Anyone who’s seen the past few UConn games can vouch for this: Whatever the Huskies were doing, it wasn’t working.
Jim Calhoun (AP)
So, Ryan Boatright is in at point guard; Shabazz Napier is out. And Roscoe Smith takes over for Alex Oriakhi as the team’s starting small forward. In addition, Niels Giffey reclaimed his starting job at small forward over DeAndre Daniels, which means UConn’s starting lineup will have three different players than it had against Notre Dame.
Not sure how long this will last, or how effective it will even be, but there’s no doubt that UConn desperately needs to find more offense.
“We have to get some cheap easy points, be against Georgetown or Seton Hall, we cannot keep getting 50 points a game,” Calhoun said. “We’re just not going to win that way.”
A few other interesting Calhoun quotes from today:
* “Some things people want to say about us: the fact that we’re not moving on offense, they’re right. We’re not fast-breaking. They’re right. We’re not getting enough easy hoops. They’re right. All of those things are right.”
* “If we don’t push the pace, we can’t win. We can’t win over these next 10 games – against anybody – if we keep scoring at the rate we’re scoring.”
*“We’re not desperate, because there are 10 games to go, plus the (Big East) tournament. But we are very, very aware of our situation.”
* “Maybe (Napier) will play better as the two-guard at times.”
On a much more important note, my hotel is in Chinatown here in DC, so I’m going across the street for some Hunan Chicken. Let’s see if they can top Good Taste in Danbury.
As expected, UConn dropped out of both polls following Sunday’s 50-48 loss to Notre Dame, its third consecutive defeat.
The Huskies (14-6 overall, 4-4 Big East) have major issues against the zone defense, and, according to Calhoun, leadership problems in the back court.
Both were painfully obvious Sunday, especially during scoreless drought that spanned 7:10 at the beginning of the second half. Many would call it UConn’s worst game of the year. I won’t go that far — but it’s pretty darn close.
Below, I rank UConn’s first 20 games, based solely on the Huskies’ performance, from top to bottom:
1. UConn 83, St. John’s 69, Dec. 31 — Huskies dominated in all facets for 33 minutes and shot 60.4 percent from the field. Late run by St. John’s made it respectable (kind of).
2. UConn 77, Holy Cross 40, Dec. 18 – Shabazz Napier summed it up perfectly: “We were supposed to win by 30, and we did,” he said. Andre Drummond was 11-for-12 from the field in a game that legitimately turned into a second-half dunk contest.
4. UConn 67, Notre Dame 53, Jan. 14– Huskies found out that Boatright would be sidelined the night before. The next morning, Notre Dame found out it didn’t matter. The Irish couldn’t physically match-up with UConn inside. Of course, there was a rematch…
5. UConn 64, West Virginia 57, Jan. 9 – “Andre Drummond was special,” Calhoun said. People said the crowd ignited UConn. Well, Drummond ignited the crowd. He dunked everything, held Kevin Jones off the glass and led the Huskies to the come-from-behind win.
6. UConn 78, Florida State 76 (OT), Nov. 26 — Boatright saved the day (I think you all know the story) and Napier poured in 26. This win is looking better with each passing week: The Noles have won five in a row, including a 33-point pasting of UNC and a win over Duke at the buzzer.
7. UConn 67, Harvard 53, Dec. 8 — No “Revenge of the Nerds” headline. I really was looking forward to seeing if I could get that in the paper. Harvard is a nice team, but it couldn’t physically compete with the Huskies.
8. UConn 80, Maine 60, Nov. 16 — Drummond hauled in 11 offensive rebounds and Maine’s entire team had 11 boards on the defensive end. UConn really asserted itself on the interior (34 offensive boards for the game) and Maine, well…Maine just isn’t very good.
9. UConn 73, UNC Asheville 63, Nov. 24 — Huskies jumped out to a 16-3 lead and were relatively even with the Bulldogs the rest of the way. For what it’s worth, Asheville is 11-1 in the Big South.
10. UConn 79, Fairfield 71, Dec. 22 — If I were ranking the best halves of the year, A. UConn’s first half would be No. 1 on the list and B. This would be a really long and unnecessary blog post. Huskies led by as many as 22, then “stopped playing,” Calhoun said.
