Giffey sparks 101-point UConn explosion
STORRS – It is not supposed to be this easy.
Making 11 of your 13 free throws is considered great. Making 11 of your 13 three-pointers? Simply unheard of.
UConn’s Niels Giffey is currently in a shooting zone all players dream of. The senior continued his ridiculous early season pace, adding three more three-pointers in the Huskies’ 101-55 demolition over Detroit at Gampel Pavilion Thursday night.
Entering the night eight of nine from the beyond the arc, the senior promptly hit his first three as the 8,140 in attendance cheered louder each time he began his shooting motion.
Giffey tied his career-high for the second straight game with 15 points and missed just one of his six attempts from the field. He combined for 28 points against Maryland and Yale and has made 15 of his 18 shot attempts on the season.
Not coincidentally, the Huskies are now 3-0, averaging 86 points per game.
Giffey has no scientific reason for his success, just pointing to an increased confidence he gained from playing with the German national team this past summer.
“It really comes down to just confidence,” Giffey said. “My confidence and my preparation for the season have made a big difference. I’m also happy that I’ve improved my decision-making on the court.”
“He’s giving us another spark,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said. “He’s been spacing the floor for us, too. Shabazz (Napier) is finding him, Ryan (Boatright) is finding him. Our point guards are doing a great job of finding (his) hot hand.”
On the German national team, Giffey played against NBA talent in Tony Parker, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum. The experience, he says, helped give him a boost mentally for this season.
“Every team we played against had an NBA player and it showed me, that on a good day, I could play well against them,” Giffey said. “It really helped me.”
His teammates can see the difference.
“As long as I’ve known Niels it has come down to confidence,” Boatright said. “In pickup games and practice, he’s always killed it. When it’s come to games, whether it was a missed shot or a turnover, he’d hang his head. Once he came back from Germany, you could see he doesn’t hesitate like he used to.”
Giffey’s presence is only going to help UConn going forward if this, or at least at something close to it, continues. Opponents will be forced to pay extra attention to him, opening the lanes even more for the Huskies’ penetrating-happy guards in Napier, Boatright and Terrence Samuel.
“I’ve been working on finding the right space on the court,” Giffey said. “I realize I am not going to break guys off the dribble, so it’s important to find space outside to be open for threes.
“Shot selection is one of the main points we look for – taking the good shots,” he continued. “Of course, we’re going to be a fast break team, but as soon as we’re in the half-court we have to make sure we take the right shots that are open.”
And in a funky statistical oddity, Giffey has yet to score in the second half this season.
“It’s sad, but true,” he joked following the game. “I know I can pick it up in the second half. I’m more picky with my shot selection now and since the game was pretty much over anyway, I tried to get some other guys shots.”
Giffey’s first half shooting helped catapult a 40-12 UConn run which turned a 14-8 deficit into a dominant 48-26 halftime advantage.
Omar Calhoun (17 points), Napier (10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) and DeAndre Daniels (11 second half points) all played well for UConn Thursday. The rebound-challenged Huskies even dominated the boards by a 49-34 margin.
It was Giffey, though, who stood out again with his near perfect three-point shooting. His current pace, obviously, will slow down, but if he continues to be a serious threat from the outside, this already-deep UConn team will be even harder to deal with.