UConn notebook: Cardinals’ stop the 3-ball; Smith plays like All-American

Some news, notes and quotes from Saturday’s 81-48 No. 19 UConn loss to No. 11 Louisville.

WOW MOMENTS!: The Cardinals dominated the series at the end of the Big East days and that has carried over to The American. However, not even coach Rick Pitino expected to beat the Huskies by such a margin in the final regular-season conference meeting between the schools. Louisville leaves for the ACC after this season.

“Yeah, it was surprising, but they have had trouble of late scoring,” Pitino said. “We played a match-up trapping zone, and it was really tough to score against us.”

The Huskies have thrived on the perimeter all season, but were just 3 of 22 from 3-point range, which resulted in a season-low 13.6 percent. Shabazz Napier was 1-for-10 and Niels Giffey, who came in shooting 57.1 percent in the last three games, was only 0-for-1.

“We took away the three-point shot completely until the end of the game,” Pitino said. “When you have great players like Shabazz with no points and you look at their team and the volume of threes they shoot, and you don’t give up a three, it was a pretty special defensive performance.”

Napier’s lone 3-pointer came in the second half, where the Cardinals outscored UConn 51-30.

“It’s a tough match up because they play zone,” Napier said. “We always have trouble with guys who play it. They understand that Connecticut is guard oriented, and if they can stop the guards, make the forwards and the centers be the reason why you lost, you are going to have an easier battle with them.

“Just the zone, that’s the biggest thing.”

TOURNAMENT TIME: The AAC Tournament tips off Wednesday in Memphis with two first-round games.

No. 10 South Florida plays No. 7 Rutgers at 7 p.m. while No. 8 Temple and No. 9 Central Florida meet at 9:30.

Cincinnati, which split the regular-season title with Louisville, won the postgame coin toss for the top seed. It will play the winner of UCF-Temple at 7 p.m. in one of four quarterfinal games Thursday.

No. 6 Houston and No. 3 SMU meet at 1 p.m. and No. 2 Louisville plays the USF-Rutgers winner at 3 p.m. No. 4 UConn and No. 5 Memphis play the night cap, which is slated to start at 9 p.m.

MR SMITH COMES THROUGH: Louisville senior Russ Smith scored a season-low three points, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a factor in the win.

In 30 minutes, Smith dished out a career-high 13 assists to go with four steals.

Russ is a great player, he played the game,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “He let the game play him. If everyone is loading up (on him), he passed. That’s what great players do. That’s what All-Americans do. And he’s an All-American.

“When you load up, you pass.”

Categories: General
William Paxton

3 Responses

  1. Mike McManus says:

    Your companion article was very informative. Napier said that it sucks and they need to watch tape. When Samuels plays, he plays more like a true point guard. And though I might be accused of blasphemy, several times I’ve seen UCONN’s forwards open in the corner while Bazz is busy dribbling around the back court. It must be frustrating for them to keep running back & forth along the baseline trying to get open, and then have their point guard ignore them. I think both Bazz and Boat have a tendency to be selfish and several announcers have been critical of them for just that. I’m not sure at this point in time if they can change their style of play.

  2. William S. Paxton says:

    I agree Mike. … PGs distribute the ball and shouldn’t do all the shooting. Giffey picked up a couple bad early fouls in the first half and took himself out of the game there. … Pretty poor overall outing from the Huskies.

  3. Mike McManus says:

    Napier and Boatright always provide post-game insight, but they need to practice what they preach. If the guards are taken out of the game, then who is responsible for getting the ball to the other guys? Duh! Giffey had one shot? Why? Russ Smith didn’t score much but he sure made his team mates look good. UCONN’s two guards try to do it all by themselves and though Bazz has won a lot of games by his personal output and 3-point shooting, he needs to have a plan B…..he didn’t have one tonight and he looked rather ordinary.