11. UConn 60, South Florida 57, Dec. 28– Kind of like the Wagner game. South Florida wasn’t highly-touted (or touted at all) entering the game. UConn pulled it out in sluggish fashion.
12. UConn 87, Coppin State 70, Nov. 20 — A triple-double by Napier helped UConn overcome an early 27-14 deficit against the gritty — albeit severely outmanned — Golden Eagles.
13. UConn 78, Wagner 66, Nov. 14 — It was a struggle at the time, but it turns out Wagner is pretty decent: The Seahawks are 17-4 and looking like a tourney team.
14. Cincinnati 70, UConn 67, Jan. 18 — Huskies didn’t play terribly in this one. Cincy is one of the better teams in the Big East, and Shabazz Napier was remarkable in the closing minutes.
15. UCF 68, UConn 63, Nov. 25– Think this one should be lower? Granted, it was a meltdown, but the Huskies still didn’t have Ryan Boatright and played pretty well for 25 minutes. The latter can’t be said for the remaining games on this list.
17. Notre Dame 50, UConn 48, Jan. 29 — Best line came from Waterbury Rep-Am beat writer Ed Daigneault, who tweeted that Calhoun “looked like he was watching his grandkids play at the beach.” Calhoun said he tried to “play low-key…tried different things” with his team. Nothing seems to be working right now. The Huskies were miserable against the zone and not overly enthusiastic at any point.
18. Seton Hall 75, UConn 63, Jan. 7 — The one game where UConn was outplayed for a full 40 minutes. Seton Hall was just a better team on this day — there’s no other way to say it.
19. Tennessee 60, UConn 57, Jan. 21 – Ugh. Ooof. Ew. Have any other words/sounds to describe the Huskies’ offense against the Vols? It’s been stagnant at times, but this game — Napier dribble, dribble, dribble, fallaway jumper; Lamb dribble left, dribble right, crossover, tough runner– was brutal.
Jeremy Lamb isn’t normally cracking jokes and shooting the breeze with the media after games.
As you’d expect, he’s pretty low-key, pretty straight-to-the-point during interviews.
After Sunday’s 50-48 loss to Notre Dame, Lamb was flat-out dejected. He didn’t look up from the ground when he spoke, and he didn’t beat around the bush in his answers, either.
Shabazz Napier (AP)
“It wasn’t their defense,” he said. “We were horrible…horrible horrible.”
Indeed, UConn’s zone offense was pretty tough to watch. And the Huskies got beat to loose balls and offensive boards. Sprinkle in a few Notre Dame 3′s and you’ve got one of the most disheartening losses of the year.
Here’s the game story and the rundown of the ever-developing Ryan Boatright situation (in case you missed it, Tanesha Boatright’s attorney issued a statement to the NCAA, which promptly fired back a response).
A few quotes from The Boat and then we’ll get to the game:
* “It’s finally over, we can finally put it behind us. You don’t have to worry about me getting pulled out again.”
* “They shut the whole thing down….they have no more questions or anything.”
* “I don’t know what’s going on, whatever my mom and her lawyer have going on, that’s with them. I’m just happy to be back playing.”
And now for some Jim Calhoun quotes on the 50-48 instant classic…
* Calhoun on why Lamb attempted only nine shots (he hit six of them): “I know this sounds like a revelation, but the other team does know who he is. When he comes off the pick and roll, he’s doubled.”
* Calhoun on UConn’s energy: “The crowd, god bless ‘em, they tried to do the best they could to get the team awake, and I played as low-key as I could with them today, tried some different things, a possession team you can’t give two and three possessions because they’re going to grind you down…I think that comes from mental toughness.”
* This one pretty much sums it up: “This is one of the few games where I look down at the sheet and say ‘I don’t know who to praise.’ Collectively, their team beat our team.”
*UConn wasn’t good by any means, but Notre Dame’s tempo — milking the shot clock, turning it into a halfcourt game — has had an effect on other teams, too. The Irish held Seton Hall to 42 points on Jan. 25 and limited high-flying Syracuse to 23 first-half points in a 67-58 stunner a week ago.
