One win, one loss. UConn hoops review...
Both University of Connecticut basketball teams headed south this week as the calendar turned from 2013 to 2014 with mixed results.
In a New Year’s Eve game that left many shaking their heads at how far and how fast they fell behind in Texas, the Huskie men lost their first ever American Athletic Conference game by a 75-71 score.
Head coach Kevin Ollie’s team had played their share of close games in their first 12 and had seen games that the led by double digits in the opening half become close, down to the wire contests by the end.
On Tuesday night though, nobody saw what was happened coming, not by a long shot.
After all, Houston was without three key players coming in, all the more reason you may have thought this could have been their first AAC win but Houston jumped all over the Huskies in the first half and led by as many as 21 points and went into the half up 46-28.
Granted, UConn made a dramatic run in the second half, fueled by a 23-point half by Shabazz Napier who finished with 25.
That final total tells a lot of the story of the game.
Having your leading scorer put up just two points in 20 minutes is not something the Huskie want or need to have happen and they paid for it with a deep Texas oil rig kind of hole they couldn’t blow out of.
Ryan Boatright kept the visitors from being run out of the Hofheinz Pavilion with 19 points and nine assists but only one other Huskie finished in double figures as DeAndre Daniels added 12 but just five boards.
Napier led the team again with nine rebounds, UConn was beaten on the boards again, 34-30.
Now, the men are 11-2 with a whole lot of basketball left to play so no need to panic.
They are still a team in search of a steady identity that goes deeper than just Napier and Boatright.
Omar Calhoun saw but seven minutes and scored just two points while Amida Brimah may have started but played only four minutes.
After a sizzling start from three-point land, Niels Giffey has cooled off not in his makes (21-33) but in his chances.
Teams are no longer looking away from Giffey and he has yet to get himself more opening looks since the early portion of the season.
The men stay on the road for a meeting with SMU on Saturday at 2 p.m. before returning home to take on Harvard on Wednesday, January 8 at Gampel Pavilion.
On the women’s side, their second AAC contest resulted in a 77-49 win over the University of Central Florida behind 25 points and 12 rebounds from senior Stefanie Dolson, despite a poor shooting performance for the second straight game.
Now I know it’s hard to complain when each of those conference games resulted in margin of victories of 33 and 28 but head Coach Geno Auriemma has a different set of standards than the rest of the planet and demands more.
We have seen it for years, the reason the Huskies stay at such a high plain is that they are always looking to improve, even in perfection.
Dolson rang up her sixth double-double of the season and was a force inside all game, UCF had no answers inside.
Their shooting woes were on display on Wednesday afternoon as Breanna Stewart (3-13), Bria Hartley (3-11) and Morgan Tuck (0-6) had a hard time getting their shots to fall, even on balls that seemed to be halfway down the basket.
Without the Dolson 11-14 number, the rest of the team sot just 18-54 (33%) for the game.
Okay, so they still win by large margins each time out but what happens if the entire team has that kind of night.
Talent will still get the women past most teams, unless they run into one that simply has one of those nights.
The Huskies are back in action on Saturday when they travel to take on Memphis in another AAC matchup before coming back to Storrs on Tuesday, January 7 when they host Houston at 7 p.m.