’s Isaiah Sykes scored 16 points (6 of 14 shooting), but UConn’s Lasan Kromah along with Niels Giffey and Napier did a sound job of not letting him get too comfortable.
Ollie’s take: “The ace of spades was Sykes. We wanted to take him out of the game, and then we didn’t want (Kasey) Wilson to affect the game at the 3-point line. I think we accomplished both of those. They both got their points, but they didn’t establish a rhythm and that’s one thing we didn’t want them to do.”
4. STEADY EDDIES: Lost in Brimah Time and the great front court contributions was the solid play from the Husky backcourt of Napier (14 points, five rebounds, 11 assists and five steals) and Boatright (11 points, seven rebounds, four assists). Not only did they do their own things, but they were wise enough to feed the hot hands.
Jones’ take: “That’s a credit to Napier and Boatright, those guys understand the impact of whatever you got to do to win and that’s the thing we have to do better. … Tonight the big fellow did a good job and they got him the ball.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
- YOU HAVE TO PLAY 40: The Huskies had a couple mini lapses, with both coming at the start of the halves. UCF opened with a 6-0 run before Ollie settled the team down with the time. The Knights also came out of the half with an 8-1 run, cutting UConn’s lead to 36-32, but never got closer.
Napier’s take: “We understood that we were going to go through some bad hiccups, it’s just part of playing basketball. They were going to make their run. We had to make ours. I told the guys to stay with it and be ready to make our run and to make sure we make it a good one. That’s exactly what happened.”
2. ZONED OUT: The Knights tried to knock the Huskies off their game in the first half when they went to a zone defense. At first it worked, but then UConn muscled its way out of it.
Ollie’s take: “They threw that zone at us a little bit. It kind of got us off rhythm, but once we started establishing the four-hole we got out of that, and that allowed us to pick it up even more on defense when we started to getting some shots to go in.”
3. OFF THE MARK: Hardly to fault Kromah after another stellar defensive night, but he struggled on offense – 2 of 8 shooting. Omar Calhoun’s woes continue with a 0-for-2 outing in 14 minutes.