* I’ve thrown this stat around a lot this year, but now that UConn is actually in the midst of a three-game losing streak, it’s relevant. Under Calhoun, only two UConn teams — 1991 and 1992 — have suffered three-game skids and still made the NCAA tourney. This team is starting to draw comparisons to the 2010 squad (talented, but never put it together and missed the Big Dance). I won’t go that far yet. As my dad, the perpetual UConn optimist told me, “all teams have bad stretches.”
I still believe these Huskies are fully capable of making a deep NCAA run. These next three games — Georgetown, Seton Hall and Louisville — are absolutely crucial. UConn needs to snap out of this slump soon.
You’re wrong! No, you’re wrong! Nuh uh, you’re wrong!
The NCAA and Tanesha Boatright’s lawyer, Scott Tompsett, have a nice little back-and-forth going. Here’s the statement released by the NCAA in response to Tompsett’s statement, which you can a few blog posts back:
Scott Tompsett’s allegations are not accurate. The NCAA statement regarding Ryan Boatright is factual and in response to numerous public misstatements and the resulting inaccurate reporting by some media. The NCAA acted appropriately to ensure the misleading accounts did not continue. The NCAA did not violate the student-athlete or family’s privacy in anyway, nor did it imply that the benefits were used to influence Ryan Boatright to attend the University of Connecticut.
In fact, both UCONN and Mr. Boatright should be commended for their cooperation throughout the process to gather information. The school and student-athlete’s dedication to uncover the facts should be viewed as a positive example, not somehow construed negatively. Had Ms. Boatright cooperated fully from the beginning, this matter could have been settled months ago.
This list is sure to need at least one more update this afternoon, but for now, here’s a rundown of links with Hearst Connecticut Media Group’s coverage of the Ryan Boatright saga:
* Scott Tompsett, the attorney representing Tanesha Boatright is threatening legal action against the NCAA after the organization took the rare step Saturday of publicly disclosing details of the investigation.
* Kevin Duffy takes a close look at the long, twisting — and sometimes comical — path that brought Boatright to UConn and saw him miss two stretches of games before finally being reinstated.
* Chris Elsberry writes the NCAA should be put behind bars for its handling of the situation.
Scott Tompsett, the attorney representing Tanesha Boatright, emailed this statement prior to the beginning of UConn’s game against Notre Dame:
I represent Tanesha Boatright. The statement below is in response to the statement released late yesterday by the NCAA. Statement In Response to NCAA’s Statement About Ryan and Tanesha Boatright I am astounded that the NCAA released confidential information about Ryan’s case. Ryan and his mother Tanesha cooperated fully with the NCAA with the clear understanding that the information they provided would be kept confidential and would not be released to the public. The NCAA has violated the Boatrights’ privacy by releasing their personal information. Moreover, the NCAA’s statement contains false and misleading information.
For example, the statement implies that the benefits in question were provided to influence Ryan’s decision either to attend UConn or chose an agent, if and when he goes pro. That is false and the NCAA knows it.
In fact, the two individuals who provided the benefits are friends of the Boatrights. They were simply helping the family with no expectation of repayment or reciprocation. And there’s not a shred of evidence that they influenced Ryan’s decision to attend UConn or that they intend to represent Ryan if he ever goes pro. The public also should know that the NCAA never told Tanesha and Ryan who made the accusations about them or told them the substance of the accusations so they could defend themselves. Further, contrary to the NCAA’s statement, neither Tanesha nor Ryan received a car from anyone. Until the NCAA released its statement, the Boatrights considered this matter closed. But the NCAA’s improper release of private and false information has caused the Boatrights to consider their legal options.
UConn president Susan Herbst released the following statement on Ryan Boatright, who’s set to return to the UConn lineup today against Notre Dame after being reinstated yesterday afternoon by the NCAA:
We are pleased that Ryan is now eligible to play basketball, and thank his family, friends, fellow students, faculty, coaches and everyone who has supported him and the university over the last several months.
This young man has shown tremendous patience and poise all the while in the national spotlight. This is a strength of character that is seldom demanded of college freshmen and I am extraordinarily proud of him, our team and our coaching staff.
As far as the process that took place over the last few months, the University does have ideas about how it might be improved and we would like continue this dialogue.